Understanding The Cameroons: Some Clarifications

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  1. How did the Cameroons come about?

During the European exploration which began in the 15th century, the Bantu people were the dominant ethnic groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. They spread wide down south and east. The south settlement became what the Portuguese came and met and termed it Rio Dos Cameros. During the age of Scramble, Germany who was a late entrant into the European scramble for colonial possessions in Africa, outsmarted Britain and France and claimed Cameroon as a German Protectorate in 1884; The berlin conference that sat in Berlin in 1884 to balkanize Afrika, confirmed German ownership over Kamerun.

The German administration built the railways, farms  in the areas that are now North-West and South-West Regions and made Buea its administrative headquarters. It remained her property until 1916, when Britain, France and Belgium took it by military force in a combined operation during the WWI operations.The partition of Kamerun then took place between Britain and France in 1916 with the signing of an agreement known as the  Simon-Milner Agreement confirming the Partition of Kamerun between the two nations in accordance to what was decided during the Berlin conference about the signing of treaties to claim ownership of territories. WW1 ended in Africa in 1916 and ended in the rest of the world in 1918. The treaty of Versailles on June 28th, 1919 is so important because Germany accepted the terms of the treaty and lay off his sovereignty over his colonies. The treaty of Versailles confirms the Simon-Milner agreement partitioning Kamerun in 1916.




France got 4/5 of the territory i.e the eastern part of the territory which was directly linked to its French Equatorial territories and named it Cameroun, while Britain took 1/5 of the territory western part which was linked to its West African colony of Nigeria as a League of Nations Mandate. The French mandate was known as Cameroun while the British mandate comprised two geographically separate territories; Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons administered from Nigeria, but not joined to, the British territory of Nigeria through the British residents with headquarters in Buea. After 1945, the UK and France continued to administer the country as UN Trust Territories uptill independence in 1960 and 1961 respectively. This was the exact origin of the two Cameroons.

 

  1. What is Southern Cameroons?

Southern Cameroons is the Southern part of the League of Nations British mandate of Cameroon.  It is made up of the southern west and North West regions of the present day “Cameroon”.  It voted in a UN plebiscite of 11th February 1961, to join La Republique du Cameroun. Since 1994, pressure groups in the Southern Cameroons have sought independence from the La Republique, and the Republic of Ambazonia was declared by the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organization (SCAPO) on 31 August 2006.

 

  1. Who is a Southern Cameroonian?

The definition of a Southern Cameroonian may be inferred directly from the description of what is Southern Cameroons. Precisely, a Southern Cameroonian is one whose either parents comes from the Northern zones ( North West region) or Southern Zones ( South West Region) of Southern Cameroons.

 

  1. Who is a Camerounese?

In 1919, the French took over the administration of the eastern part of the German territory and which later gained independence as La Republique du Cameroun and the citizens were known as Camerounese in January, 1st 1960. It follows therefore that, a Camerounese is a citizen of La Republique du Cameroun.

  1. Who therefore is a Cameroonian?

A Cameroonian is a generic name for a person from either La Republique du Cameroun or Southern Cameroons. If you want to be specific when asked, you could say ” I am a Southern Cameroonian or Camerounese”.

 

  1. What is the Country Cameroon?

The country Cameroon is a generic name representing both Cameroons ( La Republique du Cameroun or Southern Cameroons). Take note of the “oo” in the name Cameroon. Cameroon is not the English translation of Cameroun.

 

  1. Who is an Anglophone/Francophone?

An Anglophone is a member of the English speaking world. Citizens of member countries of the commonwealth of nations could be loosely referred to as Anglophones. A francophone, on the other hand, is a member of the French-speaking World. Citizens of La Francophonie could be loosely referred to as Francophone. Therefore, in Cameroon anyone who speaks English or French whether from Southern Cameroons or La Republique du Cameroun are referred to as Anglophones or Francophone respectively.

 

8.Are all Southern Cameroonians Anglophones?

No, our great parents who speak only the vernacular and Pidgin English are not Anglophones.

