Cameroon: How I Became An Anglophone.

By Patrick Messi*

The framework

I was born in the French speaking part of the country with English as a horror. English was a simple second language like, Spanish and German at the college. With these natives from Muyuka and Kumba who dressed oddly. Then, came university era with poorly Spoken French  by the students from  Bamenda “make quick, la resto a ouvri” That is  ; do fast the restaurant has opened.  The period when Ngoa Ekelle was a difficult place for my Southwest and Northwest brothers. Everything was comfortable for us. For us the necessity to speak English wasn’t justified. To summarize the broadcasts of English in Cameroon radio were boring. TV was not yet in Cameroon. In short, “I do so swear” in the oath of the head of State, was a luxury. I was born on the good side of the Mungo.

The Shock,

In 2005, a professional assignment took me to Ekondo Titi. I couldn’t speak a single word in English. It wasn’t a problem in our consciences. While we were wasting time, Anglophones were making efforts to speak French. While in Ekondo for 6 months, I came in contact with Cameroonians who did everything possible for me to be comfortable. It was enough evidence for me to perceive the ills of the regime. The poor CRTV signal   forced everyone to watch Nigerian TV. It was understandable, since the TV signal was better. How could they have lived like this since 1961? How they could overcome our condescension all these period? My perception was superficial… that I will explain to you later. I was the brave tourist who came and went, but in a part of my mind, I knew there was a part of Cameroon that wasn’t fine.

The Slap

As if Ekondo Titi had prepared me, 2 years later I found myself in Qatar. Here, there speaks English and Arabic. I was recruited from Cameroon by a local French company. French was the working language. When my contract ended, this time I joined a multinational company. Fortunately, they wanted an employee who speaks French and a little English. I’m lucky once more. And then, came an employment offer from Nestlé Qatar. The offer of my life. Housing allowance, car allowance, family status, school fees, aircraft ticket for holidays with the family, not to talk of the salary .The total package was as per European expatriate status. To my advantage, The DG of Nestle was a French. Happy to work with a francophone. The HR is an Indian based in Dubai. At the final interview I failed because my English was poor. I lost my dream job. How a national from a bilingual country lose such kind of opportunity?  Time to regret about my dried English courses sets in. Regret my dried English the system had not forced me to speak English as the constitution required. The system had demonstrated that English was a second language and not important

I thought my English language surprises were over. Little did I know that, the Qatar sponsorship system stipulates, upon switching from one job to the other, you need to authentify your diplomas and other certificates in your country’s embassy in Qatar. Unfortunately for me Cameroon have no Embassy in the state of Qatar, the last option was to return to Cameroon to get these certificates authentified.  An officer at the Ministry of Interior of the state of Qatar advised me to go to the United Kingdom embassy. He had already received documents from common wealth member states African certified by UK Embassy. I said to myself, If UK Embassy can, why not the France Embassy? I went to the French Consulate in Qatar, the reception and response was horrible as usual “The Consulate of France certifies only French documents”. I am preparing to make the trip to Cameroon. I looked around, I went to UK embassy without convictions. The reception was great, I approached the Clark and told her I want to certify my documents. The clerk didn’t hesitates, to receive my documents and came back after few minutes and said “Sir, comes back after 2 days” your country is eligible She said.  Avoiding an unplanned trip to Cameroon was paramount. 2 days later, I showed up at the UK Embassy and my documents were certified. I asked the Lady, how comes. She said; your country is a member of the commonwealth. For this reason you get all advantages as a citizen of UK. And she adds everywhere you go always have the reflex to see if the embassy of her Majesty may solve your problem. What about the francophonie? In my country they use the state media to communicate on francophonie summits, morning, afternoon, and evening. More seriously, the last summit of commonwealth in Yaoundé the inaugurated speech was in French. None sense.

Cameroon is not just rich underneath.  I discovered a blessed country, even the imposed languages by colonialism are added advantage. Why my elders didn’t make awareness of this rich cultural heritage? Is the regime an accomplice to the francophonisation displayed in this country? To this effect I decided to become bilingual, truly bilingual. Ekondo Titi made me find myself, 15 thousand km away. I created a Facebook forum for questioning the problem. Everyone responses there is no that no Anglophone problem in Cameroon. I was more royalist than the King, why Anglophones don’t complain themselves?

The Discomfort

Yet, the native of zoetele adopted in Ekondo knew that he was the product of a system that had decided to make the “other Cameroonian”, “other”. Facing the wrath of francophone on my forum. I did some self-analysis. It was then I discovered the ugly face of the system.

Military parade on May 20, on all cars the signs that announce the motorized detachments are in French. “Bridges” that are baptized bridge in French on the rivers of the Northwest. No official speech to some levels, be it is in English. For proof the opening speech of the commonwealth. On holiday in Cameroon I decide to speak only English. In the public services in Yaoundé, I hear “don’t talk to me things here… I can cite examples like this.

The Solution (Re-emergence of the term subsystem)

The Anglophone problem, In fact is not a problem of a language of expression nor a problem of territory. The problem stems from inequitable sharing of the national cake. It is not wrong to spread oil revenues. It is not, “all regions have problems.”

The subject of the issue has deceived everyone. There is no Anglophone problem, is the problem of a system management. Yaoundé by express tried to engulf a leg. The settlers we have dispossessed of our cultural heritage secular in Exchange have imposed US 2 subsystems. And a subsystem has decreed his intelligence due to his weight to annihilate the other. Was it a conscious plan? How little – they popularize, (I say good to popularize and not edit) the OHADA texts without the English version? How can we wake in 2017 and create a section of common law in the Supreme Court? How can I send a magistrate who does not speak English in Bamenda? What is the opposite is feasible? How did we deal with this matter with as much condescension?

Now the term “subsystem” is topical. Where was he before? We can quote all decisions made by the Government in 2017, which prove that they treated the subjects of this country in monolingualism

Everything must go through a sovereign conference. The outcome of this forum must have force of law.

Our brothers across the Mungo have all understood, corporate claims, some issues have been resolved with legendary speed thanks to revolts. Solving these problems proves that the system had shortcomings. Why all the changes from the regime now? When you start giving, always you will give. The regime knew and we knew as well. Just one solution is left. The anticipation. What to Anticipate? Violence against violence we will always lead to the negotiating table. But with a lot of destroyed property, loss of human lifes.

It is now that he must convene the national sovereign conference. It will have the primary effect of decrying the relations, its immediate sovereign character will reassure the suspicions. In this conference the problems of the other regions should be inclusive. Can the current regime bring realize this project? I doubt it. The regime response can’t only be   exclusively military.

What matters is that the two side of the mungo feel free in Cameroon. Is this the case for everyone in Cameroon this moment? The coming days will tell


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