Cameroon Heightens Security After Bombing Attack
July 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
Moki Edwin Kindzeka* YAOUNDE— [caption id="attachment_19448" align="alignleft" width="640"] Security forces use a blanket to transport the remains of some of the 11 victims of a double blast in the northern Cameroonian city of Maroua, July 22, 2015.[/caption] Security has been increased in northern Cameroon following Wednesday’s double suicide bombing attack, carried out by two females, that left dozens dead. The attack in the city of Maroua is the fourth in two weeks. Governor Midjiyawa Bakari of the country’s Far North region said he has asked the military to be more vigilant and vigorous while checking travelers and their goods, adding that all suspected markets, shops, bars and popular spots have been sealed. Bakari said President Paul Biya instructed him to seal parts of Cameroon’s borders with Nigeria that are suspected to be used by Boko Haram suicide bombers and fighters. Less than two weeks ago, Bakari banned women from wearing burka veils after female suicide bombers used them to conceal explosives in Fotokol, Cameroon, which borders Nigeria’s Borno state, a former stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgent group. Wednesday’s attack was carried out by one female disguised as a merchant and the other, a 9-year-old girl, disguised as a beggar. Bakari said they found several wounded people in the market Thursday morning. He said victims, many suffering fractures and amputations, were taken to several hospitals. Bakari also asked all doctors and medical staff under his administrative area to attend to the victims and stay at their job sites. Earlier this year, the Nigerian-based Boko Haram announced its allegiance to the radical Islamic State group. *Source VOA]]>
Why Ahidjo Still Matters To Cameroon
June 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
-A question of logic, common sense, moral justice and Biya’s legacy
By Hafis Rüefli
A few days ago, my attention was drawn to a story in one of the Cameroon newspapers on a 1991 Law published on the website of the Presidency on modalities to repatriate the remains of national figures who died abroad. The report cited historic figures like Roland Moumie of the UPC and Cameroon’s first President Amadou Ahidjo whose remains have remained in Senegal since 1989 when he died.
As someone who has been consistent in calling for the return of the remains of President Ahidjo, I shared the curiosity of the Meteo newspaper in the timing of the publication of the Law today when it was effectively signed in 1991. Beyond the content of the law, the fact remains that Amadou Ahidjo still matters and bringing back his remains will be beneficial to President Paul Biya and it will be beneficial to Cameroon.
There is no one who will deny that at the base of what is modern day Cameroon today is the hard work put in by Amadou Ahidjo. He had limited education, he came from a modest background, he may sometimes have ruled with a heavy hand, but the fact remains that for 22 years that he was President, he put Cameroon on very solid rails to prosperity and development.
Cameroon under Ahidjo had unprecedented international respect. Ahidjo was regularly chosen by his African peers to present the position of the continent on vital international issues. Cameroon was able to produce two successive Secretary Generals for the Organization of African Unity.
Economically, the country was sound , the kind of pervasive corruption that has almost destroyed the country today was inexistent under Ahidjo. For the flaws that the former President may have had, people look back today and realize that the man was a patriot, the man meant well for Cameroon and he did his utmost best.
It is delusional and insane when in a bid to get favor from President Paul Biya, Ministers like Issa Tchiroma say Ahidjo belongs to the dust bean of Cameroon history. People like Mr Tchiroma and his likes should realize that President Ahidjo voluntarily handed over to Mr Biya. His choice might have settled on a different person if he wanted.
There is no country that does not have serious political misunderstandings from time to time. President Biya has shown that he is capable of engaging in reconciliation when the need arises. People seriously affected by the military coup of 1984 were rehabilitated and have served in very high positions in the country. It is the case with Mr Tchiroma, it is the case with others like Dakole Daissala, Hamadou Moustapha and even current Senate President Niat Njifenji.
More than 25 years after he died in Senegal, and as the sun sets on the Biya years in power, one of his last dignifying acts will be to bring back the remains of President Ahidjo and give him the befitting National honors he deserves. By doing this President Biya will do himself and Cameroon a number of favors. As someone who has continuously preached unity and national integration, and considering that he inherited a nation united and looking forward in one direction, it will be a failure on President Biya’s part to leave the remains of his predecessor in a foreign country before leaving power.
In past interviews in foreign news networks, President Biya has said bringing back the remains of Amadou Ahidjo is the prerogative of the family. Yet everyone knows that a leader who led the country for 25 years and voluntarily left power deserves much more than just a family burial. The nation as a whole needs to pay respects to him. It could be a moment of national healing, it could be that grand moment that brings Cameroonians together, it could provide an opportunity for Cameroonians to do some soul searching and realize the importance of looking forward in one direction.
Contrary to what cynics and sycophants may think, President Biya himself seems to have been extending the olive branch to the family. President Ahidjo’s son Badjika is a Roving Ambassador at the Presidency. His Daughter Aminatou Ahidjo was very active within the ranks of the ruling CPDM in the last Senatorial elections. While some may think the Biya government is using the two for cheap political gains, the fact remains that continuing to leave the remains of President Ahidjo in Senegal does Cameroon no honor, it does Mr Biya no honor.
Questions are definitely bound to come to mind. What happens to his property that was confiscated by the government? What care and security guarantees are provided to his family in exile? These and more are some of the issues that will need to be addressed.
As one who has been active in advocating for the return of the remains of President Ahidjo, I still believe firmly that President Biya will come out bigger if acts speedily on this. At a time that the fabric of national unity is showing signs of frailty, with the Boko Haram attacks in the North, with the conflict in Central Africa affecting the Eastern region of the country, the President’s legacy will be tainted if he leaves behind a very divided country.
Opinions may vary but as Biya gets closer and closer to the end of his long stay in power, one of his defining legacies may be what he does with the remains of first President Amadou Ahidjo. Bringing back his remains and giving him all the national honors he deserves is only logical and it is a call all Cameroonians should make until it happens. Only then will the country be truly at peace with itself.
Indomitable Lionesses As The Incarnation of The Cameroon Spirit
June 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Hafis Rüefli *
In a country starved of good news and exciting moments, the heroic performances of the female soccer national team of country added spark to life in Cameroon. From victory against Equator, to giving world champions Japan a rough time a and then defeating Switzerland, the Indomitable Lionesses got Cameroonians glued to TV sets watching their exploits.
Unfortunately, the hope generated by their brilliant run fizzled out with defeat at the hands of China in the second round. In defeat however, the performance of the Lionesses must be saluted. As usual it is the name of Cameroon that made news , it is the flag of Cameroon that flew high in Canada , but beyond the scenes, it was the same cacophony, incompetence and shear neglect that characterized the preparation of the team for the world cup.
