For the Anglophone Problem to stop, Cameroon must revert to the 1961 Federal Constitution..
*By Chief A.S. NGWANA (pictured)
The Anglophone Problem is real, very important and urgent because it borders on the corporate existence of Cameroon as one country.
The German claim to Cameroon was recognized in the Berlin Conference of November 1884, but when Germany lost the First World War it also lost sovereignty over its African colonies, which by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles came under the ambit of the League of Nations as “Mandated Territories”
By this arrangement Cameroon was divided between France and Britain. The Eastern side went to the French and the Western side to the British. French Cameroon and British Cameroon were separated for nearly 40 years and each absorbed the culture of its colonial master.
East Cameroon became independent on 1st January 1960 and Nigeria to which Southern and Northern Cameroon were attached also gained independence from Britain on 1st October 1960. On 11 February 1961 the UN conducted a plebiscite in Northern and Southern Cameroon to determined whether Cameroonians wanted to be independent by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon.
The results of the plebiscite which should have been counted as one for the whole British territory, were split and counted separately between North and South Cameroon. The north voted to join Nigeria and the South voted to join the Republic of Cameroon. In June 1961, all the leaders of the political parties in Southern Cameroon met in Bamenda to discuss the terms and conditions of reunification.
There were disagreements on several issues, but all agreed unanimously that unification was to be based on Federalism and that Southern Cameroons was to retain all its organs and institutions, its culture and legal systems and its parliamentary system of government. In July 1961 the famous , “Foumban Constitutional Conference met in Foumban to draw up a Constitution for the Federal Republic of Cameroon.
After protracted talks it was finally agreed that reunification would be based on federalism, that the State of Cameroon would promote and strengthen the bi-cultural identity of Cameroon without the French or English culture absorbing the other, and that Southern Cameroon would retain all its organs and institutions.
These terms were then incorporated into the 1961 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon with a proviso in Article 47 making it impossible to unilaterally amend certain Articles of the Constitution without the risk of breaking up the Union. On the 1st of October 1961 the Federal Republic of Cameroon was born. It consisted of two Equal States – the State of East Cameroon (formerly French Cameroon or Republic of Cameroon) and the state of West Cameroon ( formerly British Southern Cameroon or Southern Cameroon.)
From 1961 to 1972 when the Federal Republic of Cameroon existed, there was no ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM. Let us not forget that it was Anglophones who voted to join the Union, and to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, it was not the Francophones who voted, so the referendum to abolish the Federation should have only been voted by the Anglophones, but the Francophones with their majority in the Union “voted” and dissolved the Federation, the basis of Unification.
In so doing the Ahidjo government unconstitutionally and in breach of the Foumban Accord, abolished the Federal Government and introduced the present Unitary Government. This has created a new problem, a Constitutional problem called the ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM.
The Anglophone problem then started with the abolition of the Federation.
Anglophones who were used to the multiparty system of government suddenly found themselves in a one-party system of government (the “CNU monster ) with its dictatorship and suppression of human rights. East Cameroon-Francophone, oppressive laws and immanency laws, were extended and applied in West Cameroon.
West Cameroonians-Anglophones, were forced to carry “piece”(tax receipts, identity cards, voting cards, driving license etc) victims were arrested and tortured in the newly constructed BMM cells.
West Cameroonians who did not know fear before began to experience fear. Those who did not support the regime or criticize it were arrested, tortured or imprisoned.
By their legal system, a person is presumed guilty until he proves himself not guilty. Civil Servants were summarily dismissed businessmen lost their contracts or import licenses or were crippled by the imposition of unjustifiable taxes. Students were dismissed or had their scholarships withdrawn, journalists arrested and their papers seized or banned.
The whole exercise was planned and implemented by Youande to instill fear into the hearts and minds of West Cameroonians.
At the end Youande succeeded. West Cameroonian Judges, who had always been independent and fearless, began to accept dictation from Yaounde. They compromised their consciences, dignity and integrity and miscarried justice. Military Tribunals headed by West Cameroonians jailed innocent persons.
Members of Parliament were appointed and dismissed by Yaounde. Civil servants, Judges, the military and security forces were appointed, promoted, demoted or dismissed according to the whims and caprices of Yaounde. In the absence of justice, fear reigned. Those who suffered most were politicians and journalist.
