Interview with Mancho Bibixy
conducted on Monday Nov. 28 2016 During the Visit of S.D.F MPs and Senators to Bamenda in Ntarikon, Ni John Fru Ndi’s Residence
What prompted you to orchestrate the strike action in a white coffin at City Chemist Roundabout
Well I think the Anglophones have been marginalised for so long. As I put it, they had carbon dioxide accumulating in their stomach and they just needed an outlet. Maybe I’ll say I provided that outlet
Who is Mancho Bibixy
Well a simple normal person, a Bamenda boy born and bred here in Bamenda. I went to school in Bamenda and only left for the university of Buea, came back, all my life I’ve been working in Bamenda and so I can say I know Bamenda so well. I’m just a Bamenda boy.
From where did you get that courage to do what you did
Many people think this just started. I’ve been doing this for so many years. My very first year in the university of Buea I was the one who mobilised students to carry the timetable and go destroy it in front of the Vice Chancellor’s office because it was published in French and I was also the one who rallied students to pull down the notices from the doors which read uh “Sortie” instead of Exit and “Entrée” instead of Entry. So I’ve been doing this for so many years. I’ve had several battles with policemen. I’ve even gone to the public security station in Bamenda on October 1st, I can’t recall the year and freed Anglophones who were arrested and packed there for no just cause and I told them to walk out and let’s see who’s going to shoot. So I’ve been doing this for so many years. It didn’t start now.
Do you find pleasure in causing trouble
I don’t think I’m causing trouble. I find pleasure in fighting for the freedom of those who are being troubled.
We’ve seen your videos on social media the day you started at City Chemist in the midst of bullets and gun firing. You were there with a Bible in your hand. Weren’t you scared?
I don’t think I should be scared because we have been living in fear for so long and I think it was time somebody stood up. Even when we left the city council marching back to the Liberty Square, I noticed that the shooting had changed. They were now using life bullets and I said to myself I’m holding a Bible, this Bible will not let me down and this is time I should move up to these people and tell them to stop shooting at my people and some of the life bullets were passing just close to my ears, some were even flying over my head. I think I remember a case where I even held one of the guns at the City Chemist telling the soldier that he will not shoot. He should shoot me first before he shoots at my people and he said the people should come and pass. So I’m not scared.
Why did any bullet not touch you?
I still don’t know why a bullet did not touch me. Maybe because I was too close to the soldiers and they thought shooting me at close range will mean declaring war so they preferred shooting at those who were at a distance.
You started in a coffin about the city council and roads and later on we got you talking about secession and the like. What really is your focus?
We have so many problems like it was echoed today at the Commercial Avenue Grand Stand, the teachers have a problem, the lawyers have a problem, we have problems of roads but I think in all of that the solution is a federation. If we had a federation, we won’t have a lazy man like Ndumu Vincent messing over with the council because he’s not accountable to the people. He’s accountable to the one who appointed him. So it’s a whole package: the roads being one, uh the teacher’s problem but we can’t address that point by point. So we must package that in a federation and that is what we stand for.
There are accusations you waited for the lawyers and teachers to lay the foundation and then you hijacked their course
I think the lawyers and teachers rather waited for me because I started this two months ago when I uh uh blocked the commercial avenue and Liberty Square, seized cutlasses from the council workers. I think the mayor for Bamenda 2, Balick Awa Fidelis even mentioned it. I started two months before the lawyers and teachers. I seized cutlasses from those who were cutting grass at the commercial avenue with cutlasses and I said we have reached an age where the council should get a machine and when I did that, I blocked traffic for so many hours. So the teachers are just copying what I started.
You released an audio telling the world how you are now in Buea, this and that. Did you actually go to Buea?
Yes. We went to Buea. We held meetings in Muyuka, Mutengene and Limbe and we travelled back in the dark of the night through Muyuka to Kumba then Mamfe and Bamenda. That journey took us three days to cover. I planted seeds, I spoke with friends abroad and I am very happy that before I reached Bamenda, the protest had started and I was just informed today that all schools in the South West Region have closed, uh parents are going to withdraw their children from mission schools, I saw photos today of students protesting in Bali Kumbat calling their principal a traitor and uh I spoke with those abroad, I was happy last week when Brussels and London took over and the Americans just called me that they are going to block U.N.O Headquarters in New York and sit at the gate until our problem is heard.
When you say “We” “We”, who are “We?”
I mean we uh uh Anglophones and even Francophones who sympathise with the course or the sufferings of the Anglophones.
These meetings you’ve been holding in the various places you said, under disguise?
Yes. We had to hold them under disguise because the security, when they got the message, they were on red alert. I noticed that in Mutengene, there were police checks every 50 metres but I’m thankful to God that I went through all the checks and they didn’t even notice I was the one passing.