From no worthy sparring partners, to the perennial problem of match bonuses, it was another miracle that the female National Team achieved what it did. Officials from the Ministry of Sports and the football federation on hefty per diems in Canada, and lots of hangers on, it was painful to know that the team was still unable to get its match bonuses .
Media reports even surfaced about threats from the team to boycott some of the games . Considering previous experiences, there is no guarantee the valiant ladies will ever get all their money. Money or no money, there put up a formidable fight, there displayed patriotism, there put country first and it is the example that all Cameroonians should learn from.
The valor of the ladies is what has characterized similar feats in the past. The exploit of the lions at the world cup in 1990, the Olympic goal medal win in Sydney Australia, Francois Mbango winning an Olympic goal despite little support from the country and others. Not long ago, the Olympic National team was in the Southern Africa region for an international game and a player was left behind in foreign land!, The cacophony is attaining ridiculous levels.
It is one thing if the resources are not there and it is another thing when the resources are there and the management is chaotic. If it is not shear incompetence, it is tribalism, it is corruption, it is greed with officials using public resources to fund families, girl friends and others whereas the main actors, the players who toil to bring the glory and treated with blatant disregard.Tournament after tournament it is the same tale.
Yet in a country that has produced global icons who could be effective Ambassadors of Cameroon on the international scene like Roger Milla, Samuel Eto’o, Thomas Nkono and others, the infrastructure remains in a pathetic state. Little is done to improve on the infrastructure yet unscrupulous officials feed fat off the resources generated by footballers, while politicians take pride in the glory there did little to contribute to.
It is a miracle that with the infrastructure that Cameroon has and the catastrophic management, sports men and women have continued to register great results. The tale of everyday Cameroonians is one of incredible resilience, it is one of amazing talents begging for the opportunity to excel and it is one of patriotic people contrary to inept leadership puts country first.
Like the ladies have shown us, it is also a tale of choices we make, by fate of by design, it is Enow Ngachu a Cameroonian who has been at the help of the team for over five years. Maybe the reason he stayed there for so long was because nothing was expected of te team. Starved of adequate resources, a weak league, and general apathy on the part of football authorities, Ngachu worked extremely to see the Ladies National team enjoy its recent run of success.
Will the feat achieved in Canada push the country to take feminine football more seriously? Would it push the sports authorities to be more serious in management and investment in the right infrastructure? The answers ought to be an emphatic yes to all questions except for the fact that we are talking about Cameroon.
In the mean time, while eyes were on focused on the world cup, the economic capital ,Douala, was getting inundated with floods of unprecedented proportions.Nature cannot be controlled but adequate town planning, better infrastructure, and more could mitigate the damage of such floods. Again the hope is that lessons are learned, and affected families given the necessary support to soothe their ache.
As for the female soccer national team, credit goes to them for reminding people of the abundance of talent that the country has. It is this talent that gives hope for a brighter future, and it is such talent that reminds us that once more that with the right leadership, Cameroon would regain its lost glory and once more be a leader in Africa.
Three different Nigerians hold the 100m sprint records for Africa, Asia and Europe
June 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Tinashe Mushakavanhu*
Three different Nigerian-born track champions are the fastest men for Africa, Asia and Europe.
That’s right, one country on one continent, has three different athletes representing three different continents. How to explain this? You can blame a badly-run sports administration and a scarcity of resources needed to keep finely-tuned athletes at the top level. And, of course, personal ambition is also a factor.Take the case of the European record holder Francis Obikwelu, 36, who left his homeland as a teenager and settled in Portugal. He continued to represent Nigeria until 2001. The circumstances that led him to switch nationality were unfortunate. After suffering a career threatening injury at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Athletics Federation of Nigerian abandoned the star in his hour of need. Not only had he to foot the medical bills himself but also spent a few months in hospital recuperating after surgery complications led to a blood clot. A year later he became a naturalized Portuguese citizen and his silver medal performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics was his career best as he set a European record of 9.86sec. The record is still standing.
Asia’s fastest man is Femi Ogunode, 24. He has said the move to become a Qatari national in 2010 was a calculated risk that paid off. He alleges nepotism and corruption in Nigerian athletics. Last year, he set a career best of 9.93sec at the Asian Games. This April he ran a few seconds faster to set the Asian record of 9.91sec at the Asian Athletics Championships.
The one who stayed is sprint master Olusoji Fasuba, 30, whose 9.85sec record is yet to be broken since 2006. This was a one-hundreth of a second better than the old record of 9.86sec that was set by Namibian track and field legend Frankie Fredericks for a decade. Fasuba is currently the ninth fastest 100m runner ever with a time below the 10sec mark.
It’s becoming something of a more frequent narrative for African athletes to leave their home countries and switch nationalities after facing perennial frustrations with how their local sports bodies are managed. Career civil servants with no sporting backgrounds bungle the administration of the sport by turning them into citadels of corruption and inefficiency.
In 2011, the African 100m record holder, Fasuba predicted African sprinters will continue to be underachievers, unless they get proper training facilities and adequate remuneration. As a result well-funded athletic bodies from rich countries eager to be competitive and boost their national pride by any means necessary exploit the situation by coming to lure Africa’s young talent.
An African problem
While several European countries and the US have taken African athletes, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been more aggressively pursuing talent from the continent in the last decade.
Last year there was a somewhat farcical scenario at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea when 14 of the 22 individual running events were won by athletes of African origin who had switched nationality. China’s Su Bingtian, who came second to Ogunode at last year’s Asian Games, told AFP that the Gulf states’ African contingent is “unfair”, because “they are taller and have a longer stride,” meaning Asian born athletes are at a physical disadvantage.
Nationality transfers by African athletes are not just limited to Asiatic countries but Europe and the US are some of the biggest beneficiaries. Star athletes from Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, have mostly gone to represent Nordic countries such as Finland, Denmark, Sweden among other countries.
While African countries are busy exporting talent elsewhere they have no means to keep young talent or attract foreign based athletes to return.
Cameroon coach blames lack of funding for African failure
June 21, 2015 | 1 Comments
Wang Shanshan’s 12th minute goal put 1999 runners-up China into the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over surprise newcomers Cameroon.
“It’s a bad day for the Cameroon national side. We came up against a very good team,” said Lionesses’ coach Ngachu after the game in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
The central African side had been just the second nation from the continent to make it out of the group stages at the World Cup after Nigeria in 1999.
Cameroon lost to reigning champions Japan 1-0 in their group matches but achieved their first wins against Ecuador 6-0 and Switzerland 2-1.
