What Cameroonian Cardinal was Told by His Captors During Nightlong Abduction

Christian Cardinal Tumi responding to questions from his captors.

Details of what those behind the abduction of Christian Cardinal Tumi told him have emerged in a video shared on social media, with the Cardinal seen calm and collected as he provided responses to some of the questions from his captors.

In the 5.47min video, the Cameroonian Cardinal who had been abducted the evening of November 5 alongside 12 other people, including the traditional Chief of the Nso tribe, Fon Sehm Mbinglo II, is accused, by the captors, of “creating problems in our territory” and that they had held him for “questioning.”

“We were at our checkpoint because we need to know who is entering our land and who is going out of our land. But unfortunately, we met you without you informing us that you would be entering our territory. We didn’t kidnap you, we pulled you out for questioning,” a member of the separatist group tells the Cardinal.

Cardinal Tumi responds that he was not coming to the separatists’ territory, rather “I was just passing through.”

“We have an allegation about you that you are the one that is creating problems in our territory ... calling the fighters who are on the ground, the Ambozonia restoration forces to lay down their arms,” the Cardinal is told in the back and forth discourse in which only two voices feature.

Cardinal Tumi responds, “All of us are fighting for peace. Even you.”

The Cardinal is told, “Let the government know that we will never lay down our arms until we are free because we are fighting for our rights. We are not rebels; we are not barbaric as the government says; we are fighting for our rights as a people.” 

The 90-year-old Cardinal says in response, “I am a Cameroonian citizen like you. I am not part of the government. I am totally independent of what I say. I am not the mouthpiece of the government and am not employed by the government.”

“If you have done wrong, I will tell you that you have done wrong; if the government has done wrong, I will tell them that they have done wrong!” the Cardinal further responds.

He continues, “I will preach what is true and what is in line with my pastoral and biblical convictions.”

“Nobody has the right to tell me to preach the contrary because I was called by God to preach the truth,” Cardinal Tumi who had been abducted at Baba I, a village along the Bamenda-Kumbo road in the Northwest region of Cameroon emphasizes.

Northwest and Southwest Cameroon, the two English-speaking regions of the Central African nation, have been experiencing violence since 2016 after the deployment of Francophone teachers and judges to the historically marginalized Anglophone region was resisted through protests.

The protests, which turned violent, involved lawyers and teachers in the Anglophone regions who resisted the deployment of their Francophone counterparts arguing that the two regions operated under different legal and educational systems.

In the video posted on National Telegraph Facebook page November 7, Cardinal Tumi is accused of clamoring for a federal system of government in Cameroon.

“Another allegation against you is about federation. That is the allegation that we have heard that you are fighting for federation,” the Cardinal is told by the member of the separatist group who adds, “We are not fighting for federation nor any special status because we believe that we are a country. We are fighting for our freedom.”

Cardinal Tumi who retired in November 2009 after serving as Bishop since January 1980 responds, “There are many misunderstandings between citizens of the same country.” 

“I asked the same question to an old retired teacher. She has never left the village from the beginning of the fighting until today. I asked this lady, what needs to be done now so that children can go back to school and for peace to return,” the Cardinal recounts.

He continues to recount two things that the “old retired teacher” told him saying, “The first that the president must declare a ceasefire. The second thing is that the army must return to the barracks, and these boys hidden in the bushes and forests must come out and immediately lay down their weapons, and there will be peace, and the children will be able to go back to school.”

“And I agree with her,” Cardinal Tumi say in reference to the suggestions made by the “old retired teacher” and bemoans the fate of many Cameroonians amid the four-year-old Anglophone crisis, “Many have lost their lives stupidly! I say stupidly because there is no real justification for the loss of life.” 

After a night in captivity, Cardinal Tumi was freed November 6.

The Cardinal who was ordained a Priest in April 1966 for Cameroon’s Buea Diocese has been vocal about the need for constructive and inclusive dialogue between President Paul Biya-led government and the leadership of the separatist group in view of finding a lasting solution to the Anglophone crisis.

In July 2018, the Cardinal, alongside other religious leaders, convened the All Anglophone General Conference (AGC) aimed as discussing strategies to bring the protracted crisis to an end. However, the government did not grant the authorization and the meeting did not take place. 

In August 2019, the Cardinal launched a nationwide crusade advocating for peace in the troubled regions of Cameroon.

With several resolutions adopted during the National Dialogue that was presided over by Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute in October 2019, Cardinal Tumi along with Archbishop Andrew Nkea of Bamenda Archdiocese led separate campaigns to sensitize the population about the resolutions.


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