After Bamenda, it is Buea that has picked up the steam of demonstrations. Are you behind the outcome of what is happening in Buea?
I spoke with the people. I told them I don’t need to be everywhere. They know what is happening to us. Buea should have been the capital of this federation we are fighting for. We had our parliament in Buea, there’s the Prime Minister’s Lodge, they should go themselves and see. They should stroll and go down to Limbe and see how the Limbe seaport lies desolate. They should see how the Tiko airport and sea port lies desolate. So they should go on and fight. They don’t expect me to come and be running street battles everywhere in Cameroon. They should look at their own end. I asked them why the Kumba-Mamfe road has not been tarred for 54 years when Kumba and Mamfe where economically vibrant more than Douala and Yaounde and yet today, they are just lying as if nothing is happening. So they saw in what I was saying and they are ready to fight.
From every indication, you are being sponsored because you made mention of people from abroad
The people from abroad are only coming now after the strike on Monday. They are only coming to call and thank me and say they are in support of what I’m doing. From that Monday till date, I don’t remember having touched money up to 5.000Frs. If I was living my normal life, for this one week, I would have had money more than that but I don’t remember sleeping well, I don’t remember having a good diet. From Monday when we left Bamenda to Buea and back, I think in those three days I only ate twice. So I’m not receiving any sponsorship.The only sponsorship I’m receiving are calls and messages of congratulations from the people and I think the best sponsorship I’ve had now is the desire from the people to fight on.
How about threats? Have you also received threats?
I receive that on a daily basis since in the days of the university, several days i didn’t sleep in my house. Even whei I did the strike on the commercial avenue, i received so many threats. You even heard the one of minister Atanga Nji Paul. So threats are not a new thing. We are used to that.
We got rumours that you’ve gone to Nigeria to seek refuge there.
Well we met today at the commercial avenue grandstand and you saw me. I’ve had meetings with senators, I’ve been speaking with parliamentarians, mayors, the general public, bike riders, teachers, lawyers, so I’m in town. Yesterday Sunday I was in P.C Ntatru for the C.W.F rally. I also found time to stroll along the Commercial Avenue, City Chemist, socialised with friends yesterday. On Saturday I was at the City Chemist and people saw me discussing with some police officers who were stationed there to keep security. So I’m in Bamenda, I’m not going anywhere.
Throughout these squabbles, no police officer has come forth to arrest you?
Well they have been for me but it’s rather unfortunate they can’t find me. After Monday I was told that where I went to on Monday evening, immediately I left, they came and again I was told that they came to Bali park on Monday evening when we were about taking off for Buea. That they saw me there but immediately we took off, they came. So maybe they were expecting that we’ll go to Buea in a car but we went to Buea on moto bikes and maybe that is how they got dribbled. But I don’t think I’m scared of arrest. I think if they arrest me, kill me or imprison me it will rather add more flame to the fire. So that is rather my wish.
Can one rightly say you have mystical powers?
That’s what I used to think when I read the history of former politicians like the Ntumazas, the Um Nyobes, I thought those people had mystical powers but now that I’m in it, I noticed that there is nothing just more than determination.
You’ve been holding meetings like you said with senators, MPs and others. From which political wing?
I’ve had encounters with the senators and MPs of the S.D.F but I also spoke with some C.P.D.M officials who were trying to like have us hold on with the protests, that there are some good days ahead but I didn’t trust those words so that is why I did make mention of the meetings I had with them but for the senators and MPs of the S.D.F, they were frank, they were straight forward, they accept the problem and they want to carry it to any level they can.
What’s your relationship with the S.D.F and the chairman?
I’ve always admired the chairman. I’ve always said that if God didn’t give us a man like the chairman, Cameroonians today would have been transformed into something worst than slaves. So I admire him, I like what he’s doing but at this point in time, I’m moving in separate directions with him because he’s fighting for a national Cameroon to be ruled by the S.D.F We don’t deny that, we also support that but I say even if the national chairman of the S.D.F is the president of Cameroon, I’ll still go to him and tell him we need a federation.
Tell us about your family if you have one
Yes I have a family. They are safe, they are find at Mancho Street. People have been calling that I should relocate them, they maybe threatened, they may be killed. I said if I don’t fear for myself, why will I fear for my family? Everybody there is fine. I keep in touch with them, I tell them to go about their activities. If one of them is touched, that is adding more petrol on the fire and it’s from there that the fire will burn even more. You noticed that even when Atanga Nji Paul said what he said, the population of Bamenda almost rose against him that day. So, it was just a word and the people are ready to get into action. What then if they touch a member of my family? They’ll see the real fight that is still to come.
How many wives? How many children?
