God’s People of His Chosen land-Cameroon.
I am starting my speech by drawing the attention of this August meeting to the theme of the celebration of the 15th anniversary of reunification in 1987. It read, “determination à resserer les rangs en ces temps difficile-determination to close ranks in these difficult times”. What this meant, it has for these many years been put into practice favouring the Francophones only, while the Anglophones stayed astray finding it difficult to be part of that national arrangement.
As usual, the question of the Anglophones finding it difficult to be part of the national arrangement started as far back as 1961 that John Ngu Foncha (late) then Prime Minister, agreed to Unite West Cameroon (Anglophones) with La Republique du Cameroun (known as French Cameroon, before Independence). Looking at the union between the two sectors, the monolithic political system in which Ahidjo precipitated and absorbed all other parties into his own party, the Union Nationale Camerounaise (Cameroon National Union), which also affected political parties of West Cameroon, was the starting point of viciousness in the relationship.
Even though the viciousness of Ahidjo to get the Anglophones captive was not clearly seen by their political leaders, and if at all they saw the wind blowing from Ahidjo’s direction detrimental to the future political health of the Anglophones, greed could not have allowed them behave rationally. For no good reason, they accepted and allowed that political parties in West Cameroon be absorbed alongside those of East Cameroon. Later, because of the immense political activities that plagued the life of a young and fragile Nation, there was a need for a referendum that approved a Unitary State instead of a federation that was initially the come-together-agreement. This referendum took place on 20th May, 1972, and became the National day of the United Republic of Cameroon. The fact to be deduced here is that when Cameroon was a federation, there was the union of two states and when it was united, there was the unity of two states. How rational then did it become that a nation of two un-identical people in culture, automatically became a Republic instead of a Federal or United Republic?
In the history of this nation, reunification is the cornerstone of her existence. The sense here is that in reunification we brought one and added another one, giving us two in one. That stands clear to give us a Federal Republic or a United Republic . Anything out of this, could have been as a result of viciousness.
This Political viciousness carved for administrative purposes the nation initially into seven Provinces and latter into ten. Throughout, the Anglophones have remained a people of two Provinces only even though the population has grown so vast and there is also need to bring the government closer to the people. That’s quite crucial a point, with the nation evolving from the authoritarian rule of Ahidjo to world democracy (globalization), the provinces are not given any autonomy. All national arrangements knowingly or unknowingly are not equally distributed. In this unequal distribution, the Anglophones suffer most.
The assimilation of Anglophones by the Francophones has continued till date. Ahidjo did erase all Anglophone Political parties, but left CNU to protect the Francophone interest. Today, with the multiparty system that Cameroon had to embrace reluctantly because of world democracy, the Francophones are doing everything possible to encourage political parties of their zone, but frustrating those of the Anglophone zone. The last nail they want to place on the Anglophone political parties is their intention to give campaign money only to parties in the Parliament. This they want the government to do because they know that it will benefit only the Francophone parties and more liquidity will go to the Francophone zone, while the Anglophones remain on their dry rocks of reunification. Even SDF will have little or nothing to benefit in the interest of the Anglophones.
Bilingualism has gained prominence as an instrument of Unity, but a vital point still remains in its implementation as to who needs which language the more. With the continuation of Ahidjo’s authoritarian rule that centralizes all government transactions in Yaoundé, and the possibility of the language of the environment (French) having advantage over the distant language (English,) there is every conclusion that Anglophones are not happy with the marriage of Foncha / Ahidjo. Take an old father on retirement that would have peacefully stayed in his house and all that concerns him meets him in his province of origin, he is asked to go to Yaoundé where he discovers nothing but a serious communication barrier and he comes back frustrated. Would you want him to accept to the world that he is a Cameroonian? Would you want him to tell the world that in Cameroon there is equal treatment? The answers are blowing in the wind.
