Où sont nos frères francophones dans cet affaire Anglophone au Cameroun?

Click here to read the same story on Facebook 

Since every Cameroonian is supposed to be bilingual, I’ll start off in English and finish in French (below).

I have many dear Francophone brothers whom I’ve known for many, many years and whom I consider to be family. When the recent Anglophone situation started in Cameroon, we exchanged messages on WhatsApp about what was happening and expressed hope that solutions would be agreed to soon enough so that schools could resume. But as things got worse, one day, one of my francophone brothers surprised me with the declaration that he too was Anglophone and the problem in NW & SW was being taken out of context. That instead of trying to solve the ‘Anglophone’ problem, NW & SW were trying to tear the country apart, were failing to talk about ‘unity’ first and had not done enough to try to persuade the government to help.

I was shocked.

He explained why he says he’s anglophone – he had studied in the English system of education in Yaounde and had been subjected to some of the same abuses that English-speaking students underwent in Yaounde at the time. He said people would throw banana and orange peels at school children because they were wearing the school uniforms that revealed the identity of their school; that they’d be called names by passengers in taxis as they walked to school (les bêtes anglos, les Bamendas etc…)

So I agreed that he was anglophone. And we agreed that the term ‘Anglophone’ was narrow and that the ‘Anglophone problem’ was one of culture, a distinct people with an Anglo-saxon heritage etc… Since then, even Issa Thiroma, the Minister of [mis] Communication of Cameroon has said his daughters are also Anglophones, because they speak or learn English in school.

Ever since the Government cracked down on the same people they were negotiating with (Dr. Fontem, Lawyer Balla, Wilfred Tassang and many more), my francophone friends have been dead silent on our WhatsApp group. My Anglophone friends on the group keep posting pictures of arrests, killings, the pending trials, but, alas, my francophone friends might as well have lost their smartphones. But the truth is, they still read the messages, but say nothing. The lively debates and enlightening differing opinions that made me understand the Anglophone problem through another lens – that of maybe Paul Biya – are all but a distant memory. Sure, I can scroll up and see the old responses, but that’s all there is of our once-lively interactions.

It has led me to question what is really going on in Cameroon. Anglophones are clamoring for justice in NW & SW. But at almost all rallies from Paris to London to Berlin to Washington DC, there are no Francophones in support. Yet, all Francophones on TV stations in Cameroon agree that there’s a governance problem in Cameroon, and that ALL of Cameroon has a problem, not just NW & SW. They say that they too suffer, their villages don’t have roads etc…

But why then do Francophones who live in the NW  & SW attempt to sabotage the peaceful protests and ghost towns in Bamenda, Limbe and Buea? Pourquoi? And why are you, Francophones doing NOTHING about this so-called bad governance? Why are you not joining the Anglophones to bring change to the whole of Cameroon?

This is something deeply troubling, because it causes me to wander down the path of questioning what kind of personal relationships (friendships) Anglophones and Francophones really have? Do they consider my people terrorists and extremists as Biya calls the people of the NW & SW? If the people of NW & SW are indeed extremists and terrorists, then my personal friends who happen to be francophones surely consider me and my anglophone friends camouflage terrorists as well, who have no claim to the demands of justice and equity in the union of Cameroon.

Very sadly, it leads me to ask, what kind of friendship then do we really have? Even when the Jews were being persecuted by the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s, not all Germans closed their doors on escaping Jews. Are there no francophones who will stand with Anglophones and shame the government for its terrorist acts in NW & SW? Are there no Francophones who will call for a peaceful march in Douala on a Saturday to decry the oppresion of the people of the NW & SW? Are our Anglophone-Francophone friendships so shallow that we can not stand with one another to bring about good for the whole country?

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Below is WhatsApp message I found appropriate about the recent celebration of “Youth Day” or “Fête de la Jeunesse”

J’avais vraiment envie de vous souhaiter une bonne fête de la jeunesse, mais je me suis demandé à quels jeunes je devrai m’adresser.

Au jeune de Limbé qui n’est pas allé à l’école depuis trois mois ou à celui de Douala qui a été premier de sa classe ?

Aux jeunes Lions champions d’Afrique qui font la fierté de tout le pays, ou aux nombreux autres qu’ils font rêver, mais n’ont pas les moyens de leurs rêves ?

Au diplômé de 35 ans sans boulot qui attend encore l’argent de poche de maman, ou au parachuté de 25 ans qui se la coule douce en narguant les autres ?

À la waka qui boit les champagnes tous les jours en boite de nuit ou aux nombreuses jeunes filles qui chaque jour sous le soleil essaient de survivre ?

Au jeune Colins Nji de Bamenda qui sans internet a gagné un concours Google, ou à ceux de Bafoussam qui passent leur temps sur internet à regarder les filles parce qu’ils n’ont rien à faire ?

Au nombreux benskineurs diplômés qui pensaient faire un boulot provisoire, mais qui est devenu définitif, ou aux nombreux jeunes mbenguistes qui sont les seuls espoirs de leurs familles ?

À celui qui va croiser la mort dans un accident de voiture ou de train faute d’infrastructures, ou á celui pour qui le Cameroun se limite aux quartiers chics de Yaoundé ?

Aux octogénaires sans un cheveu blanc qui nous gouvernent ou aux trentenaires donc le désespoir et la souffrance ont déjà blanchi tous les cheveux ?

À celui qui s’apprête à prendre la route de l’aventure à la recherche d’un espoir ailleurs ou à celui qui a déjà perdu espoir ?

À ceux qui espèrent encore quelque chose du discours du président ce soir, ou à ceux qui savent qu’il dira les mêmes choses ?

À ceux qui étudient dans l’espoir d’un avenir meilleur, ou à ceux qui n’attendent plus rien des innombrables demandes d’emploi envoyées ?

Aux jeunes de Yaoundé qui peuvent me lire ou à ceux de Buea qui n’ont pas internet depuis longtemps?

À celui qui risque de mourir d’un moment à l’autre sur un lit d’hôpital par manque d’argent ou de soins, ou à ceux qui ont le luxe de prendre un taxi à 400 Dollars aux Etats-Unis ?

Oui finalement je me suis vraiment demandé quel était le sens de la fête de la jeunesse. La célébration d’une période de la vie, ou ce qu’on en a fait ? La célébration du fer de lance de la nation ou la célébration des espoirs perdus. La célébration d’innombrables promesses non tenues ou la célébration des espérances envolées.

Quel est le sens de la fête de la jeunesse et que doivent fêter les jeunes ?
D’années en années, ce sont des générations de jeunesse qui s’envolent en fumée, sans rien faire de leur fougue et de leur force, sinon boire et coller les petites.

Ça devrait pourtant être une vraie fête, une belle fête, la fête d’une jeunesse victorieuse, d’une jeunesse conquérante, d’une jeunesse glorieuse, d’une jeunesse fière, mais hélas !

