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About the CEO

Ebenezer Derek Mbongo Akwanga was born on the thorn-tip of an historical era that has inevitably become the landmark of what he has come to represent on the global human rights and humanitarian landscape. The honoree of the institute is an epitome of the struggle for the respect for human rights and human dignity.

Ebenezer’s childhood shared bed with poverty and gave him the privilege of developing powerful foundational spirit entrenched in moral discipline and a strong sense against injustice.

As young as 5 years he detected and rebelled against anyone or authority which dampened the values of human dignity; even in the face of gross threat of not only losing his liberty, but missing a delicious meal. At this tender age, he had come to train himself to resist the urges of the flesh, and could sustain his hunger for food by living on pepper and water for days. He did so as he attended primary schools in Tiko and other areas in the South West Region of Cameroon, West Africa.

This powerful self-nurturing and belief gave him the strength to perceive the artificial stripes of poverty, (a common feature lived by any child born in tiny, rubber-stinking CDC plantation town of Tiko) as a temporal hindrance, rather than an adhesive permanent feature. As the last child of a family of ten, Ebenezer‘s future was uncertain given that it was characterized by poverty. He seemingly had decided to carve a notch for himself as he remained one of the best students in his High School days in Bilingual Grammar School in Molyko- Buea and then Government High School in Victoria, few kilometres from where he was born. While in High School, he was already an influential member of movements like the Cameroon Anglophone Movement which was clamoring for a return to the original post-plebiscite agreement of 1961 which laid the foundation of a Cameroonian State of two equal origins, the independent La Republique du Cameroun of October 1, 1960 and the Southern Cameroons of October 1, 1961.

It was therefore no surprise that he rose up to become a powerful student leader (pioneer student union leader of the University of Buea Students Union – UBSU) in 1993 when he entered University. As a pacesetter human rights crusader, Ebenezer Derek Mbongo Akwanga stood against the increase of tuition in Cameroon universities on the grounds that such a quadrupling of fees would make it impossible for every intelligent child of the common man to have a decent higher education. He had argued that education should not be reserved for the elites.

He refused the University of Buea official’s offer, of a bank account, a car, a house and free university education for as long as he wants. He told the university authorities that he will never make a butchery of his conscience, and that if the higher education officials were serious, the money and gratuities meant to silence his opposition to such a callous and senseless decision of increasing tuition should be invested in much needed amenities in making life in the University of Buea more conducive for studies. And when the Higher Education authorities insisted on moving forward with the dramatic draconian fees hike, Ebenezer, as leader of the Student Union, organized and led a pacific student demonstration in 1993 that caused him to be summarily dismissed and banned from all higher institutions of learning in Cameroon. A failed attempt at poisoning him made him bedridden for 8 months.

EAHRHI EVENT (28)

The Honoree later succeeded in the entrance examination to become a student Pastor at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kosala-Kumba, in South West region but saw that opportunity refused him by the Church officials who were under pressure from Cameroon state officials not to give him the chance to study.

The African National Congress, in South Africa later granted him a scholarship to study Divinity at the University of Witwatersrand but the Cameroon government refused issuing him a passport while declaring him persona non grata in the country. Persecuted, threatened and rejected by the country he called his own, abandoned and rejected by the Church which was supposed to act as his protector, Ebenezer begin a struggle for the liberation of the people of the former British Southern Cameroons. He spearheaded the formation of the Southern Cameroons Youth League. This Tibetan conviction to free his people from oppression led to his arrest in March 1997 by the government of Mr. Paul Biya. He was falsely accused of leading an armed secessionist drive for the independence of the people of the former British Southern Cameroons. Ebenezer was brutally tortured, sexually molested by female members of the Cameroon gendarmerie force, fed with human faeces and urine for more than 14 days, and held in solitary confinement for 730 days. He suffered the most despicable and unspeakable acts of man’s inhumanity to man.

After spending time holed up in various detention dungeons of the government of Mr. Paul Biya, (including the notorious cells of the National Gendarmerie, Yaoundé, Maximum Security Prison in Kondengui and the Special Prison at the MefouetAfambe) he suffered partial paralysis of his lower limb and other torture-related illnesses. He was eventually tried and sentenced to serve a 20 years jail-term in 1999 but was rescued from the Maximum Security Prison of Kondengui-Yaoundé after serving over 7 years. He spent three years in Nigeria on exile where he escaped more than three assassination attempts on his life and later resettled in the United States of America in February of 2006.

In spite running through this challenging ruse of life, Ebenezer never lost sight of his deep academic urges. In fact he had sacrificed his education for millions of people. He eventually went back to the class room, where he graduated Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona and a Master of Arts Degree in Diplomacy (cum laude) from the famed Norwich University in Vermont, USA.

In December 2014, Ebenezer was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and graduated in April 2015. His research interests are conflict transformation, peace and conflict studies, international political economy, guerrilla governance and state-building, African and global politics. He taught global politics and issues and themes in peace studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Ebenezer is currently working for a second doctorate with the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom with concentration on state-building. He wrote Smiling Through Hardship in 2007 and has also co-authored Burundi’s Negative Peace with Professor Samuel Kale Ewusi, Director of United Nations University for Peace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr. Akwanga is married to Agnes Abungwi Akwanga, his life over the years; friend, sister, wife, and mother. They live with their three children and a grandchild in the USA.

The honoree who has been victim of all forms of torture and dehumanization, abandoned even by the church which was expected to protect him has remained steadfast in his quest to ensure the respect for human rights and dignity for all. It is against this traumatizing but enriching experience that the Ebenezer Akwanga Human Rights and Humanitarian Institutewas founded by a group of friends with Dr. Akwanga’s unflinching blessings so as to keep the aspirations, dreams and hopes of Ebenezer burning while immortalizing and encouraging others to work towards improving the world, reaching hearts far and near and touching minds in other to make the world a better place to live in