Featured Storyteller

CAMEROON: Blood for Tears

ARREY- ECHI
Posted November 24, 2020 from Cameroon
Photo © Josiane Kouagheu Reuters
Schoolchildren, their parents, and teachers hold a protest after gunmen opened fire at a school, killing at least eight children as authorities claim, in Kumba. Photo © Josiane Kouagheu for Reuters

On the one month anniversary of the devastating massacre in Kumba, Arrey Echi reflects on four years of crisis in Cameroon.

“The women have been on the front lines calling for peace and an end to the conflict... and yet, the world is mostly silent.

I crawled into bed, ready for sleep after an exhausting day. But as I began to browse the web on my phone over an unsteady network connection, the news was everywhere:  A massacre in Kumba. Men had stormed a school wielding guns, machetes. At least eight children were dead. At least a dozen more injured.   

In the history of the Anglophone crisis, the 24th of October 2020 will go down as a day never to be forgotten. With each headline, I could feel our collective grief, the indescribable pain we now carry at the cheap, wanton disregard for life. 

For a moment, I tried to picture myself in that sacred classroom of knowledge now desecrated by the spilled innocent blood of these children. 

These children—assured that they could now go peacefully to school—had left their homes in high spirits on a quest for the education that would allow them to fulfill their dreams. By the end of the day, they were gone. Brutally killed.

I tried to imagine how they would have raised their books and pens in defense as they were shot at in close range. Surely they screamed for mama and papa. At the thought, I died a thousand times over.

And I wondered, if I as an English-speaking minority living across the Mungo among the vast French Majority, could feel this way how would the parents and siblings of these children feel?

When innocent kids with so much to live for, with so many dreams, are attacked and gunned down as spoils of war, you know humanity has been lost.

It's been four years since the start of the Anglophone Crisis. Four years of living in fear. Four years of uncertainty. Four years of immeasurable loss. Four years of shattered lives and dreams. Four years of mental and emotional trauma. Four years of watching our people slaughtered, maimed, displaced, raped, etc while the world largely turns a blind eye and maintains a stoic silence.

Kumba was just one of many. There was Ngarbuh. And just before we could attempt to absorb what really happened in Kumba, there was Limbe. There was Nkambe. And there continue to be many more.

This wasn't what the common man on the street bargained for when lawyers and teachers took to the streets in 2016 to protest the marginalization of the English-speaking minority in Cameroon. All they ever wanted was to live their lives as equal citizens in the place they called home. Today, they have become bargaining chips in the hands of the military, separatist fighters, and the new term we now hear of daily: "unidentified gunmen".

While this goes on, the common man carries the emotional, financial, mental, and physical bondage of living directly in the face of a burning furnace they didn't ask to have installed.

The disabled live in dread. The elderly have no strength to run. Several have died, burnt or shot at in their homes. The women have been wailing for four years. They have been on the front lines calling for peace and an end to the conflict. They refuse to stop wailing as they witness the carnage taking away their husbands, their sons, their children.

And yet, the world is mostly silent.

For some of us living in the French part of the country where the violence has not impacted us physically, we feel sad and frustrated that we cannot easily visit home. We feel restless, worrying about our friends and family in the thick of things. We are disappointed and angry when plans are yet again suspended because of the unrest. In our frustrations, we feel guilt. When we see how seamlessly life goes on where we are, that guilt only intensifies.

Peace has been elusive for four long years. Peace, even a semblance of peace, could mean kids going to school without fear of being killed in their quest for knowledge. 

Peace could mean people in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon could readily sleep with both eyes covered without the fear of being gunned down or raped or maimed. 

Peace could mean the elderly and disabled are given a chance to live life and die in dignity.  

Peace could mean some of us would live life without restlessly worrying if our people are well or being slaughtered. 

Peace could mean willingness to #EndTheAnglophoneCrisis. It would mean that they are left to enjoy equal opportunities within the land they call home.

Peace could mean traveling without fear of being kidnapped or killed. It could mean a lot of things for the common man.

Peace would mean women and others wailing and raising their voices will no longer shed blood for tears.