Oui j’avais vraiment envie de vous souhaiter une bonne fête, mais je ne sais pas ce qu’il y a à fêter. Une nation qui a sacrifié sa jeunesse est une nation qui a sacrifié son avenir.

Peter M. N.

Advertisements

L’histoire de la “fête de la Jeunesse” au Cameroun / History of “Youth Day” in Cameroon

The history of 11th February “Youth Day” in Cameroon or “Fête de la Jeunesse” in Cameroun is a well-covered subject, so I’ll make this really short, because the punch is quite powerful to the average Cameroonian – Anglophone or Francophone.

In Anglophone Cameroon or Southern Cameroons, we all know that February 11 is the day on which Southern and Northern Cameroons voted in a plebiscite to “join” La Republique du Cameroun (already independent then since 1960) OR the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Southern Cameroonians are referring to this day more and more as Plebiscite Day. Naturally, Southern Cameroonians (Anglophones) always think of themselves and no one talks about Northern Cameroons that joined Nigeria.

The vote by Southern Cameroons to join La Republique du Cameroun was considered a victory and a “home-coming” of their long-lost brothers. At the same time, the vote by Northern Cameroons to join Nigeria was considered a huge loss by La Republique du Cameroun, resulting in lawsuits and counter claims at the UN and the International Court of Justice by the Ahidjo government, all to no avail.

halfmastflagOn June 1, 1961, after failing to reverse the loss of Northern Cameroons, The Federal Republic of Cameroon called February 11 a National Day of Mourning or “Deuil National”. In 1962 on this date, the national flag was flown at half-mast to indicate the solemn mood of the country.

This national day of mourning continued through 1965 but in 1966, as Cameroon was struggling to normalize relations with certain countries and get over its grieving, it sought to find ways to reverse this national day of sadness.

In comes the Anglophone “Youth Day” that started off in the late 1940s and was initially a month-long celebration of the youth with sports competitions in honor of the British Monarchy.  Ahidjo cleverly moved the Youth Day to February 11 in 1966 to wipe East Cameroon’s memory of the diplomatic and economic loss of Nothern Cameroons.

Just proves how East Cameroon and France had colluded with the UN to shepherd us towards reunification and into the nightmare that NW & SW now live through.

And there you have it!

 

For more:

http://www.dibussi.com/2010/02/origins-of-the-youth-day-celebrations.html

http://actucameroun.com/2016/02/11/cameroun-comment-un-jour-de-deuil-national-est-devenu-fete-de-la-jeunesse/

http://www.camersenat.info/cameroun-11-fevrier-un-deuil-national-transforme-en-rejouissances-depuis-un-demi-siecle

 

Response to Atume Mehele’s article on Cameroon Report: We’re our own ‘help’!

This is in response to the story on Cameroon Report entitled “Opinion: For Anglophone Cameroon, ‘help’ from abroad is but a pipe dream”

Mr. Atume – I don’t know if Cameroon Report is an arm of the Government of Cameroon or you’re some France-backed online news outlet. But let me clarify a little detail to you:

We don’t need help from outside Cameroon to win this struggle. We may be making noise outside Cameroon to bring attention and put shame on President Biya for malhandling this situation. But here’s what I believe – and we all do in NW & SW:

This matter is being fought on the ground in NW and SW and it will be determined and won on the ground.

I agree with you – no foreign powers will come to the help of NW & SW. Every country and company has their interests and we’ve realized that we the people of NW and SW have to fight for ours. The Ghost Towns don’t depend on the US, or the UN. They didn’t ask us to do them. And they can’t stop us either.

And guess, the collective will of the people of the NW and SW will win this battle. We can not go back. Our leaders have been locked up, our youth have been KILLED, our childen’s futures are being thrown away. You really think we are waiting on anyone to come help us?

We are more than capable to fight this battle. Watch.

And by the way, to prove you’re not some France-inclined news outlet or overly sympathetic of the Francophone-majority regime in Yaounde or simply don’t care about the plight of the people of the NW and SW – be true to your profession and approve this comment. I commented on another post and sure enough – the reply was not [yet] approved. Guess what? I published the response to that post on my site. You can check it out here:

https://twitter.com/letterstoetoudi

Peter

Response to Maître Kizito Dikuba’s rant about Anglophone attorneys on Cameroon Report

This is a response to the story on CameroonReport.com entitled – “Anglophone attorney blasts colleagues” 

Lawyer Kizito – I’ve read your article, and I’m sorry to say that you don’t know YOUR history. You live in Douala, far from the Anglophone provinces where maybe you grew up or where your parents came from. You are privileged to operate in a legal practice in a big city and afford a lifestyle that the same colleagues in the provinces do not have in the country of Cameroon. Since you quote legality and due process in Cameroon so much, since you seem to have forgotten that the NW and SW are not equal to the rest of Cameroon, let me remind of a few things which you or may be aware of:

+ Slavery was once legal
+ Apartheid was once legal
+ The Holocaust was once legal

Legality of a matter of POWER, not JUSTICE. Anglophones have complained to the government from the 60s to today. This has been documented even by the French Government, and more recently by so many people within the government including President Biya. But the government has refused to listen. What must the people do? Follow what process? Beg on their knees? The government is laying to waste the future of so many kids in West Cameroon. Who will be their advocate? YOU? LOL…

Read your history. You have lots of homework to do. Start with this – https://letterstoetoudi.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/mr-president-is-la-republique-du-cameroun-a-legal-entity/

Peter M. Nche

Our fellow Francophone brothers: don’t celebrate 11th February!

11 February is the day in 1961 when anglophones of West Cameroon voted in a Plebiscite to join their Francophone compatriots of East Cameroon. If today the anglophones are not celebrating this day as a result of the ongoing strikes , why should the Francophones celebrate it.

Historians talk about this date as the Plebiscite Day. The designation of the “National Youth Day” on a day which is supposed to celebrate the anglophone’s PLEBISCITE, is an attempt to diminished the history of the Anglophones in The Cameroon union. To take such a historical date like the 11th of February and give it to the youth is a distortion of history, especially as nothing is told to the youth on the historical origin of the date. Anybody who is trying to distort historical facts will be the loser, because, facts are stubborn and the don’t die.

It is time to tell the Francophones and the nation the truth. 11 FEBRUARY is not a YOUTH DAY it is THE PLEBISCITE DAY . Do not make ridicule of yourself by celebrating a fallacy , especially when those responsible for the day are not celebrating. I therefore called on all Francophones to join the anglophones and do not celebrate the so-called 11 February “youth day”.

Yours sincerely,
Captain Cameroon

A Nos freres Francophones: Ne celebrez pas le 11 février!