But despite creating surprises the 53rd-ranked side join already eliminated African champions Nigeria, ranked 33, and 67th-ranked Ivory Coast on their way home.
“We need to develop women’s football in Africa. We need good organisation, we also need to create as many clubs as possible. If we could have sponsorship it would be good,” said Ngachu.
“We have the talented players. The problem African nations face is preparation.
“The day we are prepared well an African nation will be able to win the World Cup.
“We hope that with this performance many things will change not just in Cameroon but in Africa.”
Cameroon, African runners-up to Nigeria, were also struggling in the weather conditions in Edmonton.
“We didn’t expect cold weather and rain, it was a handicap for our team. It’s unfortunate we haven’t been training on surfaces that are very slippery,” said Ngachu.
Nigeria, who have won nine of the eleven African championships so far, have competed in every World Cup since 1991 but only advanced once out of the group stage.
Despite Nigeria’s Super Falcons impressing in a 3-3 draw against Sweden, they fell to Australia 2-0 and the United States 1-0.
The Ivory Coast were thrashed 10-0 by Germany, but suffered a narrow 3-2 loss to Thailand before falling 3-1 to Norway in the final group match on Monday.
Ngachu’s comments were an echo of those made by Ivorian coach Clementine Toure.
“We wanted to do well in important matches like the one against Germany,” Toure added.
“We arrived 72 hours before the game, and were very tired from a long journey of 15 hours and with jet lag. Those are things that we would like to correct, to arrive earlier, and to play preparation games. We haven’t been able to play friendly games, and this has hurt us.
“Those are things that we would like to correct, to arrive earlier, and to play preparation games. We haven’t been able to play friendly games, and this has hurt us.
“I want to make an appeal to not only our federation, but to all of Africa, that women’s football has arrived.
“We believe in our women. We have a good team. Today the Ivory Coast showed it deserves a place in the World Cup. But we also deserved to be better prepared. We didn’t deserve to be humiliated.”
Nigeria's Buhari plans Cameroon trip for Boko Haram force
June 15, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Susan Njanji*[caption id="attachment_18691" align="alignleft" width="300"] Muhammadu Buhari arrives for a photo call at the African Union Summit in Sandton, South Africa, on June 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)[/caption]
Johannesburg (AFP) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to visit Cameroon to cement a regional fighting force against Boko Haram, he told AFP on Monday.
Buhari met his counterparts from Niger, Chad and Benin at a summit in Abuja last week but Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya was noticeably absent and represented by his defence minister.
The two countries have long had strained ties, in part over a bitter territorial dispute but also after Boko Haram mounted cross-border raids into northeast Nigeria from Cameroon’s far north.
Buhari visited Niger and Chad in his first week in office and said he would have gone to Cameroon’s capital Yaounde for talks with Biya had he not been invited to attend the G7 summit in Germany.
“But on my return to Nigeria now, I will try to go to Cameroon,” he said on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Johannesburg.
Last week’s Abuja summit rubber-stamped an 8,700-strong regional force involving the five countries to replace an ad hoc coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The current force came into being after Chad’s President Idriss Deby sent troops to assist their Cameroonian counterparts against a wave of attacks by the Islamist militants.
Troops from Niger and Chad have crossed into Nigerian territory but those from Cameroon have not, in an indication of the strained relations between the neighbours.
But Buhari indicated last Thursday that soldiers from the new Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) would not be restricted in terms of movement.
The MNJTF will be headed by a Nigerian officer for the duration of the mission, with his deputy from Cameroon for an initial 12 months once troops are deployed from July 30.
Buhari has made crushing Boko Haram his immediate priority since coming to power on May 29 and he told AFP that foreign support was vital.
“The most important support is intelligence. What we are looking for from the G7… is intelligence. We want help in terms of logistics,” he said.
“Boko Haram declared that they are in alliance with ISIS, so terrorism has gone international. They are in Mali, they are in Nigeria, they are in Syria, they are in Iraq, they are in Yemen…
“It’s an international problem now,” he said.[caption id="attachment_18694" align="alignright" width="300"] Nigerian soldiers show arms and ammunition recovered from Boko Haram Islamists during military operations in Dikwa on May 23, 2015 (AFP Photo/[/caption]
In the interview, Buhari also addressed concerns he had not yet appointed a cabinet more than two weeks after he came to power following his victory in March polls.
“I don’t know why people are so anxious to have ministers, but eventually we will have,” he said.
Buhari said that audits were currently being carried out in various government departments — and the finance and petroleum ministries in particular — to try and establish what situation they were left in by the previous administration.
“I am not in a hurry to get ministers,” he said.
“I want to get ministers after at least I have seen this report, so that I don’t have to appoint a minister today and sack him next week.”
Cameroon:Preserving Peace in the Post Biya Era
June 14, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Hafis Rüefli
In the course of his long stay in power, President Biya has taken pride in describing Cameroon as an oasis of peace in a troubled sub region. Indeed when one looks at what is transpiring in Central Africa today and what transpired in countries like Congo and Equatorial Guinea yesterday, Cameroonians have every reason to thank the stars. Over the years however, the peace in Cameroon has grown more and more fragile and there is apprehension on what will happen when Biya eventually leaves power.
When President Ahidjo decided to hand over to Biya in 1982, there was panic in the country.For some twenty two years, Cameroonians had known no other leader but Ahidjo. However, there was a clear cut constitutional clause which indicated that in the absence of the President, it is the Prime Minister who takes over. Been the sitting Prime Minister at time of Ahidjo’s resignation, the choice of Biya was obvious despite the behind the scenes calculations that Cameroonians do not know.
There have been tales on what prompted the abrupt resignation of President Ahidjo but there are credible accounts which indicate that his logic had always been for a Christian from the South to take over since he was Muslim and from the North. Driven by the national cohesion and peace that he worked so hard to build, Ahidjo’s intention was for the country to remain firm and united.
Despite his age and the realities of the country, it is unfortunate that President Biya is surrounded by praise singers in the government and ruling party who continue to give the impression that he will remain in power for ever. Succession is taboo talk .Challenging the President within the ranks of the CPDM is something that is avoided. President Biya is considered the natural candidate of the CPDM at Presidential elections.
But at one point or the other the inevitable is bound to happen. President Biya will no longer be there. Is everything in place for a smooth transition as was the case in 1982? Are the institutions in place strong enough to for a hitch free transition? One is not so sure about this and there are reasons to be apprehensive of what will happen should the President not be there.
