Reaction to Marafa’s Letter on Southern Cameroons Struggle
Marafa Hamidou Yaya, a one time bigwig of the Cameroon administrative setup recently took interest in the current unrest plaguing the Southern Cameroons. Known for his critical letters against bad governance and corruption in Cameroon, Marafa who was one time Secretary General at the Presidency and very close ally to the President reveals the president is not catching a good sleep over the Southern Cameroons problem. Though he’s extending his sympathy to the whole Cameroonian nation, Marafa calls on President Biya to sit down and dialogue with the angry Southern Cameroonians. It should be recalled when the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights ruled in 2009, that the government should open genuine dialogue with citizens of the Southern Cameroons, Marafa was the minister of Territorial Administration. One may wonder what role he played in ensuring that the dialogue took place.
It may be premature to conclude that Marafa didn’t use his office at the time to promote such dialogue. Following his sack from government and subsequent arrest, trial and detention which the UN Commission on Human Rights considers political, Marafa has published a series of letters denouncing practices within high circles of power. Though the present letter doesn’t reveal much, many will agree that Marafa knows what causes commotion within the corridors of power in Etoudi. Citizens of Southern Cameroons can be sure that they are on the right course.
Nevertheless, enforcing Marafa’s recommendations shall inadvertently be injurious to the Southern Cameroons struggle.
First, coining the problem as an anglophone problem is a semantic game which further encourages the annexation drive. An anglophone, for the most part, is someone who speaks the English language. The term is mostly used in bilingual countries. In Cameroon political discourse, all those born in the SW and NW who proceed to study in Anglo-Saxon schools whether in the NW or SW or in the former East Cameroon are considered anglophone. Likewise, those born of parents-indigenes of former French colonial regions who also study in anglo-Saxon schools are also considered anglophones. This further compounds and betrays the present cause. The cause is a Southern Cameroons problem advocated for by Southern Cameroonians. Southern Cameroonians are citizens of the territory known as British Southern Cameroons during the British Trusteeship. The same territory was known as West Cameroon during the federal era. Citizens of this territory recognized as a people with a right to self-determination under international law. It was under international law that as a people, Southern Cameroonians wilfully decided to join La Republique in 1961 in a federal state. As a people, Southern Cameroonians put safeguards against any future constitutional reform abrogating the federal nature of the state.
Second, in 1972, the government of La Republique blatantly violated the constitution and constitutional procedure. Procedurally, and as provided by the constitution, only Southern Cameroonians had the constitutional right to decide whether or not they will vote for a change in the form of state i.e moving from a federal to a unitary. The simple fact that citizens of la Republique voted in this referendum rendered the referendum void. As a result of the illegal and void referendum in 1972, Southern Cameroonians lost their identity as a people. Consequently, they can’t make decisions for themselves which is the cornerstone of the right to self-determination. Southern Cameroonians don’t have the right to choose their leaders, vote their laws, manage their natural resources, study according to their standards, practice a system of justice peculiar to their history, culture, and style.
Third, when Marafa postulates that administrators and judges should speak English and French or judges, I humbly submit he doesn’t know what we are advocating for.
All arrangements following the 1972 lack legal backing. It should be noted that the term ‘anglophone’ was largely put in use after 1972. In as much as Marafa uses the term anglophone problem, I understand he doesn’t understand our problems one bit. Though this isn’t a golden opportunity for him to seek sympathy from the Southern Cameroonian he’s used it to once more sound the bell on the time bomb ticking in Cameroon.