Le 11 février est le jour de 1961 où les anglophones du Cameroun occidental ont voté dans un plébiscite pour rejoindre leurs compatriotes francophones de l’Est du Cameroun.
Si aujourd’hui les anglophones ne célèbrent pas cette journée en raison des grèves en cours, pourquoi les francophones devraient-ils la célébrer?
Les historiens parlent de cette date comme le jour du plébiscite. La désignation de la «Journée nationale de la jeunesse» à l’occasion d’une journée qui est censée célébrer le PLEBISCITE anglophone, est une tentative de modifier l’histoire des anglophones dans l’union camerounaise. Prendre une telle date historique comme le 11 février et la donner à la jeunesse est une déformation de l’histoire, d’autant plus que rien n’est dit aux jeunes sur l’origine historique de la date. Quiconque essaie de fausser les faits historiques sera le perdant, parce que les faits sont têtus et ne meurent pas.

Il est temps de dire aux francophones et à la nation la vérité. 11 FEVRIER n’est pas une JOURNÉE JEUNESSE c’est LE JOUR DU PLEBISCITE. Ne vous ridiculisez pas en célébrant une erreur, surtout lorsque les responsables de la journée ne fêtent pas. J’appelle à tous les francophones à se joindre aux anglophones et à ne pas célébrer la soi-disant «Journée de la jeunesse» du 11 février,
Le tiens
Capitaine Cameroun

 

“Interdit aux chiens et aux Noirs!”

In case your French is not so good, let me help you translate the title of this article:

Forbidden to dogs and blacks

And can you guess where such a sign could have hung?

In Douala, in 1957.

Yeah.

Who would have thought?

And oh, talking about the French language, this sign was not translated into French in the first place. It was a sign posted in bars and restaurants in French colonial quarters in Douala and Yaounde in the late 1950s. Just like Trump in 2017, the then-recently elected first leader and head of government of Cameroon, Andre Marie Mbida, in 1957, signed a number of sweeping orders expelling hundreds of French men from Cameroon. Its incredible to know that Cameroon had its own mild form of racial segregation or apartheid.

Andre Marie Mbida, before Ahidjo’s time, was a wise and forceful leader who understood quickly that Cameroon must own its destiny and that independence must be complete and total from France. Alas, he didn’t last long, the French Government in Paris orchestrated his ouster and replacement by the more docile Ahidjo and the rest is history.

I am not insinuating racial connotations of France or French people against Cameroon or the people of Cameroon in 2017. However, I am drawing a parallel between the relationship of France-Cameroon in 2017 to France-Cameroon relationship in 1957, and sadly, we don’t notice many differences. The sad part is that our Francophone brothers are still blind to the gross double-standards perpetuated by the French in dealing with African countries.

  • France wants peace for its citizens, yet it exports genocide (think Cote D’Ivoire recently), mass incarceration and oppression to the voices that stand against them (think Northwest & South West Cameroonians)
  • France plunders resources from Cameroon and 13 other colonies in Africa in 2017, yet expects to have zero refugees from any African country
  • France has indoctrinated our fellow Francophone brothers across the Mungo River to think that the people of NorthWest and SouthWest are the new ‘dogs’  and they are indeed the new colonial masters.

As long as our Francophone brothers and sisters don’t join our struggle, and sit on the sidelines and think we’re fools, radicals, extremists, the longer the brainwashing continues. The good news is, when Southern Cameroons has broken free, they will realize what a loss it was to stick with France.

A summary of Paul Biya’s 35 years as President of Cameroon

I received this PDF via WhatsApp and it was shocking to review. Read on… cameroun-genocide-corruption-paul-biya

And when you’re done reading that, zoom into His Excellency’s palace in his village on Google Maps

When you’re done, shout out to the President himself (or his surrogates) on Twitter

 

 

Cameroon’s has a complex relationship with France

Cameroon has a complex relationship with France.

The two countries share historical, linguistic and cultural ties and many Cameroonian elites have studied and
lived in France. Cameroon is France’s largest recipient of foreign assistance and one of its biggest trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa, with French companies maintaining a
strong presence in the Cameroonian economy. France also has robust military-to-military relations and people-to-people ties. The May visit to Yaounde of French Prime Minister
Fillon and the July visit to France of Cameroonian President Paul Biya produced two new agreements and further cemented official relations. Biya used the July visit largely for a
domestic political boost. The French are focused on encouraging stability both for regional security reasons and to benefit commercial interests. The French government is in
a position to influence Biya’s political calculations. If they chose to more actively encourage Biya on democracy and good governance, the French might be able to improve their image among average Cameroonians, many of whom are anti-French, and reinforce our interests here. End summary.

A Special History

After 35 years as a German colony, Cameroon emerged in the aftermath of World War I partitioned between France and Britain under 1919 League of Nations mandates. In 1961,
independent French Cameroun joined with the southern third of the British colony (Southern Cameroons) to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, with each region maintaining substantial autonomy until unification in 1972. As a result
of this history, Cameroonians from the former British regions (Anglophones) do not have particular historical grievances against France. Their anti-French sentiments stem from
frustration with France’s more recent pursuit of its economic interests and its support for the Biya regime – frustrations shared by many Francophones, especially among the younger generation – as discussed below.

In contrast to the Anglophones, the majority Francophones lived through French colonialism, which shaped their attitude toward France. According to noted Cameroonian
historian Englebert Mveng, the French improved Cameroon’s health, agriculture, and educational systems and economic infrastructure. Cameroonians were represented in the French National Assembly, fought with De Gaulle against the Vichy government, and entered the post-World War II period as a French “trusteeship” with a great deal of affection for France. The French in turn continued to invest in the country’s infrastructure and built a number of industries which still exist, such as the Brasseries de Cameroon (the
national brewery) and ALUCAM (an aluminum company).

The French period also left its scars. One Cameroonians scholar depicts the French mandate period as more “subtly pernicious” than the Germans, who were more overtly repressive. Many Cameroonians believe the French exploited Cameroon while doing little to develop it. The historian Mveng, while charitable toward the French period, acknowledges that labor unrest, political party activism and violence in the countryside made French rule increasingly untenable through the mid-1950s. The radical Union des
Populations du Cameroun (UPC) party led an armed struggle against French rule and was brutally repressed, including during a decade of post-independence confrontation in the
1960s. At independence, France determined who among its French-trained elites would take the reigns of power, marginalizing many of those who had fought in the independence struggle.

This colonial history set the stage for close ties between France and Cameroon’s ruling elites, most of whom are old enough to remember the pre-independence period. For many
average Francophone Cameroonians, the French colonial experience left a cultural affinity but also significant resentment toward colonial exploitation. According to Cameroonian historian Daniel Abwa, the vast majority of Cameroonians supported the UPC in its struggle against the French and their hand-picked Cameroonian leaders. Abwa
depicts French colonial rule as intolerant of dissent. He also notes that Cameroonians resent perceived French ingratitude for Cameroon’s support during the Vichy period.

Economic Interests

Modern attitudes toward France, especially among the younger generation, are perhaps shaped more by the strong French economic and commercial presence. Many Cameroonians strongly resent the French economic and commercial interests,
which they perceive as propping up the Biya regime and spreading corruption in a web of shady deals.

