One of the most difficult things to understand in Cameroon politics is why any one would support the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Party (CPDM). I had some years back, classed them as a bunch of people who celebrate mediocrity. However, when Biya declared his intention to stand for president – AGAIN, I was shocked to see members of the party supporting this bid. The most disturbing justification given by most of them is that Biya is their natural candidate and that no one can perform the job as good as he does.
This assertion is weird in many ways. First, the fact that Biya is over 86 years old, has been president for 36 years with nothing to show for it. Second is the fact that even if Biya were to win another term, there is no guarantee that he will live above 90 given his constant medical trips to Swticerland. The question that has always plagued my mind is what will happen to this party when nature takes its course and Biya leaves the stage? One thing to note is that Biya currently is the emblem of the party. Every party uniform or publicity material carries a more than 30 years old picture of Biya. It seems however, that like Biya, the militants of this party are happy to see Cameroon sink.
But not one lady who identifies herself as Solange Siret and her residence as Switzerland. In a self-made video that had been making its rounds on social media, Solange has finally decided that enough is enough.
Wearing her party uniform and ensuring that Biya’s picture was in the background, this lady lamented on how bad the situation in Cameroon is. She decries the fact that Biya has decided to run for another term. To her, this is totally unacceptable. Her reason is not that Biya is incompetent, which would be the blatant truth. She makes the logical argument that at Biya’s age, he should be retired and testing at his home in Mvomeka. She explains that given Biya’s age, it is most certain that many decisions of State will be taken by others.
Ms Siret goes on to state categorically that if Biya is a candidate at the 7th October elections, she will be voting another person. She then goes on to call on other militants of her party to do the same.
While I am of the impression that this lady might have seen the handwriting on the wall and is making sure she crosses on the right side of history before doomsday, I cannot help but applaud her actions. Many Cameroonians on social media have expressed the fear that this lady’s life might be in danger, with some cautioning that she should go into hiding. Such sentiments are borne of the fact that over the 36 years of his barren rule, Biya has responded to criticisms by either killing or imprisonment.
Whether other members of the party will hearken to Solange’s plea is a matter of conjecture. I am however of the impression that even if all the members of the party including Biya’s wife were to vote a different candidate, the electoral mechanism in Cameroon is such that Biya will still emerge as a winner.
So, rather than calling on others to vote another candidate, the right call will be for them to pressure Biya to stand down as a candidate before the election date. That is the only way to guarantee that Biya will not come forth as the undeserving winner of an election, organised while a part of the country is embroiled in civil conflict.
If one thought they had seen the height of stupidity, they were yet to see the actions of Elites from the other Region of English-speaking Cameroon. A few days ago the elites of the South West Region met in Buea, and instead of condemning the massacre of their citizens, they, among other things demanded that Biya increase the number of troops in the region.
Either they clearly do not understand what the words “inclusive” and “dialogue” means, or they are the most deluded people ever to sit in one room. By rejecting Tumi’s Peace Conference and rejecting a Two-State Federation, while calling for increased troop deployment, they have in more ways than one, indicated that they did not want a resolution to the current crisis. It is therefore, a mere façade when they claim to love their people.
As if in confirmation of how out of touch the South West Forum and it’s elites are, women of the Region have today gathered in Buea to protest against the ongoing war and indiscriminate violence against the most vulnerable.
Holding placards and peace plants, the message and call for Peace could not have been clearer. One placard read : WAR IS COSTLY, BUT PEACE IS PRICELESS” This summarises how the women feel about the continuation of hostilities.
The match today clearly highlights that the elites do not know what their people want, and are not even ready to understand what is required. It is hoped that the peace match by the women of the South West Region can be copied across the English-speaking Regions and be the rallying action for Peace.
Since Biya refused to hearken to the peaceful demands of civil society and resorted to violence, it is estimated that over 6000 people have been killed, over 40.000 refugees in Nigeria, 160.000 internally displaced and over a 100 villages have been burned. The economic cost of the violence is yet to be fathomed.
Snake bites can be very dangerous and some can lead to very swift poisoning and death. In the case of a man whose name I have been told is Egbe, from Kumba in the South West Region of Cameroon, he had time to do something about it but refused.
In the above video, Egba, recognised by others in the video as a traditional healer or herbalist, explains that the wounds on his hands have been caused by snake bites. He starts by acknowledging that he caught the snake by its tail before being attacked by the reptile. He goes on to explain that he had succeeded in catching the snake alive, but claimed he had no money to go to hospital. He acknowledges in the video that one of his hands was already swelling as a result of the snake poisoning. He fails to explain why he is holding the live snake and what he intends to do with it.
