A STATE WITHIN A STATE 

(The youth want to create one, but can they rule it?!)

By RENE BATETAKANG

 

          “A state within a state” is a story about the people of Bakassi region of Cameroon who desire to live in a semi-autonomous region if the current Cameroon government grants them such a political status. Through this, they will be able to think by themselves, design their own policies and achieve political and economic goals for themselves.

          Living around a frontier, in a disputed territory between Cameroon and Nigeria, the educated youth decide to hold meetings frequently and consequently overshadow their traditional rulers, who are the beholders of authority this far. The youth succeed in convincing their traditional council to jointly draft a petition and forward to their central government, requesting for semi-regional autonomy. Cameroon President – Jacques Mbida, accepts the Bakassi people’s plea and calls for a referendum, which the people voted overwhelmingly in favour of semi-regional autonomy.  

          Often times, the desire for autonomy increases as a result of frustrations faced by the local population. The Bakassi people found themselves humiliated by their own military forces, who abandon mines on their farms, which later explodes, killing their cattle and casing a lady’s limb to be amputated. The Ekondo Titi police, which exercises jurisdiction over Bakassi people, unjustifiably detains their most popular local news writer. After the Cameroon-Nigeria confrontations ended, through the International Court of Justice’s ruling, the Cameroon army faces rebel attacks and cause the villagers in one of the five villages that make up Bakassi to relocate in another area and live in tents, where the villagers fall sick and even die.

          The two protagonists of this story -one male and the other female, form NGO’s and CIG’s, and use their wealth of experience in agriculture and Human Rights respectively to save the people from Human Rights abuses and poverty. They both finally form rival political parties, which the male-dominated Human Rights and Democracy Party wins a recent election and forms a representative government which includes two strong women from the opposition front.

          Kingson Effiong, the male protagonist, assumes the title of High Commissioner, and governs Bakassi region. He gets married to a simple girl Sylvie, who formerly was a hair-dresser. 

          However, what continues to astonish Cameroon government is the fact that the people of Bakassi showed no interest for the oil-rich, mineral and petroleum deposits found beneath the Bakassi waters, but they lay claim only to the landed part, where they could have an opportunity to showcase their own prowess and develop their own “state”.  One day, an individual discovers a very rich goldmine beneath the waters of Bakassi's only river - River Amoto. The issue is kept secret and the mining is solely controlled by the son of Bakassi’s paramount chief -Kingson Effiong, who thereafter becomes the regional leader for Bakassi region, styled 'High Commissar'.

           Finally, Cameroon’s Head Of State -  President Jacques Mbida, pays a visit to the newly-formed state of Bakassi and installs the newly-formed government. From that time on the new state of Bakassi was born.

                                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                              

 

 

                                          A STATE WITHIN A STATE                                               

                                                    PART ONE  

                                                  

                                                      CHARACTERS.                             

Kingson

Indira

Constable 1

Constable 2

Shey

Ngeme

Inspector Toko

Chief Effiong

Chief Ekong

Chief Ekali

Chief Esua

Chief Ozoh

Major

Mindja

Benji

Javis

Majolie

Esther

Ma Cecilia

Ma Debo

Ma Nteki

Ma Vero

Maria

Bekali

Sylvie

Eleane

Sirri

Ejike

Bassong

Nguess

Villager 1

Villager 2

Villager 3

Ruth

Nurse

John Issa

Klaus Tengo

Journalists (1-12)

Soldiers (1- 8)

Students (1-3)

Guard 1

Minister

Hon. Normen

Christian Mbondo

Jean Paul

Sarah Anyi

Peter Kale

Toh Mercy

Drusila Nanga

Bessem Ayuk

Beltus Chia

Mbu Simon

Hoaves

Mr. Shamil

Bini

Samuel

Tebit

Jerry

Johnson

Child

Pa

Benedict

Carlson

Andrea

Martin

Chiba

Woman 1

Woman 2

Woman 3

Borris

Hoaves

Pamela

Ruth

Jacky

Corina

Nathalie

Zimo

Tchami

Salome

Mvogo

Judge

Ch. Judge

Ching Lee

Wong Su

Moussa

Kurt Palmer

Dr. Eyabi

Dr. Wincook

Mrs. Musanga

Jacques Mbida

Mr. Nlend

 

SCENE 1

KINGSON talks with KLAUS while they walk on the street.

