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Published On: Mon, Mar 13th, 2017

Cameroun’s Biya and the Anglophone Dialogue

 

I posit this position paper as a concrete manifestation of two things. First, to register, as a matter of fact on the record, my constant and continuing worry, concern and interest in the existence of the ‘Anglophone problem’ in Cameroon. The existence of this problem has had lasting ramifications throughout my whole life. For half a century, therefore, there has been a slow and steady evolution and fomentation of an atmosphere that has steadily degenerated from the flimsy hope of post-independence reunification through the fear and despondence of a police state, under Ahidjo, to the desperation, hopelessness and fatalism that has characterized the Biya/CPDM reign of more than a generation. This reality has created a socio- political and a psycho-physical breakdown of mental and physical structures that are glaring precursors of a civil breakdown and mayhem.

Secondly, and as a result, I cannot stand idly by and watch the present socio-political impasse creeping irreversibly towards an apocalypse that frighteningly reminds me of other African failures – Somalia, Chad, Rwanda, Sudan/South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Central African Republic, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire.

Consequently, therefore, I posit this position paper not only as an exteriorization of my personal fears but more importantly as a measure of civic and patriotic duty. As an individual, I am deeply convinced that any act of omission by any patriot, at this delicate juncture of our national existence, is just as fatal as any act of commission perpetuated by an individual, group, regime, administration or organization – national or international.

PREMISE:

I understand the Anglophone problem as a systemic and institutionalized marginalization of English speaking Cameroonians principally from the North West and South West Provinces (now strangely called ‘Regions’) by the successive francophone regimes of Amadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya. It is a fact that the Anglophone problem has a historical genesis and geo-strategic ramifications. This unique problem identifies two groups. On the one hand, the Anglophones who are the victims of marginalization and the two successive governments of La Republic du Cameroun from 1960 (or 1961 as the case might be) to the present – regimes of Amadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya, on the other hand.

The Anglophones are identified as a collective bloc of people having the same cultural and linguistic identity – this immutable characteristic singularizes the Anglophones as a ‘people’. It is noteworthy that this problem excludes the commonality of all francophones. The perpetrators of the marginalization are not the entirety of the francophone community – rather the crimes of marginalization lie squarely at the feet of the Ahidjo/Biya regimes with the tacit connivance of the French. To some extent the francophones are cursory beneficiaries of the marginalization but mostly francophone are innocent pawns in the diabolic machinations of these two dictatorial regimes.

The Anglophone problem is about the conscious attempt by the two successive regimes of Ahidjo and Biya to exterminate and annihilate the Anglo-Saxon way of life of the former Southern Cameroons. A system steeped in their educational, judicial and administrative ways of daily life. The systematic and institutionalized way of forceful ‘de-assimilation’, from the roots of colonization of Southern Cameroons and its attendant Anglo-Saxon culture, by La Republique du Cameroun.  Conversely, the Anglophone Problem is also the institutionalized erasure, or an attempt to erase the Anglo-Saxon identity, of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, as it was, when it was envisaged and created in 1961, for the sole benefit of the LRC regimes.  The vocalization and manifestation of all facets of this problem is what I understand as the Anglophone problem in Cameroon and that is what I am referring to in this position paper.

The gross negligence of the British in the discharge of their UN obligations under the trusteeship mandate gave an opening for the French and the Ahidjo surrogate regime to take advantage of the minority status, legal etiquette and moral subtleties of Southern Cameroons. Furthermore, the Anglophone problem is only a symptom of the larger looming crisis within the entire country: there is a genuine simmering Bamileke deprivation; there is a vendetta brewing northern grudge that was sown after the northern elite cleansing of 1984; there is a boiling inside fight for succession within the Bulu/Ewondo hegemony and a Bassa/UPC unfinished nationalistic campaign that was forced into hibernation by the Ahidjo/French brutality under the guise of the marquisard. I acknowledge these PROBLEMS but it is not my focus in this paper. My focus is the Anglophone problem which is presently creating a humanitarian crisis in the country.