As he complaints of not having money, one of the persons nearby give him 50 Frs. CFA (about 69 pence). This, it must be noted is not enough to pay even for a taxi drop. He babbles around about borrowing money and how it was a Sunday and there was nothing he could do.
As Egbe walks away, one of the women in the video insists that he should go to hospital. He responds by saying that the Almighty God is his protector, given that he is a Dr. who heals people and does not harm them. He goes on to state prophetically, that someone wanted to kill him, and that he knows he is going to die, but he will kill them before he dies.
As Egbe walks away with the snake in his grasp, the people in the video are heard arguing. One says he will die unless he seeks medical attention, while another says he won’t die because he is a herbalist.
It has been announced in messages spreading on social media that Egbe finally died of the bites he received from the snake.
It all makes one to wonder. Could it be simply that Egbe lacked the funds to go to hospital that he preferred to take chances with his life? Was it his belief that he was a traditional healer and therefore capable of curing himself of the bites when he gets home? Was he under the mistaken assumption that God will protect him, even if he did nothing to help himself? These questions and more are not answered in the video that has left me shell-shocked.
This is symptomatic of many persons in Cameroon and many parts of Africa. Because of the high levels of poverty, people will go to extreme lengths to look for food, sometimes putting their lives in danger in the process. Even when they are faced with imminent death, the lack of money or the trust in herbalists or even God, to heal them, often prevents them from seeking medical attention. The ultimate result is untimely deaths which could have been easily prevented. One wonders if things
Events such as the Notting Hill Carnival have historically been known to cough up a lot of surprises, least among which has not been the case of violence. As is to be expected therefore, the police do everything in their power to ensure that those who attend such events are protected from attacks. One way of doing this is through ‘Stop and Search’.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives police officers in England and Wales the powers to stop and search anyone if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect the person is carrying:
something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar
A person can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if the police have grounds to suspect that:
serious violence was likely to take place
the person is carrying a weapon or have used one
the person is a specific location or area
Despite these powers being in place, there are many instances where the police have been accused of using them to target specific persons based on their age and racial background. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, such segregation will not exist. How wrong would they be?
As images and videos flooded social mediasphere at the peak of the Notting Hill Carnival, it came with little surprise when Anti-War and Human Rights Activist, Maya Evans posted images of Police engaged in Stop and Search. It would have been a routine exercise but for the fact that the targets were mainly young men, aged 25 or below, of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Maya goes on to explain that upon speaking to some of the young people, it appeared they even wondered if this was a legal act.
While Maya’s images portray a very responsive group of young persons, the situation is different in a video posted by Justice or Else UK, a Human Rights group campaigning against police brutality and deaths in custody. In this video, it would appear that a young man had resisted being searched, and was being forcefully arrested by the officers. The videographer, who also happens to have been an eyewitness, can be heard asking the police what ‘probable cause’ they had for stopping the young man.
As earlier indicated, the police have a right to stop and search anyone if there were reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime. Also, what is often not told, is the fact that the person has the right to refuse being searched, unless the police can provide justification to indicate that there was reason to believe the person constituted a threat to the public. As stop and search is officially not an arrest, it is therefore wrong for the police to have forcefully grabbed the young man, without providing reason to justify their actions. In the instance where the police had grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime, they could be arrested, but only after their rights had been read to them and they had been told of what they were being arrested for.
It is therefore sad that even in the most colourful of events, the person of African origin is always a target from the very institutions that are supposed to make them feel safe. it is even sadder that nothing is being done to stop the institutional profiling of young people of colour in the UK, who disproportionately suffer from police brutality.
It is understandable, especially given the number of persons that were injured this year at the carnival as reported by the Guardian, that measures ought to be taken to protect the public. However, when such measures target a specific demographic, it loses its legitimacy.
The issue of school resumption in the English-Speaking parts of Cameroon has been a very contentious one. Over the last week, the debate has been intense with some advocating out-rightly that schools should resume, some out-rightly rejecting the notion and some arguing that for schools to resume, there has to be some promise of security.
In what has been a signficant U-turn, the Interim Government of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, through its Communication Secretary Chris Anu, in a broadcast, announced that they were not against school resumption.
In a message that was 1 hour and 16 minutes long, the representative of the Interim government of Ambazonia dealt with a large number of issues. Amidst exhalations to those still fighting for the restoration of their statehood, he used historical references to indicate why there was no need to give up.
