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Understanding the meaning of Anglophone/ Francophone




The terms “Anglophone” and “Francophone” were adopted by the Ahidjo government in 1972 after Ahidjo dissolved the Cameroon Federation. Prior to that, Cameroonians on both sides of the Mungo were officially identified by territory – Southern Cameroons/West Cameroon – French Cameroon/East Cameroon. If we go by this more sensible identification, the question of “who is an Anglo/Franco” will be largely irrelevant because the determining factor of belonging is territory and not language. And Cameroonian law clearly defines who is a Southern Cameroonian/West Cameroonian, or, as the East Cameroonians used to say, “les camerounais occidentaux” (territory, not language).

Going by the territory-not-language approach, if on January 1, 1960, you or your (grand) parents were citizens of the territory shown on this map (i.e., La Republique du Cameroun without the “Anglophone hunchback” or “burden”), you are a citizen of French Cameroons/ La Republique du Cameroun which later became East Cameroon (notice reference to territory, not language).

If on February 11, 1961 you or your parents were citizens of that territory which would have become part of the Nigerian Federation if its citizens had chosen the first plebiscite option (joining Nigeria), then you are a citizen of Southern Cameroons which later became West Cameroon (note again the reference to territory not language).

That said, how do you define a “citizen” of East of West Cameroon? There’s actually a law for that!
Law No. 1968-LF-3 of the 11th June 1968 to set up the Cameroon Nationality Code states:

Section 45.
(2) For the purpose of Subsection 1 of this Section, a person shall be deemed to possess the status of native of West Cameroon if:

a) He is born in West Cameroon of parents who themselves were born in that State;
b) Wherever his place of birth, both of his parents we born in West Cameroon or one of his parents we born in West Cameroon.

This clause was largely influenced by West Cameroon which wanted to accommodate its dynamic non-native community with deep historical and cultural ties to the territory, particularly the Bassa, Bamileke, Ewondos, and even those from Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, etc.

So we know who is a Southern/Cameroonian/West Cameroonian. Whether they speak English or not is irrelevant – just as it is irrelevant whether a Nigerian speaks English or not. Let’s not play the game of the Biya regime seeking to drive a wedge where non exists.

Dibussi Tande
Cameroon Prolific Writer

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