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Comments 61

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Barry
Nov 24, 2020
Nov 24, 2020

Hello Arrey,
This is such a lovely story. I hope for this peace too, here in my country and the world at large. I also hope that the #EndTheAnglophoneCrisis becomes a thing of the past. You truly deserve this award.

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Hello Barry,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave a kind, encouraging comment. Humanity truly yearns for peace but peace has remained elusive. Could it be we may need a higher more than human power to get this lasting peace we all yearn for?

Until then, we keep crying and hope the world listens.
Thank you.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Wow, congratulations for the third time wining a story award, sis Arrey! You're such a gifted writer. I'm proud of you!

We stand with you for Peace in Cameroon!

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Thank you so much dear sis.
It's been a humbling moment for real. Thank you for reading and for the encouraging words always.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

You're welcome, and it is well-deserved, dear RED ROSE!

maeann
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Congratulations sissy Arrey :) I love how you give emphasis to PEACE! May this peace be with you and to Cameroon.

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Thank you so much dear Maeann ❤. Thank you for reading and for the encouraging words. A most sincere wish we all want a semblance of peace

Jill Langhus
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Congrats, Love, for having your story selected for the story awards again:-) You rock! XX

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Thank you dear Sis Jill. Thank you for always listening and encouraging.

Jill Langhus
Nov 27, 2020
Nov 27, 2020

You're welcome, dear. You bet!! XX

Urmila Chanam
Nov 25, 2020
Nov 25, 2020

Dearests Arrey-Echi,
Killing children is the lowest human act needing global attention, action and condemnation because children have no agendas, no political affiliations and the only thing children deserve is love, care, protection, education and mentoring. In every faith, in every culture children are recognised as the most innocent and to have killers target them should make us question who these killers are? What were they thinking? Were they not children once? Don't they have parents for who they are their world? What is happening in Cameroon is condemnable and the world should not remain quite because we are all part of the same ecology in one way or the other.

Thank you for sharing the current situation in Cameroon, sister. I have loved whatever you have mentioned here. They resonate so much with me.

With all my love and blessings,
Urmila Chanam,
India

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dearest Sis Urmi,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and write down this beautiful, soul searching comment.
You are asking exactly the same questions every sane person around here has been asking but with no answer.

Who really goes to schools and kill children? Schools, hospitals, children, etc are to be no go areas in times of conflicts but here, it is the opposite.

We have wept for our people. Wept that the silence of the world means we are on our own and yet, we are helpless.

All we need is just that semblance of peace!

SADRAG
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Arrey,

I can feel the pain and anger that you and people like you have undergone due in mindless violence and abuse of women, children and youth.
How I wish Justice prevails! Peace returns and all can live happily thereafter.
love
mala

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Mala,
Thank you for reading and feeling our pain and anger. It is really no way to live life.

Thank you for the wishes. We can only truly hope.

Anne-Chantal
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

My dear sister. You said it all. those of us living away from the crisis can only die of heart attack each time we see a number from home ringing.
A thousand questions creep into our already tired brains. " Who has been killed this time around? Is the house of our birth still standing? Is grandma ok in that hospital she is receiving treatment? Our nephews and nieces , are they ok. What kind of future do they now have with the nonsense they are now getting as an education which is going on in the heart of killings and shootings"?
I think for me , I would sleep better, the day this crisis finally ends and 1 year passes by and I see and ensure no more guns have gone off. Then will my phone ring and I pick it up without shuddering.
Oh peace! Something so little , yet so great. Why have mankind become so stingy?
One of the other reason why I quit my job as a political officer under the British diplomatic services was because of the silence I saw shown by the international community. All the reports, analysis, diplomatic telegrams I researched on, drafted, looked so useless when they seem to get no concrete result.
What a state of helplessness!

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Sis,
The helplessness is overwhelming and we feel like abandoned children.

You have just added fuel to describe how all this has affected so many of us. It is saddening. The silence from the powers that be, hypocritical to say the least.

I feel your helplessness when your ernest efforts seem to just keep going in vain.