At the 43rd minute and 27th second however, he turned his attention to the issue of school resumption. He made it clear that the Interim Government and front-line movements, having held in the past that schools should not resume, are taking a different approach to the issue. Announcing that schools were free to resume and that educational institutions were free to open their doors, the Ambazonia leaders have shown without doubt that they are more concerned about the future of Cameroonians than the current Biya regime.
This announcement has effectively increased the pressure on the Biya Regime to ensure that hostilities are halted ahead of the school resumption. In the last two years, the regime in Yaounde has been able to hide under the banner of school boycott policies, to blame all activists fighting for a better Cameroon for anything that went wrong with the educational system. The regime on occasion, blamed activists and Ambazonian fighters for burning schools and attacking pupils and students as way of enforcing school boycott. All of that changes with this announcement.
The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.
The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.
Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.
It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).
The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.
There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.
As the dust settles on the confirmation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win in last month’s polls by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court, one begins to wonder what exactly the future is for the country.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and its candidate, Nelson Chamisa had brought a legal challenge saying the vote was impaired by “mammoth theft and fraud”. The rejection of this claim by the court has left Mr. Chamisa, with no alternative than to concede defeat.
This election is Zimbabwe’s first since long-time President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power last year, in what can best be described as a ‘bloodless coup d’etat’. The question now remains as to whether this win marks a new dawn for Zimbabwean politics or it is simply a continuation of the last dispensation.
Sometime in 2011, I wrote a piece analysing the case of Zimbabwe. One of my conclusions then was that “‘the central and dominant variable determining…developmental success or failure’ is politics. If there is any reason there is widespread poverty in Zimbabwe today, it is the poverty of its politics. This means that the solution cannot come from the same failed politics but from a “…more explicit… integrated theory of political and economic development” which will take into account the different nuances that make up the complex and unique political entity called Zimbabwe”.
I think that my view today is not much different. People have been under the misguided impression that merely ousting Mugabe from power will usher in a new dawn for the development of the country. I felt and still feel that Mugabe’s exit, was a well-orchestrated plan to ensure that his successor is someone who will continue his legacy, without actually appearing to do so. I may be wrong, but if the current president has, throughout his political life, supported the same ideals as Mugabe, what is the guarantee that a mere change in his title will create a different vision. But, perhaps, by being voted in, he may well start bringing about policies that are aimed at improving the overall wellbeing of the masses, rather than just the political class. There is, however, no guarantee that this will happen, as has often been the case in most young African democracies.
Paul Collier has argued that the lack of checks and balances can lead democracies to make even more of a mess of a political situation than autocracies, for “… it turns out that democracy is a little bit more complicated… Because there are two distinct aspects of democracy. There’s electoral competition, which determines how you acquire power, and there are checks and balances, which determine how you use power. It turns out that electoral competition is the thing that’s doing the damage with democracy… And so, what the countries of the bottom billion need is very strong checks and balances. They haven’t got them. They got instant democracy in the 1990s: elections without checks and balances.’
If Collier’s view is anything to go by, the current election of Emmerson Mnangagwa through electoral competition is just the first stage, and in fact, the less important one. The determining factor will be whether Zimbabwe has got the right checks and balances to ensure that the current president does not end up living a similar legacy of sitting tight when everything else around them is crumbling.
Julius Sello Malema, the leader of the South African far-left, Economic Freedom Fighters, has in one of his videos been heard to proclaim that Zimbabweans, will be the only African country in the next 10 years which will be truly independent. If this turns out to be the case, then one might agree that Mugabe might not have had a bad outcome after all. But this outcome is largely dependent on what Mugabe’s successor does. If there is true economic independence for Zimbabwe, then its current president has no excuse not to take the country into a new phase of its history.
Given that Carlson Anyangwe clearly acknowledges that the Plebiscite was legal, I decided to look into the issues of why Resolution 1608 of 21 April 1961 was not properly implemented. My greatest challenge was the fact that following the endorsement of the vote by the UN and the meeting of the leaders of the two Cameroons in July 1961 in Foumban, Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon and La Republique Du Cameroun became East Cameroon, in a Federal Structure. I was therefore at a loss as to what could have transpired between July 1961 and October 1961, that led Southern Cameroons to give up everything to French Cameroon.
This question seems to have been answered by a video in which Fon Gorj-Dinka acknowledges that there actually was a Treaty of Foumban. In this video, Gorji-Dinka can be heard quoting article one of that treaty. According to him, it is the treaty that gave rise to the Two-State Federation.