By 1982 when Ahidjo resigned and appointed Paul Biya, his regime had succeeded in subjecting the whole Cameroon to Fear. East and West Cameroonians, Francophones and Angolphones lived in absolute fear. Democracy was dead.
In 1983, we (Anglophones) launched the Cameroon Democratic Party, our aims were to eradicate fear in the minds of Cameroonians, restore fundamental human rights and the rule of law, fight against corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, and above all, return Cameroon to multiparty democracy.
The ultimate goal was to build a buoyant and prosperous nation. Unfortunately the Biya government which inherited the atrocities of the CNU government of Ahidjo, kept me in exile for six years. Francophones must be told and the world must know that the Anglophone problem is not dying down but is gaining momentum every year.
In 1985, Fon gorji Dinka, a former president of the Cameroon Bar, unilaterally declared autonomy for Southern Cameroon. He named the new State Ambasonia.
Dinka is president of Ambasonia in exile.
The All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) held in Buea January 3-6, 1993 endorsed a return to the Federal System of government, While the Social Democratic Front (SDF) in its 1994 convention also accepted the Federal System.
On the 29th April to 3rd May 1994, AAC2, met in Bamenda, to discuss the “the road to peaceful self-determination and demand for zero hour” The AAC was transformed into “The Southern Cameroons People’s Conference” (SCPC) and then into the present SCNC “the Southern Cameroon National Conference”
In 1996, Dr. J. N. Foncha and S.T. Mona both of blessed memories, and once Vice-Presidents of Cameroon and retired Anglophone politicians, gave their full support to this struggle and led a delegation to the UN, accompanied by the Chairman of the SCNC, Mr. E.Elad, and prominent men from both North West and South West namely: Ambassadoe Epie of blessed memories, Ambassador Fossung, Mr. Litumbe, Dr. Youngbang, Justice Mbu and Dr. Munzo.
This was a clear indication of a united front and showed the gravity of the situation. In December 1999 Justice Ebong, a Judge of the Cameroon High Court, declared autonomy for Southern Cameroon, named the State “The Republic of Southern Cameroon”.
He was detained without trial for two years and then released Last year, 2008, Mr. Carlson Anyangwe, proclaimed the “Restoration Government of southern Cameroon”, he made himself president and appointed his ministers within and without the country All these people and movements in the Anglophone territory, are only trying to redress a situation which should never have arisen if our Francophone brothers have managed unification in the true spirit of brotherhood.
Instead we have been betrayed by the CNU/CPDM governments headed by our francophone brothers ADHIDJO/BIYA. In bad faith, they have betrayed our trust and confidence, our faith and aspirations for unification.
They have destroyed the basis of unification which is Federalism, they have, using their crooked control of political power marginalized Anglophones to second class citizens and are bent on destroying the Anglophone culture and tradition.
There are many Anglophones who have full mastery of the French language, more than many Fracophones and vice versa. But how can any one in good faith, explain the diabolic maneuvers to make sure that an Anglophone can never be president of Cameroon.
How can any one explain the fact that for 49 years, since independence an Anglophone has never held the important ministry of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Minister of Territorial Administration, defense or Chief Justice of Cameroon? Look at the disproportions, in numbers of Anglophone Generals, Governors, SDOs, Secretary Generals, Chief Executives of Government Corporations and parastatalls
In most of these places Anglophones occupy a second position How can you explain the fact that there is “regional balancing” in schools and universities only when it comes to admissions of francophone students. We did not unify to become second class citizens.
Unification was based on Federalism and Equality of Status, on Unity in Diversity, on equality of all Cameroonians.
A Federation is the only way by which any multinational and culturally divers communion, has the opportunity for variation in laws, existences, dispensations, that take account of the motley sensibilities and accordingly concede reasonable autonomy to the constituting units. Cameroon is a multicultural, multiethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious State.
That is why the United Nations gave Southern Cameroon independence on the basis of Federalism. We unified on the understanding that we would operate a Federal System, in which we will live in a mighty, united, economically strong Cameroon Nation; guaranteeing all citizens of every race and religion, inalienable fundamental and civic rights, equal opportunities and respect for the bicultural character of our people.
