UB Student Leader: On 1 January 1960 French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. On 1 October 1961 , the formerly British Southern Cameroons gained her independence from Britain by joining French Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. This joining came after a plebiscite on 11 February 1961 which saw the southern Cameroons (with no third option, unless off course Nigeria) vote to join their former brothers, while their former brothers voted against the joining. But the UN failed to complete the joining process and so there’s no document as evidence of joining. Instead, the French Cameroun flag, anthem and national values were slightly amended to accommodate Southern Cameroons.
Clearly due to the inexperience and somewhat greed of the southern Cameroonian leaders at the time, from Foncha to Muna, the southern Cameroon’s has continually suffered random forms of discrimination causing some pressure groups to rise and seek a secession from the “union”. But if there’s no evidence of a union then what are we seceding from? Others have called for a return to federalism as it was in 1961, to them in the current dispensation Anglophones have been ruled out of certain government positions, like the president, minister of finance, chief justice of the supreme court etc. With all its flaws, it is believed that the federation was yet 100 times better than the ” degradation ” Anglophones are subjected to this day.
These facts are hardly taught in schools and attempts to ” Frenchify” the English education system, and sideline the common law have met with stiff resistance and raised awareness about the status of quo of the union. All of Anglophone efforts and institutions that gave them pride and sense of nation building have been shut down, the Cameroon bank, the house of chiefs, Cam Electricity, WADA in wum to name a few. But the government over the years has remained adamant cracking down on most activist even against recommendations by the AU and UN for a peaceful dialogue. It should be noted this is not a domestic affair of discrimination between tribes in a nation like we have the Bamilekes and pigmy complain about. No, this is about two sovereign UN trusteeship territories trying to work out a union. Southern Cameroons make up about 20-25% of the population but contribute at least 65-70% of the nation’s income through agriculture and oil deposits.
I personally do not believe in secession because Cameroon is beautiful and unique in her cultural, political and lingual diversity. But the average sincere camerounais or Cameroonian will agree that there’s something wrong with this 55years old union and if it’s not attended to we might as well see a collapse. Even though in recent years we have seen a greater awareness about the Anglophones plight, there’s greater need to go back to the drawing board and restructure the nature of this relationship if we want to sustain it. This is the most nationalist and patriotic thing to do here.
On the 55th anniversary of this “union,marginalisation” I have 3 wishes for my nation
* That the government pays attention to the cry marginalisation
* That we return to the two-state federation of 1961
* That God preserves unity, diversity, and real integration of this beautiful story that started way back in 1884 when the Germans annexed the land. And that in one spirit, peace, prosperity and love take hold of this nation forever!
Now it’s easy to think that anyone who talks about southern Cameroons is an enemy of the state. This shouldn’t be, it’s my love for the well-being of my nation that makes me worry about the loopholes in our foundation beginning from the Bamenda to Foumban and the Yaounde conferences. The international neglect of Buea, the former capital of Kamerun under Germany and Southern Cameroons is a call for concern. Is this marginalisation a well-calculated plan? What is the government scared of? Can we in all honesty French and English speaking alike put hands together to find a lasting solution to this controversy? Can Anglophone brothers keep greed aside and for once truly cooperate to set the table right for a united walk? But no situation lasts forever. One day and that day is close, we will experience a change of affairs and I hope it’s not too late for either party then. Don’t be fooled, I love being African in miniature. I love switching 2 international languages, I love my country, that’s why I care. Long live Cameroon!
Former, UB Student Leader