It is very logical, therefore, to conclude that there actually was an agreement between the two Cameroons, which was breached by Amadou Ahidjo in 1972. While Gorji-Dinka seeks redress by arguing that this breach, led to the cancellation of the new state and the ‘resurrection of the old ones that united to give it birth, I argue, as I did in my piece in response to Anyangwe, that the breach of 1972 is constitutional. The remedy for the breach of 1972, therefore, will be about getting the deal that Southern Cameroons got in Foumban.
I want to start by appreciating the time and effort you have put into this write-up dated 18 August 2018. Your title talks about ‘root causes’ which got me interested as I have been looking forward to getting into the heart of the problem and see exactly it started. The use of the words ‘root causes’ are also captivating as they have been bandied around quite a bit since this current phase of the Anglophone struggle started.
The first difficulty I have is that the very first sentence of your introduction presents ‘root causes’ as ‘remote causes’. That, unfortunately, means you started on the wrong foot. Root Causes according to the Collins Dictionary are “the fundamental reason for the occurrence of a problem”, whereas remote causes are those that are somehow obscure. From the lexicon meaning of the two words, there is no way they can be synonymous. Also, within legal parlance, remote causes are often considered to be speculative rather than direct, consequently are not given the weighting that direct, or root causes have. However, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I will treat your causes both as root and remote. I will take the definition of remote in this context to mean “far in the past” – hence remote will be about distance in memory.
Your first cause is the “Non-decolonization of the Southern British Cameroons”. I would naturally have ignored your usage of the name ‘Southern British Cameroons’ but given that you attached a lot of importance on name in a part of your write-up, let me just clear this up. There NEVER was any territory called ‘Southern British Cameroons’ or ‘British Southern Cameroons’, as some call it. It has always been officially, either British Cameroons (which included Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons) or simply Southern Cameroons when reference was being made to our territory. If we must pay attention to issues of nomenclature, it is essential that we also get the name of our territory correct.
On the political and legal issues that you raise, I will deal with a few.
You term the phrasing of the plebiscite questions as ‘dubious’. That may be the case, but what you fail to acknowledge was that in the UNGA Resolution 1350 of 16 October 1959, the questions are recommended, based on discussions that had taken place in the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly. I wish to also point out that UNGA Resolution 1350 of 13 March 1959, had given the Southern Cameroons House of assembly the opportunity to come up with suggestions for the plebiscite questions before the 14th Session of the UNGA. Resolution 1352 makes reference to the difficulties that the Southern Cameroons Premier and leader of the opposition had in coming to an agreement. It is therefore misleading to make it sound as if the plebiscite questions were simply imposed on Southern Cameroonians.
In discussing UNGA Res 1608 (XV) of 21 April 1961 which endorsed the results of the Plebiscite vote, you left out the fact that the resolution ends by inviting the Plebiscite Administering authority, the Government of Southern Cameroons and The Republic of Cameroon to initiate discussions upon which the agreed outcomes of the plebiscite will be implemented. You therefore conveniently leave out the fact that such discussions took place in Foumban, in July 1961. Whether or not the process and the level of discussions were fair, is entirely another question. However, it is misleading for you to make it appear as if after the passing of Resolution 1608, the content of the Federations was “On 1 September 1961… unilaterally determined and imposed by French Cameroun, resulting in the disguised annexation of the Southern Cameroons.” This statement by you, not only misrepresents the facts and timeline of events, it is craftily designed to bolster your argument of annexation, which has been peddled around for so long.
I agree with you that the manner in which the United Kingdom handled the termination of its Trusteeship is suspect. It, however, does not deviate from the fact that this is a blip in the process of implementing the outcome of a public vote.
On the second part of your first cause, where you claim to be discussing the ‘moral question’, I struggle to see any ethical issues raised. Rather, you spend time, making a case against Federalism. You make the valid point that Ahidjo failed to uphold the agreements that led to a federal structure. However, you completely fail to address the fact that Ahidjo’s breach in 1972, amounts to what can only be classed as a constitutional breach. If we are to treat what occurred between Southern Cameroons and The Republic of Cameroon as a contract, then the remedy for this breach will be to put Southern Cameroons where they would have been, had the breach not occurred. You will agree with me that, should that be done, then we end up again with a Two-State Federation.
However, should we treat the breach as an abuse of power by a public authority, making it an issue of Public Law, then the remedy we can seek, will be by means of a judicial review. There is no legal precedence to suggest that such a Judicial Review will amount to a nullification of the plebiscite results. The only remedy that can be sought is for the 1972 decision to be reversed. That will leave us again within a Two State Federation.
So as much as you try to debunk the quest for a return to Federation, it appears to be the only legal remedy available to Southern Cameroonians. The only other case, which I have not seen you make, is to call for a second referendum/plebiscite, to ask Southern Cameroonians to vote again, as the outcome of such a vote is the only democratic process to overturn the February 11, 1961 vote.
