In a twelve-page memorandum presented to President Paul Biya on December 22nd, 2016 regarding the current situation in the Southern Cameroons, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda narrated the history of Southern Cameroons and the current anger of Southern Cameroonians like they have never done before. BaretaNews in a series of articles shall chopped the 12 page documents into different articles for better comprehension.
Amongst the series of points raised to the President, the Bishops clearly explained the exact meaning of the so-called “Anglophone Problem”. The move by the Catholic Bishops shames most elites who have been refusing the existence of the Anglophone problem. The Bishops clearly situated the Anglophone problem and says no right thinking Cameroonian worst still Anglophones could refuse the existence of this problem.
Although the Church cannot be identified as a political community or bound to any political system, it is the biblical duty of the Church to stand for a common good through justice and peace. In doing so, the Church cannot be indifferent but must assist in contributing towards sustainable solutions to the plight of Southern Cameroonians.
According to the Church, no matter the refusal by government ministers and elites in public against the existence of the Anglophone problem, the facts remain glaring that the participation of the various strata of the population and the growing popularity of separatist movements among young and older members of the Anglophone community reveals that there is an Anglophone Problem. This is seen in the increase of self-consciousness and awareness among Anglophone Cameroonians who believe that everything is failing . The Church in its letter defines the Anglophone Problem within these lines:
1. The failure of successive governments of Cameroon, since 1961, to respect and implement the articles of the Constitution that uphold and safeguard what British Southern Cameroons brought along to the Union in 1961.
2. The flagrant disregard for the Constitution, demonstrated by the dissolution of political parties and the formation of one political party in 1966, the sacking of Jua and the appointment of Muna in 1968 as the Prime Minister of West Cameroon, and other such acts judged by West Cameroonians to be unconstitutional and undemocratic.
3. The cavalier management of the 1972 Referendum which took out the foundational element (Federalism)of the 1961 Constitution.
4. The 1984 Law amending the Constitution, which gave the country the original East Cameroon name (The Republic of Cameroon) and thereby erased the identity of the West Cameroonians from the original union. West Cameroon, which had entered the union as an equal partner, effectively ceased to exist.
5. The deliberate and systematic erosion of the West Cameroon cultural identity which the 1961 Constitution sought to preserve and protect by providing for a bi-cultural federation.
Following a historical description by the Church, the Anglophone Problem is “Constitutional” and would have been solved long ago if it were properly mitigated. A lack of proper management has aggravated the problem, the Bishops laments.
The Bishops in their letter narrated that it is believed in Anglophone Cameroon that government has consciously created divisions among the English-speaking elite, remunerating some allies with money and prestigious positions in the state apparatus previously reserved for Francophones only, and repressing all actions designed to improve on the status of Anglophone Cameroonians in the union. Seemingly, this has been proven true in the recent unrests by the utterances of government Ministers in the Press Conference on CRTV, the dispatch of Anglophone Elites delegation to the Northwest Region, and the brutal suppression of protests by certain professional groups and sections of the Northwest and Southwest Regions- the Bishops laments
The Bishops further pointed that an overwhelming majority of Anglophone Cameroonians are not happy in the union which they entered with East Cameroon in 1961. Anglophones have lamented and complained against widespread and systematic marginalization in various areas of public life which point to the existence of a huge problem such as the marginalization in human resource development and deployment, the treatment of the English Language, the flooding of Anglophone Cameroon with Francophone administrators and workers, mismanagement of ‘West Cameroon’ Patrimony, the ‘Francophonisation’ of the English Educational Subsystem and the Common-Law System, and admissions into State professional schools which in some five decades has culminated to a gradual erosion of the Anglophone Identity- writes the Bishops.
Despite the fact that the Church is not a political entity, the Bishops declared that the Church respects the legitimate autonomy of the democratic rule. The Bishops maintains that the Church contribution to the political order is precisely her vision of the dignity of persons, peace and justice for the good of all.
The Bishops in concluding says they cannot choose for the people what form of Government they will need but calls for the strict and complete implementation of the 1996 Constitution, a constructive dialogue with the Government establishing a roadmap, and more importantly, the respect for human rights. The Bishops also called for the demilitarization of Anglophone Cameroon
BaretaNews commend the effort of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and urges other denominations to follow suits. At this point in time in the struggle, we need all the support we can get from various sectors.
Part two of the Bishop letter continues