Mancho’s coffin revolution coincided with an Anglophone teacher’s strike called in support of grievances expressed by Common Law Lawyers at the time.
On that fateful November 21, 2016, Mancho Bibixy, the newscaster of a local radio station, stood in an open casket in a crowded roundabout in North West Region’s capital Bamenda.
Using a blow horn, Bibixy denounced the slow rate of economic and structural development in the city, declaring he was ready to die while protesting against the social and economic marginalization of Anglophone persons in the hegemonic Francophone state.
The history teacher cum journalists says as unrests in Cameroon’s North West and South West regions soar, the rich have moved their kids to safer areas to study while the poor are paying the price.
Mancho regrets that the current struggle has gone against the ideals the Coffin Revolution he stood for – a struggle that has rendered the poor even more helpless.
His words: “[the] biggest paradox is that the rich have moved their kids to safer areas to study while the poor are paying the price. The Coffin Revolution was to protect the poor and fight injustice. We can’t see the poor suffer while the rich have their way.
“I’ve concluded that even if I have to die in prison, the kids must go to school this year. Let them use me as any sacrifice to have schools resume fully come September 2019. It cannot be later than now!”
Mancho is joining his voice to that of Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF to call for effective school resumption. Like UNICEF, Mancho calls on parties in the ongoing situation to re-open schools and ensure safe learning spaces for children without condition given that over 600,000 children have been denied education since 2016.
UNICEF reports that some 1.3 million people, including around 650,000 children, are now in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, as the security situation and living conditions continue to deteriorate.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, says children and their families are suffering amidst and fleeing armed violence, attacks on their homes and schools, abduction, sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups. Imposed lockdowns, or ghost-town days, set in place by non-state armed groups, are affecting people’s freedom of movement and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Toby Fricker, UNICEF spokesperson said in Geneva Friday that: “For many children, it has been three years since they last stepped foot in a classroom. Due to a ban on education by non-state armed groups and attacks, over 80 per cent of schools have been closed, affecting more than 600,000 children. At least 74 schools have been destroyed, while students, teachers and school personnel have been exposed to violence, abduction and intimidation. Since 2018, more than 300 students and teachers have been kidnapped. After traumatic experiences, they were all subsequently released.
“The targeting of education is putting the future of an entire generation of children at risk, children who with the right support and opportunities can build a more stable and prosperous future.
“Schools and classrooms must provide safe spaces for children to learn, to be with their friends and to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives. When children are out of school they face a higher risk of recruitment by armed groups and are more likely to be exposed to child marriage, early pregnancy, and the accompanying trauma and long lasting emotional distress that these experiences bring.”
Mancho Bibixy is currently serving a 15-year jail term at the Yaoundé Central Prison. He was arrested on January 19, 2017 in Bamenda and was tried at the Yaoundé Military Court on charges of terrorism, secession among others.