We can only truly try.

Anne-Chantal
Nov 27, 2020
Nov 27, 2020

My dear sister,
We can only try. I remember almost slapping a colleague who told me " presidential elections went on smoothly in Mamfe". I was like where did you get this fact?
Because I am from that part of Manyu division and no one voted because of gun shootings all through elections day and people where killed including a member of my family.
I almost lost it when I still heard them insisting that no shooting happened in Mamfe. I went home that day bitter.
But as you say, we can only try. After the bitterness of a day, the killings of the next day make you gather your wits and get back to work.
Oh world! :-(

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020

A sad reality manor.
People buy unto what they are being fed and not what's really happening on the ground.

It is really a sad time.

Esther Basil
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Arrey,

I felt the pain in your words as I read your story. It is really hurtful that innocent children were ripped from their parents and their lives taken just before they could achieve their dreams.
It is an earnest prayer that peace is restored in Cameroon.

Congratulations on your Award!

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Esther,
Thank you so much for reading. It is a pain that has left a gaping, frustrating, endless hole we may never completely come out from if the world maintains it's stoic silence.

Thank you for the congratulations.

Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Marie Abanga
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Congratulations Sis,

You sure got a way with words oh wow. I am just as sad about the ongoing crisis in our country.
Keep writing ooooo

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Thank you dear sis.
Everyone with a bit of conscience and sanity left is saddened and a angered by this conflict.

Thank you, I will keep writing

Steph L
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Thank you Arrey, it's always encouraging to read about brave women!

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Thank you for reading through, Steph. Brave women do change the world.

Busayo Obisakin
Nov 27, 2020
Nov 27, 2020

Der Arrey
Congratulations on the story award. It is so sad that children that hardly know what is happening could be killed in that gruesome way. I pray peace return to Cameroon, Nigeria and the world. Thank you Sis for the great work you are doing
Love
Busayo

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020

Dear Sis Busayo,
Thank you so much. You are right. The greusome murder of those kids is a heart breaking situation we wish we could rise up from. Not going to be that easy but we keep hoping.

Adanna
Nov 27, 2020
Nov 27, 2020

Thank you for raising your voice dear Arrey and congratulations on the story award.

I am really sad about what is going on in Cameroon. When things like this happen, the trauma can go on for years. Praying for peace and healing for everyone especially for the women and children.

Love,
Adanna

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Adanna,
Thank you so much for reading through and for the kind words of encouragement and Congratulations.

It has been a very challenging time and the trauma on those directly affected is going to be a tough one. We can only truly continue to hope.
Love,
Arrey.

Paulina Nayra
Nov 27, 2020
Nov 27, 2020

Oh dear Arrey, I can feel your heart wailing for peace. I feel sad and helpless for the children and their parents. I feel angry towards the government for their inability to protect civilians, especially the women and the innocents. My heart feels heavy. And have to shift gears... Congratulations my dear Arrey for this Story Award. I love your articulateness.
Hugggs.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Ate Paulina,

Thank you so much for sharing in our pain and helplessness. It is really a tough one and we are all just as helpless in what to do as the cries have continued to go unheeded. The blood split unstopped.
Thank you for the Congratulations.

I appreciate you.

Akinmolayan Ebuetse Stella idowu
Nov 28, 2020
Nov 28, 2020

This is so touching.
Highly emotional for me.
I pray for peace in your region and we stand with you, sis

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Thank you dear sis Stella.
Thank you for reading and standing with us. I am glad to feel you here on the Pulse as well.
Keep reading dear sis.

jomarieb.earth
Nov 28, 2020
Nov 28, 2020

Dearest Arrey-Echi
First... congratulations on the recognition that you received for raising your voice and bringing awareness regarding this crisis to the international community. You are an inspiration! Peace is the equalizer, neutralizer and solution to all differences. Such a simple word, but so difficult to grasp, achieve and maintain. So many differences throughout the world due to common root reasons, throughout time. Peace can end and prevent the differences, disputes and conflicts. Too many of us globally choose our own peace while others need to be infected with it. We choose to stay in our peaceful cocoons, or in our own familiar, controlled chaos, without any regard to our global neighbors. So the sound of the silence becomes amplified. I pray with you for world peace. It is the only insurance of assurance for mankind to exist in the future. Thank you Arrey-Echi, you introduced me to another facet of the world I didn't know about. I feel more "woke" than before!
XO...JoMarie

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Hello Dear JoMarie,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave this profound comment. I am indeed glad to know this peace shed some light and helped you get a glimpse at the realities in other parts of the world especially mine.