Kingson:     I’m foreseeing a state within the state of Cameroon. I am thinking of making Bakassi an autonomous government region where we shall have full control of our own region.

Klaus:    I thought when you talked of 'a state within a state', you considered the ten regions of Cameroon as states, and Bakassi would become one of the states bordering the south  west  region, making it eleven states altogether.

Kingson: You can take it either way, but what I want us to go in for is the type which has to have full autonomy.

Klaus:    So, we’ll have to deal directly with Yaoundé government without having anything to do with the governor of the south west region where are?

Kingson: Yeah.

Klaus:    Kingson, what if the International Court of Justice’s ruling turns out otherwise?

Kingson: That’s far-fetched. The I.C.J  can never hand sovereignty of Bakassi to Nigeria. The I.C.J’s decision would largely depend on the Anglo-German Treaty of 1913, which both Germany, Britain and the then traditional authorities took a unanimous decision and accorded sovereignty of Bakassi to Cameroon.

Klaus:    But we’re dealing with law. It also depends on Nigeria’s argumentative strength—The defense they’ll put up at the  Hague.

Kingson: Yeah, yeah. But the I.C.J is at a level where law is not manipulated the I.C.J is one of the most functional organs of the UN which I admire so much. All its members are jurists of high standing- People who hold  jurisprudence at heart.

 

                                                              SCENE 2

                                   At a police check point in  Massaka village.    

Insp. Toko: Hei Madam! Where are you heading to?

Jennet:       I’m going home. 

Insp. Toko: And you answer so courageously. Don’t you know that you are not supposed to be out at this hour of the night? (Jennet makes faces). Can I have your ID Card, please?

                    (Jenet removes the ID from her handbag and gives it to the policeman). From where are you coming?   

Jennet:         I’m coming from Ekondo Titi.

Insp. Toko: Please, get into this car and wait for me inside.

Jennet:       Excuse me, sir; what is all this? For what reason are you keeping me here? I say I’m going home, and you are telling me to get into your vehicle! Please can you return my ID Card to me?

Constable1:            You are not even afraid to walk in the dark? At 11am!

Jennet:         Excuse me, officer; I don’t know whether it’s because you know me...Is it because I refused to dance with you the other day, that’s why you are worrying me?

Constable 2: Haven’t you read the recent communiqué from the Ministry of Defense, which forbids residents of Bakassi to stay outdoors after 12pm?  

Jennet:         But what is the time, officer? (Looking at her wristwatch). Isn’t the time seven minutes past 11pm?

Insp. Toko: Please get into the vehicle and ask no more questions.

            (Police officers force Jennet into their car and drive her to their station at Massaka, where they lock her up by 11:20pm).

 

 

 

                                                      SCENE 3

Some youth of Bakassi Peninsular gather to talk about their N.G.O and Common Initiative Group.

Kingson:     I think it is high time to develop a comprehensive and systematic way of living. There is no society where people do not live by principles and set up concrete objectives through which they will use to achieve certain goals.

Klaus:         Truly, I think the Human Rights principles which our leader – Makki Kingson, has briefed us on  are the very fundamental principles that should govern and guide human conduct and freedom in every society all around the world.

Kingson:     Being the founder of my NGO- “Watch Our For Your Rights”, I have decided to allocate the following posts to you people:

                   Public Relations Ofifcer - Klaus Tengo

                    (He stands up, raises his hand and sits down). 

                   John Issa          – Treasurer

                   Benedict Tahla – Secretary

                   Pamela Sama   – Social Affairs Agent

                   Carlson Loh     – Education Officer

                   Diengo Max     – Communication and Statistics.

                     Paul Asomo  -    Sports

                    Dilan Toko       Health

                   Alloh Festus –      Defense.             

                      So, ladies and gentlemen, our N.G.O doubles as a Common Initiative

                     Group whose documents have already been forwarded to the nation's   capital – Yaoundé. These are the letters of approval from the Ministry of Agriculture. (KINGSON takes them up for everyone to see. There’s an applause the follows).