We therefore condemn any attempts to abolish or absorb, destroy or assimilate, promote or ignore, favor or submerge one culture, as inimical to the unity of Cameroon.
Therefore any person or party or government, who or which condones the marginalization, discrimination or the treatment of Anglophones as second class citizens, is an enemy of our unification.
Anglophones’ interest can only be protected and enhanced in a Federal Government. Our fight, our struggle is not against Francophones as such, but against the oppressive CNU/CPDM governments of AHIDJO/BIYA, governments which have denied us our fundamental rights and frustrated our political, economic and social aspirations;Governments which reduced us to second class citizens, and are hell-bent on keeping us there.
For any democratic dispensation to be successful, there must be an independent body to conduct elections so that the people can choose their rulers or leaders through free, fair and transparent elections by the ballot box.
For the first time when the most important organ of our democracy, (ELECAM), is to be set up, President Paul Biya, knowing fully well that this ELECAM was doomed to fail, because he would not respect the laws setting up ELECAM, he appointed an Anglophone to head it.
The failure of ELECAM would then be blamed on the Anglophones.
Well ELECAM has failed before it starts, Cameroonians as a whole and the International Community have rejected it, as not being a neutral body to conduct free and fair elections. Stop using Anglophones to do the dirty jobs.
For the Anglophone Problem to stop, Cameroon must revert to the 1961 Federal Constitution, or a modified Federal Constitution, which gives the Anglophones autonomy in their own Territory. May God spare Cameroon from chaos.
*Chief A.S. NGWANA is Chairman, Cardinal Democratic Party (CDP) ,an opposition party in Cameroon
His Contact Tel: (237) 33 43 10 72
Saturday, February 21, 2009
For the Anglophone Problem to stop, Cameroon must revert to the 1961 Federal Constitution..
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Panama gets prepared for Carnival. There are four days, where almost every city and town forget their problems and go to the streets, dancing, singing, having fun in despite of the social, economical or political situation that affects the country.
Most popular are the Carnivals celebrated in the interior, being the most famous the Carnivals of “Las Tablas”. “Las Tablas” is the capital of the province of “Los Santos” and is located four hours from Panama City.
These carnivals are very traditional. The most popular and well known custom in this Carnival is that the city of Las Tablas is divided into two factions: Calle Arriba(Top Street) and Calle Abajo (Down Street), which are rivals during the celebrations. Each side has its princess and they compete with an incredible deployment of luxury, costumes, floats, decorations, fireworks and traditional tunes. Furthermore, each side has an organized committee that works during the whole year to gather funds and set up all the necessary mechanisms to have the streets brim over of pomp and majesty.
During these days, people from all cities and towns travel to Las Tablas, to be active part of this celebration. Since early in the morning, the central park is plenty of people who are dressed as if they are going to the beach, enjoying the daytime activity called "Culecos''. In these Culecos, big fuel dispenser cars are filled with water to dampen everybody in the park, while they dance and claim for more water.
At night the luxurious parade goes around the park, lead by the princess in her floats, with her retinue of ladies and followers who cheerfully sing funny and satirical tunes that have been composed especially to compete with their rival. When the parade finish, an almost endless and powerful deployment of fireworks is performed.
Celebration will start Saturday February 22, and ends Tuesday February 24, and this day is a declared day off.
During these days, people forget their problems, even though when the Carnival ends they would realize that their economical problems are worse than before, they will be broken but happy.
Friday, February 13, 2009
- We have the best climate in the world- ask anyone. Harare in particular is wonderful, but the whole of Zim is pretty lovely. No, I am not biased.
- We are really nice people. When you sit in a kombi (public transport), you can pour out your troubles and everyone will listen, perhaps laugh, usually have a kind word to say- no matter how pressing their own problems are. Strangers also smile and say hello. I love that.(Australians are nice too, incidentally).
- We are peace-loving. After all the troubles we have been through in the last ten years... Well, anything could have happened. That stuff happens in other African countries. Not to minimize the cases that have been in the world media so much, but we never thought to turn to arms to make our point.
- We know how to have fun. In the old days (pre-financial trouble), Christmas was a good excuse to party all night- with the whole neighbourhood. We know how to laugh, no matter what's going on around us. I think Zimbabwean jokes are among the best in the world. Maybe it's the weather, but anyone can have fun, at any time- and we do.
