Public Demonstration by over 250 Women of Mbessa Village

February 16th 2016
Over 250 women aged between 25 to 70 years engaged in a public manifestation walk from Mbessa village in Belo Sub Division, Boyo Division in the North West Region (NWR) to Bamenda, the Regional Headquarters of the NWR (33 km). Their objective was to table a petition and their grievances to the Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique. This is as a result of latent boundary conflict between Mbessa (Boyo Division) and Oku (Bui Division) which has been characterised by sporadic attacks by some persons from Oku on the Mbessa community members in their farms.

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The women left Mbessa at 4:00 am carrying each a stem of the peace plant and placards raising issues centred around the fact that Oku presently is the Sub Division of origin of Cameroon’s Prime Minister HE Yang Philemon and most people from Oku perpetrating these aggressions on Mbessa go unpunished…

The placards carried messages such as:

Why is the administration quiet on surprise attacks by Oku on Mbessa?

3 Mbessa killed in 1982, houses destroyed, hundreds rendered homeless, no punishment no compensation, why?

2007/2008 mass burning of houses, destruction of crops, thousands homeless – no punishment, no compensation!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands! No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands!
No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

They arrived at Belo the Headquarter of the Sub Division at around 2 pm and made a stop at the Sub Divisional Office but the Divisional Officer Nicolas Manchang who doubles as the 2nd Assistant SDO for Boyo Division was not on seat (we learnt he was on permission). After about one hour of sitting accompanied with negotiations from the Mayor of Belo Council Tosam Bernard Nenghabi the lone official present at the scene, the women resolved to continue their journey to Bamenda where they hope to meet a listening ear.

The Mayor of Belo Council alongside the Mayor of Njinikom Council, the Member of Parliament Honorable Wainanchi Honorine and the Company Commander Boyo Commandant Passele struggled without success  to convince the women to give him the petition and go back to Mbessa. The Mayor of Belo then invited them to the Belo Grandstand for other negotiations. He was at this point in time joined by the Police Commissioner of Special Branch of Fundong Mr Bezigui. Both still failed. The Mayor invited them to sit for refreshment; they denied arguing that it is a way to waste their time and continued their journey.

The Interim Divisional Officer for Belo Sub Division came at about 6 pm when the Mbessa women had covered over 25 km and were at Mbingo but he could not even talk to the women as they were already saying it is some sort of negligence and lack of consideration from the local administration.

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However, the Mbessa women continued their journey over night. They reached Kejom Keku in Babanki in Tubah Sub division around 2 am and decided to rest before continuing later. It is at that time that the Governor of the NWR Adolphe Lele Lafrique moved to the site when it was exactly 2:10 am. He said he could not wait for them to come right to Bamenda and when he got the information, he immediately took off to meet them on the way.

The governor collected the messages and the petition they had and ordered for vehicles to carry them back to Mbessa while promising to channel the issue to the hierarchy for prompt solution. The women in turn, thanked him and insisted that if within a week nothing is done they will still treck again to Bamenda.

COMINSUD has trained Peace Volunteers (PVs) from Mbessa and Oku in July 1015. This peaceful and very powerful action can be considered as an outcome of this training and the tireless efforts of the five Mbessa PVs to change peoples minds towards non-violent solutions of conflicts and peaceful civic activities.

Advocacy for Social Inclusion in 15 Councils of the North West Region

Social Inclusion, a process of ensuring equal opportunities for all persons so they can achieve their full potential in life, is the main focus of the Democracy and Empowerment (DEW) project. Within this phase of the project we cover 15 councils (Bamenda II, Bali, Bafut, Ndop, Babessi, Kumbo, Oku, Nkambe, Ako, Belo, Fundong, Batibo, Njikwa, Wum and Benakuma) out of 34 in the North West Region.

Several advocacy discussions with Council officials (Municipal and Traditional) and other stakeholders were organised in these Municipalities. Councils were encouraged to increase the percentage of their annual budgets for the underprivileged (youths, OVCs, PLWHA, widow(er)s, elderly by at least 40%.From these meetings it was realised that:

  • Babessi Municipality with 25 Councillors in its draft budget for 2016 has allocated 6,000,000 frs CFA for needy persons and has gone as far as identifying them in the 4 Fondoms.
  • Batibo Council too has set up a strategy to identify needy persons and has promised to assist at least 100 in 2016.
  • Njikwa acknowledged the fact that besides the holiday jobs offered to 25 youths in the Municipaity, they have not been very committed in addressing the needs of vulnerable persons. As such the 1st Deputy Mayor in his concluding speech said they would take the concept as a challenge and even though they have adopted their 2016 budget they are very flexible and ready to assist some vulnerable persons.
Batibo Lord Mayor encourages both Municipal and Traditional Councillors to be sensitive to the needs of the underprivileged .

Batibo Lord Mayor encourages both Municipal and Traditional Councillors to be sensitive to the needs of the underprivileged .