Following Ahidjo’s resignation on 6th November, 1982, President Biya promised every Cameroonian that he was going to uphold all the issues that must keep Cameroon together, and improving on them if need be. The question I have to ask from my political plat-form stands, “Is the President getting the cry of the Anglophones at all, or there are some barriers along the line preventing the cry of his people getting right to him?” If he is getting the cry, it would be fair that he acts in accordance to the promise that he made to his people in 1982. If there are barriers, we promise him assistance in the struggle to take them off the line of communication. We want him to be President of all Cameroonians and all Cameroonians will want their cry to get to their President. Let every Cameroonian feel proud to say, “ I am a Cameroonian, and will die a Cameroonian”.
One other important point of the viciousness in the marriage of Ahidjo / Foncha is the fact that the Anglophone Colonial master left for good, but up till today, France still have their tentacle in Cameroon to control not only the Francophones, but the entire nation with the Anglophones inclusive. What is the rationale? Our account books standing with France are always in red and this affects the Anglophones who had nothing in common with France from the beginning. Cameroon remains France’s biggest trading partner in the black Africa, but Cameroon will never have a favorable balance of payment. France controls most foreign investments in Cameroon will never have a favorable balance of payments. Her total investment in the country is above seventy percent Cameroon’s total investments. With the French language as a barrier to Anglophones, as the French will want to engage only those who can speak and write French well , the Anglophones are left with a few places to go for employment with their English language. Thus, the Francophone does not need English Language to survive, but the Anglophone needs French Language desperately for his survival. Therefore, bilingualism is just a government policy on paper, but little can it be found serving Cameroon for all Cameroonians. In our marketsh, street, villages etc; are the both languages commonly use?
France’s political and military bonds with Cameroon are aimed principally at creating a conducive atmosphere for business which the Francophones benefit, leaving the Anglophones on the dry rocks of reunification. In the Cameroon service sector, the hands of France are almost in every registered corporation. Again those who benefit are the Francophones because of the language barrier that keeps the Anglophones off the race. I am at this point picking no axe to grind with France and the Francophones, but I am just in my capacity as a political party leader of a legalized political party requesting that the government of Cameroon should know that the Anglophones actually have a problem and if the government continues to ignore the Anglophone problem, it will remain to be nothing but a time –bomb and might possibly end up as the destiny of our children. Whichever direction we look at Cameroon, the Anglophones have been left on the bare rock of reunification for too long. From 1972 till date is quite a period for patients to have its limits. The load has been quite heavy. Let the cry be listened to now for the unity, peace, socio-economic and political growth of the entire country-twin brothers. After all, the situation is not quite bad and a quick stitch on time saves nine for the good of the present Cameroon and will become the destiny of the Cameroon of tomorrow.
The Anglophones are not complaining unnecessarily. They are actually feeling the pains of depression. Their children can not withstand the pains and have gone wild into parts of the world to be more of slaves than free citizens of a beloved land that God created for them. We must remember that a child is an old man’s walking – stick. But the children have all abandoned their parents to die in misery because the socio economic and political condition is not conducive. How can these children stay at home? Let us as parents look at ourselves, and answer the question, “ has it been easy to survive as an Anglophone?”
At times, I sit with crossed arms and a question like this comes into my head, “If some heads were to be cut and placed by the road-side, and God had to pass-by to pick one that was as empty with nothing in it at all, will he find such a useless head easily among the Anglophones? Why is it that they can not fit where the Francophones easily can fit? Are they a cursed people and what for God’s sake could have been their crime?
We all love this country and will all die as Cameroonians. On behalf of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP), I give my support to good proposals that are geared towards redressing the Anglophone problem. We are not prepared for any separation, for we have been condemned to be citizens of Cameroon. We are but requesting for a fair treatment. No good mother feeds one child at mid-night leaving the other, and just to feed all of them again when all are awake. She has exposed her divided love and the child cheated has a right to cry for justice. There is no democracy without justice.
To end my presentation, ladies and gentlemen, I, on behalf of Cameroon Peoples Party (CPP), wish to strongly uphold the launching of the movement for a referendum as the best alternative to the Anglophone Southern Cameroons problem.
Long Live searchers of true Cameroon brotherhood
Long live Cameroon
Rev. Prof. Tita Fon Samuel
Hononary National Chairman, Founder and Father
Cameroon People’s Party (CPP)