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AMBAZONIA: The Name, Its Meaning and History.



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Many of you have been asking the meaning of the name Ambazonia. Like I said, whether you call it Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon, Anglophone Cameroon or Ambazonia, the territory has not changed. It means the same, it is just a matter of semantics. It represents that same state which voted in 1961 to join La Republique in a supposed Union. Now, you should be aware that, those who coin the name decided to bring a name that has nothing to do with “Cameroonian”. Some felt that using the term Southern Cameroonian still pegged them to La Republique so the name Ambazonia to represent what we now have as NW & SW regions were generally accepted by all groups fighting for the restoration of Southern Cameroons statehood. So what is Ambazonia?

In 1858, Alfred Saker of English Baptist Missionary Society founded at Ambas Bay a colony of the freed Negroes who then left the island, the settlement being known as Victoria. On 19 July 1884, British Ambas Bay Protectorate was established (subordinated to the Oil Rivers Protectorate with Victoria as its capital. On 28 March 1887, British Ambas Bay was ceded to Germany as part of German Kamerun. Ambas, Amber–means fertile dark-brown soils, not land of cannibals! Ambas is not the same name as ‘Tierra Alta de Ambozes’ who first set foot on Ambas Bay in 1699!
Ambas Bay and Ambas Bay Colony had international legal status close to becoming an independent country. It is only logical that all the lands lying behind Ambas Bay as defined by international treaties separating them from Nigeria and Cameroun respectively should be called the Hinterlands of Ambas Bay! –Hence the name Ambazonia.

In simple terms, the term “Ambazonia” is derived from the word Ambas Bay, the bay at the mouth of the Mungo river, considered the natural boundary between La Republique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons. The name was coined by a group of citizens of the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons, led by Barrister Gorji Dinka, an ancestral leader of the Widikum people. They accused the President of La Republique, Paul Biya, of having unilaterally changing the name of the country from the United Republic of Cameroon to Republic of Cameroon ( La Republique Du Cameroun) by his decree No 001 of 4 February 1984.

The group went on to say that, the very act of President Paul Biya name changing seceded La Republique from the Union that was created in 1961 which saw La Republique coming into a Union with Southern Cameroons. The group argued that by changing the name of the country and moving from two stars to one star, Paul Biya completed the withdrawal of La Republique from the Union. It should be recalled that the withdrawal process was started by President Ahmadou Ahidjo after he collapsed the Federal structure illegally on 20th May 1972 by changing the name of the country from the Federal Republic of Cameroon to the United Republic of Cameroon. It should be recalled that the 20th May Referendum was illegal because it went against article 47 of the federal constitution which prohibits anything which tempers with the state or form of the Union even though the responses of the referendum were QUI or YES.

Thus, President Biya 1984 decree changing the name of the country to the Republic of Cameroon was a big blow to the unity which brought both Cameroons together. This is so because the name the country currently has is the name she acquired at Independence in 1960 before joining with Southern Cameroons in 1961. So we asked, where is the Southern Cameroons State now? Everything has been assimilated.

All these are the beginning of the Anglophone problem- the constitutional problem. That is why it has to be constitutionally resolved by returning to a Federation or Southern Cameroons should just walk away.

Hope this helps

Mark Bara.

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