Pius Njawe, pioneer journalist and pre-eminent Cameroonian press freedom activist, died yesterday in Washington, D.C. in a car accident. He was in the United States to attend a conference organized by the Cameroonian Diaspora to discuss the country's future. Cameroon has lost a colussus who came the closest in establishing a veritable fourth estate in the country. May his soul rest in peace.
My treatment in prison is highly humiliating. The objective is surely to break my morale, if I cannot be eliminated physically. I share Cell 15 with about a hundred other prisoners, almost all of whom are criminals convicted of murders, assassinations, hold-ups and so on. My bunkmate, for example, was the leader of a gang that emptied out my neighbour’s house.
While I may receive newspapers and books, I am not allowed to write. I now write in secret. I must get up at 3am and write by flashlight, and I must pay off my neighbours not to turn me in. This is how I am composing this letter. I will secretly send it to my office to be typed.
I know I’m paying for my stubbornness in my struggle for the past 18 years in Le Messager and organisations such as the Cameroonian Press Freedom Organisation and the Central African Union of Private Press Publishers to broaden democratic freedom in Cameroon and Africa. I’m paying for having refused to work within a political party. I’m paying for having refused to plunge into the trough. I’m paying for having preferred my independence to compromise. I’m paying because every choice must be paid for.
But I’m proud of my choice, and I don’t regret it, because I’m convinced it is the best path. My only regret is we still have many colleagues who think compromise with the powers that be is the way out.