1st October 1961
All men were born with equal inalienable rights; the human rights declaration makes us understand that and even the holy bible preaches this to us. Each and every nation in this universe celebrates their independence day with all plumb and pageantry . The Holy Bible in Genesis 23-24 reads “Then the Man said, at last, here is one of my own kind-bone taken from my bone, and flesh of my flesh, woman is her name because she was taken out of man, that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one”.
Implicitly looking from the Biblical point of view, the holy Marriage between la Republique du Cameroun and British southern Cameroons can be related to a marriage between a man and a woman in the sense that Southern Cameroons with all her economic and natural resources was the “man” who left his hometown, voted massively during the 11th 1961 February plebiscite to join la Republique du Cameroun in a marriage with equal status and therefore by this very act Francophones and Anglophones became one blood, one bone and one flesh. But it is important for us to note here that even before a man and a woman get married, they come from different background and cultures with equal rights before coming as one and there are certain rights that neither party can breach.
But again what does 1st October teaches or reminds us? 1st October reminds us of the day both Cameroons; the British Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun supposedly became one following the 11th February plebiscite even though the marriage was not consummated because there is NO document at the UN which seals such a marriage according to the UN charter which brings nations together but historians tell us that Cameroon was one before being partitioned between Britain and France and so this is the basis of the so-called Cameroon being one and indivisible as propagated by our Francophone brothers and even some of our Anglophone Francophonised brothers. Worthy of note is that the Kamerun then is not the Cameroon now in terms of land mass, size etc. Parts of it are in Gabon, Tchad, Equatorial Guinea, Congo etc
It is also true that a man and a woman getting married might come from the same village but again they might still have some cultural differences and ideologies (for example Bali nyongas and Bali kumbat, both having one origin with some different cultures) thus Southern Cameroons even though were supposedly one with la Republique du Cameroun before being partitioned, now have different status, cultures, language, education, ideologies and different ways of doing things for it has been destined to be so through the scramble for Africa and this makes us two different people if not we would have also claimed that Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Equatorial Guinea etc is Cameroon because Africa was one and indivisible before being partitioned among Europeans who scrambled for Africa.
British Southern Cameroons being the “husband” because of her economic and natural resources got married to la Republique du Cameroun the “wife” and they became one, therefore a husband or wife in a marriage will never stop his/her partner from celebrating his/her birthdays instead both partners can contribute and make such a day a success without the other getting afraid that celebrating a birthday might make you think of your family ties and return to them.
La Republique du Cameroun has been behaving like a nagging wife, one who wants to take control of the house and overthrow her husband. La Republique the “wife” has assimilated and annexed Southern Cameroons the “husband” while using her population and military power to take over all the husband resources and even deprived the husband God-given right to celebrate his birthday and in a better sense depriving Anglophones of celebrating their independence.
We are all aware that 1 st January 1960, La Republique du Cameroun got her independence and fortunately for them year in year out, on this day the president of the Republic addresses the nation and awards/ medals are given to deserved military officials implicitly La Republique du Cameroun is celebrating her independence day. It should be recalled that the whole idea of Anglophone ‘secession’ only came up as a result of Government neglect of Anglophone cause, changing of names from the Federal Republic to the United Republic to the Republic of Cameroon; a name originally acquired by La Republique during their independence. Where is the place of Anglophones? The mistake the government and most Francophones have been doing is to consider Anglophone as a tribe/province. I want to refute this, history does not teach us that, we are a state that voluntarily voted to join La Republique and can never be considered a tribe.
What the government should realise is that there is nothing bad allowing Anglophones to celebrate their independence day on 1st October. The President Mr Paul Biya could use this opportunity to address the nation on this day most especially in English. This will make Anglophones proud and inclusive for I am sure the tendency of ‘secession’ preached by some Anglophones will be dying out. The whole issue lies in the political will to make things work. I want to believe allowing the celebration of 1st October in good faith will not breed secession.
The husband ‘Southern Cameroons’ will only sue for divorce with his wife ’La Republique du Cameroun’ if the wife is a cheat, does not keep to the ethics and terms of marriage, does not use her political background, population and military might to make the husband feel marginalized and so if Southern Cameroonians are provided with what their forefathers originally wanted, trying as much as possible to avoid policies that make Anglophones feel marginalize, keep to the term of reunification, making Anglophones feel inclusive; and above all return to a federal system where the presidency rotates between Anglophones and Francophones, nobody will preach ‘secession’.
It is our believe that British Northern Cameroons that joint Nigeria had not been complaining of ‘secession’ because they feel inclusive, they get to manage their resources in a Federal system and administration is closest to the people. Cameroon could also emulate from other federal systems .Believe me, it will work. It just demands the political will and good faith of our leaders.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said “ our lives begin to end the day we keep quiet about things that matter” and so the issue of celebrating the independence day of Southern Cameroons matters to me a lot. I believe historically and naturally it is our birth given right to celebrate this day.
NB: This article was first published on 24th September 2008 at Eden Newspaper, Cameroon and other local newspapers in Cameroon. I was still naive maybe but the fundamentals remain the same. For the records, I now hold the opinion that secession does not exist. I have decided to re-publish it unedited as it was first written.