Klaus:         Before our leader and founder – Makki Kingson Effiong exhausts his point, I would like him to tell us the more special thing which he promised telling us today. He told me just before this meeting began, that he has a secret to divulge to us. At least, concerning the matter of C.I.G, we all saw it in our invitation letters, so we are not very surprised by the creation of a new C.I.G. Without much a do, I give the floor to Kingson Effiong.

Kingson:     Recently, I went to Yaounde to tender our application for forming a political party. Remember, we all discussed the issue during our last meeting. All what the Minister of Territorial Administration insisted that I should guarantee him was that, all the members of my party should be Cameroonians, and a second question was: If a large majority of Bakassi inhabitants are Cameroonians. I gave him outright responses: Yes, yes…in fact, I fulfilled all the rest of the requirements to be considered eligible: Age, I’m above thirty; the 500,000 francs caution fee, I paid; and all the bla, bla, bla. (Massive applause). 

 

SCENE 4

Elders of the five villages that make up Bakassi Peninsular gather to

discuss issues.

Effiong:      Elders of Bakassi region, we have gathered here today to address basically two issues…First and foremost, we are to carefully examine the transition that seems to occur soon in our region. Secondly, we have to decide on how to govern the people, and who to govern them. We all know that the International Court of Justice is soon to give a ruling on the Cameroon- Nigeria border dispute; and my son also told me that he has formed a political party…As far as I can foresee, these are roots they are setting, which, by implication, shall likely create a parallel rulership in Bakassi Peninsul.

Ch. Ozoh:   (Claps his hands three times before speaking). Elders of Bakassi, I greet you people. I, Chief Ozoh, chief of Abana, has noticed a blowing wind in Bakassi, that is moving towards a certain direction. Though at first it occurred like a daydream, it is becoming more and more virtual, and may become the mainstream…The youth of our region are organizing meetings quite too often nowadays. Like HRH Chief Effiong just said, I am becoming very skeptical about their forming a political party.

Ch. Ekali:   (Claps his hands thrice and clears his throat). I, Chief Ekali of Massaka, have noticed the precipitating events taking place in Bakassi land. It appears as if the youth are aware of the International Court of Justice’s ruling, coming up soon, and are foreseeing that this region will be handed to us the Cameroonians.

                     (Participants node and seem to approve the comment).

                     I don’t have much more to say…

Ch. Effiong:         Chief Esua of Odiong, I see your hand up. You have the floor…

Ch. Esua:   Elders of Bakassi, our host HRH Tata Effiong of Amoto village, I greet you all. To go straight to the point, I have heard that two factions are already existing in this Peninsula. I heard the learned youth – university graduates, are championing and creating organizations and movements, and they are already aspiring to run affairs, control and direct people; laying ground work for future management of resources in this sub-region…Elders of Bakassi, may I hold my breath for a while…

Ch. Effiong:         Fellow elders, I have a question in mind. We are all  Cameroonians, aren’t we? (Everybody answers “we are”). We would have to bring the youth to us and ask them precise questions (All members approve the comment verbally).   

                                      

 

SCENE 5

                  At an army Colonel’s residence INDIRA is led in by a young Major.

Mayor:       Colonel, a lady called Indira wants to see you. 

Mindja:      (Smiles) let her in. (As INDIRA comes in, COLONEL MINDJA jumps to her and embraces her, kissing INDIRA at the same time).

                   So, how are things going?

Indira:        Life is moving on fine. I’m getting to a very tough stage in my life, which is showing me that I would have a very long way to go.

Mindja:      About how many miles? (They both smile and soon laugh).

Indira:        Colonel Mindja, don’t take it lightly. Everyone has his or her own path to move on in life. I’ve just applied to run an N.G.O, which will be functioning alongside my C.I.G.

Mindja:      I’ve forgotten the name of your C.I.G.

Indira:        Women’s Agricultural Society.

Mindja:      Yes, it has come to my memory. I just forgot…That’s interesting anyway. Carry on with it…I give you all my encouragements…

Indira:        You know, the International Court of Justice has not yet passed a verdict on the disputed Bakassi Peninsula. Our location, being at a war zone, makes international organizations to be very skeptical when dealing with me.

Mindja:      (Nodding) I see. I see. Anyway it’s normal to react the way they do.

 

 

SCENE 6

               COLONEL MINDJA and INDIRA are moving outside at the Colonel's yard.