 

  1. Could Southern Cameroonians be Francophones?

Yes, if they speak and understand French they could be referred, to as Francophones but they are not Camerounese. However, by choice, some could be Camerounese. In the law of Nationality, an adult can elect to change his nationality when he becomes of age. It is called nationality of choice. This is one of the exact reasons why most people have the legal right to adopt new nationalities in foreign lands, USA, FRANCE, CANADA, GERMANY, BELGIUM, ETC. Therefore, a Southern Cameroonian has the right to reject his Southern Cameroons identity and adopt the Camerounese identity. It is a matter of express choice which is just and legal.

 

  1. When did Southern Cameroons get her independence ?

Southern Cameroons got her independence on October 1st,  1961.

 




  1. What is the significance of 11th Feb and 20th May ?

11th February is the day of UN Plebiscite where the people of Southern Cameroons expressly made a choice to GAIN INDEPENDENCE by joining either the Independent La Republic du Cameroun or the Independent Federal Republic of Nigeria, there was no third option. It is significant because it reflects a moment in history which set worth a bad destiny for the peoples of Southern Cameroons. 20th May has no significance to the people of Southern Cameroons.

 

On 20th May, President Ahidjo organised a referendum to demolish the two state Federation Southern Cameroonians voted to join in flagrant disrespect of the spirit and letter of the then Federal Constitution. This is faulty. It was Southern Cameroonians who voted to join a union based on two-state federation with equal status. You cannot organise a referendum and asked French Cameroonians who had nothing to do with 11th Feb vote to vote if the status of the Union should be changed. President Ahidjo used his majority of French Cameroon to crush the Federation. The vote should have been left for Southern Cameroonians only to decide. However, it was still against article 47 of the federal constitution, which protects the status of the Union.

 

  1. What was the last thing Foncha did before dying?

Before his death, Foncha signed the London Communique that declared the reasonable time granted Cameroun to negotiate itself out of the Southern Cameroons based on the Buea Peace Initiative. While addressing everyone at Mount Mary on his return from the UN trip, he expanded on the deceit and manipulation masterminded by the world designed to usurp Southern Cameroons  sovereignty. Foncha then apologized to the people of Southern Cameroon and begged for their forgiveness.

 

Intervied by: Mark Bara

Answers provided by: Ashu Hailshammy, LLB , UB

Southern Cameroons Activist. Former University of Buea Students’ Union President.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Understanding The Cameroons: Some Clarifications

  1. This is a great piece. Keep it coming.

  2. Anonymous

    I commend your efforts to establish the truth. However when you try to recount history, never put emotion in your thoughts because it affects your judgement. Do not try to shape the readers mind. Say it in its crude form and let him make his judgement. That being said to better understand the development of Cameroon, you can't dissociate the two entities. However let's succinctly look into its etymology.
    The Portuguese arrived the Littoral coast and because of the abundance of prawns named it RIO DOS CAMEROES. When the German took over the name was modified to KAMERUN. To the best of my knowledge of Cameroon history the Portuguese didn't have any altercation with the Germans meaning they might have met the territory unoccupied with a deformed name. Probably the indigents couldn't pronounce Cameroes. So what the German called Kamerun might have been a deformation of Cameroes by the natives. After the German defeat of WWI, all German territories became properties of the League Of Nation. Kamerun was placed under the protectorate of France and Great Britain. The Part of Kamerun under British administration was called British Cameroon while the French part was referred to as French Cameroun. The distinction of the spelling lies in the phonetics but same pronounciation. The "U" sound in English being "OO" like in sOOn while in french the "U" sound is "OU". Cameroon and Cameroun are respectively English and French appellation of Kamerun.

  3. Anonymous

    Just as official name of China is "People's Republic of China" in english and in French "Republique populaire de Chine" with citizenship referred in English as "Chinese" and in French "Chinois", The Frenc Cameroon official name was "Republique du Cameroun" not "La Republique du Cameroun" and the citizens "Camerounais/Camerounaise" Not "Camerounese". Should you make any translation, the norm should be "Republic of Cameroon" and citizenship will be "Cameroonian".

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