The Guardian Post Newspaper on Friday 3rd October 2014 carried a vox pop on which they asked Cameroonians whether they believe there is an Anglophone Problem in the Cameroons. I was contacted as one of the Anglophone activists who is active online and who has been vocal on these issues to shed more light. I was grateful to the Guardian Post.
I made it known that such a question was important to be addressed only to those from Anglophone extraction i.e those from Northwest or Southwest Provinces (regions). I have always defined an Anglophone as citizens from former British Southern Cameroons. I believe that when this question of an Anglophone Problem is posed to Francophones, most often than not, the obvious responses are ” There is a Francophone, Bamileke or Cameroonian problem” thus the Anglophones are not the only ones with problems.
However, it is very necessary that some clarifications be made. Like I have always posited, there is no genuine change in the Cameroons without resolving the Southern Cameroons question or what I call the Anglophone Problem. It is, therefore, important that some little background knowledge is made.
Worthy to note is that the Anglophones are a people, the Anglophones are not a tribe. In international law , a people are those who have rights to self-determination and the Anglophones here refers to citizens from former British Southern Cameroons who constitute the present North West and South West Regions. The Anglophones are a people who voted voluntarily on 11th February 1961 to join French Cameroon- La Republique Du Cameroun based on two states of equal status. It should be noted that the 11th February vote was a matter of political expression. It was an intention made by the people of Southern Cameroons to join Cameroun. There were several things which needed to be done to legalized the 11th February vote and make the Union binding- that never happened.
Thus, till date such a Union or treaty does not exist as French Cameroon merely crossed over and assimilated or colonized English Cameroon with the help of France and Great Britain. This is true as on April 5, 2013, historians and constitutionalists gathering in Yaounde, for a panelist discussion declared that no legal documents were established at the time of reunification between the two Cameroons to bind them in a union. The issue of reunification or unification has been cleared, the Union between the two Cameroons legally speaking does not exist. I will spare further details on this. If there is anyone who can challenge this, you are welcome.
Secondly, it is important to note that each country has problems. There is no nation on earth without problems. Minority groups and people of colour all over got peculiar problems in the nation they belong. In Cameroon the pygmies, Bamilekes, Doualas, Nordist, Bakweries etc all have problems. These tribes have problems peculiar to their regions. There is a Cameroonian problem. Cameroon has a problem of corruption, unemployment, tribalism, nepotism, governance etc and each region of the Country cries of their own problems.
The Anglophone problem is neither of the above nor the Anglophone problem is about marginalization, appointments, developments, infrastructure etc. These are sub-issues of the Anglophone problem. Some many persons have narrowed the Anglophone problem to marginalization, appointments, development and/or sharing of the national cake. Some say an Anglophone has never been President etc. If we go my numerical strength between both people, strictly speaking, an Anglophone can never be President in the Cameroons.
Thus, the Anglophone problem cannot be compared to any other problems in the Cameroons. This is so because the Anglophone problem is unique and distinct.
The Anglophone problem is a Constitutional problem. It is a constitutional problem because a certain people with a distinct way of life and culture called Southern Cameroonians voted to join another group of people called Eastern ( French Cameroon) based on certain terms which have not been respected. The problem is an identity problem. Recalled that in 1972, President Ahmadou Ahidjo against the spirit and letter of the constitution pushed through a new document that abolished the federal system, renamed the country the United Republic of Cameroon, and granted the president greater powers. After assuming the presidency, Paul Biya again in their assimilation style pushed through a revised Constitution in 1984. This document changed the country’s name to the Republic of Cameroon- the name French Cameroon had at independence on 1st January 1960 thus completing the colonization and assimilation of Southern Cameroons.
This is the Anglophone Problem-The Constitutional problem. The union is non-binding and illegal. The name of the country was unconstitutionally changed and the two stars which binds both peoples was removed thus questioning the identity of the Anglophones. It is the believe of BaretaNews that the issue of marginalization, appointments etc are all branches and leaves which develop from the root cause of the problems- the constitutionality between both Cameroons.
Assumed the Union was legal i.e it followed all UN instruments stipulated to make such a treaty legal, assumed Cameroon had remain in a federation of two states where presidency and arms of government as a matter of law rotates between the two Cameroons, assumed both states manages their affairs, assumed both states had their state parliament etc, the issue of marginalization, language, appointments etc would not have arise because the federal constitution would have taken care of it and any other problems would be the usual problems which befall any country on earth. Therefore, BaretaNews thinks that to solve the Anglophone problem, the Country must go back to the original idea of joining the spirit and letter of the federal constitution must be revised and put in practice. I personally think a Federated Cameroon would be the best solution and curb some of these issues.
Like senior citizen comrade Mwalimu George NGWANE In his paper: Because we were involved (Reflections on the All Anglophone Conference ten years after) said ” Whether the Anglophone problem is considered a forgotten scar of our collective memory or an open sore of our collective survival, it will continue to prick the conscience of the Cameroonian body-politic”.
God is still saying something