Some months back, Professor Hubert Mono Ndzana, a former top official of the ruling CPDM party came under fire for insinuating that after over thirty years in power, it might amount to a declaration of war if someone from President Biya’s ethnic group were to succeed him. Mono Ndzana who hails from the same ethnic dispensation as President Biya was speaking to Thierry Ngongang on STV. He came under acerbic attacks notably from top CPDM officials who hail from the same region as he does.
Far from just letting things continue to drift along with no control, the succession debate is one that Cameroonians must have and take it serious. It is vital for continuous peace and stability in Cameroon. We saw how a wrong transition set the stage for the successive events that culminated in civil war in Ivory Coast, we have seen a similar script play out in a number of countries as well and should learn from that experience.
There have been stories in the media about strong behind the scenes battles to succeed the President. Wikileaks quoted Ahmadou Ali as saying that there told President Biya the Grand North regions will support him for as long as he stays in power but when he is not there , there will not support anyone from the South.
Former Minister of Territorial Administration Marafa Hamidou Yaya was also quoted by wikileaks as saying that he was not shy about expressing his Presidential ambitions to Paul Biya when he leaves power. Marafa is today in jail on corruption charges though many see political ambitions as part of his undoing.
Unlike the Cameroon that President Ahidjo served, the Cameroon of today is very different. Mentalities have evolved and there are growing conflicting power centers. Despite his victories at successive elections, it is common knowledge that the CPDM has very few true and committed militants. It is not founded on any firm ideology or vision. The party is more or less a coalition of people with self centered and conflicting agendas. So what will happen when Biya who is the glue which keeps the party together leave? The civil war that will erupt within the ranks of the party may destabilize the polity.
Already within the government there have been signs of acrimony. Recently there was a standoff between the Minister of Culture and Prime Minister Philemon Yang.
The Minister of Culture was in open defiance of the authority of the Prime Minister. There are reports of other Ministers been insubordinate to the Prime Minister. At the Ministry of Economy and Finance ,all is not well with the Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey been challenged by the Director of Customs .In the military it is also known that the elite Rapid Intervention Force –BIR, receives more attention and perks than those in the regular army.With President been in sole control of everything and everyone looking up to him, the fear of these subtle conflicts eventually blowing up are real.
Constitutional provisions indicate that in case of vacancy, it is the Senate President who assures the interim. The Senate President, just like those who run other institutions have never made any bones about serving Biya first and foremost before the country. Will he be up to the task?
Getting nervous is also about the governance style of the President and the tribal nature of his administration. Most top military and security officials are from his region. The security portfolios in government are led by people from his region.While this guarantees loyalty to him, where will their loyalty go when his not there?
In the midst of tough questions and trying to balance complex equations, the solution may lie in the Cameroon people. If it were for the political class especially those in power, the country will already be in shambles.It is thanks to the ordinary Cameroonian that peace has prevailed and
while it is imperative to be active in the debate on the future of the country, there must be encouraged to remain strong and unity.
Short comings of the Biya years have affected everyone. From bad infrastructure, to unemployment, from the poor state of our football, Cameroonians have all been affected. When you see moto taxi drivers in Douala struggling to earn a living, there are from all walks of life.When you find thousands of Cameroonians writing public exams which will eventually only select a handful of candidates, the frustration is shared by Cameroonians.
Without peace nothing can be achieved, without peace, Cameroonians cannot aspire for a better future after Biya. The peaceful cohesion that exists between Muslims and Christians must be maintained.The peaceful cohabitation of people from different backgrounds in our towns and cities must be sustained. The people must be vigilant enough so as not to be used as political pawns in the succession battles. There must however be active in deciding who eventually rules the country after Biya and which direction there want the country to take.
Illusions and Futilities in The Fight Against Corruption
June 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
-The Case of Iya Mohammed and Sodecotton
By Hafis Rüefli *
As the sun continues to slowly but steadily set on the long reign of President Biya, one of the legacies that will sure survive him is endemic corruption. For all the wealth and riches that Cameroon has, the unfortunate truth is that the common good of the people has not been a priority. Using political, and ethnic affinities, a few people pompously referred as the elite have held the country hostage through rampant acts of corruption.
In my previous op-ed, I commended Cameroonians for expressing generous support to help the military fight corruption. One must however admit that a country so richly blessed as Cameroon should not be relying on hand outs from its citizens to fund its army. What happens the Defence budget which is always the largest in the country?
The kind of corruption experienced under President Biya is unprecedented in the history of Cameroon. People may say all there want about former President Ahmadou Ahidjo but during his time, corruption was almost inexistent. In cases where it took place, it was swiftly dealt with. It has been the opposite under President Biya.
When asked by Eric Chinje of CRTV about corrupt practices of senior state officials, President laconically asked for proves. Fast forward to today and there is an entire government complete with Directors of some of the biggest companies in jail. The operation pompously referred to as Epervier, takes delight in the highly dramatized arrests of public officials for acts of corruption. Former Prime Minister Inoni Ephraim, former SG at the President Atangana Mebara, former health Minister Olanguena Awono, former CRTV Director Gervais Mendo Ze, Yves Michel Fotso of Camair, former Territorial Administration Minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya, etc.
With such high profile arrests, one would have expected that that corruption in high places will reduce in Cameroon. Unfortunately, this has not been the case . The reasons for this are many . President Biya definitely has not shown the political will to fight corruption. It is now known that by injecting politics into the fight by selectively targeting those he considers as threats to his powers while some perceived loyalist heavily involved in scandals go free, President Biya has destroyed whatever credibility it could have had.
In trying to destroy real and perceived enemies, there are people and regions which have suffered. The prime example is the cotton giant Sodecotton which has been the pride of the people for the Grand North regions of Cameroon.Infact Sodecoton was the biggest employer after the government. It was one of the most profitable companies and the time Iya Mohammed was thrown behind bars for mismanagement, it had circa 5 billion frs cfa in profits.
The current Secretary General of the ruling CPDM lauded the company in 2011 as a model for sound management while urging the people of region to jealously preserve the success story of Sodecoton. Nkuete who was Minister of Agriculture then,was reacting to a criticisms on the management of the company done by the President of the National Assembly. During his visit, Nkuete noticed that for 2010 alone, Sodecoton registered profit in excess of 2 billion frs cfa. Was the President of the National Assembly setting the stage for some sinister agenda with his statements?
From nothing, Sodecoton metamorphosed into the giant it became under the watchful eyes of Iya Mohammed who joined its management while still a very young man. The company steadily grew to a point where it became a reference. Besides employment and taxes that were paid, Sodecoton embarked on numerous development and social initiatives that ameliorated the lives of the citizens.
