9 Capital Sins Francophones Committed Against Anglophones

By Maurice Nguepe

On 1st January 1960, French Cameroun comes out of colonization and gains her independence from France.During this period, Anglophone Cameroon is still under British rule. The résolution 1352 of the UNO authorises Britain to organise a referendum to either join its Cameroon colonies either to Nigéria or to French Cameroun.

On 11 February 1961, the said referendum is organized and British Northern Cameroon votes to join Nigéria, while British Southern Cameroon votes to join French Cameroun, now La Republic du Cameroun.

            It was thus two separate states and two different systems that had decided to cohabit.

Later, the UNO adopts resolution 1608 of 21 April 1961 to end British trusteeship in Southern Cameroons. The resolution also gave the mandate for the holding of a conference to discuss the form and other modalities of the new state.

The Foumban Conference of 16 to 21 July 1961 was therefore in response and in line with the spirit of this resolution. It fixed the modalities of power sharing. The Constitution which resulted from the conference not only consecrated the birth of a federated state but also sealed its inviolability.

Two important positions were created to saveguard this federal structure: the posts of President and Vice president of the Federal Republic.

Two months after the Foumban conference Southern Cameroons gained her independence on 1st October 1961 and immediately became joined to La Republique du Cameroun according to resolution 1608 of the UNO and in respect of the « yes » vote of the 11 February 1961 referendum and the Foumban accords.

The Nine Capital Sins Of Francophones

            1) The Foumban Conference: The first deception of Anglophones by Francophones started at the Foumban Conference with the unilateral debates. Here the UNO that by virtue of the resolution 1608, had to accompany the Anglophones in the negociations to form a new state with French Cameroun, was absent, same for Britain, the former colonial master. On her part, France, the colonial master of French Cameroon, accompanied the delegation led by Ahidjo to Foumban.

The context of deception and manipulations was thus planted in Foumban, where Ahidjo presented a draft constitution prepared by his French masters. Evidently ill-prepared, the Southern Cameroon delegation only had to read through Ahidjo’s constitution and propose some amendments, most of which were rejected.

 

3) The Illegal referendum of 1972

            In 1970 Limbe was discovered to have huge petrol deposits. In order to be able to have total control of the black gold, France forces Ahidjo to organize a referendum in 1972 to put an end to the federated structure of the country.

           This other referendum for three reasons was the second deception by Francophones of Anglophones. Firstly i twas organized in utter violation of the federal constitution which talked of the inviolability of the structure of the state; secondly it violated the the terms of the Foumban accords which guaranteed the autonomy of the governments of the two federated states and defined the modalities of power sharing between the two states; then, instead of organizing the referendum only in the Southern Cameroon to measure the acceptability of Anglophones to stay in a unitary and not a federal state, Ahidjo extended the referendum to include the two federated states, with French Cameroon having 80% of the total population of the country. The “yes” vote was therefore resounding and automatic.

            For Anglophones, the proclamation of « yes » amounted to a civilian coup d’etat and signaled the beginning of their annexation by and assimilation by French Cameroon.

  1. The suppression of the post of vice-president (1972)

            The first vice-president of the federal republic of Cameroon was John Ngu Foncha (1961-1970), the second was Solomon Tandeng Muna (1970-1972). The post of vice-président of the federal republic made its Anglophone occupants the potential successors to the Presidency after the Francophone president.

            But giving the dissolution of the federal structure through the 1972 referendum, the new unitary constitution suppressed unilaterally and definitely, the function of vice president. So, between 1972 and 1975 there was no institutional provision for the function of second personality of the state. And the Anglophones became forgotten. This was the third capital sin, the third deception by Francophone.

  1. The post of Prime Minister in the new constitution (1975-1982)

            In the new post-referendum constitution, the post of Prime Minister was created in 1975 and its occupant became the second personality and sucessor to the president. If the tradition of alternation had to be respected as was dictated in the federal constitution, the post of PM had to go to the Anglophones once the president is Francophone.  But it was handed to another Francophone, Paul Biya. This was the fourh capital sin of Francophones. The two former vice-president, Fonch and Muna saw themselves given respectively the powerless positions of vice-president of the party and president of the national assembly. Anglophones were thus distanced from the leadership of a country that they had joined with love.

  1. Paul Biya unilaterally creates the republic of Cameroon (1982-1984)

            After five years as prime minister, Paul Biya had become sufficiently groomed in the tactics of politics and politicking. Ahidjo now peacefully hands the command baton to him. Without passing through a referendum, Paul Biya in 1984 unilaterally modified the constitution and deleted the word united from the name of the country and thus created present day republic of Cameroon. By this singular act, Biya commits the fifth capital sin against Anglophones, the fifth deception, barely two years of taking over power, as if he was handed power only for this reason. That was how Francophones were able to falsify the history of the two Cameroons and eroded the Anglo-saxon heritage of the Anglophones.

            For six years running, John Ngu Foncha tried without success to get Biya to call a franc dialogue between Francophones and Anglophones. Frustrated, he resigned his post as Vice President of the CPDM party and allowed Biya to fully assume responsibility for the new developments in the country. In his resignation letter Foncha wrote: “All through my 40 years of political career, I led the campaigns for the unification of the two Cameroons; I moved from village to village in East Cameroon, at the risk of my life, to calm down the terrorism that was rocking the country….

