Citizen Journalist Ngi Tantoh, owner of KamerConnect237 blog met with Mark Bara, publisher of BaretaNews for an interview. On his blog, he wrote “Bara Mark is a political activist and Deputy President emeritus at the University of Buea Students’ Union (UBSU). He is credited for initiating and organizing a successful online referendum on the Southern Cameroons question. On January 31, 2016, Bara Mark sat down with Kamerconnect Blog for an online interview”. BaretaNews hereby re-publishes the interview for all those who have been having a somewhat varied opinion on his political stands in the Cameroons especially as he writes often on Southern Cameroons. Read on
Kamerconnect: We will like to know if you have any thoughts on the recent government ban on Anglophone Lawyers, Teachers, and Chiefs from holding public meetings.
Bara: I think this move from the government is not strange. Paul Biya’s regime is good at that but I believe if the Lawyers, Chiefs, teachers etc. are serious; they will defy such bans and meet for the collective good. I think it is their fundamental right.
Kamerconnect: We’ve seen this same regime cracking down on peaceful SCNC gatherings in Cameroon. Do you think the regime will act differently? Or do you think the regime can do nothing?
Bara: I do not think the regime will act differently. The regime has phobia against anything involving Anglophones. It pains them reading anything Anglophone related. If they had their way they will make the Cameroons system uni-legal and uni-educational . But I think the power rest with the people (Anglophones). If Anglophone leaders (lawyers, teachers, lecturers, chiefs) are determined and come together, they can force the hand of the regime.
Kamerconnect: Dr.Nfor Susungi has said if Paul Biya decides to be a candidate in 2018, it shall be taken that the Tontine Union has finally collapsed. Do you think it is time for Anglophones to claim their rights to the top jobs in Yaounde?
Bara: This is what I believe. Having the top jobs does not guarantee a solution to the Anglophone problem or call it the Southern Cameroons question. The Southern Cameroons question has gone beyond appointments and marginalization. But if we must face reality according to the present state of the Cameroons, I think it is fair that the next President should be an Anglophone. But an Anglophone who does not understand the Southern Cameroons question, an Anglophone who does not seek to address the illegality of the union between both Cameroons is not fit to be the next President of the Cameroons.
Kamerconnect: Some Anglophone elites have consistently argued that there is no Anglophone problem in Cameroon. What actually is the Anglophone problem?
Bara: Those elites are very dishonest. I have written an article on this. But let me say it again. The Anglophone problem is unique and cannot be compared to any other problem in the Cameroons. There is no nation without problems. In the Cameroons from North to South to East to West, Cameroonians have problems of unemployment, lack of basic necessities etc. Each tribe has got a problem but Anglophones are not a tribe. The Anglophone problem is not appointments and lack of good roads, etc. The Anglophone problem is one of Constitutionality. It’s a problem of colonialism. It is a constitutional problem because one part of the Cameroons is under occupation. The original constitution in which both Cameroons came together has not been respected leading to an illegal union. If you want to solve the Anglophone problem, you must first resolve the constitutional problem between both Cameroons. The rest will naturally fall into place.
Kamerconnect: It is because of these problems that you have raised that the SCNC was formed. A lot of Anglophones do regard SCNC as a noise maker organization. A group of disgruntled citizens fighting to have their own share of the national cake or better still, youths struggling to have their legal papers in Europe. They’re extremely cynical. Is there any way for SCNC leadership to reach out to them?
Mark Bara: Recall that SCNC was not just born from the blues. SCNC is a baby from AAC1 and AA11 which brought Anglophones from all shades of public life. Indeed, each struggle has got people who will want to use its name for selfish reasons. The SCNC cannot be different. The SCNC has legitimate claims. There is no way you can disregard the SCNC. They are a force to reckon with. That is why the regime of Paul Biya has been fighting them day in and out. Yes, the organization has got leadership problems, as of now no clear strategy to move forward. They have a zero option of complete independence but does that resonate with the current generation? It is still to be seen. I think the movement the lawyers, teachers, chiefs are trying to build gives support to the claims of the SCNC but I must confess there is still a lot of work to be done. I have been writing much on that for the past years on Facebook, I guess more people are learning from some historical facts.
Kamerconnect: We have read many of your publications on this same subject, where you have raised the issues of leadership problems. Who do you think is more qualified for this job?
Mark Bara: I cannot tell who is more qualified or not. However, we need a visionary leader, someone who is more appealing to the young and the old. A goal oriented person and someone who understands the present political realities and can be flexible in his or her approach. I would have loved more to see the SCNC, SCYL, and all factions coming together under a unified leadership but this seems impossible. This could galvanize the people and start a new engine.
Kamerconnect: Many Anglophone youths especially those who have passed through the University of Buea still admire your leadership style. Don’t you think that you can take up this challenge?
Mark Bara: Well, I think it is not yet time for me to take up leadership within the Cameroons but trust me that day will come and I shall not fail my people.
Kamerconnect: You seem to speak the SCNC language. What do you mean by within the Cameroons?
Mark Bara: I do not understand what you mean by the SCNC language? The SCNC will rightfully call it Southern Cameroons or La Republique. Well, I hate to call it Cameroon or Cameroon because that territory was occupied by La Republique Du Cameroun or simply Cameroun. This present “Cameroon” is made up of two Cameroons, so when I write and I wish to refer to “Cameroon”, I simple say “The Cameroons”. It is a reminder for people to know that there are two Cameroons. It is a reminder for people to know that one part has been assimilated and yet we have a legitimate problem which needs to be addressed. It boils down to an identity problem. Because French Cameroon had its independence with the name Cameroun or La Republique and when both Cameroons came together, they had the name the Federal United Republic of Cameroon to the United Republic of Cameroon to just Republic of Cameroon which Biya in 1984 changed unilaterally, therefore Biya took the country name back to the name French Cameroun had during her independence. Recall that Southern Cameroons never had independence on the same day with French Cameroon so basically the name we have now is that of French Cameroun. So when I use ” The Cameroons” , I am referring to the entire country and it gives me some sense of belonging rather than using just Cameroon which limits me and makes me like an “occupied” person though literally, the Anglophones are an occupied people.
Kamerconnect: When your time comes as you rightly stated, will you take the leadership responsibility within the Southern Cameroons or within the present political status quo?
Mark Bara: When my time is ripe, I will take responsibility within the Cameroons. I am a Southern Cameroonian first and foremost.
Kamerconnect: The SCNC is fighting for a total restoration of the former British Southern Cameroon state. When you talk of responsibility within the Cameroons, don’t you think you are contradicting the philosophy of SCNC?
Mark Bara: This is what most people fail to understand. I have always posited that the claims from the SCNC are legitimate. Southern Cameroons have a right to self-determination. I am a federalist. I hold strongly the idea of a two-state solution. La Republique State in a loose federation with Southern Cameroons state. I am NOT an advocate yet for an independent Southern Cameroons but that does not stop me from publishing and talking about the facts or news of Southern Cameroons as it should be said. My publications on Facebook should not be confused with my position. I am for a two-state federation. This position and/or the type of Federation might however change. No one knows
Kamerconnect: What advice do you have for young Cameroonians?
Mark Bara: We should dare. The future belongs to us. Let us dare.
Kamerconnect: Thank you, Mr. Bara Mark, for having taken your time to share with Cameroonians your thoughts on this pertinent issue, which we believe will go a long way to creating awareness and educate as well. We will contact you again when the need arises.
Bara: It is always my pleasure.
You can find the original article here: http://www.kamerconnect237.com/2016/02/exclusive-interview-with-bara-mark-as.html