Danger of Belittling the Anglophone Problem in Cameroon

Nation-States address issues that affect their collective well being in a decisive way. They do not try to cover up or abandon the masses so that they continue to live with the problem pretending that it does not exist. The attitude of the Yaounde regime towards the Anglophone problem is a case in point. We are all aware of the tension that usually grips the Biya regime whenever the month of October approaches. It is the month we hear of secessionist agitators being caught and tortured or even killed in the English speaking parts of Cameroon.

Sometimes they are incarcerated and at times arrayed before the courts of the land, only to be discharged and acquitted.

Like Peterkins Manyong, guest writer in his news analysis column in The Guardian Post stated, “October 1 has come to be associated with arrests, torture and incarceration of Southern Cameroonian activists.”

It is sheer mental folly for the regime to continue believing that a people can be coerced to forget their history; blind-folded for ever; or that unity and integration can be achieved through the use of force.

There are fundamental facts of history which Cameroonians must accept and which we must collectively address so as to move this nation forward in a spirit of harmony and mutual respect.

Some of them include the fact that the Anglophone population of this country had an opportunity of belonging to a state of their own but the colonial ‘masters’ denied them that privilege; that the political fore fathers of that part of Cameroon made serious political blunders which the Yaounde regime has continued to exploit to the advantage of the Francophone majority; that Anglophones are capable of correcting these political errors if they collectively want to; that not addressing the Anglophone problem is tantamount to provocation, rejection and belittling of Anglophones by the Yaounde regime; that the policy of materially empowering a few Anglophones so that they continue to act as sell outs to their brothers is a strategy that will not stand the test of time.

Patriotic Cameroonians of the present generation want to see a nation that is being built on structures that will earn them the respect of posterity. We believe it is time for Cameroonians to produce their own Washingtons, Mandellas, Mao Tse Tungs and others, who were selfless and sacrificed their entire lives to lay foundations that did not just move their nations forward but enabled humanity as a whole to continue copying from.

Constitution and nation building

The Constitution of every nation is like a mirror that the people use to appraise themselves every time they want to go into the public. It is a document that even outsiders can look at and see the wisdom, goodwill, genuineness, and how the wellbeing of all factions of the nation are either protected or undermined.

For now, the Anglophone problem is traceable to the uninformed inputs Anglophone politicians have always made into that document. Also, cries of marginalization will always be treated lightly because Anglophones have never collectively sought to see their own rights and privileges protected constitutionally.

This is a truth the regime is quite aware of but keeps blindfolding a few naïve Anglophones to continue supporting a system that is glaringly to their collective disadvantage and shame.

Culture of deifying personalities

Africans are prone to seeing their former colonial maters as role models. But this culture of turning political leaders into demigods is not a colonial heritage. Leaders like Bill Clinton, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and even Tony Blair did not leave office because they were found wanting. Rather, it was because either the constitution or the times necessitated a change in the system. Pro-capitalist and pro-socialist policies have always alternated in the old democracies.

The culture of African leaders tinkering with the constitution to perpetuate one system is undemocratic. Like Professor Tazoacha Asonganyi who quoted Immanuel Kant in one of his write ups in The Guardian Post stated, “There should be no contract made to shut off any further enlightenment; that any such contract is null and void even if confirmed by the supreme power, by parliament and by the most ceremonial of peace treaties.” Over the past 35 years of the Biya regime, Cameroon has retrogressed to a point where all her neighbours who formerly envied her now ridicule her. Anglophones keep wondering whether it was right for them to have chosen to reunify and build a greater Cameroon rather than stay on their own. Vices that were discouraged in the first Republic like bureaucratic exclusion, tribalism, corruption among others have been permitted to become a cancer that wants to kill Cameroon.

The Biya regime should give way for the third Republic so that Cameroonians can go back to the drawing board and put the country back on its rails. If not, secessionist agitations will not only continue to smear the image of Cameroon as a modern nation-state, but would eventually threaten her very existence.