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Cameroon Cleric Recounts Kidnapping Experience

Archbishop of Bamenda Relied on Praying the Rosary

“I told them they cannot achieve their goals by practicing evil, because evil can only lead to evil”, said His Exc. Mgr. Cornelius Fontem in an interview on Cameroon’s national television Esua, Archbishop of Bamenda, in the north-west of Cameroon, who had been kidnapped on June 25 and released the next day.

Mgr. Cornelius Fontem Esua was returning from a pastoral tour for a few days when his car was blocked by a group of secessionist rebels (amba-boys), near the village of Belo-Njikwe.

Bishop Esua tried to explain to the separatists that he had to return to the archdiocese after 5 days of absence and tried to physically remove the barrier placed on the road, as he had done with four other rebel checkpoints.

“Suddenly a group of secessionists on motorbikes came screaming and started to threaten. They wanted to brutalize my driver. I told them not to touch him and that if they wanted to take it out on someone, they would have to take it out on me”, the Archbishop said, who was kidnapped but said that he was treated well. “I spent the whole night reciting the Rosary,”  said Archbishop Esua, who was released the next day after having had a telephone conversation with the “general” who led the rebel group. “I told him that they cannot achieve their goals by practicing evil, because evil can only lead to evil. And God will not be able to hear their prayers if they continue to do evil, because we must not do to others what we do not want to be done to us,” said the Archbishop.

Since 2016 the north-west and south-west of Cameroon are in the throes of a secessionist crisis born from the request of the local English-speaking populations to be able to use the English language instead of the French language at school and in courts. The protest degenerated into an independence movement that clashes with the regular army. So far, attempts to resolve the crisis have failed.

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