This Trail Of Events pitting Minority Anglophone Cameroon against Majority Francophone Cameroon have Slowly but Surely Escalated over the last 58-Years and is now a Time-ticking Bomb that might Horrendously Explode If Swift, Responsive and Collective Redress Measures shall not be taken
Until after world war 1, Cameroon was a German Colony (German Kamerun) only to later get split into two with the greater Central Cameroon coming under French and smaller Southern Cameroon coming under Britain
The greater Central Cameroon gained their independence from France in 1960 and became de la Republique du Cameroon (Republic of Cameroon)
The British Cameroon that bordered Nigeria was being administered as one by Britain but Britain’s attention was greatly channeled to its Nigeria Colony leaving Southern Cameroon out; In a unique UN-mandated referendum of 1961, English-speaking Southern Cameroon who were mostly Christians (Anglophone) voted to join their French speaking (Francophone) counterparts while their English-Speaking Cameroon in the North who were mostly Muslims voted to join the purely Anglophone Nigeria. The will of this vote is respected although a few Anglophone Cameroon saw their joining a great Francophone Cameroon as journey to getting assimilated to a foreign way of life.
The now free Anglophone South Cameroon under UNGA RESOLUTION 1608 and via the terms of the Foumban Conference of July 1961 led by Anglophone KNDP Party leader John Ngu Foncha accepted to form a Federation with the Francophone Cameroon merging with Anglophone Cameroon to become a Federation of two States with plans to form a Confederation put into consideration; The Federal Republic of Cameroon under Francophone Cameroon first President Ahmadou Ahidjo with Anglophone’s John Ngu Foncha becoming the first Vice President of the now Federal Republic was formed later in 1961.Two stars were added to the former French Cameroon Flag to symbolize the Federation with Anglophones Chiefs Assembly allowed to operate. Other critical Anglophones demands were turned down like the creation of Federal Government Capitals in Douala and Buea, revision of the National Anthem and institution of a Britain-like structure of parliament at the Federal Government Parliament.
A power sharing agreement was reached; the Executive arm of the Federal Government was to be shared between the Francophones and Anglophones but even then, this was not adequately honoured and this marked the start of Anglophone political marginalization hence economic and social raw deals for the English-speaking Cameroon.
1972-President Ahmadou to the surprise of many and against the dictates of Clause 1 of article 47 of the Federal Constitution agreement and other rationales announced a National referendum vote with the question of ‘Do you approve with a view of consolidating national unity and accelerating the economic, social and cultural development of the nation, the draft constitution submitted to the people of Cameroon and instituting a republic one and indivisible to be styled the united republic of Cameroon’?; 99.9% of a highly turned outpoll exercise voted YES to this. This result immediately abolished the Federal State of Cameroon and replaced it with a Unitary State; the United Republic of Cameroon.
The rationale, process and outcome of this 1972 referendum has always been surrounded by controversy being termed as a ploy to annexation and subjugation of the Anglophones. John Ngu Foncha (Anglophones first Vice President) was in 1994 at Yaounde quoted saying ‘I can state here and now that the people of South Cameroon would not have voted in favor of unification (the historic 1961 referendum) if it had not been for the assurance given that the resulting Union would take the form of a Federation’; he went further to say ‘these same people never participated in drawing up the unitary constitution of 1972 which was imposed upon them in a nationwide referendum’.
It’s greatly alleged that President Ahmadou’s decision to abolish the federal state of Cameroon to a unitary state was heavily influenced by the then France President Georges Pompidou since the 1972 unitary referendum was conducted almost immediately after he came back from a trip to Paris.
Apart from installing a unitary government; the 1972 referendum made English and French the national official languages but stated the French version of the constitution as supreme in interpreting and settling conflicts should they arise. It also declared that no procedure to amend it if the intention is to impair the Republican character or the territorial integrity of (the now) unitary republic would be accepted. There was no public awareness or debate on the details of this 1972 constitution prior to its passing as no one dared to question the word of President Ahmadou who was fast growing to a fully-fledged dictator with Anglophones seeing his moves as their gradual subjugation into the Francophone majority.
Solomon Tandeng Muna an Anglophone pledged support for the 1961 Federal system but advocated creation of a single political party and unitary system for all using the slogan ‘one country, one government, one flag, one currency’; this matched President Ahmadous’s policy and motive and in 1968 he appointed him as the Prime Minister of Federal Province of West Cameroon and in 1970 he overrode the Federal Constitution Clause that barred one from holding two government positions and again appointed him as his Second Vice President in 1970-1972 easing out his first Vice President John Ngu Foncha paving way for a smooth move towards a Unitary State later in 1972.
Solomon Tandeng Muna (former PM & VP) was in 1973 elected as the Speaker of the Unitary Cameroon National Assembly where he served all the way up to 1988.The 1972 Unitary Constitution had established the Speaker of the National Assembly as the Successor to the President. On May 1975 an amendment that created the position of the Prime Minister was made and Paul Biya was on June 1975 appointed as the Prime Minister;1979 another amendment that changed Constitutional Succession of the President from being the Speaker to the Prime Minister was successfully made strategically edging out S.T Muna and Anglophones from ever getting into the all-powerful top position of the President.
1982-again in a surprise move President Ahmadou announced his retirement after 22 years as President and announced Paul Biya (Francophone) the Prime Minister then and his long-time associate as his Successor and handed over power to him tactfully edging out Anglophones for his fellow Francophone who up to now holds that very powerful position.