Indira:        Colonel, do you know one thing?

Mindja:      No, except you tell me what you mean.

Indira:        What if a bomb or bullet just volley about and strike a battalion…your             battalion (Silence)… when you are in the battlefield.

Mindja:      Well, lady, if we plant such thoughts in our minds, we would never enjoy life. When you are in the battle ground, you only think of victory. I won’t tell you a lie… There’re moments that you wish that your enemy withdraws from war, or a peaceful negotiation be conducted by the belligerents.

Indira:        (Giggles) May God protect you never to be injured in war.

Mindja:      Thank you so much…Do you know one reason why I very much admire you? You display not only remarkable intelligence, but also some intense affection.

Indira:        Thanks for the compliment.

Mindja:      Please, Indira, we’ll soon part. My guards are already looking at us keenly. I hope you will call around before it is seven days.

Indira:        Okay, okay. Bye.

Mindja:      Good-bye.     

 

SCENE 7

                      At CHIEF  EFFIONG’S Palace. He talks with his son KINGSON.

Ch. Effiong      KingsonKingson

Kingson:          Yes, Daddy. I’m coming (Kingson comes to the parlour.)

Ch. Effiong:    Please have your seat. We have to talk about some serious issues right  now. Listen attentively and share your opinion in the best way possible. The issue is about leadership and control or governance of Bakassi

Kingson:     I’m listening, Daddy.

Ch. Effiong:         Which person according to you can best rule this sub-region? Is it the elders who have been exercising control this far, or you the youth?

Kingson:     Pa, after a careful thought, and looking at things with a prospective view, in the modern world that were are, I think the youth who have dignity, integrity and intelligence will best rule our land.

Ch. Effiong:         Why don’t you think the elders can as well rule it?

Kingson:     Pa, let me state a point which will depict a weakness on the part of the elders'… Pa, take into consideration the fact that Bakassi Peninsular is given to Cameroon, and our quest for regional autonomy is granted. Rulership would take a new face altogether. There would be big load of work for you people to do. You will have to read documents, interpret some, make research, and travel a lot!

Ch. Effiong:         Makki Kingson, my son.

Kingson:     Yes, Daddy, I’m listening…

Ch. Effiong:         What you have just said doesn’t need further explanation. That is what I have spent two weeks thinking about. I regarded all the tiresome labour and stress we would have to go through, if we the elders decide to rule Bakassi formally.

Kingson:     Daddy, we the youth also spent some time examining this same issue. We concluded that we cannot work as a mixed generation of people. If Cameroon government grants us autonomy, we would have to devise means through which traditional chiefs will have substantial benefits from our administration. We would fight for you people to become even  third class chiefs, so that you too will reap the fruits that your counterparts nationwide  are enjoying now.

Ch. Effiong:         Kingson, though you are still at the start of your endeavour, I’m tempted to give you my blessings immediately. Come. (KINGSON moves forward and prostrates, with his knees touching the ground. His father places his horse tail three times on his back, then, the boy gets up).

Kingson:     Thank you, Daddy.

Ch. Effiong:         At thirty-seven- years- of- age, and being a holder of a Masters' ' Degree in History, you are capable of handling whatever post of responsibility that is given you. It would be a great thing for me to see you people at the helm of administration, if ever that will happen.

Kingson:     Thank you, Daddy. In fact, we have a lot of plans, and we are determined to do great things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                     SCENE 8

    KLAUS TENGO and PAMELA SAMA are in a drinking spot. They are sitting        opposite each other, sipping their drinks.

Klaus:    I mean what I said. You look charming!

Pamela: (Looks as if surprised) .What suggests that?

Klaus:    So, you want me to give you a complete portrait of yourself? It takes a sensitive guy only thirty seconds to scan a “Diva” and sort out every element of her beauty.

Pamela: Klaus, do you know that you guys use every means to flatter ladies? Just to get one thing?

Klaus:    And what’s the thing?

Pamela: A three-letter word.

Klaus:    My dear, spare me out. Exclude me from such nasty intensions. I go in whole-heartedly for a four-letter word. The one that begins with letter “L”.

Pamela: True Love?

Klaus:    Of course…I want us to digress a little bit…I don’t know what you think about Kingson Effiong. How do you see the guy?