One of the big achievements of the company was the creation of a football club which became one of the very rare clubs to meet the minimum standards of professionalism. From infrastructure, to management and salary scale, Cotonsport created by Sodecoton was the embodiment of excellence in the pathetic state of affairs in Cameroon football.
Many believe that while the reason advanced for the imprisonment of Iya Mohammed is because of mismanagement, the real reason is his reluctance to drop his ambition of seeking an extra mandate at the helm of the Cameroon football federation. In 2013, against pressure from many from the powers that be, Iya Mohammed insisted on seeking reelection as President of the Fecafoot. Ahead of the elections he was thrown into jail for mismanagement at Sodecoton , but curiously Iya still won the elections while in jail. The elections were eventually annulled by FIFA.
At the time of going to jail, Sodecoton was in excellent financial shape but to the consternation of many two years after , the company is literally at the brink and is now forced to relying on bail outs with state subventions. This was something unthinkable when Iya was there . What happened to the profits he left behind? In addition to the management problems there now, the morale of farmers has reduced, the social initiatives of Sodecoton not as vibrant as before, production levels have droped,and even the football club Cotonsport is no longer benefiting from the same support.
The case of Sodecoton is symptomatic of the dangers that are there when the fight against corruption has political under currents. While it is no news that there is unbridled corruption within the higher echelons of the Biya government and the ruling party, when only those perceived as threats to the President are arrested, the message does not go across. Prove is that more money has been embezzled since 1998 when the first major arrest for corruption took place .
Yet the solution to fighting corruption remains simple. It starts with the implementation of article 66 of the 1996 constitution which requires public official declare their assets prior to assuming office and before there leave office. If the President was sincere about fighting corruption, the basis is to start implementing article 66.
Cameroonians have little faith in the current fight, it is shrouded in politics, it is not fair, justice is not been served and it is not stopping others from embezzling even larger sums and receiving kickbacks from bad deals like the acquisition of planes from the Chinese.
Unfortunately corruption is one of the legacies that Biya is going to leave Cameroon with and everyone knows no society can be built on such a foundation. It is up to Cameroonians to figure out how to address this. It is a daunting task, but at the same time it is not one that is impossible to address. Like the President himself says, the impossible is not Cameroonian. If anyone doubts this take the recent case of IRIC where it is the public outcry that shamed the government into including the names of meritorious students on the final list.
A Salute to the Cameroon Military
June 3, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Hafis Rüefli *
For a very long time, the Cameroon military was inactive, the country had not known a civil war, it had not formally fought a war with any of its neighbors, and besides the military coup of 1984 had little to do. In the 90s, when the government used them to crack down on people clamoring for democracy and civil liberties, their honor was lost. People got confused as to whether the military was at the service of Paul Biya as President or at the service of Cameroon.
However, the army has found new confidence and restored its dignity from the way it has gallantly taken the fight to Boko Haram. Paul Biya was known to take pride in calling Cameroon as an oasis of peace in a troubled sub region. No matter how this peace was achieved, no matter how it was maintained, the fact is that there was peace. The drama in countries like the D.R.Congo, Central Africa Republic and Congo were spared Cameroon.
From the blues, came attacks from Boko Haram in the Northern part of Cameroon in 2014. On his way to Paris for a summit to address the new threats, President Biya declared war on the sect. How was the Cameroon army which had not been tested in a major way before cope? Many were skeptical of how there will take the fight to Boko Haram
It is today a unanimous fact that the Cameroon military has displayed gallantry that should make every Cameroonian proud of them. The country cannot be built on chaos, the country cannot be content if the Northern part is left at the mercy of inhuman atrocities of the Boko Haram sect.
As we salute the gallantry of the military, there are a few things that need to be done as well to ensure that sacrifices incurred to maintain the territorial integrity of Cameroon are recognized. In effect, Cameroonians of all walks of life must show their support for the military.
A few months back, there was the debate on why President Biya who is Commander in Chief had not been to the Grand North to visit with the troops. He was criticized for not even stopping at the military hospital in Yaounde to visit troops or appear at the military headquarters in Yaounde to honor fallen soldiers. To make matters worse, the website of the Presidency committed a gaffe by publishing a doctored picture of the President paying homage to foreign soldiers.
The criticisms on the President certainly have their merits but he has been doing more to show that he is attentive to the plight of the soldiers. The President has in public pronouncements lauded the immense sacrifices and amazing job the military is doing. He has created and put in place adequate measures to ensure that public donations been done across the country to support the military are properly managed and used for the intended purposes. Senior officers suspected of racketeering have been replaced.
Where politicians have failed to help unite the country and see eye to eye on its direction, the military has helped to show that Cameroonians can stick together for a common case. It was interesting to see the SDF Chieftain John Fru Ndi making donations of cows and food stuff to support the troops. To its credit, at the recent celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the SDF in Bamenda, there was a fundraiser to support the troops. Maurice Kamto and his party have called on the government to make policy changes that will include providing free education and health services to children of fallen soldiers.
As Cameroon continues to win the fight against Boko Haram, there are a number of questions we must ask ourselves and there are a number of things that must be done. The military must be provided with everything there need, it must be equipped with the best weapons. Questionable deals like getting aircrafts from China need to be re-examined.
The Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Arm Forces must ensure money been contributed by Cameroonians is used for the intended purposes to the last dime. That is, all of it must be used for the military with attention to those at the battle front in total accountability and transparency.
The government must also do more to address the plight of families that have been displaced and are suffering. How do we meet their health care and academic needs? How do we ensure that the family fabric is not lost?
Equally important is the need to give serious re-examination to the development needs of the Far North and the Grand North and the country as a whole. When development needs are not met, when infrastructure is lacking and people deprived of opportunities, it is easy to fall prey to temptations from Boko Haram when there sometimes use money to recruit.
For years there are many parts of Cameroon that have suffered from severe neglect. This seems to be very true with border areas . Part of the reason we almost lost Bakassi was the neglect suffered by that area. You look at infrastructure in the East Region which is at risk of attacks from outlaws in Central Africa Republic, the development issues are the same.
The fight against Boko Haram as a whole and the mobilization behind the military reminds us that together as Cameroonians, much can be done or achieved. Drawing inspiration on that, now may be the time for Cameroonians to do serious soul searching and ask the tough questions. This is even more important as President Biya approaches the sunset of his long stay in power. What kind of Cameroon will he leave behind and what kind of Cameroon do we want for tomorrow?