For this dialogue, I, have asked and answered the following questions:

  1. Is there really an Anglophone problem that can be qualified and quantified in measurable terms? The answer is a resounding YES. There is no doubt that structurally and institutionally the regimes of Ahidjo and Biya have unilaterally breached the terms of the Foumban Conference leading to the United Nations Resolutions that granted pseudo independence to Southern Cameroons. These legal instrumentalities fundamentally provided from a FEDERAL form of government of two EQUAL states to form the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON. In 1972, Ahidjo breached this sacrosanct agreement when he structurally altered the fundamental nature of the federal agreement. In 1984, Biya finalized this annexation by unilaterally erasing all remnants of federation and all the remaining signs and symbols of the illegal unification of the two Cameroons, when he single handedly changed the name from the United Republic of Camroon to La Republic du Cameroun – just like it was when East Cameroun under Ahidjo and the French joined the United Nations in 1960 – hence completing an illegal annexation of the Southern Cameroons. This is a palpable source and palatable sauce of outrage by not only Southern Cameroonians and their posterity but by all legal analysts, political scientists, diplomats and all fervent believers in world peace and justice.

Institutionally, the following Southern Cameroons branches of government have been intentionally abolished by the regimes of Ahidjo and Biya: The Southern Cameroons House of Assembly; the House of Chiefs; the Prime Minister’s Lodge in Buea and the Supreme Court of Law (common law tradition). Other Southern Cameroons civil institutions like Cameroon Bank and Marketing Board have been extinguished. Anglophone outrage is quantifiable and qualifiable in measurable terms.