- We endure. I admire the businesspeople who’ve stayed, and stayed in business, in spite of how tough things have been. I love walking into the shops and seeing products made in Zimbabwe. I love seeing people “making a plan”- people who lost their jobs five years ago just finding a new way to stay in the game. I love that most Zimbabweans don’t sit around waiting for a handout, no matter how hopeless the situation seems. I love that we are a hopeful lot.
- I love that I don’t have to worry about the food I eat. Since just about everything we eat is organic, I don’t have to wonder if I’m getting cancer from my food… Or worry about being morbidly obese because of a reliance on takeaway food.
- I love that no matter what the stresses we live under look like to the outside world, we still live a relatively stress-free life. Our lives are real. When we are stressed out, it’s because we have no food in the house, or because we are sick. It’s not because we want that fancy new car, or because of credit card debt. Levity aside, the incidence of so-called lifestyle diseases is low, and as a result we are healthier even into our old age.
- I love the importance we place on extended family. One is never alone here. In times of trouble, there is always someone to turn to… And one in turn looks after others. I love that I will raise my children in community.
- I love the importance we place on respect for elders. I think it’s a good basis for stability in society. I love, too, knowing that I will not be placed in an old age home for the convenience of my family, because that’s not how we do things here.
- I love the way the rainy season comes. I love the way the dry heat builds up until it is almost unbearable, but then if you watch, every day you see storm clouds growing on the horizon… And then the first rains come with their drama- huge storm clouds, lightning, wind and the wonderful scent of rain mingling with dust… And then the storms that come at lunchtime and when you are about to leave the office after work, just to drench you. And then everything becomes green again, and it’s like the whole world is sighing with happy relief.
- I love seeing the farmers work in the fields. I love going up to Honde Valley in Nyanga, the way the road winds until you are sick with vertigo, and yet you are gasping with amazement because each turn reveals some pretty, secret, lush valley… I love standing on the mountainside where home is, and looking across to the tea estates near the border with Mozambique. I love getting up really early, on those tear-inducingly cold mornings in Honde Valley, when you see woodsmoke from a dozen fires drifting upwards to mingle with the mist.
- I love walking through the rain forest at Victoria Falls, getting drenched, and feeling like a child again… And then coming to a sudden clearing in the “jungle”, and there is the magnificent, me-shrinking majesty of the Falls. And all the other things- the hotels in Vic Falls and the excitement of being on holiday and ordering breakfast, the not-too-resorty “resortiness” of Vic Falls, the crocodile farm, watching the hippos swim at A’Zambezi River Lodge…
- I love taking road trips here, and taking in the vast expanses of savanna… I love how beautiful the countryside is, and how the space gives one a feeling of freedom. I love that even in the city, I don’t feel cramped. I love that one can own a few acres of open land even in the city.
- I love the pace of life here. Not even in the so-called fast-paced Harare is life truly fast-paced. I love that one still has time to stand and stare, and that work is never really frenetic.
- I love that we don’t really have crime here. Not compared with other countries, I mean. And when there is crime, it’s hardly ever violent. The incidents are so isolated that this is the exception, rather than the rule. I love that you can walk around during the day without worrying about someone pulling a gun on you. I love that you can drive around without being certain that someone will try to hijack you.
- I love how patriotic we get around sport- but usually only when our teams are winning. I remember going to a soccer match in Harare, and failing to get in because the stadium was packed. And how everyone was singing, and the feeling of pride in being Zimbabwean. I suppose this happens in other countries too… (grudgingly).. I love, too, going to watch cricket, whether at Harare Sports Club, or Queens in Bulawayo. The weather is always wonderful when cricket is on, and the atmosphere is fantastic.
- I love how Zimbabweans think a party- or fun- is synonymous with a braai (barbeque)
- I love the little places there are? were? in Harare, informal eating places like KwaMereki and Cresta Mbare, where one could get an excellent Zimbabwean meal- excellent value for your money. I love that one got to know about these places by word of mouth, and that everyone seemed to go to these places… So you would meet your friends and associates there. And that a lot of office workers would drive there at lunchtime, rather than to some fancy takeaway place… And the service at these places would be the envy of any catering business. And gradually the service would get personal, too, as you became a regular. I love that you never had to worry about the hygiene, because the hosts were at pains to make sure everything was perfect- just like home. I hope these places survive.