Your second cause, which you class as “French Cameroun’s territorial aggrandisement claim to the territory of the Southern Cameroons”, sees you making another bogus claim. You claim that “The territory of the Southern Cameroons has never ever been part of the territories of French Cameroun before, at or after that country’s ‘independence’ from France.“ This is factually and historically incorrect. I will want to draw your attention to the fact that Treaty of Versailles, divided the German territory of Kamerun on June 28, 1919, between France and the United Kingdom, under a League of Nations Mandate, What is important to note is that when the Germans were ousted in 1916, the French, administered the whole occupied territory, until the League of Nations Mandate created the arbitrary division. As such, France naturally got the larger part of the territory, while Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons were ceded to the British.
You are drawing on international law to disapprove of expansionism (Colonialism, imperialism) and territorial aggrandisement, yet a sentence before that, you are asking that French Cameroon ought to respect the outcomes of what it inherited from colonialism. I agree with you that at some point, we ought to move past the issues of colonialism and the destruction it wrought on our communities. However, you cannot claim to be denouncing colonial tendencies, while hanging on to the proceeds of colonialism as the basis for your arguments. The principle of contradiction states that a thing cannot be and not be from the same point of view. Either colonialism is bad, and we cannot lay claim to proceeds of colonialism, or it is not entirely bad and we can accept that the Southern Cameroons we are laying claim to today, was a colonial creation.
This brings me to the most important point about the issue of root and remote causes. The foregoing section has indicated that you completely failed to identify the root cause of the current crisis. The fundamental cause of what we have today, rather than being the botched decolonisation process, which you so painstakingly describe, is rather the creation of the colonial divide. But for the colonisation by Germans, our territories would have evolved differently and there is no guarantee that we would have Southern Cameroons. But for the arbitrary division in 1919 between the English and French, there would be no such thing as Southern Cameroons or Anglophones or English-Speaking Cameroons. So, you will agree with me that when we talk about the root causes, we can look no further than colonialism and Western Imperialism.
However, the causes which you have brought up, had you been factual, historically and logically honest, can well fall under the category of remote causes or immediate causes. This would be especially true, given that you rightly point out a lot of barbarism that has been visited on the English-Speaking Cameroonians by both the Ahidjo and Biya regimes, under what you class as your third root cause.
You conclude with a revolutionary message of hope. However, it is mired in deception, as your analysis has been far from being truthful. You claim that the weekend in Washington DC marks the watershed moment in the history of our struggle. However, I am sorry to say that reading through the resolutions, I am yet to see that ground-breaking innovation that came out from the conference. Rather, I see a regurgitation of policies began by the Federalist Consortium.
I kept wondering why it is that our leaders with all the knowledge base among them, seem unable to come up with innovative ways to steer this struggle, beyond relying on archaic strategies such as ghost towns and school-boycott, which regrettably, heaps more misery on our own people than it does to Biya’s regime.
By reading through your presentation, I am beginning to see why. Intellectual dishonesty, the presentation of half-truths and outright lies, are surely not foundations upon which we can build a truly successful revolutionary movement to guarantee our freedom.
Every human being has their nemesis. Biya’s nemesis seems to be CODE and its operations man, Emmanuel Kemta. After chasing Biya from his hotel in Switzerland on several occasions, after taking to music to attack and blame Biya for the escalation of the Anglophone crisis, Kemta has decided this time to push it a notch further.
On what promised to be a peaceful Sunday at the Geneva University Hospitals, on a day that a cross-generation of Anglophone leaders converged in Washington DC in a historic match, Kemta decided that Biya will have no rest.
Recounting the killing of women and children by the Cameroon military, the killing of Anglophones and Biya’s dismal 36 years of governance, that has left the country without credible medical facilities. Kemta goes on to ask Biya why he has failed to develop Cameroon’s infrastructure and is currently enjoying those of a foreign country.
Finally, Kemta promised Biya that he will be staying on in Switzerland for at least one month and Biya will be receiving a visit from him every week. Other activists have also promised to join Kemta.
Should other activists join in this quest of chasing Biya out of Switzerland, there might be a chance that he will eventually find it uncomfortable enough to stay in Cameroon and address the issues that require his attention. To begin with, he might call off the war that has been declared on Anglophones, which is claiming the lives of young people on a daily basis.
Biya is also hoping to run for the upcoming elections in Cameroon due to take place on October 7. Should Biya win another 7-year term, that will mean, failing to die in power, he will be over 94 years old when that term ends.