            During this period i won the confidence of many Cameroonians, and when the first elections were to be organized many requested me to stand against Ahidjo. But I decided to keep the post of vice-president just to avoid unnecessary conflicts and possible bloodshed…. (Today), in my rather exalted capacity as vice-president of our national party, i find it difficult to use my position to influence any political decision of the party and the nation, and this is because my multiple requests to meet the president in audience to talk with him on important issues affecting the state have been systematically frustrated. All memos I wrote and sent to him on important questions of national interest were simply ignored…..i have therefore decided to tender my resignation with effect from today, 9 June 1990.”

  1. Biya’s bad governance (1982-1990)

            Despite the frustrations born of the constitutional modification of 1984, Biya still does nothing to appease Anglophones. He discourages the development of the Anglophone regions and allows the Anglo-saxon heritage and infrastructures to fall into decrepitude. In his resignation letter of 9 June 1990, J. N. Foncha painted described the bad governance between 1982 and 1990 in very pathetic words. He wrote:«All the projects that i initiated in the former West Cameroon have been poorly managed or abandoned to ruin, for example Cameroon Bank, West Cameroon Marketing Board, West Cameroon Cooperative, etc. Even though as spent my whole life fighting to get a deep seaport created in Limbe (Victoria), the project has been abandoned…. All the roads in West Cameroon that my government built and/or maintained have been destroyed, rendering travel through Mamfe-Kumba, Mamfe-Bamenda, Bamenda-Wum, Kumbo-Wum, Kumbo-Bamenda impossible by road.

            All these projects have been put on hold even as petrol from Limbe is generating enough money to build the roads and the Limbe deep seaport. What’s worse, all employment projects and laws sanctioning appointments in the government and its allied services have been revised or modified at the detriment of Anglophones. The people that I brought into the union with French Cameroon have been ridiculed and called “Biafrans” or “enemies in the house”.

            The rights and constitutional provisions that protected the rights of the Anglophone minority have been suppressed, their voices have been submerged, while the rule of armed force has replaced the dialogue that Anglophones so cherish. The national media has been used by the government through some persons who never fought for unification, to misinform Anglophones. Lies have been told in the media to discredit and isolate Anglophones who voted for unification. They have been treated with hatred and scorned by other Cameroonians.

            Embezzlement of state funds and illicit money transfers out of the country by the ruling class has become the rule. The constitution that is supposed to be the supreme law has been flouted and manipulated with impunity.

            Under Biya, the unitary status of the republic of Cameroon has destroyed everything that was constructed by the federated state of West Cameroon, and this explains the disappointment of Anglophones around 1990. Since 1990 Anglophone have been reciting Foncha’s name in their hearts, but because they are pacifists, they decided to try another opening for dialogue with the creation of a political party, the SDF.

  1. Enter SDF and the theft of Fru Ndi’s victory (1990-1997)

            In a very intelligent manner, the Anglophones launched the SDF party in 1990 and forced Paul Biya to yield to calls for multi-partism. SDF attracts massive crowds in both the Anglophone as well as the Francophone regions. In the first multi-party elections in 1992, SDF leader, Fru Ndi, defeats Paul Biya but the victory is stolen by Biya, who supported by the army bigwigs, puts Fru Ndi under house arrest. This was the 7th capital sin of the Francophhones, and perhaps the drop of water that fills the basin. The next will make it to overflow.

  1. The metaphor of two cubes of sugar in a basin of water (2016-2018)

            The metaphor of two cubes of sugar in a basin of water is that drop of water that caused the basin to overflow. SDF MP, Hon. Joseph Wirba, presented it in parliament succinctly as, saying a Francophone government minister said in the national assembly thus : “The situation of Anglophones in Cameroon is like putting two cubes of sugar in a basin full of water.”

            Overwhelmed by this metaphor, the MP Wirba went to the Francophone minister of Higher Education and told him what his colleague had said. He also drew his attention to the military brutality that Anglophones are subjected to and warned him that there is violence on the horizon. In response Fame Ndongo tells him: “Hon Wirba, your people chose to join us. So what will you do?” In an outing in the national assembly in december 2016, hon. Wirba said: «We have made all efforts necessary. Our ancestors and grandparents had confidence in you. They thought two peoples who consider themselves as brothers, could decide to come together and live together as one. A minister said in this house that what happened to Cameroon is like dropping two cubes of sugar in a basin of water. Who is the water and who is the sugar? If this is what you are telling us after 55 years then those who are advocating division of the country are right. The people of Southern Cameroons will never be your slaves, and you cannot conquer them even through war. When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty. We will resist your oppression!

  1. Police and Military Brutality (2016-2018)

            Anglophone lawyers angered by Francophone magistrates using French and French law to try cases in Anglophone courts, decided to march in protest, and to call for the restoration of Common Law in Anglophone Cameroon. For their part, Anglophone teachers challenging the fact that Francophone teachers are sent to teach Anglophone students in French, also took to the streets in protest. Both protest marches met wih brutality from police and gendarmes. Anglophone civil societies come together and create the ‘Consortium’ to continue with non-violent protests. But their leaders are arrested and thrown in jail. They are charged with terrorism. The populations are terrorized by the army. The police and military violence is proof of government’s refusal of the dialogue proposed by Anglophones. This was the ninth sin of the Francophones against Anglophones. And it created the dramatic violence that we are witnessing today. The radicalism takes root from the brutality visited on civilians by the military.

            The will for independence thus becomes stronger than that for dialogue or the return to federalism or even the application of the Common Law. On 1st October 2017, Anglophones take to the streets to march and proclaim their independence. The army pounces on them, shooting at them with life bullets. More than 100 are killed and over 500 are arrested. Left with no option, Anglophones take up arms, and the situation is what we are experiencing today.

By Maurice Nguepe

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