These words "Peace is the equalizer, neutralizer and solution to all differences. Such a simple word, but so difficult to grasp, achieve and maintain." ... I couldn't agree more. Peace is an equalizer but always so elusive.

Thank you again for reading and for the Congratulations.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 28, 2020
Nov 28, 2020

Dear Arrey,
Reading your words, seeing the photo of these people, knowing that the women of Cameroon have been calling out for these four long years of war, I search for ways to turn my rage into action. Our countries do business, many millions of dollars annually, while High commissioners dine together, while my Government and my Canadian news services, remain intentionally silent, refusing offers and pleas to cover this war, and while the UN carries on, members ignoring the Secretary General's call for a global ceasefire. Arrey, your voice rings out so powerfully here. with your permission is it possible for us to send on your call for action?
May this end soon, through the power of the voices of the women in Cameroon.
Sending love,
Tam

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Mama Tam,
It is always so good to read from you. You always do get the essence and are moved to act. I thank you immensely for that.

You are right, the calls have gone unheeded while our various countries continue to act and dine together as if all is well.
Yes, I would be happy if this call for action is spread far and wide. A semblance of peace is all we need and I believe it can be possible if the world only listens.

Thank you again for standing with us.
With love always ❤

ANJ ANA
Nov 29, 2020
Nov 29, 2020

Dear Arrey,
Thank you for sharing, its such an inspiring story. I would love to hear you more and i am so proud of your all work.
love , anjana

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Anjana,
Thank you for reading and being willing to hear me more.
Like the post says, this has been the most neglected conflict in the world and it has been going on for a good four years with lots of human and material damages but the world has remained largely silent, despite the cries of the women.

Ruth Ngoni
Nov 29, 2020
Nov 29, 2020

Congratulations Arrey.
You put it so well.
What's happening in our country really saddens the heart. The evil is unthinkable! We keep hoping for peace, trusting that better days lie ahead and chipping in what we can to make peace a reality.
Thanks for putting this out here.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Thank you so much, dear Ruth.
You are right, it is a painful, tragic moment and the silence from those who can help in trying to resolve this is painful. We can only truly hope.

Kike
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Another one! *in DJ Klhaled voice* hehehe congratulations on your story award sister Arrey, well deserved. Nations all accross Africa are desperately in need of peace and I hope that will be our reality sooner than later. Thanks for sharing.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Lol, yes oh another one!
Thank you, dear KiKi. It is indeed a desperate cry across Africa and we can only truly hope.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Congratulations sis Arrey for this beautiful write up and award. Its well deserved. I pray peace return to these two regions.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Thank you my dear sis, Regina. I sincerely join you in that prayer.

Hawwah
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Dear Arrey,
Sending you so much love and hugs at this difficult and critical time.
It is so unfortunate and avoidable what is happening in our communities and societies.
The Kumba massacre left me in pieces for days, as I am sure it did every mother.
In every conflict, women and children end up being the greatest victims, yet the world remains silent.
May peace return to the world and our communities in our time.
Sending you all my love, strenght and best wishes,

In love and sisterhood,
Hawwah.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Hawwah,
Thank you so much for these thoughtful words dear sis and thank you for the hugs and love. I got them and needed them.

You are right the Kumba Massacre left any right thinking person in the cold. It was unbearable.

The world has truly remain silent as Africa burns. We keep praying for these mothers and kids whose lives are at the the thresholds and tears have remained unstoppable.