Pamela: You are his right hand man, you should know him better.

Klaus:    Please make a comment. Don’t be reticent! You’re now a politician. You should keep away this cool attitude of yours. You must learn to make instantaneous comments;  I mean, be ready to react to issues as they arise.

Pamela: Really?

Klaus:   You’ll hardly become a successful politician if you maintain this cool, gentle ways of yours. (Pamela laughs)

Pamela: I think you know that, right from school, I’ve often been this modest type of person (she takes a deep a breath). Well, on your question: Politically, Kingson is a tough politician; socially he is a nice guy.

Klaus:    Wait, wait a second! Do you know that Kingson is befriending a mere hair-dresser who goes by the name Sylvie?

Pamela: Wow! But that’s his choice! Do you have another girl for him?

Klaus:    I mean, even if all has to come to the worst, I can’t go in for a girl who can’t measure up with my standard. Instead of talking with a chap like Indira, he goes and meddles with a girl who’s not learned at all!

Pamela: Well, every eye has its own focal point and every decision has its viewpoint.

Klaus:    Pamela, lets get back to this issue : (Klaus takes a deep breath). Concerning our relationship, you’ve not yet given me a green card. (Pamela smiles). I wish to know if I would leave this place jubilating or lamenting?

Pamela: You personally have to make your own look. You can keep a positive look, after all appearances are deceptive.

Klaus:    Pamela, you’re kind of keeping me in suspense. You hardly say “Yes”.

Pamela: Klaus, I think psychology studies reveal that about eighty-five percent of human communication is none- verbal.

Klaus:    Ladies…Ladies…You and intuition. I doubt the day you people will break away from that word. You examine things by intuition, you understanding mostly by intuition…your intuition level is very high!

Pamela: I think all you mean to say is that intuition is natural, isn’t it?

 

 

 

SCENE 9

                    The talk about the recent creation of political parties is the order of the da in Bakassi. At the office of THE INFORMER – the local news brochure, three writers are discussing, facing their computers, while developing articles to be published soon.

Benji:          Do you know that the women’s wing is a pro- agriculture party that is aiming at fostering agricultural growth in Bakassi? 

Javis:          What type of agricultural growth? 

Benji:          I mean, improved farming conditions, faster growth of crops, better farm products, diminishing pest effect, and to some extent channeling farm produce to the markets.

Javis:          I have understood you. Thanks for the explanation.

Benji:          We have to print and supply our local paper every three weeks or month. The Informer is conceived to disseminate information across the entire Bakassi region and its environs.

 

 

SCENE 10

        Today is June 6th, 2002. Members of INDIRA’S  N.G.O.  assemble in a conference room.

Majolie:      Dear members of the Women’s Agricultural Society- WAS. Miss Indira has clearly briefed us on our programme of activity, which is: to sensitize farmers on growing better crops, supply pesticides, and encourage large – scale farming and increase productivity. At this juncture, I’ll like Miss. Andrea, our acting secretary, to come forward and conduct the voting exercise.

                   (Each of the ten members that make up the WAS executive come forward and do the voting. About fifteen minutes later, MAJOLIE ETANG reads the results as follows:)

                  

                    The President elect is…Indira Musanga. (Applause)…For the post of Vice – President, the V.P elect is Honora Ekpe …The rest of the list is as follows:

                   Public Relations Officer –       Gladys Tande    

                   Economic Supervisor      -       Ruth Aborang

                   Public Management & Dev. – Mr. Paul Danze

                   Defense & Security                Mr. Henry Kom

                   Scientific Research                Mary Nkpara

                   Education                  -              Laurentine Aboro

                   Sports                                      Liza Nkeng

                   Communication                       Majolie Etang

                                                (Applause)

                   At this juncture, I’ll hand the microphone to my able President, Miss. Indira Musanga.