Instead of waiting for the next crisis, reflections must intensify, the debate must become more robust and drawing inspiration from the sacrifices of the military at the war front , Cameroonians can forge a stronger future.
Cameroon:Why we need a Two by (X) State Federation
June 2, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Mwalimu George Ngwane*
Anglophone Lawyers have spoken. Cameroon needs a Federal system. Going by the experiences surrounding the debate on the concept of Federation among Anglophones, I will not be surprised at the re-emergence of rebuttals and old hackneyed but sometimes sterile blame game narratives in our public space.
The common denominator between the Southwest and the Northwest Regions is that they both stand for a Federation. A ten state Federation emphasises Provincial Protection, while a two state Federation emphasises Regional Sovereignty. The magic numbers of two and ten have put the North Westerner and South Westerner at daggers drawn as if any of the principles has been bought by the establishment yet.
We have been so divided along the lines of two and ten that we refuse to see the issues involved and the risks concerned. Just as we have echoed a unity in diversity conversation so have we given a false impression that a person who believes in the two- state federation must be a North Westerner or a naive South Westerner.
We have been so concerned with labels and tags that we pay no attention to the constitutional and meticulous details that were captured in the Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon that was produced in July 1993 by the Standing Committee of the All Anglophone Conference (AAC). The significance of the July 1993 draft constitution is that it is two-tier as there is a vertical dichotomy between Anglophones and Francophones and a horizontal division between North West and South West.
Any constitution that embarks on a solely ten state arrangement without an institutionalised umbrella over the North West and South West regions would be like a house with a solid foundation but without a good roof. Any constitution that embarks on a solely two state arrangement (West Cameroon/East Cameroon), with the proviso that internal matters between the Anglophones shall be settled in family would be like a house with a good roof but without a solid foundation. We need a constitution that concurrently handles the Anglophone/Francophone problem and the North West/South West divide. And this is where the All Anglophone Lawyers’ Declaration should take its inspiration.
As a former member of the Standing Committee of the All Anglophone Conference of 1993 and minute Secretary in most of its meetings I make bold to say that having gone through most of the draft constitutions presented by individuals and organisations, one cannot help but use the Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon proposed by the Standing Committee of AAC as the working document.
It is a document that attains the goal of national character and the objective of the ante-1972 West Cameroon statehood. It is therefore fallacious to propagate the philosophy that the AAC constitution stands for two states as against four, ten, fifteen states as propounded by other organisations.
In deed the document is flexible to any number of states that the people of Cameroon would so desire; with the sole difference that the people of Southern Cameroons (West Cameroon) like those of La Republique du Cameroon (East Cameroun) would on sovereign basis prescribe the number of states (autonomous provinces) within their separate territories.
The document makes provision for a distinct identity and bicultural nature of two people who came into political union in 1961 which forms the basis of a historical legality and provision for the fulfilment of the aspirations of the masses within the entire country toward decentralisation, devotion and decongestion of power to the periphery which forms the basis of a socio-political reality.
Any document worth its salt must take cognisance of the historical legality and socio-political reality of the Cameroonian people. Proponents of a ten state Federation have religiously borrowed their argument possibly from the Nigerian experience. Let it be made clear that while Nigeria operates on a colonial monolingual background that permits a common legal, educational and exo-cultural system throughout the nation, Cameroon operates on an official bilingual and bicultural level that produces two parallel legal, educational and exo-cultural systems.
No matter how pan African any body wants to feel, the blatant truth about African politics is that its policies are still tele-guided by the ingredients of our foreign cultures. Because Cameroon finds herself in this dual situation, the conflict of the Anglophones and Francophones would be omnipresent except the former allow them themselves to be swallowed like Anglophone Jonases in the belly of the Francophone whale.
The two foreign systems (English and French) are the real custodians of power and decision making in Cameroon and any loose allowance for a ten state Federation would give a free visa to the numerical Francophone majority to totally assimilate the weak and timid John Bullism in the Anglophone territory of Cameroon. This has been the case since 1972.
A matter of values
One of the expectations of the ten states Federation is that it will allow for indigenous Governors to be elected as it is in the AAC constitution. Yet in a loose arrangement of ten states, no one would be surprised if the President insisted on appointing Governors who are indigenes of the area. That itself defeats the purpose of administrative autonomy, for the Governor would not be responsible to the people but to their appointees.
The loose arrangement of ten states denigrates the Southern Cameroons sovereignty into mere former provinces and present regions. Plagued by a history of treachery, traumatised by an element of domination, and faced with the reality of assimilation, the ten state proponents allow themselves to be defined not as 1961 partners to a bicultural experiment but as 1972 polities to a “one and indivisible” country.
As we wade our way through the labyrinth of our fragmented past let us not lose sight of the graceful values that unite us toward a glorious future. We are a nation born out of the complexities of colonialism, bred against the tides of cultural Assimilation but prepared today to grow within a distinct heritage of a linguistic ancestry. Equal status was achieved in 1961 in an arrangement where our sovereignty was equal to the other sovereignty.
How do we move from a 1:1 relationship to clamour for a 2:8 arrangement? According to Dr. Carlson Anyangwe “Southern Cameroonians are unquestionably a people whose own distinctiveness is undeniable. There is and can be no dispute that our British derived culture has a separate, long and distinct history. That culture is in present danger of disappearing”. We must therefore capitalise on what unites and strengthens us as a free people not highlight what divides and weakens us like a conquered people.
This is the mission of the two by (x) state proposal contained in the 128 page AAC Constitution that was produced in English and French and officially submitted and released for Public Discussion in July 1993. In the wake of the All Anglophone Lawyers’ Declaration of 9th May 2015, there is a need to reprint both the entire Document and a Synopsis for the public. While we all have a right to fight to personal positions and provincial protections, our main drive should be to restore our declining Anglo-Saxon values. We are talking about our educational system that has been eroded in our Technical, Teachers Training Centres, Secondary and even Higher Education.
We are talking about our territorial integrity that is being invaded and our cultural existence not being expressed externally. As Peter Nsanda Eba once wrote “we must protect the values which those in my generation and older generation were raised up in. A lot of these values have been eroded, and it has been the hopes and wishes that our generation will die off, so that the future generations can grow up in mediocrity. We must unite to ensure the continuity of these values in future generations”.
Unity in Concept
Yes, the West Cameroon of 1961 – 1972 was not a paradise and so some have contested the AAC Draft Constitution as a return to the horrors and terrors of an evil system and a revisit of the Kangaroo that jumps into its mother’s pouch in times of danger. It must be made clear here that the constitution’s stand on 1961 is basically for historical legality but its structures, modalities in fact its modus operandi is in harmony with the socio-political realities.