Cameroon is France’s fifth largest commercial partner in sub-Saharan Africa. France is Cameroon’s number one trading partner. French exports totaled about 575 million Euros ($833 million) in 2008 (led by pharmaceuticals, cereals and auto parts), making up about 30% of total Cameroonian imports. Cameroonian exports to France totaled 370 million Euros ($536 million, led by petroleum products, fruit, and aluminum).

One French Embassy source estimated there are about 200 French companies and 160 subsidiaries in Cameroon. Many of the country’s top companies are French or have French
investment, including the Brasseries de Cameroon, Total oil (and by extension the National Oil Company SNH), Orange telecommunications, Cameroon Railways, Sodecoton (cotton producer), and Groupe PHP (banana and pineapple exporters). The French company Bollore has investors in the Douala port, the railway and the forestry sector. The French-run Cementcom has a monopoly on cement production, keeping the supply low, prices artificially high, and dumping inferior grade cement into the market. French banks manage government salaries and the French Treasury holds about 65% of the deposits of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), pegging the CFA Franc to the Euro. One of Biya’s top economic advisors is a Frenchman who works in the Presidency.

Many Cameroonians do not grasp the size of official French assistance. Cameroon is the largest French recipient of foreign assistance in Africa, although one local French official commented that this is “by accident, not design.” France’s Debt Removal and Development Contract (C2D) program provides 537 million Euros ($768 million) over five years, drawn from funds converted from HIPC debt relief, and focused on infrastructure, health, education, agriculture and the environment. One Cameroonian observer opined that French assistance has become more aggressively linked to commercial interests and to countering a perceived growing Chinese presence.

A Focus on Stability

Despite its deep economic/commercial relationship, French Charge d’Affaires Patrice Bonnal told Pol/Econ Chief that French interests in Cameroon “are not primarily economic.” He emphasized that France is most concerned about political interests, which he defined as helping ensure stability. France he noted, maintains a low profile on
sensitive domestic political issues, aligning with European Union positions, in keeping with a belief that domestic politics are largely an internal affair for the Cameroonians
to sort out.

France also has an active military relationship with Cameroon. In a recent visit to Cameroon, French Prime Minister Fillon signed a new defense agreement which he
stated reflects a desire for greater “partnership,” more transparency, and support for collective security arrangements. According to one Cameroonian scholar, this
relationship used to focus on French military intervention options but has recently shifted to training and commercial sales. Post understands that the previous agreement also
allowed France the option of intervening, at Cameroonian government request, to preserve internal security, a feature the French were eager to discard in the new agreement. While France has significant military sales and advisors in the
Ministry of Defense and gendarmerie, it has not been very successful at translating this into a strong role in shaping Cameroon’s security strategy or planning. Bonnal commented that France’s military presence in Cameroon is less prominent
than in Chad, Gabon or Cote d’Ivoire, where permanent or quasi-permanent (Chad) French military forces have been deployed. This, he thought, would help insulate France from public backlash should domestic politics deteriorate.

Recent Trips Reinforce Ties

When President Sarkozy’s planned trip to Cameroon in April 2009 was canceled (reportedly because of scheduling problems), France took what Bonnal saw as the unusual step of sending Prime Minister Francois Fillon “as a gesture”. The PM’s May 20-22 trip produced two agreements. The first, on immigration, provided 12 million Euros ($17 million) to Cameroon for development programs and opened 66 professional
training programs for Cameroonians in France (there are reportedly 36,000 legal Cameroonians in France and about 5,000 French in Cameroon). In exchange, Cameroon promised to play an active role in checking the exodus of illegal migrants to France. The second agreement was on defense (although Bonnal declined to offer details.) Fillon also
publicized a third agreement reached in a previous visit by French Minister of Cooperation Jean Nde infusing C2D assistance with new cash for the health sector.

In his July 21-24 state visit to France, Biya engaged a number of French government, business and other contacts and met with President Nicholas Sarkozy. Bonnal
said he had not gotten a detailed readout of the visit from Paris but noted that Sarkozy raised three specific issues:

  • he urged Biya to do more to improve maritime security,
  • he pressed for greater progress on good governance,
  • and he encouraged Biya to play a more active Africa-wide leadership
    role, especially after the death of Gabonese President Omar
    Bongo.
  • According to the Cameroonian press, the French
    Foreign Ministry also noted that Sarkozy discussed the need
    for greater progress on democracy and human rights. Biya
    reportedly thanked France for its continued support.

    Both sides downplayed these recent visits. French Charge Bonnal dismissed Cameroonian press criticism that Sarkozy had not spent enough time with Biya or that Biya had not asked for more from France, stating that the French
    President spent a normal amount of time for a head of state meeting and that Biya does not normally go around “like a beggar.” He did not believe the Fillon or Biya trips signaled any major departure in bilateral relations.

    In a recent meeting,  Sebastien Foumane, Secretary General at Cameroon’s Ministry of External Relations, described Biya’s trip to France as “routine.” This visit, Biya’s first official trip to France under the Sarkozy administration, had been planned for a long time and was “normal,” given Cameroon’s long history with France. He downplayed the defense and immigration agreements signed during Fillon’s visit.

    Many Cameroonians saw Biya’s trip as essentially political, for both parties. On his return from France, Biya’s only comment to Bonnal at the airport was that no one
    had thrown tomatoes at him (anti-Biya protests in France were more low-key than some Cameroonians thought they would be). Biya used his recent trip to burnish his international image and gain domestic political points in the run-up to
    presidential elections in 2011. The GRC paid for large ads in a number of French newspapers during the visit. Biya reportedly paid for party supporters to go to France to show support, while he arranged for an unusually boisterous public
    welcome upon his return. According to some Cameroonian observers, Sarkozy and Fillon sought to use the visits to remind Biya of France’s interests here, perhaps in response to U.S. and Chinese inroads.

    Comment

    There is an underlying awkwardness in the France-Cameroon relationship. When asked about this relationship, many local French contacts are visibly
    uncomfortable. France is seen to have significant influence over the Biya regime; many Cameroonians believe the French forced out former President Ahidjo and threatened Biya when he was seen as too independent in the early 1980s. France
    is criticized for not using its influence to further democracy or improve economic management. The former French Ambassador to Cameroon conceded to us that France is increasingly unpopular here and we are often struck by the level of anti-French sentiment among many Cameroonian contacts. While this reflects in part the level of anti-Biya sentiment and in part business and historical resentment, it
    is also a reaction to the continued patronizing attitude of many French here. In an example, Bonnal vented about the political “immaturity” of Cameroonians and
    portrayed Biya as playing the “typical role” of an African leader by not getting into the details of leadership or mingling with his people.