Indira:        Dear comrades (Applause) Please, allow me to speak…You may not know why I decided to address you people specially today as comrades. This day, 6th June, 2002, our women’s dominated party has been formed. These are the authorization documents (Raises them up) which were signed two days ago in Yaounde. The well-chosen name I have designed for our political party is “The People’s Party for Democracy and Agricultural Development”. – PPDAD. In short, it is called PPDAD (Applause). If you’re not very retentive, and to give the party name some finesse, as from this day, I tolerate you people to call it PP Daddy (Applause). Do you know what that implies? It implies that, women will always work hand in hand with their husbands; girls will love and work with boys; in short, mutual respect and cooperation has to reign in Bakassi region! (Applause). When I say PP Daddy, you say investment, massive production,  reforms… PP Daddy…

Executive:  Investment, massive production, reforms (Applause)   

 

SCENE 11

At a newly opened community farm. Women are working happily, singing

and ploughing with their hoes. Some  explosions are  heard, soon  sudden  screaming follows. Something seems to have happened! Some women rush to the spot of the explosions to rescue the fallen victims, while majority of them run away from the plot. Two victims are being pulled out of the farm.

Esther:       This is unspeakable and unacceptable!! What ill luck is this? Bring some ropes and splints for me to tie the legs and hold them in place. (Two women are suffering severely. Ma Nteki is badly injured. Ma Vero is not very badly injured but she cannot walk either).

Ma Cecilia:          They were hit by bombs! More bombs might soon explode, so let's keep a safe distance from this place!

Ma Debo:   Let us carry them to Chief Effiong. He would drive the victims immediately to Ekondo Titi General Hospital.  

Maria:        This is an abomination! The army came and planted bombs on our lands?!

Bekali:        It might be  Nigerians who planted the bombs on our land.

Esther:       No, Nigerians have never got right to this area. We shall withdraw from this Cameroon nation. We have to live separately. After all, we have earlier been living like orphans.

Bekali:        In our own country.

Esther:       A region with not tarred roads, nothing. No administration…We shall form our own government, if they think that we cannot form one.

Ma Cecilia:          Let us take the victims to the Amoto military camp before conveying them to the hospital. We have to show the army what they have caused to us! (They’re going along with the two victims).

Esther:       We can't go to the Amoto military headquarters at this point in time. A lot of blood is flowing from Ma Nteki’s legs…Ma Nteki (She barely answers).

Belali:         Please, after applying First Aid at Chief Effiong’s palace, we shall have to rush the victims to the nearest hospital.

 

 

(CHIEF EFFIONG does first aid on the victims and soon drives them to Ekondo Titi

General hospital. There is a wave of widespread consternation in Bakassi's five villages).

 

 

SCENE 12

At Sylvia Beauty Saloon.

   SYLVIE , ELEANE and SIRRI are conversing about a recent happening.

Sylvie:         I went to Ekondo Titi to see it for myself. Ma Nteki was lying in a private ward. The doctor said, her right limb that was more injured will likely be cut off.

Eleane:       What! That Ma Nteki’s right leg will be cut off? Is that how serious the issue is?!

Sylvie:         Yes. I heard of it from the horse’s own mouth. The doctor said, except we are lucky, then the leg won’t be amputated.

Sirri:           So, an individual who has lived her whole life, only struggling to cope with dregs of life; at this age of about sixty years, her leg has to be cut off?!  

 

                       (Claps her hands. A phone rings. It's Sylvie’s).

Sylvie:         Hallo…

Kingson:     Hallo, my girl… How are you today?

Sylvie:         I’m fine. And you?

Kingson:     Well, I’m okay. Any news for me? 

Sylvie:         (Amused) No. No.

Kingson:     Would it be possible for you to pay me a visit tomorrow?

Sylvie:         Where?

Kingson:     At my family residence.

Sylvie:         You know, I don’t like being in a big man’s house. You know, all the issue of palace, paramount chief’s residence; everything is in strict control. One can’t even cough freely inside your family home…

Kingson:     Ple-as-se, come on. In a year or two I’ll be living in my own house…So, will you come over?

Sylvie:         Well…I prefer seeing you at your N.G.O secretariat.

Kingson:     Umm... Do you know that the former N.G.O secretariat is now called Party Secretariat?

Sylvie:         No, I don’t. Why the change of name?         

Kingson:     I have formed a political party of  which I’m the president.

Sylvie:         Wow! Congratulations!

Kingson:     Thanks for your appreciation. So, we’re very busy laying ground work. We are organizing the way we have to function. That is, our sources of income and how we would have to be spending the money.

Sylvie:         Okay, I’ll come to your family residence. You said tomorrow, confirm?

