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Was Yanou Killed Because Of Anglophone Problem? Wife Speaks 

Mrs. Nicole Yanou

On January 27, 2015, Prof. Mike Yanou died in a mysterious motor accident along the Douala-Yaounde road. To mark the 2nd anniversary of his death, The Post caught up with his wife, Mrs. Nicole Yanou, to talk about a man whose entire career in the Ministry of Higher Education was focused on ensuring better working conditions and, above all, compel the Government to respect the Anglo-Saxon structure of the University of Buea.

Many belief he was killed for his uncompromising stance against Government policy to stifle free-thinking and human rights: Excepts:

The Post: During the launching of the Mike Yanou Foundation this time last year, Barrister Bobga Harmony said your husband was killed by the Cameroon Government because of his determination to fight injustice. Do you agree?

First of all, permit me say Happy New year to you and all your readers. No investigations were carried out after Mike died, so, I don’t have any evidence on which to categorically take a position on that. That notwithstanding, I will be a hypocrite if I say I have never considered that possibility.

This is based on the fact that some officials were passionately against him and made it quite clear that the University of Buea in particular will be a better place without Yanou. All types of propaganda were carried out against him in order to destroy him. At one point, when my husband was battling for his life, after a major operation, he was being hunted for disruption and other trumped-up charges.

Because he was under intensive care, I answered a call to him from a Commissioner of Police in Buea who was desperate to locate him as she was in possession of a warrant of arrest for him.

I remember her shock and disbelief when I told her we were not even in Buea. She called several times to ascertain that he was, indeed, not only hospitalised, but out of the Southwest Region. I was told by highly placed persons that some actually celebrated his death in certain quarters.

Why have you never said anything about this?

Because the Word of God says we should guard our hearts with all diligence, so I made up my mind right from the start not to dwell on that. If I did, I would have become a biter person, and bitterness is too high a price to pay.

I can’t afford such luxury after losing my best friend, trust me. Besides, I know he wouldn’t have died if God didn’t allow it, because Mike Yanou survived worse accidents. He escaped direct assassination attempts on his life.

Even though I still don’t understand it, I choose by faith to believe that he had completed his divine assignment. The greatness of life is not only in length, but in depth. He left behind a legacy that will endure because all he did was selfless. The way forward for me is to ensure that his life continues to have meaning through the Mike Yanou Foundation.

What would you say was that one thing that gave him the ability to keep in the face of all the challenges he faced in the course of fighting for others?

Amongst others, I will say his inability to hate those who opposed him. I cannot think of any person he hated. I cannot count the number of times together we prayed for those who were after his very life, asking God to open their eyes and hearts so they can listen to Him and courageously accept and stand for the truth.

He even endangered his life for those who didn’t like him. I remember clearly the day he left the house to intervene when the VC of UB was held captive by students.

We held hands and prayed for her and agreed that he be successful. He never sought revenge, even when he had the opportunity. His model was King David who would not raise a hand against Saul, even though he sought his life.

He was an expert at distinguishing between issues of principle and personal issues and making sure the two never met. He was also very hopeful and believed no one was too far gone into wickedness to change.

His inspiration was the life of the greatest apostle ever, the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus who radically changed from persecuting Christians to preaching the gospel of peace and reconciliation.

I know, for a fact, that if at all he was killed, he would wholeheartedly have already forgiven everyone involved. His desire will be for them to change.

So, you don’t seek vengeance for his blood?

Vengeance is of God alone.

What will be your advice to the spouses of civil society activists?

I will say the biggest gift you can give them is constant prayer, because, the things that are unseen are more important than the things that are seen.

I will also say they should be able to make sacrifices. One of the prices my husband had to pay was to go without a salary for over two years during the era of Dr. Dorothy Njeuma in UB.

I did not have a permanent job as well, so, you can imagine what we went through. It was definitely tough, but we didn’t die because of it and at no time did I withhold the moral support he needed to continue standing on his beliefs.

I will say to them, never ever ask of them to be less than what they have been called to be.


What do you make of the arrests of members of the Consortium?

Before his death, my husband was an influential member of SYNES-UB and the Fako Lawyers Association, and both Dr. Fontem Neba and Barrister Nkongho Agbor Balla Felix were present at the launching of the Yanou Foundation. I am, therefore, personally interested in their welfare and pray that they be released.

If I can advise the decision makers in this country, I would say that targeting trade union leaders can be likened to the ineffectiveness of trying to solve the problem of a tree by focusing on the branches and not the roots. If that could work, then, UB would be a haven of peace and progress now.

Two years since he died, the issues he stood for are still rocking that institution and new leaders have emerged. So, even if the leaders are locked up and silenced – so long as the core issues they are highlighting are not looked into – the government will simply be postponing the problem.

What would you say to those who say there is no Anglophone Problem?

I will like to say that my husband, late Prof. Yanou hailed from Bangante in the West Region of Cameroon, but he fought tirelessly for the Anglo-Saxon system of education till the end of his life. So, I will say anyone who says there is no Anglophone Problem is either ignorant or dishonest.

At this point in our history, the very least I expect from every patriotic Cameroonian (Anglophone or Francophone) is to go back and objectively read our history. If this is done, we will move away effortlessly from where we are because the issues are self-evident. We might not agree on the way forward, but that is a different issue altogether. My prayer for the leaders of this nation at every stratum is that they will pay heed to the inner voice of God prompting them to do and say the right thing.

There is no human being without the ability to hear. I thank God that the President of this country himself has prescribed dialogue. If our leaders approach this dialogue with a clear conscience before God and man, then, the country will move forward peacefully. We should all have the courage to face and embrace our history.

We can’t run away from it, no matter how fast or hard we run, because it is our shadow. It is only by truthfully looking back, admitting to error and celebrating our strength that true healing can take place and we as a people can move ahead to a glorious future. I have listened to the members of the Consortium and most other west Cameroonians affirm their dependence on God for a solution. God is love.

We cannot be full of venom, bitterness and anger and expect to hear God. God’s ways are not our ways, and if the battle is the Lords’, then, we should be quiet and refuse to be motivated by hate and anger. Love conquers all. Let us cherish the advice of Martin Luther King, one of the greatest freedom fighters of all times that; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”


How is the Mike Yanou Foundation faring?

The Word of God says we shouldn’t despise the days of little beginning. So far, we have not yet touched most of the things we plan to do. That notwithstanding, we are in the field.

Together with our partners like Royalty, we are engaging the Quarter-heads and other leaders in Mile 16 to come up with sustainable solutions to the challenges of that community. Most importantly, we are sourcing for finances to provide water for one of the orphanages we focused on, the Root for Kids Orphanage in Bokova.

There is no potable water in the whole of that community. They go long distances to fetch water and from our preliminary research, there is a strong relationship between some ailments and difficulties faced by the children there and the absence of water.

We are looking at the possibility of providing them with a borehole water system that will also be extended to the community at large.

Interviewed by Isidore Abah

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