Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cameroon's Colonel Hans Anagho: A Loyal Soldier Without A Fatherland

 Colonel Hans Anagho served in the Nigerian Military and helped foil coup d'états. He returned to Cameroon and was very instrumental in crushing the April 6th 1984 coup d'etat. However, in spite of all these services, the Retired Colonel deeply feels he did not receive commensurate compensation because "I was in Nigeria, I did things I was not promoted, they were promoting by tribes I had no tribe, I came to Cameroon, since I am an Anglophone from Bamenda, what I did on the 6th of April 1984 in other countries they will have given me the rank of General, because I single highhandedly handled this issue of 6th April 1984."
  Full interview below.

 Colonel can you present yourself?
His Highness Colonel Hans Anagho
 I am His Royal Highness, DR. Col. Hans Anagho, Fon of Ngwo. I joined the Nigerian army on 16th September 1958. We did basic military training in Ghana before going to Britain, and General Mutala Mohammed was my classmate in Accra Ghana.

How came that you served in the Nigerian army?
 I was born in Ngwo, Bamenda Division, Southern Cameroons, Nigeria. So I was born a Nigerian. And in 1958 we were still part and parcel of Nigeria. That is why I joined the Nigerian army. There was no other army around me. 

Can you recount some memorable moments of your career in Nigeria? 
  After my training I was sent from England to Ibadan. After Ibadan I was sent to Katanga in Congo. They had independence in June and there was chaos so the United Nations asked Nigeria, which just got independence, not up to a month to send troops to Congo, and I was part of that battalion. I returned to Kaduna where I was instructor and Gen. Sani Abacha was my student. I was sent back to Congo and was back again later to be special adviser of Mobutu for ten days before returning to Nigeria. During the first coup d’état in Nigeria I was the one commanding Lagos, the second coup I was in Ibadan, I disarmed the coup plotters. I worked very closely with Gen. Yacubu Gowon when he was president for two months and then I told him I wanted to return to Cameroon. He did everything to convince me to stay. He even wanted to send me to Britain as military attaché. I told him my father was sick and I had to go and take care of him. He knew my father because when he was sick he came and stayed with us in Ibadan for four months. 

 And finally he let you go to Cameroon?
 I was back to Cameroon at the end of 1966. General Gowon gave me three months leave, paid me six months salaries up front, plus six months pocket allowance. He sent a message after three months that we should come back; I was with Colonel Nkweti who is of late. The message went straight to Yaounde, but it was a plane that was sent to Bali to pick us. I said I was not going by plane, that I had my car, we drove through Douala to Yaounde. When we reached Yoaunde they sent us straight to the tailor, sewed army uniforms and we were made Captains.

 And what was your first assignment in the Cameroonian army? 
 I was transferred to Nkongsamba, Kweti was transferred to Bafoussam. From Nkongsamba I was detached to Mbanga to see how the Cameroon army worked in the French style. I was there with the Late Col. Epanyack, we were both Captains. We shared an apartment for three months. After three months the Biafra war started and I was sent to Buea with Col. Kweti as my assistant to look after the frontiers from Nkambe right up to Ndian. At that I successfully did. I was replaced by the now famous Col. Etonde Ekotto and sent to France for nine months to perfect my French.

 You worked in Nkongsamba and so one can assume that you were part of the squad that crushed the rebellious "marquisards"? 
  About the marquisards, for the three months that I was learning how to work with the French system in the army, every week we were in the bush with Col. Epanyack fighting them. Eventually, when I came back from France I was transferred to Bangangte as Company Commander. I was there for ten months and every month spent at least twenty days sleeping in the bush. I cleaned the whole Bamilike forest from "marquisards". The good thing about "marquisards", even with the Boko Haram is that, they are not angels or devils, they are human beings like us and they work with people. And you have to be friends with people to succeed. And that is what I did in Bangangte. Since I am a graffi man (from the North West grass field Region), I understood them because I understand the Bali dialect that was similar to theirs. So I knew how to get them. I left Bangangte without killing people. So many of them surrendered their arms to me and the traditional authorities and whenever they came I looked at their ages and gave them identity cards and sent them to their parents and not sent them to BMM. When you catch a boy returning from school and forcefully make him a "marquisard", what crime has he committed? So those young people, I sent them back home.

 Is it true that the "marquisards" had some supernatural forces?
 They used no black magic. In Congo, 13 January 1961, the rebels came claiming that they had black magic and we killed all of them. There is no question of black magic when a bullet is concern.

 You were in Cameroon during the April 6th 1984 Coup d’état, what role did you play to foil it? 
 That is a good book! The book I am writing is called "A LOYAL SOLDIER WITHOUT A FATHERLAND". I was in Nigeria, I did things I was not promoted, they were promoting by tribes I had no tribe, I came to Cameroon, since I am an Anglophone from Bamenda, what I did on the 6th of April 1984 in other countries they will have given me the rank of General, because I single handedly handled this issue of 6th April 1984.