Kingson:     Yeah, tomorrow by 4pm .

Sylvie:         Have a nice day!

Kingson:     Same to you, and take care.

 

SCENE 13

At His Royal Highness CHIEF TATA EFFIONG’S Palace, agitated and

disgruntled villagers of Amoto village have gathered, ready to react

according to a plan of action to be decided on by their paramount chief.

 

Ch. Effiong:         Elders of Bakassi…Where is Chief Ekong of Archibong? What of Chief Esua of Odiong? Kingson, get my cell phone for me (Kingson goes into the house to get the cell phone).

Villager 1:  Please, listen to your paramount chief.

Ch. Effiong:         We are about to march to the military camp here in Amoto. No one should throw the first stone at any military personnel! Nobody should run out of anger! 

Ejike:         His Royal Highness, if I get to that camp and nobody gets hold of me, I will cut off a soldier's nose. Should my elder sister have to spend the rest of her life hopping like a chicken?

Ch. Effiong:         Please, Ejike, you might not be as angry as I am. I am sorry that this situation has befallen your family as well as our entire community. I beg of you to stand near the chiefs when we get to the soldiers' camp. Please, if you will not be able to hold your peace, you may have to go to Ekondo Titi hospital to take care of your sister for the moment.

Ejike:         I am not going anywhere. I have been there already. We have all seen my dieing sister, but we have not yet seen the people who planted the destructive bombs on our farms.

Kingson:     Please, Ejike, we are reporting this situation to the Cameroon government. We are writing to the government very soon. We have to keep all the chiefs and administrators of our region (Ndian Division) informed, including His Excellency the Governor of the South West Region. There is also the Minister of Defense, not leaving out the Minister of Territorial Administration. I’ll soon take the matter to Yaoundé.

                    (Ejike is brought to calm. Two chiefs are seen talking with him). 

Ch. Effiong:         Let no one carry along any sort of weapon! I don’t want sticks! Take along only your farm tools. Hold spades but no spears…

Kingson:     Please, let all our acts be non-violent. That is the weapon we have to use in order to triumph. Don’t be the first to act in any way violent!

                   (Villagers of Amoto and some others that have come from neighbouring Abana and Massaka, join in the two kilometers march to the military headquarters).

 

 

SCENE 14

In front of the headquarters of Bakassi Central Battalion.. Only a three-rolls barbed wire fence is separating about thirty armed soldiers on one side, and about two hundred villagers on the other side.

Bassong:    Get ready! The villagers are coming! None of you should fire any bullet at a villager, except they decide to wage a war against us, or they infiltrate  into our premises.

Soldier 1:    By your orders, sir.

Bassong:    Keep your eyes on me, and act only upon my signal! Don’t shoot anybody, Captain Nguess, let's be at the front!

Nguess:      Behave as if you seem to neglect your guns…The wingers, don’t take your hands off your pistols!

                   (The villagers march forward HRH CHIEF EFFIONG moves forward, looking very furious. The villagers rush to the fence, almost learning on the barbed wire). Some of the soldiers begin making phone calls, either calling for backup, or giving a minute-by-minute report of what is happening).

Ch. Effiong:         Senior soldiers, we have come here to protest against the issue of mines littered on our farms. At first it was our cattle that had their legs cut off  before they were later slaughtered. We could not even transport them to our residential areas. We had to go to the farms to slaughter only one out three cows… In fact, we were even afraid to go near two of the affected cows that could no longer walk. Finally, they got rot. You can imagine the horrible stench that enveloped our entire land…Now it is human flesh. Yesterday,  two women stepped on mines and they’ll soon have their legs amputated at the Ekondo Titi General Hospital.

 Bassong:   I’ve heard from HRH Chief Effiong. Actually we got news of what you have just told us, this morning. We are equally compassionate and sympathetic to you people. We have to carry out investigations in order to know the source of the mines and their impact.

Ch.Ozoh:    Senior soldier, this is not a matter of investigations and postponements! First, you people should go and remove all those bombs from our farms and plots.

Villager 2:  You the army  have to go and treat the two women whose limbs are soon to be amputated. Leave behind monies for their bills…Use even your own doctors to give those patients medical attention!

