KENYA: Cameroonian Archbishop Warns Kenya Against Political Protests, Says It Will Cripple the Economy

By Lourine Oluoch

NAIROBI, MARCH 17, 2023 (CISA)- Most Rev Andrew Nkea Fuanya of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bamenda, Cameroon, has cautioned Kenyans against the ongoing political protests saying they could easily go the Cameroonian way and cripple the economy.

“When you start a protest like you want to do here, you have very good intentions like our lawyers and teachers had, but there are people with political agendas who are just waiting for this kind of atmosphere to jump in and completely destabilize the country.  If you are not careful you who are starting the protest, like I say in our case lawyers had a very genuine complaint, and teachers had a very genuine complaint.  They came out and started protesting but suddenly it became a political issue.  Politicians jumped in and started craving for cessation and then it became an armed conflict,” said the archbishop on the ongoing crisis in Cameroon.

“In Cameroon, we have known protests and resistance for the past six years since the conflict which has come to be known as the Anglophone crisis started.  It started with simple protests of lawyers and teachers then it went out of hand because the government cracked down on the protest, there was no agreement and so the separatist fighters took up arms,” he says.

The archbishop was speaking to CISA on the sidelines of a Synodality Resource Team Workshop that took place from March 15 to 16, 2023, in Nairobi.

“One of the things I feel I must warn you against is like what we have in our place, don’t target places that will destroy the future.  Our people, our separatists said no schools as a weapon to fight the government.  There are still places in my country now where there are no schools.  Children who were six years have become 12 years without going to school and that is the destruction of a generation. The second thing is, they have what they call protest days, ghost towns and during those protest days, it is very difficult to get anybody outside. This has really destroyed the economy of the English-speaking part because, on those days when they say there are ghost towns, no schools are open, no offices are open, no shops are open, no movement of taxis no movement of interurban buses and so the economy is completely paralyzed.  Imagine this has gone on for six years.  We are feeling the effect and that is why I am saying that I am visiting here, and when I am hearing your politicians talking about constant days of protest, I give you this as a warning from someone who is coming from a country where this has destroyed us, that you must be very careful,” he stated.

In Kenya, the opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga has called for a countrywide mass action on Monday, March 20, to push the government to lower the cost of living. The archbishop warns that if these protests take root in society, the people will suffer more while the government will continue to survive.

“You create an atmosphere where lawlessness takes over and this is my fear.  I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’m still living it and fear when other countries are trying to get into the same thing without understanding that it will go out of their hands,” he says condescendingly.

“My recommendation would be that use other political means to solve their problems, not means that can be hijacked.  I give you a small example, go to parliament.  That’s the place to quarrel, that is the place to try to correct everything, not on the streets, because when you come to the streets those who are not of the same frame of mind, they get involved and you can no longer control it,” says Archbishop Nkea.