Victims of Landmines Other human rights observers pile on the tally. For example, facts, figures and pictures available to the Bamenda-based Human Rights Defense Group, the Human Rights Clinic (HURCLED Centre) show that between 1990 and 1993, the Biya regime systematically helicopter dropped booby-trapped objects (live grenades and anti-personnel landmines), shaped like wrist watches, ear-rings and other toys in almost all Bamenda-Southern Cameroons loci of SDF rallies. Children and youths who picked up, or stepped on, such objects – Made in China – had their members amputated forthwith. Joseph Awah, for example, first from left of the picture, was a volunteer member of Opposition Leader John Fru Ndi’s security detail had his right hand severed when he picked up a wrist watch that had been dropped into Fru Ndi’s Mercedes. The Biya regime never dropped these live grenades in French Cameroun, not even in Douala which was famed for its anti-Biya rallies in 1990-1993, known to Francophones as ‘Les années des braises.’ To date, the Commander-in-Chief of the Camerounese Army and his generals, who, definitely, gave the Code Red for these criminal activities, have has not accounted for these maiming. Cameroun is a signatory to the UN Ban on the use of anti-personnel land mines especially in civilian areas yet the current Defense Minister, Edgar Abraham Alain Mebe Ngo’o, (a most probable candidate for economic and war crimes in the Cameroons) has ordered containers of improved land mines, tear gas canisters, etc. from France and China in readiness for the trouble coming to the Biya regime. It had been computed that not less than 1.000 Camerounians have been killed by the regime from 1990 to date in the struggle to institute a democratic system in the Cameroons.
A savage grin, starting from his fleshy cheeks, but not staying there, contorted his still smooth countenance, adding age and some new wrinkles to his face.
The friar was pleased with himself.
In fact, at that precise moment, Brother Hugh reasoned that his omniscience, his omnipresence and his omnipotence had paid off.
He now had his tormentor-in-chief – Bamanga Njuma of the fifth – in the shooting sights with the cross hairs fixed on the boy’s mischief-filled head, dead centre.
All he had to do now was squeeze on the trigger and a serious menace to his peace, the peace of Sacred Heart College and the peace of all humanity would be no more.
He could almost feel his devastating trigger finger tingling as it always did before a kill. Now there would be no mercy. Now a huge thorn would be taken out of his flesh before dawn. Now the student with the trademark big inane laugh would be reduced to silence.
Somewhere in the building, the deep booms of a wall clock preceded the strident clang of a brass bell.
Prep was over. In his mind’s eye, Brother Hugh could see the relieved classrooms wheeling out their even more relieved content – seven hundred students, if everyone had attended prep, which would be a miracle, into the numerous corridors of the main building.
As the days went by, the chief’s conditions worsened. He lay tossing and turning from one side of his bamboo bed to the other.
Then the cough came. It was a terrible cough3 and very dry. The chief’s ribs threatened to come out of his chest with each cough.
A new disease had come upon the land, one for which there was no cure. It looked like that disease had come upon the House of Ndaka.4
After the palace magicians had tried to save the chief in vain, the elders went and summoned Meiwuta, the most powerful medicine man in all of Ndaka.
Meiwuta came, dressed in his traditional attire of chimpanzee skin. He had his powerful staff in one hand and all the amulets5 of his medicine in the other hand. The charms stretched from his wrist to the end of his arm. His black medicine bag hung from his neck.
A very extraordinary person was Meiwuta the witch doctor. He was thin, very tall and straight as a tree. His head, shaped like the tip of an arrow, rose steeply from middle of his tiny chest. The top of the head then flattened out briefly before rising again to end in steep hill.
What frightened many about Meiwuta were his cross-eyes.6 It was as if his left eye looked this way while his right eye looked the other way. Those crafty eyes of his, stuck out his head like fires shinning out of the evil forests7 in the night.
Another thing about Meiwuta was that the man always smelt like a bag of bad medicine. The villagers said that the smell of Meiwuta could go over the distant hills and reach Abafum8 in the flat land.
Meiwuta thus came and stood by Aruna’s bed. The witch doctor immediately perceived the gravity of the malady that had come upon the chief.
“Go and bring more logs of wood,” Meiwuta ordered Mata Mero,9 the chief’s first wife, the one who was the mother of Omar.
Meiwuta had a voice like the clap of thunder. His voice rose in the hut like the thump of the calabash upon the waters. Its report hit the wall on the far side and then came back again with a solid clap.
Mero was now slow of hearing. Meiwuta had spoken like the voice of the thunder yet Mero still failed to hear him. The age was now telling on the woman.
“What—!” Mata Mero asked in that gentle lisping voice of hers.
“Woman…I told you to bring more firewood for this fire! Do it this minute and stop standing there opening your mouth like a sick hen!”
Mero glared at him.
Chief Aruna, who lay quietly in the bed, raised an eyebrow as Meiwuta scolded his first wife. Leaning on one elbow, the chief tried to get up and failed.
Shatu, the chief’s youngest wife, did not wait for Meiwuta to thunder again. She left the chamber immediately. She returned some moments later with several of the Chief Aruna’s warriors.10 Each of them bore a huge log of wood on the shoulder.
Danladi, the one who led the warriors, bore two of the largest logs. The logs banged upon each other as Danladi came through the main portal of the hut. The boy dropped the logs effortlessly on the near side close to where Meiwuta stood. Then he brushed the dirt from his big chest and made for the door of the hut.
Meiwuta’s voice was now gentle. The witch doctor now looked at the boy with kindness. Danladi was his first son. The villagers said that Danladi’s superhuman strength came from his father. The boy was only two months old when Meiwuta took him into the forest and boiled him in pot of special charm. The medicine did not touch Danladi’s head.
Danladi, however, came out of that pot as strong as a wild boar and twice as vicious. The boy was now so strong that not even the arrows from the largest bow could piece his body. His head, which was not touched by the medicine, remained vulnerable11 to danger.
As Danladi came closer, Meiwuta indicated the logs pointing with his mouth. Danladi understood immediately. The boy lifted two of the logs, as if they were twigs, and dropped them into the fireplace. His father now reached into his handbag, pulled out a pouch containing some brown powder. He sprayed the powder upon the logs. A blue flame rose from the fireplace. Moments later a stinging smoke filled the chamber.
Everyone in the room started coughing.