Villager 3:  What we need is not words like “we are going to carry out investigations”

Ch. Ekali:   Captain, this situation requires prompt action! If possible, let your military ambulance be shuttling from Ekondo Titi hospital to Amoto village till those women are cured completely.

Klaus:         Give us even your walkie talkie. We don’t even have a good telephone network to find out about the state of our mothers’ health.

Nguess:      Dear villagers, it is not normal and also out of place for us to give you our military gadgets. Let us try to understand ourselves. We cannot abandon our defense engagement to look after your patients. We are defending our country - you people.

Ejike:         Defending which people? You say that you cannot help my sister?! (Ejike charges forward, two chiefs and some others struggle to hold his muscular body, other villagers mount up courage. The soldiers are alert. Some hold their guns tight).

Ruth:          Here we are with farm tools but we cannot go to our farms. We need food to survive! At first we were mainly looking for food; now we are looking for food and medicines, including peace of mind!

 

SCENE 15

At COLONEL MINDJA'S  residence. About the same moment that the villagers of

Amoto are protesting at the Amoto military headquarters.

Indira:        Colonel Mindja…

Mindja:      Yeah. (Both of them looking at each other with compassion).

Indira:        This is a very tense period for both of us. My people are totally disgruntled by your indiscretion. You people made a very big mistake. How can you people forget to neutralize mines from your own territory?!

Mindja:      Truly speaking, all occurred to me like a surprise. During the period of sporadic fighting, we had to do everything possible to hinder Nigerian forces from crossing certain boundaries and get into our territory. The mines were serving as instruments of ambush.

Indira:        But you ought to have demine  the areas of concern! Don’t you have a map of all your operations?!

Mindja:      (Places his left palm on his face). There’s some amount of negligence on our part…sheer negligence. But this chaos is also resulting from the frequent change of command from one colonel to another…

Indira:        Please, do something immediately!

Mindja:      We have to… We shall have to act immediately. Oh! My image has been tarnished in this region! I had gained recognition and admiration from these five villages of this region. When I go to Odiong people offer me fish as 'dash'. The chief of Abana, once he sees me, he’ll just send one if his boys to catch a squirrel or a mole for me…I eat bush meat almost every day I go on patrol to Abana.

                   (Colonel Mindja and Indira hear noises emanating from an approaching crowd. They both keep silence for five seconds).

Mindja:      Check over there! Peep through the window blinds. (Indira moves to the window, shifts the blind and looks outside. She’s completely shocked). 

Indira:        My own people!

Mindja:      Your people? (He rushes and peeps through the window).

Indira:        This is  my death! Colonel Mindja, my death has come!

Mindja:      (Holding Indira by the hands). Look! Listen to me! Assume that you are     not in this house. Get some cold water from the fridge and go lock up yourself in my room! I’ll send a guard to keep you company. Pray and trust in God.

Guard 1:     Colonel! ( A guard rushes in).

Mindja:      Inform Amoto Central Battalion of the situation. Ask them for backup. You are four of you, aren’t you?

Guard 1:     Yes, we are four of us.

Mindja:      Are the masses armed?

Guard 1:     They are carrying sticks, hoes, spades and cutlasses. Many of them are holding fresh branches containing green leaves.

Mindja:      Be on alert! Let's go out and encounter them. Act only upon my command. Don’t allow them cross the barbed wire fence. Inform your colleagues (Wearing his military uniform quickly).

 

                   COLONEL MINDJA and his four military guards are outside in his compound. The villagers are on the other side, almost leaning on the fence. parts of their bodies are inside MINDJA’S compound. Two guards are talking on their walkie talkie.

 

Mindja:      Good day, people of Bakassi villages.

Villager 4:  What is good about this day? What have you done with the victims of mine explosions?

Mindja:      Excuse me, His Royal Highness. I am speaking on behalf of the entire military service involved in the defense mission that we have come for. We beg that you people give us a chance to find a solution to this crisis.

Villager 1:  Is it only after so have suffered casualties that you people would then have to think of a solution?

Ch.Effiong: I mean, this is unacceptable! Colonel Mindja, what is the solution that you the army have decided on?

Mindja:      Please, His Royal Highness, we are still to get our feet to the ground on this issue. I am sorry to say, we have not yet held any meeting in relation to the mine explosion problem.