Simon Nkwenti, the agrarian Trade Unionist and civil society leader cum CATTU Scribe is no more. Simon Nkwenti died on Tuesday August 21, 2012 at the Bamenda General Hospital. The news of his death flustered the population of Bamenda city and reverberated across the country like hurricane catherina. No death of a Cameroonian has produced such a shocking atmosphere within the last 20 years like his death. Simon Nkwenti died soon after celebrating his 49th birthday. Judging from his health record, it is aired Nkwenti was diabetic. Diabetes and hypertension are twin brothers, but every modern doctor would attest that to maintain a stable condition it is necessary that the patient should never be exposed to any stressful situation.
But Nkwenti loved Cameroon to such an extent that he found it absolutely impossible to relax or sleep if anything was going wrong. He founded the most vibrant teacher’s trade union CATTU to fight for the welfare of teachers which always put him at unfriendly relations with the people in Yaounde (Regime). In his capacity as the Secretary General of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union-CATTU, he fought hard to improve on the status of the teachers. Being a true-born leader, Simon Nkwenti also got himself into civil society activism. His ideas and lobbying skills were accepted and approved by Cameroonians as everyone approved his approach of naming and shaming corrupt practices.
Simon Nkwenti was somebody who could never be satisfied with mediocrity when excellence could be attained. He wanted and spent his life working for the best for Cameroon in terms of education. But since charity as they say should begin at home, he fought for the creation of a Higher Technical Teacher Training College and the second cycle of ENS, both in Bambili. He was a frontliner in the fight for the creation of the University of Bamenda-UBa. When the Biya regime dragged it feet in appointing the administration of UBa, Nkwenti threatened to go to the streets. He was even arrested and detained at the judicial police for over 6 hours before Fon Chafah threatened to enter the cell if Nkwenti was not released.
Besides, when Nkwenti took the decision to combat crime in Bamenda, the Yaounde regime was rattled. At the Presidency of the Republic, Nkwenti’s name became anathema. The question was how can a civilian champion a fight against crime? At a certain point, he was attacked. It is alleged he was even shot. But being a true-born leader, he survived. Nothing has ever threatened the Biya regime than when Nkwenti created vigilant groups in each quarter to combat crimes in Bamenda. It was therefore thanks to Nkwenti that special elite forces like BIR and Esir were to combat crimes were trained and dispatched to big towns in the country. Yet, government had never taken it lightly.
Why the Biya Regime is blamed for Nkwenti’s Death?
No regime anywhere on earth likes to be pushed around, especially a dictatorial regime. The Biya regime certainly felt uncomfortable being constantly reminded to fulfill the duty it is in place for.
When Nkwenti attended a meeting in Bertoua, he sensitized both the English and French teachers on a march for the application of article 66, this was when the regime was determined he was not to succeed. That march was to ensure that President Biya declares his assets and by so doing set the pace for others to follow.Public opinion in Bamenda however holds that Nkwenti had to die for the doctorial and corruption prone regime to survive. But as one Nkwenti sympathizer said in spontaneous reaction to Nkwenti’s death today at Press and Associates in Bamenda, when you kill a hero, you simply make room for another hero to emerge. The welfare of the people has never been the preoccupation of those in power in Cameroon. Personal interest is the motivation for nearly all actions. Simon Nkwenti was on treatment when a meeting was convened to discuss the sensitive issue of the price hikes at the Prime Minister’s Office. The conveners knew Nkwenti was on a sick bed but they insisted he should attend the meeting. Nkwenti left the hospital to attend the meeting. That decision was part of his life to see that Cameroon is better for everyone. It should be recalled that former Governor of the North West Region had suspended Nkwenti’s salary. That was enough stress for him and it was intended to starve his family. Government also used the Teachers Association of Cameroon-TAC (or what it means) to write petitions against CATTU and Nkwenti which were sent to ministries and even some partners of CATTU like Frederich Elbert Foundation. Like the Pharisees they stood at the gate of the paradise of giving Cameroonians better standards of living
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