    Many Cameroonians contrast the French and U.S. bilateral relationships. We have fewer investors and less development assistance in Cameroon but we get more mileage than the French with our mil-mil engagement and Peace Corps
    activities. Cameroonians also seem to appreciate our willingness to speak out on democracy and governance issues. Many of our interlocutors are generally skeptical that France can change its neo-colonial ways. However, if the Sarkozy
    administration were able to reinforce our democracy and governance themes and distance itself to some degree from Biya, we could magnify our chances of influencing a peaceful, democratic post-Biya transition. Such engagement could both
    improve the image of France on the Cameroonian streets and better serve both of our national interests in the long run.

Mr. President, in case you never heard of it, here’s what the Anglophone Problem is

THE MOST COMPELLING CASE I HAVE READ SO FAR ON THE « ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM »

BY HARRY FON ACHA
The past few weeks will be recorded in the history of Cameroon as a period when some Cameroonians decided to stand up against what they perceive as the systematic marginalisation of a people who, by virtue of their common heritage (education, culture, way of life, etc.) constitute a recognisable community; and who, by virtue of history, constitute a political entity.

These times will be known and remembered amongst chapters that include:

The wind of change, by which a semblance of democracy made a breakthrough, and the reappearance of multiparty politics in Cameroon in 1990.
The unrest that surrounded the amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon in 2008.
However, what is particular about the unrest currently witnessed is that it has not engaged the entire nation in the same way as those of 1990 and 2008 did. Rather, its epicentre is found in the North West and South West Regions, which – and it is no coincidence – are also the parts of Cameroon that constituted what was referred to as Southern Cameroons before 1 October 1961.

Considering that these parts of the country were administered by the British after the defeat of the Germans in World War 1, the administrative traditions, community management, education, legal tradition, and perception of government and governance here are inspired by the British tradition.

Also and, of course, for the above reason, the main language of administration and instruction in these parts is English… and legitimately so; in the same way as French and the French tradition are predominant in the parts of Cameroon formerly administered by the French.

As such, if there is unrest in parts of the country where English is the main working language, it is fair to conclude that a problem exists, that the problem exists in a part of the country where English is largely spoken and, on account of that, it is an Anglophone Problem; which does not mean, for the moment, that Anglophones have a problem because they are Anglophones. This is important because it constitutes another dimension of the problem which we will establish later.

Note that the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “Anglophone” as “consisting of, or belonging to an English-speaking population especially in a country where two or more languages are spoken”.

There is, therefore, nothing wrong or scary about the term “Anglophone” nor is there anything defiant of State authority by admitting the existence of an Anglophone Problem. It is a simple fact and the denial of it actually constitutes part of the problem.

So, why do some deny the existence of an Anglophone Problem? It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with directly citing Mr Paul Atanga Nji, Minister in Charge of Special Duties at the Presidency, as one of such deniers since he has made that opinion unequivocally clear. Why do people such as Mr Paul Atanga Nji deny the existence of an Anglophone Problem?

The answer is simple. If you admit to the existence of a problem, then you have a moral responsibility to solve it. By denying it, therefore, the substance of the problem is immediately taken off the agenda of government action. Or, perhaps, the opinions of the likes of Minister Paul Atanga Nji are personal opinions (to which they have a right) and do not reflect Government’s position. In fact, there is some evidence for this as, following the strike action by teachers and lawyers:

The Prime Minister personally led a round of talks with the Teachers’ unions;
The Head of State signed a decree intended to address some of the teachers’ grievances;
Government requested and obtained an English version of the OHADA law, the absence of which had been raised by lawyers.
So, either Government is trying to address a problem without admitting to its existence which, once again, is part of the problem; or Minister Paul Atanga Nji is acting against the purpose of Government… or both. In either case, or both cases, Government now has to deal with the Anglophone Problem and the Atanga Nji problem.

The problem with the current name of the country: La République du Cameroun, is not only that it no longer contains any reminder or indication that two political entities came into a union, but also and most importantly that it is exactly the name of French Cameroon before the federation.

WHAT IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THE ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM?

So far, we have established that Anglophones have a problem. They are complaining about something. The legitimacy of that complaint is a separate issue… and we will come to that.

Our purpose at this point is to demonstrate that the grievances of Anglophones are not just grievances by individuals who hail from a definite geographical location, but are grievances by a community which, by virtue of history and culture, constitute a political entity; and the grievances are directly connected to that homogeneity. To achieve this purpose, we will address structural deviance, the normalisation of deviance, and institutional deviance.

INSTITUTIONAL DEVIANCE
Official Name of the Country

The official name of Cameroon is the most compelling demonstration of the Anglophone Problem. As benign as it may seem, the name of this country: La République du Cameroun, is a potential source of the irritation to Anglophones.

Notice that, before the British and French administered Cameroons came together in 1961, the French administered part was called “La République du Cameroun”. When both sides came together, the country was named “Federal Republic of Cameroon”. The term “federal” recognised at least two political entities that had decided to federate.

In 1972, the country was renamed United Republic of Cameroon. Although this was contrary to the spirit of the Foumban accords that led to the 1961 federation, at least, the term “United” reminded that more than one political entity were in unity, or as Barrister Harmony BOBGA puts it, an experiment of unity.

The problem with the current name of the country: La République du Cameroun, is not only that it no longer contains any reminder or indication that two political entities came into a union, but also and most importantly that it is exactly the name of French Cameroon before the federation.

SUGGESTION: Anglophones do not exist as a homogeneous political entity… Anglophones have never existed… the name of the country is exactly the same as that of ONE of the political entities before 1961.

It is for this reason that some Anglophones feel that they have been colonised, occupied or simply deleted.

Dissolution of House of Chiefs

The French governed Cameroon through colonial administrators physically present on the ground to implement the colonial policy. Consequently, in that part of the country that was French Cameroon, power and authority are seen as the incontestable preserve of the executive.

In British administered Cameroon, the colonial administration seemed distant, and authority and power were exercised through local chiefs. Consequently, power and authority are perceived in British administered Cameroon as the preserve of the people.

As such, and of course, the House of Chiefs was a key component in the administration of Anglophone Cameroon. Well, it was later dissolved… and a part of the Anglophone way of community management went with the dissolution.

The Language of the Law

Another blatant display of institutional deviance from the spirit of the 1961 union is that French and the manners of the French tradition heavily underpin the conception of laws in Cameroon. Although the Constitution clearly states that Cameroon is a bilingual country, never has a law been tabled to the National Assembly in English first. In cases where laws are proposed in both English and French versions, the English version is a translation and, as in the case of the revised Penal Code tabled in 2016, the quality of the English version is a function of the competence (or lack thereof) of the translator.

The underlying problem here is that if laws are systematically conceived in French, it follows that their substance and drift are informed by the traditions inherited from the culture connected thereto.

These examples of systematic institutional deviance could not possibly constitute issues that Francophone Cameroonians would complain about, except in solidarity with Anglophones or in defence of what is right. As such, they are problems that Anglophones have BECAUSE THEY ARE ANGLOPHONES

NORMALISED DEVIANCE
These are really just further examples of deviance that have so fossilised into the general consciousness that they seem normal.