First and Second Deputy Mayors Njikwa welcome the concept of Social Inclusion in their Municipality.

First and Second Deputy Mayors Njikwa welcome the concept of Social Inclusion in their Municipality.

Member of the Traditional Council Bali talks about the situation of underprivileged persons at the village levels.

Member of the Traditional Council Bali talks about the situation of underprivileged persons at the village levels.

Babessi Municipal and Traditional Council members commit to social Inclusion.

Babessi Municipal and Traditional Council members commit to social Inclusion.

16 days of activism: Promoting dialogue and peace within communities

This year we are celebrating the 24th year of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign“. The 2015 theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. Our  29 trained Peace Volunteers joined 32 Volunteers of the Justice and Peace Service, Bamenda to raise awareness and stimulate discussions in their communities on this year’s theme.

They are using November 25th to December 10th 2015 in soliciting the engagement of religious leaders, heads of worship places and educational authorities in promoting messages, reflections and actions that promotes sustainable peace at the family, community, region and country level through:

  • Sending a messages of reconciliation to someone;
  • Sending telephone messages promoting and supporting peace;
  • Seeking to mediate between persons or groups in conflicting situations;
  • Supporting the needs of a needy and vulnerable children in school;
  • Participating in radio call-in programs sharing positive views on peace building;
  • Using Facebook, whatsapp and twitter to share messages for peace.

14 Municipal Councils commit in increasing of budget for the underprivileged

It was following lobbying and advocacy meetings with municipal and traditional council authorities in 14 Councils in the North West Region within the DEW Project of COMINSUD that the dire challenges of vulnerable and underprivileged persons in the municipalities were identified and strategies proffered in the spirit of programme budgeting in tackling these needs over the years.

A huge number of women, orphans, children under 14 years specially the girl child, physically challenged persons, persons from minority groups, PLWHA, widows and the elderly in the communities were identified to be facing critical challenges of discrimination, limited access to basic needs for survival, extreme poverty and much more. Through partnership agreements (MoUs) signed with COMINSUD, the Councils’ decided to increase their budget head for assisting the vulnerable in 2016 by varying percentages: Ako Council 60%, Oku Council: 25% and lots more….

The councils envisaged a minimum of 100 underprivileged persons benefiting from sustainable impacting assistance per council per year, giving 300 in three years thus 1,400 for 14 councils per year and a total 4,200 in three years. This cumulative impact is very significant which when properly implemented, documented and communicated wouldn’t go unnoticed. We encourage other councils to engage and do better.

Councils Involved: Bali, Batibo, Oku, Kumbo, Ndu, Ako, Ndop, Babessi, Belo, Fundong, Njikwa, Bafut, Wum, Benakuma

Municipal and traditional authorities in Oku

Municipal and traditional authorities in Oku

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Municipal and traditional authorities in Ako

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Mayor of Ako committing the collaboration of the council

Oku Traditional Council breaks a taboo

Oku-Elak is widely known as one of the communities of the North-West-Region of Cameroon that holds tradition at a very high esteem. Especially when it comes what is considered sacred the exclusion of women was obligatory. A gender analysis (COMINSUD, 2010) revealed that women were forbidden to be members of the Oku Traditional Council (TC).

With the changing times, women’s participation and contribution in all spheres of life could not escape their presence in the TC. The community realized that women play an important role in addressing women related cases.

Now the present Fon of Oku together with the 15 male members of the TC fully accepted female membership in the TC. The following criteria was placed to select these female members

  • Should be at least 45 years of age
  • Should be fully of Oku origin
  • Should be influential to move community development
discussing in the TC meeting

discussing in the TC meeting

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Oku Traditional Council with its six new female members

A Cameroon void of Discrimination!

The situation of vulnerable people in our local communities from observation, is a serious call for concern reason why some COMINSUD staff within the week, are gathering information to establish a data base on the situation of vulnerable people in the Benakuma, Wum, Ndu, Ako, Kumbo, Bali, Babessi and Oku council areas for the implementation of the Democracy and Empowerment of women (DEW) phase V project which aims at enhancing participation of communities in the decentralization process in collaboration with their various councils for effective local development benefiting the disadvantaged population.

We will keep you posted as activities unfold within this project…

African women development fund ready to partner with COMINSUD

Two project officers of the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) – Rosa Afful and Rissi Asani-Alabi from Ghana –  have paid a courtesy visit to the COMINSUD head office. The today’s visit was the first contact visit to the organization which was recently granted funds from the AWDF to execute a project dubbed “Women beyond Representation in the North west Region”.

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They sought to understand the organization better and get insights into the project which was submitted to their organization in October 2014. The guests were briefed on the objectives of the organization, its vision, mission strategic objectives and some ongoing and past projects. They also enabled the staff of COMINSUD to understand their areas of work.

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At the end of this brief but engaging meeting, they visited the activity communication boards where they saw some pictures, posters and flyers visualized.

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COMINSUD looks forward to implement this project in the months ahead – we will keep you informed.