Well I have a son but he’s not in the compound. I have other children that I’m taking care of that my father died and left the family in my hands; mother, cousins, nieces, nephews. They are there, everybody is find. Its quite a large family.
These current demonstrations started in Bameda and have spread to the South West Region and people have lost their lives. Do you take responsibility for that?
In a struggle like this, we would always have people who will be unfortunate but I will always say the blood of the unfortunate ones, I don’t call them “unfortunates”, they are martyrs but it’s unfortunate that they have to go without seeing the end. I call them martyrs. Their blood will only come to water the tree for the federation which will continue to grow and spread bigger and bigger.
There are persons out there who will like to know if throughout this period Mancho Bibixy has received any slap or any injury as a result of all these?
As you can see I’m strong body and spirit. We thank God that he has taken us this far and we continue to pray that he will take us to another level till the federation we are asking for will be granted to us else they’ll be no peace.
You started releasing audios. Can we also think maybe you are to release videos like Aboubaka Shikau does?
Well if that is an option, then it will be very necessary. I think in a struggle like this, living especially in what we now call an android world, every form of communication, we must implore it to make the struggle go to any other level.
What is it that you really want? Political power?
I want the federation. Whoever will be the head of any federation, I don’t care but all we need is a federation. When we have a federation, we won’t have people like Ndumu destroying the town, we won’t have powerless governors who can only speak but cannot take any action, all they know is I’ve heard your problem, I’ll channel your problem. We need leaders who are on the ground, who are with us, that if we say we are thirsty they’ll say take water not leaders that if you say you are thirsty, they’ll say we have written to Yaounde, they’ll send you water. That is what I want.
Are you an S.C.N.C activist?
I am standing for a federation whether it is to be brought by the S.C.N.C or whoever, all we want in Cameroon is a federation.
Considering the political stalemate within the country right now, do you see a quick return to stability in the near future?
It depends on the authorities that be. If they want peace, then they should give us our federation and everything will go back in place. If they think that they should keep playing the gymnastics they’ve been playing for 54 years, they themselves have seen. The schools have closed and I’m very happy that most of the children of the bigwigs in Yaoundé who are in mission schools in Bamenda, they have gone back home. So everything has been paralysed. We hope that very soon the markets will close and the economy of the Anglophone region will be brought to a standstill and in that case, the government will be forced to grant our demands.
And you are happy causing all this wahala?
I don’t think we are causing any trouble. We are trying to solve a problem that has been forced on us by the authorities of Cameroon and until they will solve this problem, then they’ll be no peace for both of us.
What if Yaounde calls you now maybe to propose peace, offer you a token in terms of cash and maybe a position?
The only token or cash that I can accept for now is a federation. If they are giving me a federation, I’ll take but any other thing out of a federation, I will not take because we want a federation at the beginning, federation at the middle, federation at the end.
Do you look upon yourself as the leader of this strike?
I think the leader of this strike are the people. You see the strike now taking place in Europe, on Friday it started in Britain, also I saw pictures of Brussels in Belgium, I’m not there. So I can’t say I’m the leader. The leader are the people, the people who have been marginalised. I think they needed an opportunity to start something and I only gave them that opportunity. They are now leading themselves.
Mancho Bibixy had been known to be a comedian and you run a program, Comedy Show on one of the radio stations here in town. How far about that program?
I have never been a comedian. I think I studied journalism in school, I also studied CISCO Networking and spent one year studying petrochemical engineering. Uhhh if I did a comedy program, it doesn’t make me a comedian. I’ve never been certified as a comedian.
So you were running a program on a radio station but its like the program is no longer running. Because of you?
The program is running. Everything is fine but because of the civil unrest in town, so many things were not going on. Most radio programs didn’t hold because the journalists could not move freely and it’s not like the program stopped. I’m running several programs, its not just that one but for the fact that one is a pidgin program and it appeals more to the uneducated people of the society and most people know me for that but I’ve been doing other things much more than that.
Many persons are saying that enough is enough, it’s OK. Just the little experiences we’ve had with guns and tear gas, let’s just allow the country the way it is.
I don’t think that is the opinion of a majority. That may be the opinion of a few people but many of the Cameroonians or the anglophones that I know, they need more. Some are already blaming me for not pushing on as they wanted. They want us to push it harder and harder but I keep telling them, when we fight, we give room for diplomacy, we give room for dialogue, we give room for an ear so that maybe in the course of fighting, the authorities have something to say. But if we keep fighting, we won’t listen to what they are saying. So we are fighting and listening. If they don’t speak well, then we keep fighting.
It therefore means that right now you are listening to Yaounde?
We are waiting. We are fighting and listening. Anything they have to tell us, we will listen but if its not a federation, they better not say it.