Firstly, inasmuch as the sitting and former Heads of State have made numerous speeches over 50+ years, inasmuch as the current Head of State has made some small parts of a handful of speeches in English, no Cameroonian Head of State HAS EVER made a full speech in English. In fact, Anglophone Cameroonians do not know what it feels like for one’s Head of State to make a full speech in their first official language.

This is a complaint that Francophone Cameroonians cannot make, except in solidarity with Anglophones or in defence of what is right.

Secondly, no major decision such as change in law or procedure or new government or any such State matter has ever been announced in English first; nor am I aware of any such decision for which the French version is only a translation.

There is a major radio newscast at 3 pm in English and a major radio newscast at 5 pm in French. There is also a major TV newscast at 7:30 pm in English and a major TV newscast at 8:30 pm in French. Could it be said that, in over 50 years, all major decisions have been made between 3:30 pm (after the radio news in English) and 5 pm (before the radio news in French) or between 8 pm (after TV news in English) and 8:30 pm (before TV news in French) and, thus, announced in the next available newscast which happens to be in French? That would be ridiculous.

It seems more plausible that decisions are made at any time of the day, but HAVE TO BE ANNOUNCED IN FRENCH FIRST.

Once again, Francophone Cameroonians cannot make such a complaint except in solidarity with Anglophones or in defence of what is right.

Thirdly, ALL ministries are named in French first, then in English underneath, mostly with smaller characters… as if it were an irrelevant footnote. Of course, one may not notice this, unless they are Anglophone or in solidarity with them.

Fourthly, websites of all government ministries are in French and, in most cases, the English subsite is either not updated, not available, or Google translated. Information, when made available to Anglophones, is therefore not news or is in such approximate English that it borders on insult.

The final example is Cameroon’s relations with the Commonwealth. Cameroon’s Head of State has never attended a Commonwealth Summit, but regularly attends Francophonie summits, which seem to be more important to him than African Union Summits. The presence of the French president at Francophonie summits and the extent of French investment in Cameroon, and the diplomatic cards that may be played at these summits may be a factor in the Head of State’s decision to attend. Fair enough. But then, his non-attendance of Commonwealth summits begs the question of why a similar economic rapprochement is not made with countries of the Commonwealth.

To compound the neglect, which some call marginalisation and which I call provocation, REMEMBER that the Head of State contrived to address a meeting of Commonwealth parliamentarians in French.

ALL ministries are named in French first, then in English underneath, mostly with smaller characters… as if it were an irrelevant footnote. Of course, one may not notice this, unless they are Anglophone or in solidarity with them.
STRUCTURAL DEVIANCE
The following are further cases of deviance that either envenom the feeling of appurtenance of Anglophone Cameroonians to the nation or cause a structural imbalance in their progress.

In the Federal period, 1961-1972, professional schools were created to ensure the training of professionals needed for the development of the then West Cameroon federal state. However, in the early 70s, a disturbing trend started that engineered the structural subjugation of Anglophones. The main Teacher Training College in Bambili became an annex to the Teacher Training College in Yaounde and the college in Yaounde became a HIGHER TEACHERS’ TRAINING COLLEGE. The school of Posts & Telecommunications in Buea became an annex and a HIGHER SCHOOL OF P&T opened in Yaounde.

Public works schools, schools of public administration, and nursing schools followed the same pattern. CONSEQUENCE: Access, at least by proximity, to higher levels of training became the preserve of Francophones. The fact that Anglophones mostly end up as deputies to Francophones in public administration is a fact of deliberate systemic social engineering… it is an Anglophone Problem.

Consider the case of the training of teachers. This example usually goes unnoticed. In 2010, a second cycle for the training of teachers was created in Bambili to train teachers at postgraduate level. If the first graduates came out two years later, it means that for 61 years, Anglophones could only be, at best, teachers trained at undergraduate level. Or, if they had a post-graduate teacher’s diploma, then they were either:

A teacher of English/French (lettres bilingues);
A teacher of English (Lettres Modernes Anglaise) or;
A teacher of any of the other subjects on condition that they took 90% of their courses in French.
The impact is that, for 61 years, young Francophones were generally taught by teachers trained at a higher level than young Anglophones. In other spheres, this same technique would be seen as soft ethnic cleansing. However, for the purpose of courtesy, we will call it an Anglophone Problem.

If you admit to the existence of a problem, then you have a moral responsibility to solve it.

Until the mid-90s, it took Anglophones seven years to complete primary school education compared to six years for Francophones. This gave the latter a one-year head-start on the former. Also, for recruitments that require Anglophones to have at least GCE O Levels obtained after five years of secondary education, Francophones were required the BEPC obtained after four years. Cumulatively, this gives Francophones a two-year head-start on Anglophones. Seen as such, the fact that Anglophones are generally deputies to Francophones can be seen as fair from the perspective of experience, but the underlying social causation is criminal.

Before the creation of the University of Buea in 1992, Anglophones entering university had to adjust to meet up with their Francophone mates. REASON: the university curricula were based primarily on the structure and curriculum content of the Baccalauréat. Anglophones who had learned to take a question and ANSWER IT now had to learn how to write a “dissertation”. They had to contend with concepts such as “emmener le sujet” and “poser le problème” before answering the question. CONSEQUENCE: Anglophones simply went away… or when they stayed, they became Francophonised. As such, today, when lawyers and teachers ask for the respect of the Anglophone way of doing things, and use the case of the OHADA Laws as example, the simple translation of the text that Government served does not solve the problem. The issues at stake are more profound, so profound that they constitute an Anglophone Problem.

In the Anglophone educational subsystem, students start learning Chemistry, Biology and Physics as separate subjects from their first year in secondary school. In the Francophone subsystem, students learn a general subject called science until fourth year. Thus, when a teacher with a Francophone background is sent to teach chemistry to students in first year of secondary school, his philosophy of chemistry for a ten-year-old is different from that prescribed by the culture of the Anglophone subsystem… that is, if he has the linguistic competence to deliver his lessons. So, when teachers ask for Francophone teachers to be redeployed from Anglophone schools, it has nothing to do with any xenophobia nor with a suspicion of their competence on a broader scale. Rather, it has everything to do with a philosophy and culture. It is the defence of that philosophy and culture that constitutes the Anglophone Problem.

The same goes for judges. A judge trained in the civil law tradition does not have the full complement of objectivity in a case that a lawyer makes if the lawyer has a common law background and has built his case on the foundations of that tradition. The call for redeployment of Francophone judges from Anglophone courtrooms therefore is not a rejection of their competence, but a critique of their adaptability to a different legal tradition. As such, it is a problem that Anglophones have because they are Anglophones… meaning that, to their linguistic identity is inextricably attached a cultural identity.

