It is something worse than academic infanticide that children in the crisis-ravaged Northwest and Southwest Regions have been scared out of school for the past three years. The effects of such an academic pogrom are dangerously overwhelming.
It speaks volumes about the fact that a whole generation has been sacrificed on the altar of this useless and anti-people war of ego. It is a sacrilege of the most primitive proportion that the belligerents have not yet thought about cutting their arrogance to size and coming to the negotiation table for the sake of these children.
In order to attempt to reverse this preposterous situation, some stakeholders are deafening every ear with the back-to-school campaign as time ticks to the opening of another school year in September.
Such an initiative is laudable. Yet, it will be hypocritical for anybody to drum such a campaign in isolation, without advocating a return to peace.
For, peace is an automatic prerequisite and even a sine qua non for children to return to school in the two Regions.
What has kept the children out of school for the past three years is lack of security. They were kidnapped, arrested and even killed.
Their teachers faced the same fate. Many of such teachers have been jailed on trumped-up charges. Are those drumming the back-to-school campaign also fighting to guarantee the security of the education community in the two Regions?
The war is taking its unenviable place in the history annals as one of the most primitive civil wars ever fought in the world.
During the Nigerian civil war and the violence-shrouded Apartheid period in South Africa, the belligerents made it possible for children to continue going to school.
The Soweto infanticide-laden massacre stood tall as a cruel oddity in the silver lining of civilised behaviour during that bleak period in Nelson Mandela’s country.
Here, the sacredness of our children’s education has been desecrated, and their future mortgaged. Worse, over 50 villages, including schools, have been reduced to ashes in the two Regions.
Both belligerents have denied responsibility for such acts of barbarism against the English-speaking citizens of this country.
The victims and eyewitnesses say those who are committing such arson with impunity are people in military uniform, using military vehicles and other war paraphernalia.
Government has denied reports that soldiers are the ones in the shameless act of collective punishment against Anglophone Cameroon.
It is still incumbent on the authorities to tell the world if there is a certain militia using military uniforms, vehicles and other equipment to burn down villages and carry out the extra-judicial killing of civilians in the name of fighting the Separatists.
Many of the children we claim to be carrying out the back-school-campaign for, fled to the bushes after their houses were burnt and their parents killed.
The alchemy of hypocritical statements in the current back-to-school onslaught can only help those who are playing to the gallery as pro-establishment do-gooders and emergency patriots.
We need to have the wit and honesty to ask a few questions for the general good.
How can children who have been orphaned, rendered homeless and chased into the bushes, go to school?
Has Government even attempted to carry out a census of children who were orphaned by the crisis? We need to address these issues so that we can provide an enabling environment for children to go back to school in September. Otherwise, the back-to-school campaign will be as hollow and impotent as other half measures by the authorities.
The enabling environment for schools to return is for the belligerents to stop the dialogue of artillery gunfire and engage in real dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. Talking and wishful thinking alone cannot do the trick.
Why has the initiation of dialogue suffered such undue procrastination?
Why has Government been mute about reports to the effect the Swiss Government opted to wade in as a mediator in the crisis?
Why has the Cardinal Tumi initiative to organise an Anglophone General Conference not been supported?
Is there any better condition that will guarantee a full-fledged back-to-school, than a peace deal between the belligerents?
It is even worse when they return to school campaign is predicated on cheap propaganda and falsehood.
Rejoicing that the Catholic Education authorities have promised to guarantee a return to school in September is mere hypocrisy, because, they are not the ones who stopped children from going to school, in the first place.
The agents provocateurs must stop emitting provocative jibes on this issue so that genuine patriots can continue to appeal to the consciences of all those who have blocked the children from going to school for the past three years.
Until we guarantee the security of our children in the present circumstances, the return to school will effectively take place only in the figment of our imagination and wishful thinking.
The campaign will be more effective if the stakeholders equally advocate for a return to peace and normalcy in the two Regions.
Stopping children from going to school is a criminal and supreme act of violence against a whole generation that has nothing to do with this war of ego.