A few parallels between the 1961 constitution and the proposed 1993 AAC constitution could be made here. While in the 1961 constitution, the President had the full powers to appoint the Prime Minister according to his whims and caprices only for the Parliament to rubber stamp it, the AAC constitution provides for the appointment of a Prime Minister by the President based on a suggestion of the State Executive Council. In other words the President only rubber stamps what the people (state executive council) have already decided.
While in the 1961 constitution, the Prime Minister had total powers over the entire West Cameroon territory within an infinite period and all the Prime Ministers came from the then Bamenda zone (North West Region) in the AAC constitution the designated Prime Minister has a specific term of office which alternates between the South West and North West Region.
The 1961 arrangement did not provide for elected Governors and Local Council representatives as found in the AAC constitution. There was no principle in the 1961 constitution guiding the law of Derivation and Revenue Distribution and so the Southwest became the milking cow of the country. Without pride or prejudice, without rage or rancour but in good faith and in good will let every Cameroonian in general and every Anglophone in particular read the 1993 AAC Draft Federal Constitution and make recommendations. The document may have flaws but should be the working document. One contesting factor that comes against the AAC constitution especially among some South Westerners is the eligibility of the Provincial Governors.
A clause that stipulates that a Governor would be elected from (…) and from non-natives who have spent a number of years in the Province opens itself to legitimate fears. Not only does it entertain a repeat of the past experiences of non-natives of the South West posing as South Westerners only to identify with their roots once elected or appointed but deprives the real native of freely electing their own credible and bona fide citizens.
Instead of a non-native occupying the highest office of a province, the privileges and rights of non-natives would be taken care of by the election of a percentage composition in the provincial assemblies, Provincial Executive Council and Local Government areas. This argument should be given serious thought. The need to accommodate views from Anglophones to the Draft Federal Constitution is extremely vital so that the Liberation of Anglophones does not lead to the enslavement of any of the Provinces in the West Cameroon territory.
That the South West Elite Association (SWELA) had taken a stand on a ten state Federation since 1991 is nothing new; that some Chiefs of the South West took a ten state stand on 10 April 1993 is nothing new; that the South West based defunct Liberal Democratic Party had taken a ten state stand then endorsed the AAC document is nothing new; that the South West based defunct National Democratic Party had taken a four state stand then endorsed the AAC document is nothing new; that the South West based defunct Cameroon Republican Party had taken a stand on ten states is nothing new; that the one time Cameroon Anglophone Movement had taken a two state stand then endorsed the AAC document is nothing new; and that the Social Democratic Front finally took a stand on Federation is nothing new.
What is new in the history of the Anglophone struggle is that all Anglophones (pressure groups and parties) like one people agreed on a unique concept-the concept of Federalism as against the concept of unitary system. This is different from the 1961 plebiscite decision that threw Anglophones apart between the concept of Reunification with Cameroon and the concept of Integration with Nigeria. This is a new found Unity.
If we are so united in the concept of Federation, why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the magical numbers of two and ten? Have we even succeeded in getting across the real concept of Federalism yet? Why do we spend atoms of energy against ourselves? – energy that could be mustered for the concept of Federalism to be accepted. Why do we spend iota of intelligence destroying our case and cause? – intelligence that could be harnessed to protect the specific and total ingredients of statehood? Why do Anglophones sometimes spend valuable time inviting a battalion of soldiers against their own people? And when one thinks that it is this sort of division that got Anglophones on the wrong foot in Foumban it becomes a cause for concern.
Do Anglophones not remember that original demands in the Bamenda Conference of June 1961 which included separate Government; Capital to Douala, bicameral Federal Legislature, ceremonial not executive Head of State, a Governor as Head of each state with Prime Minister, different legal systems etc made by the Southern Cameroonian delegation to the negotiation table in Foumban July 1961 were simply rejected because the Southern Cameroonians were hyper-motivated by jingoistic zeal and naive faith in their Francophone “brothers”? While the banner in the hall carried a pompous dictum in English of “How nice it is to meet our brothers” the French equivalent was simply “Vive le Cameroun Unifie”.
Are Anglophones not aware that the Bamenda Conference proposals of June 1961 limited Presidential powers but Ahidjo did not want a diminution of his authority and power? Does someone need to remind Anglophones that their over-optimistic but patriotic Bamenda Conference proposals of June 1961 were whittled down since Yaounde as usual, had her own plans?
Are Anglophones not conscious of the fact that the proposals of Bamenda Conference of June 1961 were simply ignored and Ahidjo brought out his own document which some members of the Southern Cameroonian delegation were seeing for the first time on the morning of the opening ceremony? Indeed it is only when the leader of opposition (Dr E.M.L Endeley) requested that he be allowed time to study the document that the Southern Cameroonian delegation was given three days to study Ahidjo’s document.
Can Anglophones forget that in the face of Ahidjo’s Ruritanian ruse and Machiavellian machinations, the Southern Cameroon delegation was shy at making its disapproval heard? Lastly and lest we forget the Foumban Conference ended on the promise that both delegations (Southern Cameroon and La Republique du Cameroun) would meet later to develop on the constitution.
To every one’s surprise Ahidjo broke the promise, got his assembly to adopt the shoddy constitution which he promulgated into law without consulting the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly. And that is what became the Federal Constitution on October 1, 1961.
What came out of Foumban therefore was nothing but the French plans for the then Federal Republic of Cameroon. Even if the ten -state Federation is accepted today like John Ngu Foncha’s clamour for Reunification with French Cameroon was accepted yesterday and the two by (x) state Federation is ignored today like Paul. Monyongo Kale’s third option was ignored yesterday; the story will be told that the hurricane of discordant opinions swept away the mustard seed for the right to reversion. It should not happen.
In the search for Southern Cameroons self-determination in Nigeria, the Richards constitution was replaced by the Macpherson constitution in 1951. The Macpherson constitution provided bedrock for the Southern Cameroon people. The Macpherson Constitution recognised the need for survival of Anglophones in Cameroon. As the Macpherson constitution provided the “great leap” for the crystallisation of political aspirations for Southern Cameroon leaders, so does the Draft 19930AAC Constitution provide the “great hope” for the manifestation of societal opportunities for the Anglophone people.
Today, we are acting in defence of the unborn because we are living on borrowed time. We owe a whole generation that has been saddled with a burden of economic debts and has been passed the mantle of moral mediocrity, the supreme price of self-abnegation. Imbued with academic knowledge, traditional wisdom, collective experience and intrinsic foresight, we cannot afford to let down the aspirations of another generation.