Also noteworthy is the language used on bank notes in Cameroon. The fact that not a single word in English is found on any bank note used in Cameroon is something more pernicious than the term marginalisation can express. It is a problem that Francophone Cameroonians cannot complain about, except by solidarity… it is an Anglophone Problem.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that when Anglophones called for the creation of the GCE Board to manage exams in the English subsystem, the Office du Baccalauréat was created first for exams in the French subsystem… as if to say that what is good should be given to Francophones first, regardless of whether or not they asked for it.

Nor should it be forgotten that, in Cameroon, when there is a difference in the interpretation of the English and French versions of the same law, reference is made to the French version.

These injustices are real and they affect real people. They are so systematic that they seem obviously deliberate and ultimately criminal. It is true that Honourable Wirba quoted Thomas Jefferson, but I want to quote Honourable Wirba: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty”.

It is the injustices above that Anglophones are RESISTING.

In Cameroon, when there is a difference in the interpretation of the English and French versions of the same law, reference is made to the French version.

WHAT THE ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM IS NOT

The Anglophone Problem is NOT a matter of how many Anglophones are in government. In fact, any such references are meant to distract from the main issues at stake.

The Anglophone Problem has nothing to do with the fact that the Prime Minister is Anglophone. In fact, if it did, perhaps a reminder that the Head of State is Francophone would water down the argument. And if it does not, remember that the Speaker of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, the President of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General, President of the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary General at the Presidency, the Military Joint Chief of Staff, the head of the Police are also Francophone.

The Anglophone Problem has nothing to do with bad roads and high levels of unemployment in the North West and South West regions. Of course, these issues have been raised amongst the grievances and deniers have been quick to say that the conditions of roads and other social problems are worse in other regions. Rather, when Anglophones complain of bad roads and dysfunctional utility services, the point is that, under a federation, they would have managed their infrastructure better. Besides, perhaps Anglophones have a different measure for what is acceptable and the legitimacy of their complaints is not a function of whether or not other regions have complained. In fact, it should be remembered that when the wave of demonstrations started in Bamenda in 1990 calling for the return to multiparty politics, it is not because other parts of the country had parties other than the ruling party. The conditions were the same across the board, but the Anglophones’ measure of what is acceptable was different.

The Anglophone Problem is not how many people speak both languages nor is it how much inter-marriage there is between Anglophones and Francophones. Some have raised such considerations in a bid to delegitimize the grievances. Well, this is as much a distraction as it is nonsense and deserves no further comment.

OTHER FALLACIES AROUND THE ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM

Some have argued that the thought of a return to federalism is a move backwards. Well, it is not. As simplistic as the counter argument of chronology may be in dismissing the matter, it (argument of chronology) is a no less matter-of-fact argument which establishes that federalism is a move forward. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that the matter is presented as a return to federalism rather than as the institution of federalism (though institution here would mean re-institution). If this argument does not add up, then it would be fair to argue that the institution of multiparty politics in Cameroon in the early 90s was a return to multiparty party politics and therefore a move backwards, since multiparty politics had been practised before 1972. The logic of dialectical historicism also makes nonsense of the thought that the return of federalism is synonymous with a move backwards. There are many chances that right-wing Jacobinism may take the French presidency in 2017 without that being seen as a return 300 years back in time.

Another argument that has been recurrent in denying the legitimacy of the Anglophone Problem is the colonial argument. According to proponents of this argument, the identification of groups as Anglophone or Francophone is a colonial reference which does not take into consideration the fact that before the British and French administrations, the German Kamerun covered all of modern day Cameroon. This argument is heavily flawed for many reasons. First, if the German territory satisfies the proposition against an Anglophone / Francophone divide, the German reference is no less colonial. Second, if the German period better covers the history of Cameroon, then why do proponents of this argument not make a case for the return of Equatorial Guinea and parts of Gabon into the modern Cameroon… since those too were parts of the German territory? Thirdly, if a step must be taken further back than the arrival of the British and the French, why stop with the Germans and not go further to the Portuguese whose explorers named the territory.

In fact, history does not record any single ancient empire that covers all of modern Cameroon in the same way as the Ashanti Empire covers modern Ghana or the Songhai Empire covers Mali. As such, Cameroon has European occupation to thank for its current territorial form.

What is more, the Portuguese never set up an administration in the same way as the later occupiers did. The Germans on their part, were not around for long enough to have the kind of socio-cultural effect that the British and the French had. Evidence for the foregoing is that the English and French languages are the single socio-linguistic factors that cut across Cameroon’s 250 ethnic units. The fact that Cameroonians are made up of Anglophones and Francophones therefore is not anything to be ashamed of or be scared of. It is a fact of what we are.

Arguing against the fact that in 60 years, Anglophones have never held the portfolios of Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Minister of Territorial Administration, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of Police, Minister of Education, a strangely spurious argument was made by a rather curious gentleman. Confident that the idea defied common sense, he bullied through the argument that, in most countries, the Head of State is the Minister of Foreign affairs and the Minister of Defence. Well that is a lie. Besides, if the idea made any sense, it should also be argued that the Head of State is no less the Minister of Foreign affairs than he is the Minister of Tourism or of Sports. And if that line of thought must be pursued, an important matter will simply be dragged into a small smelly place that needs flushing.

WHO IS ANGLOPHONE?

This question is crucial in the understanding of the socio-cultural and political stakes of the Anglophone question and the sustainability of social cohesion. Different social dynamics and engagement with the Anglophone question place Cameroonians at different levels of the “Anglophone spectrum”:

Level 1: Considering that Cameroon has two official languages (English and French) and that these two languages are factors of linguistic hegemony in a country with over 200 languages, an Anglophone is a Cameroonian whose first official language is English.

Level 2: These are people who descend from lineages that are founded in the former West Cameroon. Their first official language may not be English.

Level 3: These are Francophones whose language of instruction is English, who have learnt English later in life enough to be affected by the English tradition and Francophones whose language of instruction is French, but who have lived long enough in the English-speaking zones that they have either: integrated the Anglophone way of life, are victims of some of the deviances highlighted above or, if they are not victims, at least they understand that Anglophones suffer institutional injustices on account of their heritage.

Level 4: The highest level in the spectrum includes Cameroonians who may or may not speak English and may not be descendants of West Cameroon, but who understand the Anglophone Problem as presented above, admit to its existence, and actively defend the right to protect the Anglophone heritage, culture, and values within the spirit of the Foumban accords.

The reason why the highest level of Anglophonism includes people who may not speak English is that Anglophonism in Cameroon is not a just a linguistic identity, but a socio-political outlook on the history, management, and political becoming of Cameroon.