Image result for ahidjo abolished southern cameroon

  1. Has the Anglophone problem reached existentialist proportions -does the history and structure of the Anglophone problem warrant (enough to provoke) an existentialist crisis? YES. There is no doubt that beginning with the illegal breach of the Federal constitution by Ahidjo in 1972, through the various attempts to dilute and finally osmotize Anglo-Saxon education in Southern Cameroons, into the French sub-educational system, by LRC, to the final effrontery of returning to the ‘original’ name of La Republique du Cameroun in 1984, the identity of the Southern Cameroonian, as it was in 1961, is completely diluted at best or completely nonexistent at worst. Fundamental due process issues that are foundational to Anglo Saxon judiciary, like the presumption of innocence, have been totally erased. There is general fatalism in Southern Cameroons. There is a general atmosphere of tensions and stretched nerves. There is an uneasy energy in the air. There is an existential crisis in the air.
  2. Is the crisis palpable enough to premonate civil strife? YES. The hunt and persecution of the leaders of the Consortium, arrests and imprisonment of peaceful protesters and the militarization of the two Anglophone Regions is ocular testimony to the kind of provocation that might degenerate into civil strife. The Southern Cameroons homeland and the Diaspora are frighteningly united to see this crisis to a logical end, come what may.
  3. In the event of civil strife, what are the options for both parties? By both parties, I am referring to the victimized and marginalized citizens and sympathizers of Southern Cameroons, on the one hand, and the Biya/CPDM regime, their allies and cohorts on the other hand. To these two must be added a third and indispensable party – the international community, as represented by the United Nations, in its capacity as the JUDGE institution that oversaw the pseudo independence of Southern Cameroons and more importantly, as the sole surviving institution with the jurisdiction to maintain world peace and justice. Moreover, the UN has the appropriate affiliate organizations that will be directly or indirectly affected by a breakdown of peaceful, albeit forced, co-existence, as it is today, and the outbreak of violence and civil strife, as a natural culmination of the present socio-political impasse, that is now the norm. These will include, but not limited to, the UNHCR, the ICC and the IMF.
  4. Southern Cameroons: Southern Cameroons will be sure to be labeled by the Yaoundé regime as TERRORISTS. This label will carry all the ramifications that come with the treatment of other real terrorists’ groups in the region like Boko Haram. Even so, Southern Cameroonians must remember that it is not the label or the color that gives flavor to the Pepper (spice) but the very bite or lack thereof of its very flavor. That is why the very Nelson Mandela who went to Robben Island as the worst terrorist came out as the greatest freedom fighter that Africa has ever had. Even so again, it is worth noting that he spent twenty-seven years in prison where he lost his youth, health, marriage and first born son. The point is that a commitment to the cause must be conscious of the course and cost of the struggle.
  5. La Republique du Cameroun: The regime in Yaoundé has already started beating the drums of territorial sovereignty and integrity – Cameroon, they are saying, is one and indivisible. It is incumbent on the administration to defend the territorial integrity of Cameroon from all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC. The regime will use its own very Anglophone surrogates to lambast and castigate those ‘enemis dans la maison’. La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) will rally the international community to their sympathy about secessionist terrorists who are adventurers, seeking to divide Cameroon for their selfish and egotistic reasons. Even so, LRC must remember that in South Africa, the Apartheid regime termed the African National Congress (ANC) terrorists, that John Garang of today South Sudan was called a terrorist, that Ethiopians called Eritreans’ terrorists. The point is that not all dogs can be hanged after being given bad names.
  6. The International community: The international community will just gear up for a civil strife in Africa – arm dealers will have a field day, French expatriates and mercenaries will earn more out station allowances, the Security Council will hold an emergency meeting when the killing becomes unbearable, Internally Displaced Persons will flood charts and the regional refugee problem will add to the already dire situation with famine around the region. The situation will be exacerbated by the fact that Cameroon is the proverbial bread basket of the region.
  7. What are the challenges of all the above stake holders?
  8. Status-quo: Maintaining the status-quo is tantamount to saying in the words of Atanga Paul Nji and Issa Tchiroma Bakary that there is no Anglophone problem. This situation warrants no comment. Rather, it suffices it to say that the maintenance and perpetuation of the status quo is an overt invitation of the worst-case scenario. Maintenance of the status quo is a blatant declaration of war through the power of the francophone administration and its armed forces against the marginalized and defenseless forces of Southern Cameroons. This will mean that the francophone administration and all its supporters would have forfeited all other channels of dialogue and negotiations – mediation, arbitration etc. It is my firm understanding that the status quo cannot be allowed to continue – the socio-political impasse that is being headed by the Lawyers’ and Teachers Consortium has brought every facet of social, economic and political life to a standstill. Even so, President Paul Biya, in his end of year ’16 Speech was very clear – that there was going to be dialogue. However, I am convinced that by creating a so-called Commission to address bilingualism and other cultural niceties is not only escapist, as usual, but fails fundamentally to identify the real stake holders and bring them together in an ad hoc fashion to address the Anglophone problem and provide a solution once and for all. Creating another bureaucratic commission not only postpones the problem but fails crucially to address the present impasse. It is my fervent hope that a national conference will be summoned sooner than later to address this problem in all good faith and under the transparency of the international community and media. Determining who attends this Emergency National Conference, to be dubbed the Anglophone Problem Conference (APC) is the topic of another discussion and this columnist has quite some ideas.
  9. Federation: I am a STRONG AND UNREPENTANT ADVOCATE FOR FEDERALISM. Having established that I will be advocating for federalism, I will be open to the various options under this viable umbrella – a two state federation or a ten-state federation. I am sure that by the time of attending the Anglophone problem Conference (APC) I will have had the time to confer with all stake holders within the Anglophone household. This will entail listening constructively to all Anglophone stake and opinion holders especially my brethren from the South West Region.
  10. Confederation: In the context of the APC, I am convinced that this option is farfetched. The creation of a confederation pre-supposes the existence of sovereign and ‘independent’ states coming together in a rather loose union for some common purpose. The exact situation here is that Southern Cameroons, by the machinations of history, the Machiavelli propensities of the French/Ahidjo regime and the naivete of Southern Cameroons Statesmen like Foncha, Muna and Endeley, has never been independent. This situation is further complicated by the fact that Southern Cameroons has suffered systemic and institutionalized marginalization for more than half a century – from 1961 to date (2017). To require Southern Cameroons to enter a confederation will not only be negating the spirit of confederation ab initio but setting up Southern Cameroons for failure at the very outset. The APC cannot be ugly history repeating itself.
  11. Independence: I am sure as there is an Anglophone problem that if there was going to be a referendum in Southern Cameroons wherein “Independence” was one of the options, more than ninety percent of Southern Cameroonians will opt for total self-governance and total sovereignty. Even so, there is no doubt in my mind that the regime of Paul Biya’s La Republique will never acquiesce to this option. Not only because of the economic equity that Southern Cameroons brings to the present Cameroonian economy but because of the enormous amount of money that the same regime must pay as compensation to the Southern Cameroons.
  12. Cessation: this option cannot come through dialogue and negotiations. This option can only come from a unilateral declaration by Southern Cameroons. The immediate problem that I envisage will be one of legitimate authority conferred with the power of declaring independence on behalf of the Southern Cameroons.  In the event where the Yaoundé regime is so debilitated that it cannot respond to a declaration of independence by Southern Cameroons, then the said declaration will stand but should the Biya regime or its successor decide to defend ‘national integrity’ the international community is likely to favor the way of mediation and arbitration through the offices of the United Nations and its various subsidiaries. This is the option that will definitely point the aggressor finger at the Southern Cameroons.