- I love township life. I love how when you play your radio, it’s so that the neighbours at the end of the line can hear every word. I love that everyone knows when you have bought a new fridge- even those who live ten roads down. I love that every home has a fruit tree in the front yard- and if you don’t have one, you can steal your neighbour’s fruit- doing them a favour, because otherwise the neighbourhood kids will. I love the fact that you can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbour, or a teaspoon of salt- unless they started a rumor about you ten years ago, in which case you would rather go to the people two roads away. I love the general exodus to any cleared space as soon as the rains begin, to plant maize (corn), which you can be sure we’ll be eating like mad for four months.
- I love how we exaggerate. I love that nothing is small, especially when you tell a story. I love that everyone is a storyteller- you only have to watch a Zimbabwean, any Zimbabwean, for two minutes as they relate something, to know that. The gestures are huge, the voice is raised, and there is a great deal of poetic licence.
- I love that I can joke with policemen. I call them “chef” or “officer”, and watch them puff up with pride when I do. I love Zimbabwean in-jokes like that, the words and phrases that I can use to any Zimbawean that convey a wealth of meaning- words and phrases like “berial cheques”, “demonize”, Diaspora, and “under curatorship”. I love how we are about community, and every experience becomes a shared “Zimbabwean” thing.
- I don’t know how many of these things are particularly, or originally, Zimbabwean, but I love: Mazoe Orange, Buttercup Margarine, Sun Jam, Willards Custard, Colcom Cambridge Pork Sausages, Chimombe…. Zimbabweans will know what I mean. I love that we get homesick when we think about such things when we are far away.
- I love how public transport is never full here. There is always room for one more person on the bus or Kombi. I love (strangely enough) the “chicken” buses that take you to the rural areas, no longer with squawking chickens, but with squealing babies and sweating mothers, with blaring music and a shouting conductor, and a household’s complement of furniture on the roof. I also love how the informal bus stops gain a name that everyone knows them by- pa chibage (“by the mealies”, referring to where someone is selling roasted maize/ corn); pa ma gum tree (at the gum trees), pa musika (at the market), ekhoneni (at the corner), e mapostorini (where members of the Apostolic Faith meet or sell their wares). I love that the name may last even though landmarks change.
- I love the music… From the endlessly-repeated riffs and plaintive sound of the lead guitar in sungura, to the sort of Afro-jazz sound of Oliver Mtukudzi, to the vernacular choral music we sing at the Anglican church, that has the ability to move me so…
- I love how Zimbabweans in the Diaspora long for home. It must mean that there is something particularly special about this sort of teapot-shaped piece of earth.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Little else but snow has happened in the south of England this week - and now it seems to be spreading to other parts.
Last Sunday was very cold, then overnight Sunday-Monday it managed about 12 inches of snow in an hour. The snow had been forecast, but our snow clearance people were temporarily overwhelmed.
We woke up on Monday to a blanket of snow over Epsom - something which has not happened for 10 years or more. Local roads more or less impassible for most of the day, but main roads started opening up during the day. Lots of vehicles got stuck and were abandoned, adding to the difficulties of those still trying to move about. Those people not trying to move about or get to work had a good time building snowmen and such like. We even had a sprinking of them in Epsom market place. The picture, from the Daily Mail, is, it seems, of a celebrity called Lily Allen. But not so celebrated that I had heard of her before. More information can be found about her at http://www.lilyallenmusic.com/lily/. But she did a better job of rolling her snowball than I did; at least it is ball shaped while mine was cylindrical, having been too lazy to vary the direction of roll.
Some of the snow is still hanging about although life is now more or less back to normal. So now it is time for the witch hunt. Why did the gritters not get out overnight Sunday-Monday? Why did the local councils not have enough salt and grit stockpiled? Who was responsible for the salt supply chain? Who thought it was a good idea to stand all the buses down? Close all the schools? Why don't we have a rule like the Danes do which says you have to sweep the smow off the pavement outside your house? Why don't we have a rule like the Norwegians which says you have to put special snow tyres on you car during the winter? The whole business has generated an impressive amount of media coverage; a welcome change from all the financial doom and gloom which has been our staple diet for months.