Any word to those who might not feel comfortable with your action?
The only thing I will have to tell them is that I’m calling on them to come on. They may feel that they are comfortable where they are that is why they may not be comfortable with my action especially anglophones who are holding positions in the government. Its time for them to resign and speak the truth in front of Mr. Biya and say they are crossing over to meet their people, that they have been molested and marginalised for so long. Be you a minister, we don’t even have good ministers or good ministerial positions, most of them are assistants, secretary generals, ministries which are of less importance. I call on them to drop those positions and come instead of staying there and saying that they are not comfortable. They should come let’s fight for this course. There is more comfort in the future federation that we are talking about than what they are having now.
You complained about roads and we actually saw our youths destroying the few roads we have with tyres. Where you comfortable with this?
I don’t think we have any roads. Every road we have in the town here has expired. I don’t remember the last time a new road was constructed in this town. All the roads are like 30, 40 years old. So we don’t have any roads. So if you say the youths are burning the roads, I doubt what you saw because there are no roads. We just have uh-uh I may call them passages because the roads had long expired and the Chinese have even come and finish the destruction. So we don’t have any roads.
Do you have xenophobic feelings towards the Francophones?
I don’t have and that is what we have been preaching to the Francophones. We keep telling them that we love them. They are our brothers. If we have xenophobic feelings then we will not be asking for a federation. We will be asking for direct secession. So we don’t have those feelings but it’s unfortunate the soldiers are trying to spread that feeling. You find them “gasing” people in their houses, you find them breaking into doors and beating people and speaking French, you must have seen videos of them spraying poisoned water into student residential hostels and they knew that those inside were Anglophones and they who were outside were Francophones. So they are trying to spread that feeling and make it look like we are trying to have a kind of xenophobic attacks on Francophones but I’m grateful that our Anglophone brothers did not follow that path. They’ll continue to live with their Francophone brothers happily and I’ll tell you that even the Francophones support what we are having.
What’s the meaning behind that name Mancho Bibixy because it seems not to be your real name?
That’s the name I’m using, that’s the name I’ve been using, and that’s the name I’ll continue to use. The other name that people don’t call is Tse and that is my Mankon name T.S.E
So that’s the name I’ll continue to use and it’s the name that I was given. So the struggle continues.
Meaning you are a Mankon boy?
Yes. I was born and bred in Mankon and that is why I understand the problem of Bamenda just so well and that is one of the reasons that gave me the courage to stand up and fight for this town and this federation we’re asking.
There are people from all works of life listening to you from out there. They are some who have misconstrued the course and they are derailing it. They’ll like to listen to you right now especially the youths who are vandalising. What are you telling them?
I’m telling them that this thing started peacefully. We started at the Liberty Square with the Bible and when we went to the city council, I addressed all the policemen who were there and I told them we have not come for war. These children are disgruntled with the way the council is being managed. They have come to see their father and speak to him and so the policemen should pocket their guns and let us do that thing peacefully and go back home peacefully and we went into the council, we spoke with some of the authorities and we were coming out to continue the negotiations when the policemen started shooting and you know when somebody is provoked and pushed to the wall, they then get violent. When I came out of the council, I saw how the policemen came and pushed down motor bikes of the youths and even when I told the youths that we should stop being violent and go home peacefully, they told me to see their bikes which have been destroyed by the police officers. And so they went violent and also started throwing stones and burning places. When we were marching to the council, they saw no road blocks, they saw no burnings but when we were returning after the shooting, that is when the road blocks started but I will still continue to tell the youths, “Please let’s not be violent, let’s do it peacefully, God is on our side, the international community is on our side, politicians are on our side, even political parties of the French speaking part of Cameroon like the U.P.C today they were on our side and I think victory is ours in Jesus name”
Any word to teachers and lawyers?
I tell them to hold on. They should be steadfast. It’s a battle that all of us must win. We can’t be fighting in dispersed ranks. They should hold tight and be steadfast in their direction, we are also holding tight in our direction and we think if we work as a synergy, that federation will come even sooner than we expect.
And any last words?
My last words are to the Anglophones why not even the Francophones?
The federation is going to benefit all of us. When you send a Francophone medical doctor to an Anglophobe hospital who knows nothing in English, you are not punishing only the Anglophones, you punish also the Francophone. So this fight is also their fight. They should join us to have this federation so that they will work freely and comfortably in their own zone and those who think they are very bilingual can then cross over and work anywhere peacefully. So this is our fight, it’s a fight for Anglophones, it’s a fight for francophones. We should put hands on deck and fight to destroy a bad system that has been in place for over 54 years. Those are my last words.
Mancho Bibixy we wish to thank you very much for talking
FONGOH p. AYEH