SECESSIONISTS AND MANIPULATION

Level 1 and Level 2 Anglophones do not necessarily understand the point of convergence between Anglophonism and the form of the state. This is important because the issue of the form of the State has been a matter for debate around the manifestations witnessed in the North West and South West regions recently. Oppressors of Anglophones have variously made statements such as:

  • There is no Anglophone Problem in Cameroon,
    Cameroon is “One and Indivisible” and the form of the State is not on the agenda for discussion,
  • Those who argue for the existence of an Anglophone Problem should constitute themselves into a political party.
  • The Anglophone Problem is as old as the experiment of Unity. During the negotiations that led to the Foumban accords, some Anglophones were suspicious of the Francophone delegation and their intentions. Of course, they were in the minority and the accords were signed.

Their input, however, was instrumental in making a case for federalism rather than full-fledged unitarism. And though they fell in line with the majority, they did so in hope rather than expectation.

The reason why the highest level of Anglophonism includes people who may not speak English is that Anglophonism in Cameroon is not a just a linguistic identity, but a socio-political outlook on the history, management, and political becoming of Cameroon.

By 1990, the centralisation of power had become overbearing, the economy was in a mess, the challenges for Anglophones to emerge through a system heavily biased in favour of Francophones were maturing, the wind of change was blowing across Africa… the window of opportunity created by the call for multiparty politics saw the resurfacing of the sceptics in the guise of a secessionist movement – Southern Cameroons National Congress (SCNC). They called for secession as a solution to the Anglophone predicament. An All Anglophone Conference held in Buea in 1992 and another in 1994 in Bamenda to discuss the state of the union and strategize for an eventual break-away. By this time, the main Anglophone emissaries to the Foumban Conference, Muna and Foncha, had either voiced or suggested their disappointment over the failures to respect the terms and spirit of the 1961 accords. Pressure mounted both within and internationally.

Government caved in and made some concessions:

  • The post of Prime Minister returned and was given to an Anglophone;
  • The University of Buea was created as an Anglo-Saxon university;
  • Cameroon joined the Commonwealth;
  • A new Constitution was adopted, which included decentralisation as an alternative to federalism or secession.
  • What should be noted from these events is that, as dissatisfied as some Anglophones were with Foumban, they admitted to their minority and only resurfaced when the failure in the implementation of minimum representativeness, access to opportunity, and protection of the Anglophone heritage became so painfully obvious.

The circumstances leading up to calls for secession in 2016 are exactly similar.

The fact that the country went through a patch of violence (with epicentre in Bamenda) before multiparty politics returned, the fact that Muna and Foncha disavowed the management of the union and that these culminated in calls for secession is evidence of the consequences of absence of dialogue or evidence that the current government only opens dialogue when the alternative threatens its continued reign… Exactly like in 2016.

Not a single Anglophone places the secessionist card on the table on their first move. Rather, Anglophones:

  • Remark injustices;
  • Then complain;
  • Then call for dialogue;
  • Then threaten strike action;
  • Then play the federalism card;
  • Then play the secessionist card.
  • It is called THE SIX STEPS.

Of course, if Government starts addressing step 1 (injustices) when the plaintiff is already at step 6, the responses cannot be seen to be adequate.

Calls for a revision of the form of the state are therefore consequent on the inadequacy of the current form to address the issues at stake.

Note that the lawyers officially lodged their complaints in May 2015 and the secessionists (who must be demarcated from the lawyers and teachers) activated themselves 18 months later. The only small complication was that the refusal by Government to address the complaints of May 2015 caused the lawyers to find the secessionist alternative mildly interesting.

As such, when government finally provided an English version of the OHADA Laws, it was not half as interesting or as relevant as a little good faith and dialogue would have been 18 months earlier.

Also, when, in the heat of the expression of legitimate grievances, a disturbed official commented that there is no Anglophone Problem in Cameroon and that the agitators are under external influence aimed at destabilising the country, the National Security Council and the Head of State, by extension, should have identified the real issues and called the authors of such misguided and wanton provocation to order.

Considering the foregoing, if the form of the state is not such that its mechanisms guarantee productive dialogue, then questions over the usefulness of that form are legitimate. But if some argue that the form of the state cannot be discussed then the constitutional provision that guarantees freedom of expression is violated.

WHAT’S NEXT?

  • We have tried to show above that beyond linguistic identity, being Anglophone in Cameroon is a way of being… a way of thinking… a way of engaging with one’s physical, social, and political environment… ANGLOPHONES ARE A PEOPLE.
  • We have shown that Anglophones have a problem in Cameroon.
  • We have shown that Anglophones have the problems they have because they are Anglophones.
  • We have established that they are resourceful, methodical, patient, and PRINCIPLED.
  • We have demonstrated that they have a deep patriotic feeling, but also that, when injustice flirts with nation, Anglophones do not trade principle for patriotism.
  • The recent events in the North West and South West Regions, perhaps rightfully referred to by Honourable Wirba as West Cameroon, are evidence of these.
  • Anglophones will not give in to the threat or actual use of violence.
  • They will not relent in the defence of their rights and in the defence of what is right.
  • Government will take some measures beyond the cosmetic solutions offered so far and will do so because if it does not, federalism or more (meaning “better” for some and “worse” for others) will come earlier than the natural progression of history would have brought it anyway.
  • For those who cannot see it yet, at least, let them hear that the kaleidoscope has been shaken and the pieces are in flux.
  • Cameroon will move on, but its political form and territorial oneness will be a function of the fair management of its constituent peoples.
  • No Anglophone is neutral on the matter. Since the fate of Anglophones is the product of deliberate political engineering, Level 1 and Level 2 Anglophones will eventually feel the pinch of oppression and marginalisation and react accordingly.
  • All Level 3 and Level 4 Anglophones are at one point or another in the SIX STEPS process.
  • Every government action or lack thereof determines the activation of a response level.
  • Following the events of 2016, Government will make moves to quell the federalism/secessionist verve and give in to more of the demands of teachers and lawyers.

For example:

  • Francophone teachers in Anglophone schools WILL BE REDEPLOYED;
  • A common law Bar Association WILL BE CREATED;
  • Civil law magistrates in Anglophone courts WILL BE REDEPLOYED;
    Decentralisation will be accelerated;
  • Construction works WILL START on the Bafoussam – Bamenda highway;
  • More members of government WILL start making more statements in English and French;
  • Some major signposts will change to give a greater sense of balance between both languages;
  • A major or minor change of government will be made just so that new faces leading the dialogue may bring a new dynamism and hope against the deadlock.

These things WILL HAPPEN… ELSE the six steps above will kick in.,

When these changes and decisions will be made, they will benefit all Cameroonians, regardless of whether or not they admitted to the existence of an Anglophone Problem.

Those who continue to deny the existence of the Anglophone Problem will have to decide which side of history they want to be on.

Given the history and socio-political fabric of Cameroon, secession seems unlikely; though federalism seems inevitable.

The only real issues about federalism is “When?” and which form it will take: 2+1 or 10+1?

And if this is Step 5 of the SIX STEPS, we have some serious reconciliation and management work to do or risk finding ourselves, in a near future, discussing Cameroon’s current form and territory as a failed attempt at unity.

Peace and love to all.