Love and hugs to you ❤

Nini Mappo
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020

Congratulations dear Arrey!!
I know that winning the Story Award does not dry out the tears, or comfort the grieving, or hold families together, or reassure you that tomorrow will be free of worry and helplessness. But it says your story of the unnecessary suffering of your people, and the urgency for peace, has touched our lives. It says that you've articulated yours and their pain so candidly that you've drawn us into the agony of such a deep desperation. We cry your tears. We hope your hope. We pray for peace. And we thank you, for writing this story for every woman and child, waiting for peace.
Congratulations again sis Arrey :-)

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

My dear Nini,
Thank you so much dear sis.

You always have the words and you captured this so well. More than the joy of winning this award is the fact that this piece resonates and captures the trials of 4 years of blood shed and uncertainty and has been delivered to the world. We can only now pray for action to free the women and kids and all those caught in this uncertainty.

Love and light to you ❤

MUKABA ZAWADI
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020

sorry vraiment cette douleur est coquant que vous avez subit vs les femmes, Mais Dieu est bon comme vous êtes en vie malgré bcp de mort à chez nous suit à cette violence. Je prie pour la paix dans votre région et que le seigneur vous aider à y parvenir.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Chere Mukaba,
Merci beaucoup pour ces mots gentils. C'est vraiment une situation choquante et décourageante et nous ne pouvons que souhaiter sincèrement que les cris des femmes soient entendus.

Kika Katchunga
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020

Hello Arrey,

it's horrible my sister; I am really sorry for what is happening there in your country; I pray to our God to console you and bring true peace to your country. thank you for sharing my sister we are heart with you

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Kika,
It is truly a horror moment, what is going on here and across Africa and the world at large. We can only truly keep praying.

Thank you for reading and for the comforting words.

Revathy Raveendranath
Dec 03, 2020
Dec 03, 2020

Hi Arrey
You have brought in humanity and peace in your story and most importantly how peace matters in daily life of people. How lack of peace affects education. Ruining education system is the best way to destroy a nation. Unfortunately countries that face conflicts and wars prefer gun over pens.
Congrats for bringing this story out.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Revathy,
Thank you so much for this. You couldn't have said it better. People who ruin education are ruining a nation big time and yes, how we wish nations would select pens over guns.

Thank you for reading and for the kind words.

Beth Lacey
Dec 03, 2020
Dec 03, 2020

Arrey, this is so tragic. I am so sad for your country.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 08, 2020
Dec 08, 2020

Dear Beth,
Thank you for your empathy and kind words.

Yes, it is a tragic reality we are hoping we get out from.

Rahmana Karuna
Dec 09, 2020
Dec 09, 2020

Thank you for your writing Arrey,
it is just mind blowing how many terrorist attacks go on around the world. in the usa we have so many many school mass killings, public space mass killings in clubs, music events, shopping malls. the parkland high school shooting created an amazing student activist organization, along with Moms Demand and Everytown. we are getting close to shutting down the NRA here. and trump is on his way slugging as he goes out the door. he has inspired so many white supremacists to come out of the closet, and the police support them. this has been going on for over 4000 years, and most likely for the time of humanity. sadly.

Rose Marie Johnson
Dec 14, 2020
Dec 14, 2020

Many of us in the world did not hear of this war on humanity in Africa. Because we/I stopped listening to the news because it did not speak to resolution of war, it posted crisis of war, numbers of lives lost in the senseless violence it did/does not look to solutions to end the violence, nor how to heal the lost ones forced to be instruments of war. As a mother I feel the heavy grief of loss, as a women I am angered by the limited news representing these horrific violent acts in innocent people, as a person I am fearful that it will not end and will spread around the world as it seems to be doing and I will not have a source of protection so I can be part of the ending of violent wars on innocent people. Your heart felt words have changed me today, the things we do not know about makes it easy for them to continue. I pray for the world of peace keepers and decision makers end this violence quickly, so true healing and life free from fear and harm will grow.

ElodieFriano
Dec 30, 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Hello,
I love your story, go peace with humanity !

Doreck Ekyampaire
Jan 13
Jan 13

I love the story it is such a lovely story that touches every heart.
Thank you for sharing