Immediately after taking over in 1982, President Biya with policies similar to those of his predecessor split the Anglophone population into North-West and South-West regions in 1983 and in 1984 changed the Cameroon from being the United Republic of Cameroon to how it used to be called in 1960 when it was purely Francophone as the Republic of Cameroon and stripped off the two symbolic stars on the Federation Flag further aggravating the Anglophone population.
Anglophone uprisings for more freedom ever since 1961 have been met by Government Clampdown and shortchanging gimmicks but their rebellion has kept growing strong and vocal nevertheless; the current Constitution of Cameroon includes amendments adopted to the 1972 Constitution in 1996 due to the ever increasing Anglophone pressure to have the 1961 Federal State reinstated but none of those 1996 amendments has been implemented to date.
Among the many troubles endured by the Anglophone Cameroonians who are around 5 Million People or 20% of Cameroon’s 25 Million People include:
Imposition of French as the working language in common law courts even in their regions, school systems, Government publications among many other acts that they feel are attempts to assimilate and subjugate them into the Francophone life like the President making some of his National addresses in French.
Being categorized as ethnic groups and tribes unlike before 1972 when they were recognized as one of the State in the Federation.
Their economic engines have been locked up to make them dependent to Yaounde;the Capital of Cameroon that is largely Francophone.
Little to no representation in the arms of Government for instance its reported they have less than Five of their own in a 36-Government Cabinet; this goes even in other key institutions like the military.
Allocation of National resources is only concentrated in Francophone regions leaving them as beggars in their own land.
Many cases of harassment and unfair treatment from the Francophone majority in Social and Economic spheres of life.
Anglophone Cameroon Secession Struggle
An Anglophone Lawyers, Teachers and Pressure Groups street protest started building up in 2016 and on the first day of October 2017 it intensified to a full-scale protest demanding their independence from Francophone Cameroon; the Government reacted by sending its soldiers to quell this which saw a violent confrontation that left over 10 dead with hundreds badly maimed and jailed. Later that very day (symbolic of the 1961 date when they voted to join French Cameroon) Anglophone Separatist Leaders declared the independence of their New Nation to be called AMBAZONIA brandishing their already designed Flag. This protest came days after the Government had banned all gatherings of more than four people and ordered a shutdown of all businesses imposing a strict curfew.
Ever since that October 1st 2017 to date there has been a protracted armed bloody confrontation between Anglophone Secession Guerilla Armies under ‘Ambazonia Defense Forces’ and Government Military trying to quell the armed resistance staged by the ADF Militia who over the last 27 Months have demonstrated a solemn Resolve in Quest for their Independence.
With little outside Attention from the Media;Local and International,Zero Mediation Attempts from its Neighbours and the International Community,Sickening Casualness from both the African Union and the United Nations who are supposed to take Firm Action amidst this Mayhem;Anglophone Cameroon continues to Burn and Bleed with the Social Media awash with ghastly graphic images and videos depicting extreme Human torture and mass slain bodies. This ongoing Secession War has so far seen over 3000 Civilians Dead with over 600,000 others displaced with even a greater number of those who are hiding in the Forest unaccounted for, over 150 Anglophone Villages have been burnt to ashes in these Clashes.
President Paul Biya’s Attempt to find Solution
Cameroon President Paul Biya has however made a Notable Attempt to find an amicable Solution to this War with the recent October 2019 5-Days ‘Cameroon National Dialogue’ #CameroonDialogue that he initiated to try and find an amicable Solution to a 2-Years+ ongoing Secession War and Bloodshed that began on October 1,2017.The Dialogue was however boycotted by Key Secession Leaders who said their Pre-Dialogue Conditions key among them being the Withdrawal of the Government Military from Anglophone Cameroon Regions and the Release of ‘Ambazonia Governing Council’ President Mr Ayuk Tabe who also happens to be the President of the unrecognized ‘Republic of Ambazonia’ and 9 of his Ambazonia Interim Government Members who were Convicted for Life Imprisonment with $422 Million Fine by a Military Court on August 20,2019 were ignored.
The Outcome and Recommendations of this 5-Days National Dialogue #CmrDialogue to find a Solution to Cameroon’s#AnglophoneCrisis were on December 18,2019 passed by Cameroon’s Parliament as a “Special Status Devolution Bill” that now awaits Cameroon’s Senate Approval to become Law.Once passed this Law shall give the troubled Anglophone Cameroon Power to form a Devolved Regional Government that shall develop their own Education,Justice,Economic,Health,Social and Cultural Systems.
Secession Leaders and some Anglophone Legislators have however maintained that the only way out of this deadly Stalemate is to grant Anglophone Cameroon Full Independence to form their own Independent State (Ambazonia) from the Majority Francophone Cameroon.
86-Years old President Paul Biya now in his 37th Year in Power after successfully defending his Position against a weakened opposition in what Cameroon’s Opposition,Democracy Activists described as a Sham Election on October 2018 is now on course for his 7th Term;a new 7-Years Mandate that will see him clinch a Record 43-Years in Power by 2025 when the Country is expected to hold another Presidential Election.
The Conviction of Ayuk Tabe and 9 of his Comrades to Life Imprisonment on August 20,2019 has further strengthened the Anglophone Cameroon Resolve for Secession and now the future of Cameroon is Tense and Unpredictable with an overhanging Fear of a Full-scale Bloodbath in Anglophone Cameroon if SWIFT, RESPONSIVE and MOST IMPORTANTLY COLLECTIVE REDRESS MEASURES SHALL NOT BE TAKEN.