MY POSITION AND POSTULATIONS

When times are dark and dire, it is always advisable to look back into the rear-view mirror of history and draw a lesson or two from its sedimented fossils of wisdom built from the chemistry of time and experience. Times are dark and dire in Cameroon in general and in Southern Cameroons. In these dark and dire times, nothing is and will be new. The worst outcome from this bleakness will be the outbreak of civil war. The myth, legend and reality of civil wars ring with familiar peculiarity to modern day Africa – Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zaire, Rwanda, Mali, Niger, Sudan/South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia/Eritrea – notice how many of these countries are French speaking and former French colonies. A civil war in Cameroon will only follow suit in the footsteps of these harbingers.

Conversely, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the whole World – in fact the whole human race came nose to nose with the threat of nuclear annihilation and extinction, at the hands of the two then super powers – the USA and the USSR. At that critical moment in history, a world sage, John F. Kennedy (JFK) prophesied that:

               “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.           

The point is that civil war and nuclear war or the threat thereof are two distinct and different monsters. The one has been with humanity for as long as man formed a social contract with each other. The other has only been tested and the power of the nuclear bomb has never been unleashed on humanity.  LRC through its intransigence, heavy handedness, militarization, information blockade, blackout and brutal confrontation with armless peaceful protesters is forcing the option of violent revolution on Southern Cameroonians.

Inherent in JFK’s assertion is the inevitable causal connection between intransigence and violence. Violence is a logical end to all the behavior that is currently being exhibited by the LRC regime. Talking about violence, a note of cautionary precaution should be sounded to both sides. To Southern Cameroonians, it is noteworthy to remember that violent revolution is not running in the streets with peace plants, green branches and singing songs. Violent revolution is the organized strategizing and collective action that goes into armed conflict. Armed conflict, in this case, will be against an institutionalized military, backed first and foremost by France and her European Union (EU) allies.

Image result for french president with biya

Conversely, LRC should remember that a hitherto peaceful, docile and yokel, albeit vocal and stubborn, people who have known nothing but peaceful protest, civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, can and WILL turn overnight into unrecognizable hounds of war, once the first shots of war are fired – whether in self-defense or in aggression. The addiction of war is only parralled by the euphoria and ecstasy for life. The beginning of war is the true taste of liberty and freedom to a hitherto oppressed and marginalized people.

Against this background therefore, this Columnist stands for FEDERATION, with the understanding that all other options are negotiation levers for both parties. Federation will acknowledge the self-determination and self-realization quest that has long been denied the Southern Cameroonian while granting LRC the chance to earn some equity on all the energy that has been invested in changing the original Federal arrangement into a self-serving unicultural entity that was recognized by the UN in 1960. More importantly, Federation will save the World Community from the pecuniary and emotional expense of civil war that often has plagued the African continent and reduced her citizens to nothing but second class, emigrants, unable to fulfill themselves wholly within the context of their patriotic destinies and territorial birthlands.

And this is how I see it!!!!

Tambu-Ngang.

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