Sorrow for parents who lost their sons and daughters when attackers stormed a school in Cameroon and killed 7 students “A little boy says to is Daddy, I am going to school.”
Those were the last words Victory said to his father, Tamangoua Boniface, as he grabbed his school bag and walked to his school on October 24.
And that was also the last time Boniface, the pastor of World Restoration Ministry in Kumba, a town in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, would see his 11-year-old son.
The victory was one of the seven children who were killed when unknown attackers armed with guns and machetes stormed Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy.
The brazen attack, which also left a dozen students wounded, shocked Cameroon. It also drew widespread condemnation from within and outside the country, including from United Nations agencies, international rights groups and local civil society organisations.
On Monday, President Paul Biya also denounced the “horrific murder” of schoolchildren and said “appropriate measures” would be taken to ensure the people responsible are arrested and prosecuted.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place in a part of Cameroon where separatist armed groups have been fighting government forces for almost four years.
In 2016, lawyers, teachers and others in Cameroon’s largely Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions took to the streets to protest against the dominance of French in the education and legal systems, echoing long-running grievances among the country’s English-speaking minority over their region’s perceived marginalisation by the Francophone-dominated central government in the capital, Yaounde. The government’s heavy-handed response to the protests was followed by the emergence of several separatist armed groups seeking to form a breakaway state.
Human rights groups have accused both sides of committing atrocities in a conflict that has killed at least 3,000 people. Amid a wave of arbitrary arrests and kidnappings, as well as extrajudicial killings and wanton destruction of homes and public facilities, the crisis has forced more than 700,000 Cameroonians to flee their homes in search of safety, with almost 60,000 crossing the border to Nigeria.
The night before the school attack, Victory had stayed up until midnight studying and transferring notes to an exercise book, according to his father. After the family’s morning prayers, Victory cleaned the house and prepared for school. His mother, who was convalescing from surgery, promised to make lunch before he returned home by 2 pm.
“When the child who was wailing got to our home, he fell to the ground and shouted ‘Pastor! Pastor! They have killed Victory; Victory is dead,’” said Boniface, 48.
“The child said some armed men came to school on motorbikes, went into classrooms, and killed some children.”
Speaking on the phone, he paused for a very long time.
“When I got there [the school], I saw my son lying lifeless on the floor alongside two other kids,” the pastor said. “The deep wound on the left side around the ribs showed that he had been stabbed.”
He took a deep breath and paused again.
“Victory,” his father continued, “was among the first three victims who died.”Here