 Explain it to our readers.. 
  I was staying in the guesthouse, I just came back from America and my family was still in the U.S. I was chief of Army Intelligence. Early on that morning, I heard gunshots and I said this is what I predicted will happen in this country. The presidential guard should be the people shooting those guns. I saw soldiers passing, I asked "C’est qui", "moi je connais pas". Finally one of them told me that it was the presidential guard. I said by 12.00 noon we are beating them!, still in my pajamas. Then I went to my room and put up my uniform. I did not have the correct fighting outfit. I went straight away and occupied the office of the Commander of the army and started giving orders. I was the only person who had seen a coup d’état. So I knew about coups, we teach officers how to plot and fight a coup. The worst thing I saw was that in the commander’s armory, there were no corresponding bullets for the riffles and that and it was the Northerners who had planned that. So that if they attack, you take a gun they will be no corresponding bullet and the gun of that bullet is somewhere else. So I detailed one of my toughest officers, a Bassa boy, Col. Mang Syvester, he has been my assistant many times. He went to the police and met the present delegate (Martin Mbarga Nguele) and brought a load of weapons and ammunitions and brought it to my headquarters and that is what saved me. When he was bringing it, they rebels attacked them at the Post Office, they abandoned the vehicles there. I sent a Beti boy to go and get the weapons and he escaped. I sent a Bamenda boy who came from Douala, because I had ordered the Douala contingent to come and help me and he brought these weapons and it is from there that I was able to send a detachment to save my own Minister of Defence, Gilbert Andze Tsoungui. He was brought to my headquarters in my civilian vehicle. Before he died he told his family "C’est un anglo qui ma sauver" – (It was an Anglophone who saved me.), and that they should always help me when I am in difficulties. From that instant when the Generals came, most of them in civilian clothes I handed over to them. They now sent me to Quartier General (Military headquarters) to mobilize soldiers. I took the Commander General Asso, he was Colonel then, I told him I don’t master his elements, sowhen there is a mission you detail them for me. I stayed there and Samabo went to the radio station to announce that we had taken over. Before then, I told the minister that by 12 O’clock we will be through and before 12 O’clock we were through. 

You were Cameroon’s military attaché in the U.S for ten years; that was very long? 
They wanted me to be hidden so that I could not cause "trouble", I don't know which trouble they meant. They just fabricated things that I was very popular and since coup d’états were all over in Africa, if there was any in Cameroon, it may be me. I was very popular with the soldiers because I did my work right and I never planned at any time in my life to destabilize my country, never! After the ten years I had to beg to come back to the country. I was made Fon when I was in the U.S and had to come back home. They did not send me a ticket. I paid my ticket back home.

 With all this military knowledge,are you a consultant with the Cameroon Military Academy in Yaounde? 
They fear me, because if I were a consultant I would  tell them, "Don't steal money!". Pa S.T Muna once told me that, if you go to somebody's always house and each time you go you tell him that your shirt is dirty, will the man like to see you in his house? A lot of us in Cameroon here will like to work in pure obscurity, in pure darkness so that we should steal. God shall sought us out one by one.

 Now that Cameroon is threatened by cross-border insecurity especially in its Northern and Eastern borders, has government consulted you for some intelligence savoir-faire? 
 Those are highly confidential things. I have a lot of secrets about Nigeria, because I was positively vetted. I was chief of Cameroon's military intelligence, we don't speak things like that things like that. Whatever our country is doing to bring the situation under control we leave it in the hands of the Almighty. 

 You are retired but certainly not tired Colonel, how does your day look like?
 I am 78 years young...I am a busy person; I am building a Government Secondary school in  Ngwo. We have built six classrooms. We are moving to Form Five in September 2014. That is the only secondary school in Momo with a modern computer lab, powered by solar energy. I am planning to build a science lab, a music center, create a school farm that will feed the children and by September the children should have one free meal a day and stay in the dormitory without paying a single franc. There are many people willing to help me. So I am a busy man. 

 His Royal Highness, why is that the Union of North West Fons is always disunited? Why are the traditional rulers always quarreling? 
 We behave like Cameroonians. Cameroonians like to eat and drink and talk big. They are not committed as nationals. A lot of them are not educated, they cannot handle their villages. They beg everything. You cannot be a successful leader with people like that. If you hold a meeting they will not come, if they come they come just to eat and drink. I have even made written suggestions, but who cares, who listens, they say every Fon is a king in his own kingdom. 

 Any advice to your junior colleagues serving in the Cameroon military? 
 You are serving God first. Second you are serving your nation, a nation you vowed to defend to the last drop of your blood. Third, you are serving for your end on month pay, if you don't work well you would not be promoted, you will not be sent for training, they will not pay you, your serve yourself last, and this country will have a beautiful army, and excellent army and we will be sure of our defence. 
Courtesy of The Fomunyoh Foundation,TFF; Interview by Mokun Njouny Nelson

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