President Biya of the Cameroun Republic made his New Year wishes to his people promising to deal severely with the uprisings in the Southern Cameroons, AKA Ambazonia.
His message came almost three months after Common Law Lawyers and teachers’ trade unions started sit down strikes, which quickly attracted other segments of the population.
Without violence from the population, the police and paramilitary provoked the peaceful protesters into running street battles. The military used life bullets ending in a very high death toll, rape, torture and kidnapping of some protesters who have since been unaccounted for.
Beyond all expectations, President Biya refused to sympathize with the grieving families in his New Year speech. He instead promised to deal with protesters who have desecrated the symbols of the Cameroun nation like burning the flag and destroying property.
In reaction to Biya’s end of year message, Ambazonians condemned the arrogance and violence of the occupying forces of the Cameroun republic, accusing them of stagnating progress in West Cameroon for 55 years.
“Ambazonia has been treated like a colony conquered by the Cameroun Republic. All our institutions (Cameroon Bank, Powercam, Marketing Board, Wada, Santa Coffee etc) have been dissolved. We would have been an emerging country if we were allowed to manage our affairs.” David Njousi Abang, a Southern Cameroons activist said.
Other activists and sympathizers of Ambazonia conclude that 55 years is a very long time for a supposed brother to oppress his counterpart with deceit, contempt and such nefarious crimes.
In his speech, Biya promises dialogue with the teachers and lawyers’ associations. The reality on the ground is that the quotas of those attending the dialogue are tipped with an overbearing majority of Francophones who have no sympathies with or understanding of the Anglophone problems.
“We are afraid the charade of dialogue, which has been hijacked by Francophones is deceptively projected as the abundant goodwill of the Cameroun Republic to listen to Ambazonia. This is proof of bad faith.” Njousi David opined.
Biya proposed the use of the institutions of the republic which provide for peaceful protest. Unfortunately, the antiterrorism laws voted by parliament in 2015 proscribe any unlawful assembly of more than five people or any street marches. The 2015 laws abrogate the 1996 constitution which in its preamble provides for freedom of speech, assembly and guarantee the right to protest.
The comparison of the activities of Common Law lawyers and teachers to the terrorist activists of Boko Haram, suggests that Biya would continue treating the Anglophone protest marches as terrorism.
Biya’s emphasis, that Cameroon is one and indivisible, flies in the face of logic and history. History teaches us that the act of union between the Cameroun republic and Southern Cameroons was never done. Cameroon has never been one and indivisible.
Muhammed Tikwrit, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, in 2010, presented two distinct maps of the Cameroons to Paul Biya, reminding him of the distinctiveness of both countries. One map was that of the Cameroun Repblic and the second map was that of Southern Cameroons. In the highest legislating offices of the world, the Cameroons carry an ‘s’ pointing to two separate Cameroons which according to the United Nations records have never been united.
This fact should never be disputed by pseudo historians and the proto intellectuals that Biya surrounds himself with. The Professors Fame Ndongo (greatest devil around Biya) Professor Abwa and Victor Julius Ngoh have failed to educate this old man who has forgotten the history of Cameroon.
If Biya professed willful blindness, he must borrow a leaf from the Episcopal letter from the bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, who have canceled their colonial pact to support the administration and businesses to oppress citizens. They have succinctly summarized the Cameroonian story for anybody who hates to read and be instructed by history.
Let us imagine that Biya is right that our forebears signed a blood pact of unity with the Cameroun Republic, would we be going against their wishes to ask for an improvement of our status? Has Biya forgotten that Dr. John Ngu Foncha resigned from the Cameroon Peoples Demolition Movement (CPDM) because of the suffering of the Anglophones? Should we remind Biya that before transiting from this world, Foncha and his pro-unification allies tried to right their wrongs by taking a big delegation to the United Nations Organization? In fact, Foncha and Muna died with a deep pain in their hearts seeing what mess they took their people into. This must be reversed.
The rest of Biya’s speech was filled with the same platitudes of his three decades in power. He ventured apologies for inertia, bad governance, inability to emerge in spite the huge human and natural resources in Cameroon.
Promises for development projects need no commentary as this only creates avenues for his friends to embezzle money from state coffers. These woes might soon be blamed on Southern Cameroonians and the hidden hands from abroad, as Biya hinted.
For the New Year 2017, Ambazonians would have to redouble their efforts to free themselves, knowing that freedom is never negotiated with the oppressor. The oppressor must be beaten to his game. Any retreat means permanent persecution, murders and kidnappings.
Cameroun Republic considers Ambazonians as Biafrans (Nigerians) and enemies in the house but they do not want us to go because they would be losing all our wealth and natural resources.
Ambazonia has an abundance of oil, water, forests and farmlands. Cameroun has been signing contracts and selling our lands at giveaway prices to foreign concerns without consulting us.
Herakles Farms (aka SG-SOC or Sithe Global Sustainable Oils Cameroon) was given 73,000 hectares by Cameroun government dispossessing 40,000 Ambazonians of their livelihoods and homes for 99 years. If we were one country, Cameroun would not lease out a hectare of Ambazonia land in Mundemba, Toko or Nguti at 250 F (US 50 cents) as surface rents a year, while a similar hectare in Penja and Njombe is leased at 150,000 to 200,000 FCFA (US 445 dollars). If Biya loved Ambazonians he would not allow herders to travel from Mali and Niger through Ngaoundere to come and destroy food crops in the North West Region of Cameroon and his administrators and security protect these grazers.
Biya could not love Anglophones and make it difficult for them to enter professional schools. Less than 5 percent of Anglophones succeed in getting into professional schools. They are presented as less competent, but the few Ambazonians who manage to leave Cameroun, emerge as the best in their fields all over the world from America through Canada to England.
In spite these gross discrepancies and marginalization that Anglophones took to the streets to dramatize, Biya ended his speech without saying how he was going to resolve their grievances.
Biya’s end of year speech was a missed opportunity. It came close to pouring petrol on the fire when he chose to bully the protesters. Ambazonians would wake up with a bleak dawn not knowing what would happen the next moment. Such an atmosphere is very unproductive and resembles a trap.
Fon Christopher Achobang
Social Commentator, Human rights activist