I WAS GOING to title this article “What do
Anglophone Cameroonians want?” To avoid
any confusion of identity with those who
simplify being Anglophone in Cameroon as
being able to speak English, I want to be clear
that the revendications in Cameroon centre
on a people who originate from a specific
geographical region.
This region was known as British Southern
Cameroons. In this article, any further
mention of Anglophone should be related
to people from the then British Southern
Cameroons or from West Cameroon, as
opposed to anyone from the Republic of
Cameroon who can express himself or herself
in English. The identity issue is foremost
in this struggle. Identity is far more than
language. With Identity comes language,
values, governance, culture, and a way of life.
In these aspects, the two peoples in today’s
Republic of Cameroon (British Southern
Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun)
have fundamental differences.
The struggle in Cameroon by the people of
Southern Cameroons is not only because the
other side is not recognizing its system and
abiding by the cohabitation principles laid
out in 1961, but the fact that the Republic of
Cameroun is completely annexing the British
Southern Cameroons, wiping away any signs
of its heritage and forcing its people to become
the people of the Republic of Cameroun.Twenty seventeen offers us a ray of hope,
beckoning in the horizon. Our people now
have another golden opportunity to decide
to divorce from the Republic of Cameroun
or to stay in this marriage of convenience
and keep complaining. Insanity is doing the
same thing and expecting different results.
If we do today what our leaders did in 1961
and 1972 then our children, grand children
and great-grand children will most likely
get in 2083 and 2100 what we have now. The
opportunity of this critical juncture cannot be
missed!
The world is silent as the time-bomb in
Cameroon is ticking to the point of explosion.
Even people in neighbouring Nigeria do not
seem to know what is happening next door.
Hardly does one turn on the TV or the pages
of the Nigerian newspapers and hear or
read anything about Cameroon, in spite of
the over 1,500 km land-border that the two
countries share. Nigeria has an embassy and
two consular offices in Cameroon (Yaoundé,
Douala, and Buea). Similarly, Cameroon has
an embassy in Abuja, a consular office in
Lagos and another in Calabar.
Estimates put the number of Nigerians
living in Cameroon at two million. What
happens in Nigeria has a direct or indirect
impact in Cameroon and vice versa. The
case of BH is glaring for all to see. For many
people in the world, Cameroon is a country
in peace. We should note that peace is not the
absence of war. Behind the seeming peace
in Cameroon, is a growing Anglophone
problem; discrimination, marginalisation
and almost outright enslavement.
This is happening while the world watches
in silence. Unfortunately, such problems
only come to the limelight when there
are strikes, riots, and killings. Today, the
situation in the English speaking part of
Cameroon (British Southern Cameroons)
can only be described as totally dead. The
entire Anglophone Cameroon is like a ghost
town. Reports reaching us say that from
Ekok and Otu at the southern border with
Nigeria, to Afab, Ewelle, Kembong, Mamfe,
Batchuo, Bakebe, Tinto, Sumbe, Kumba,
Ekondo-titi, Mundemba, Muyuka, Buea,
Limbe (Victoria), Tiko, Bamenda, Bali, Wum,
Ndop, Kumbo, Nkambe, and Menchum,
everything is at a standstill. There is no
movement of people, bikes, or vehicles.
This is in complete obedience to a sit-in
strike called by the Teachers’ Trade Union
and the Common-Law Lawyers, following
an impasse at the close of last year. This
response is even more significant considering
that the government of Cameroon over the
weekend deployed ministers and senior
administrators to the region, to meet with
chiefs and other stakeholders to lobby to
abort the strike
In their “quiet” action, the Anglophones
have spoken clearly and loudly to the
authorities in Yaoundé. There is an
Anglophone problem in Cameroon. It
should be looked into very carefully and
profound solutions sought or the people are
left with no alternative than to go their own
way. If a marriage cannot work, then divorce
becomes inevitable.
Today in Cameroon, we have a situation
where teachers of French origin and
expression are transferred to the Englishspeaking
part of the country to teach
subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Geography,
History, and Physics. When I was a child,
the only French teachers we had taught us
French as a language, which we reluctantly
learned. Today, students who study technical
education at the secondary schools are taught
a curriculum that is fundamentally French in
nature. As if this is not bad enough, when
they complete their studies and have to write
the final exams, they write an exam which is
set in French. After complaining for many
years, the government decided to translate
the exams into English and we have ended
up now with a situation where a student of
Mechanics could see a question set in French
as “Quel est le rôle de la bougie dans une
voiture?” translated as “what is the role of
a candle in a car?” While this translation is
verbatim-correct, it is nonsensical in context
because of the wrong use of the word
“candle” as a translation of “bougie”. The
correct translation would have had “spark
plug” instead of “candle”. Little wonder
then that the Anglophone student will fail
the exam even before he/she leaves the
hall because the right questions were never
asked.


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