The question of leadership rotates around us – We, who still posses some vestiges of humane values and respect for human civilisation. So, does the Anglophone Lawyers’ Manifesto of 9th May 2015 not ring a bell to you? It should. It rings a bell that though we all climbed the Mount Mary Mountain top some of us sometimes descend the valley of despair and still grope in the wilderness of mutual suspicion. But even though our feet are weary and our minds worried, our eyes are still focussed on the promised land of Federalism and we shall all get there sooner than later. But how do we get there if it is not through mobilising all active patriotic and peaceful loving citizens towards a Referendum?
**Writer, panAfricanist and Peace Fellow2015 University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand
Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day in Washington, DC, dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"] Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. ]]>
Why all Anglophones are members of the SCNC
May 20, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Mwalimu George Ngwane*
Before and after the All Anglophone Lawyers’ Conference of 9th May 2015, claims and insinuations were linked to the real or imaginary interference of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) with the deliberations and outcome of the conference. As would be expected the conveners of the conference have gone at length to dissociate themselves from SCNC control as if the SCNC was a pariah organisation. SCNC is a product of the All Anglophone Conference (AAC) of 1993 and 1994 that brought together different shades of Anglophone opinion to be crystallized into a common vision. It was only after the Cameroon government failed to take on board proposals by the AAC that a new pressure group emerged like it is often the case in liberation theology to give visibility, potency and geo-political relevance and space to the Anglophone struggle. It is here that the SCNC was born. It was no more a liberation of a people as it was for a territory that freely opted for a Union in 1961 but got short changed on 20 May 1972 with a unitary state. From the perspective of colonial heritage and culture all Anglophones from the former Southern Cameroon are Southern Cameroonians, West Cameroonians, Anglophone Cameroonians or simply Anglophones with an innate urge to identify remotely or proximately with the ideals of the SCNC. It is this degree and variation of SCNC identity that has given rise to three categories of membership of Anglophones within the mainstream of the SCNC.
The emasculated SCNC members
They have lost their Anglophonehood even if their SCNC membership is still in their hearts but not in their heads. They are prepared to defy all facts that there is an Anglophone problem and quick to adhere to the pedagogy of the oppressed pontifications that we have gone so far in our nationhood that the clock cannot be turned back. As apologists of National Integration and National Unity they argue in both private and public discourse that Cameroon is one and indivisible. They sweep the grievances of Anglophones under the carpet with spurious arguments that even pygmies and other “minority” groups face the same marginalization feat like Anglophones and only a good leadership is needed to fix the broken templates. They feel that Cameroon’s future is ahead not behind since decentralization according to them is already in progress and we are living in peace. They militate for ten or more regions because such a structural set up does not divide the Anglophone population and merging the two Anglophone regions will never solve the Anglophone problem in a Republic whose majority is francophone. Their arguments hinge on a geo-administrative status quo that encourages and promotes healthy competition in development and one that obliges the compelling need to protect and guarantee the rights of the minorities and those of the indigenous people in the various localities. Brandishing issues of francophone/Anglophone divide goes against national interest and degenerates into emotions of conflict and war. They believe in being Cameroonians over and above being Anglophones since there is inter marriage, cross fertilization of local cuisines and music and the metaphorical unity around football way beyond the linguistic divide. They argue against a struggle based on colonial cultures when we are Africans dressed in imposed cultural robes. By and large members of this category have accepted francophone hegemony in all walks of life and buried their heads in the sands of illusions that integration is less evil than implosion. If a Referendum were to be conducted today as Article 48 (1) of our 1996 constitution intimates they would likely vote for a loose federation based on regions.
The eclipsed SCNC members
They believe in the Anglophone problem but at variance with the procedure which in their opinion may have a hidden secessionist agenda. SCNC membership oscillates between their heads and their hearts. They believe in the Anglophone problem but they also need a survival strategy that keeps their career intact and their promotions and appointments guaranteed. Though they believe in the Anglophone problem, they are more wary of their sister region hegemony than francophone domination. They appreciate the minimal but incremental fortunes gained as a result of the Anglophone struggle and therefore continue to argue that without necessarily belonging to one state, Anglophones can successfully fight and obtain what they want. Paradoxically they are always the primary beneficiaries of these minimal fortunes even after lashing out against those who crusaded for the fortunes. They may not be apologists of the status quo but are often worried about the outcome of a frontal confrontation to a restoration of the ante 1972 scenario. As such they prefer to stoke the flames of the Anglophone struggle from the background, avoid media discussions that would portray them as two-state Federalists or sit on the fence when pushed to the wall. They have virtually come to the conclusion that when push comes to shove they would rather live in conditions of negative peace than die trying to provide conditions of positive peace. If a Referendum were to be conducted today as Article 48 (1) of our 1996 constitution intimates, this category would have swing voters between a loose federation and a return to a two-state federation
The energetic SCNC members
They are publicly militant and vocal about the Anglophone problem or preferably the Southern Cameroon question. SCNC is in their heads, hearts and hands. They carry with them both the symbols and substance of the Anglophone struggle and their bodies bear the scars of incarcerations and military confrontations. Their bargaining chip is a restoration of the two-state federation and their achievement point is arguably the zero option. Either way their choice is based on law and justice, because as far as they are concerned the agreed term and condition that the union of Southern Cameroon and Republic of Cameroon shall take a federal form that shall benefit and protect the two Cameroons jointly and severally was abrogated by the 20 May 1972 Referendum. They argue that the imposition of the unitary state was unconstitutional, illegal and a breach of faith so the only redress adequate to right the wrongs done to Anglophone Cameroon and its people is a return to the two-state federation. Yet some of its members have shifted to a zero option which is a policy orientation that emphasizes total Self determination as against Restoration. They believe they have enough facts that attest to Southern Cameroons never having had a legal union with Republic of Cameroon. They argue that it is even futile to continue asking for a federal system because the francophone government has refused any negotiation. Indeed a Press Release issued by AAC Standing Committee on 20 November 1993 stated “The Standing Committee therefore gives notice that should government proceed with its Constitutional Reform proposal which ignore the Anglophone problem, the Anglophone people of Cameroon will have no choice but to set up their own sovereign and Independent state and to enact for that state, its own Constitution”. If a Referendum were to be conducted today as Article 48 (1) of our 1996 constitution intimates, this class would vote for sovereignty if it were a Referendum option or for a return to the ante 1972 status quo in the absence of the Separation option on the Referendum question.
*Writer, panAfricanist and Peace Fellow2015 University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand www.gngwane.com