Wirba Joseph Mbiydzenyuy was born of Theresia Biy and Wirba Dor, into the household of the warriors of Mbisha-Kwe’ebiri, Rohntong, in Jakiri, Bui Division of West Cameroon. His exact date of birth is unknown, as he was born in a rural setting having neither a health facility nor birth records, at a time when women were assisted by traditional birth attendants (the ma’nkoiy). He was delivered at his family home, before, on, or about January 8, 1960.
He attended the local primary school in Kinsenjam, went to secondary school in Bamenda and completed high school in Nkambe. In high school, he faced his first political fight against injustice when he was incorrectly listed as having applied for a student government position. He publicly denounced it as a fraud since he had not applied. He was beaten, suspended and threatened with dismissal for defying school authorities. He stood his ground and reported the incident to the Provincial Delegate of Education, who ordered he should be returned to class. Hon Wirba majored in Comparative Literature, the Teaching of Literature in English and English as a Second Language in the University of Yaounde.
Career and revolutionary beginnings
Joseph Wirba had been teaching for several years when in 1990, he dived headlong into the Social Democratic Front (SDF) revolution, fighting for a democratic Cameroon alongside Chairman John Fru Ndi. Wirba was a founding member of what was popularly referred to as “The Hunting Dogs” in the SDF party. This small group of deeply committed members worked closely with Pa Ebibi (John Fru Ndi), to prepare the groundwork for launching the SDF.
The military took over the North-West Region and the streets of Bamenda in an attempt to stop the SDF. Wirba and an inner circle of leaders worked to bypass, frustrate and push back the army in order to successfully launch the SDF on May 26, 1990. The launch did not occur without violence; verifiable accounts report six civilians were shot by the army on the day of the march to establish the party.
The MP lost his job as a result of his political involvement, and reportedly nearly lost his life at the hands of the party in power, for standing up for democracy and for demanding the restitution of John Fru Ndi as the legitimate winner of the 1992 presidential election.
When the All Anglophone Conference was held in Buea, on April 2nd and 3rd 1993, with follow-up meetings on April 29th to May 1, 1994 in Bamenda , Hon Wirba was an active participant and advocate for the freedom of the people of West Cameroon. He also played a major role when a team of Elderly Statesmen, Rt Hon Papa Muna, and His Excellency, Papa Foncha, returned from the United Nations, where they went to present the case of the illegal union between East and West Cameroon. From the Mungu Bridge to Buea, Limbe, Kumba, and onwards to Bamenda and Kumbo, Hon Wirba advocated for the rights of the West Cameroonians.
The key leaders of the so-called struggle for West Cameroon liberation, like Barrister Ekontang Elad, Ambassador Fosung, Pr Carlson Anyangwe, Dr Munzu, Dr Nfor Nfor and many others, had Wirba aligned with them. Albert Mukong, Chief Ayamba and Pa Ndi, are ancestors of the struggle who Wirba worked with toward this cause.
Hon Wirba is a Pan-Africanist. He participated in a major Pan-African project, The United Africa Association (UNAFAS), led by Barrister Bernard Achu Muna. There he worked with Pan-African leaders like President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, OAU Secretary General Ide Oumarou of Niger, and many others with whom he shared the dream of moving Africa forward. He organized and attended seminars both within and outside of Africa, including attending seminars in England, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Japan on issues related to freedom and democracy.
Wirba the parliamentarian
Wirba became MP in 2013. In his first speech to Parliament in December 2013, he lambasted the House for having sat for over half a century without enacting one law that could benefit the suffering Cameroonians. He challenged the House, claiming this was the only parliament he knew of in the world, whose main job was babysitting the government and clapping for the ministers who were ruining the country.
In 2016, a crisis in Buea University that led to the violent torture, rape and arrests of students plus killings in Bamenda during a street demonstration, put him on a collision course with government. This recent crisis coupled with reported humiliation, and oppression of Anglophones pushed him to flare up in parliament on December 2, 2016. In an apparent expression of pain, he mounted the rostrum strongly condemned what he described as the long oppression and abuse by the government which he said rules West Cameroonians like a “colonised people”.
The Times Journal of Wednesday June 28, 2017 reported government is planning to lift his immunity and have him arrested.
Hon Joseph Wirba is known to value humanity above all things. The father of 5 biological and 4 adoptive children founded the Care Organization for Rural Assistance, CORA 11years ago. The NGO focuses on the empowerment of rural communities, targeting men, women and children living in the most impoverished and neglected localities of Cameroon.
In collaboration with the CBC health services, the NGO raises awareness on HIV/AIDS and STDs; provides free cervical cancer screening and treatment; and offers education assistance to youth and orphans in poor communities in poor communities- over 8500 women have been screened for cervical cancer while more than 700 have been treated for the disease in the North West and South West regions. The NGO runs other humanitarian activities such as donating medicines, supporting women with epilepsy and other life-threatening diseases, tree planting in schools etc.