Anglophone versus Francophone when colonialism continue to haunt a country
The first historical references to the country that now bears the name Cameroon , dates back over 500 years before Jesus Christ, with the journey of the Carthaginian Hannon, one of the greatest African navigators coming from North Africa, in the country that bears the name of Tunisia today. The story of this journey, that outlines the steps of the navigator, was transcribed on a stele deposited in the temple of Baal-Hammon in Carthage. The writings of the Carthaginian, report a country located in the Gulf of Guinea, dominated by a large mountain, that during his expedition was erupting. He gave it the name of the “Chariot of the gods”, in his stories. The expedition of Hannon, composed of 60 ships and 30,000 men, was to establish trading posts on the African coast. One can easily say that since that time at least the country was open to the world. The European colonizers will only follow the routes of the first Africans, Greeks, and Arabs explorers, using their maps to infiltrate the mainland, and write the history of slavery and colonization that followed. If Cameroon was not bearing at the time the name Cameroon, a derivative of the portuguese term Rio dos Camaroes, named after the mouth of the Wouri River rich in shrimps, meanwhile new researches seem to state that the country existed already and had a name, Kamamoor a word that can be traced to ancien Tamil which derivative is spoken in India today as well as by ethnic groups in the Mandara mountains of Cameroon. Kamam meaning love and oor meaning land, village or city, it's not farfetched to believe that the land would have very well been marked as Kamamoor in old maps hold by europeeans explorers, but with a need to always claim new finding Portugueses simply would have made off the new name inspiring themselves of the riches of the land; or a mistake was done while making new maps, they simply put a name that existed in their language, Camaroes . Rios dos camaroes could have been originally rio dos kamamoor, the river of the land of love, the french word camarade that means friend ship may be also derived from it.
The Mandara kingdom of Cameroon, was already depicted in the maps of Frau Mauro in 1459; a Geographer monk, from Venice.
Cameroon back then was no less a populous country, where different ethnic groups lived together peacefully, welcoming even new African migrants on their soil, as settlers coming from the ancient Egypt like the Bassa'a and Douala people. Migration some scholars place after the fall of Egypt under the Roman sphere of influence, about 1 century BC, or before, during the invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos centuries ago, which forced some Egyptians to migrate south.
Anyway Bantu peoples of the Gulf of Guinea and Cameroon in particular knew. They knew they were the sons of their land, and knew they were bound by a common history. They did not wait the colon to come, for them to know who they were, and what meant the desire to live together. This harmony between the peoples of the region of the current Cameroon will be put to the test from the 10th century with European intrusions, and some centuries later with the slave trade and colonization, which officially began in 1470 with the first trading post of Portuguese in Cameroon.
Westerners will work with malice to divide a people who knew differed by its ethnic coloration, but united by understanding each other and their common interest (Cameroon has 280 ethnic groups and dialects). After the troubled history of slavery, which strained social peace in Cameroon creating tribal wars here and there, colonialism will be endorsed with the German occupation that began in 1884 and ended in 1916 before the normal end of the 1st World War in 1918. The rapid defeat of Germany in its African colonies including Cameroon during the First World War is linked to the anti-colonialist feeling of Cameroonian populations. As from north to south from east to west resistance movements organized to combat violence and contempt of German colonization. The whole Cameroon as one man fought the colonists, and therefore paid a huge price. If Germans did not have the time or the resources to impose its system of genocide as it did in its southern African colonies like Namibia with the genocide of the Herero, they still employed to suppress in the blood, Cameroonian freedom movements. As consequences many Cameroonians from all regions of Cameroon will fall as martyr. Martin Paul Samba in the South, in the Littoral Douala Manga Bell, and Ngosso Din, in the South West, the Bakweri revolt, that was crushed with the demolition of the town of Buea in December 1894 and the execution of the chief Kuv'a Likenye. In the Center area, chief Omgba Bitsogo who led the revolt of the Ewondo people against the German can be considered one of the first political prisoners in Cameroon, humiliated and put under arrest before his constituents he will no less lose his chiefdom in favor of Charles Atangana cleverest and weighted towards the Germans.
The colonial archives kept sealed, are packed with facts that are passed to the popular memory usually by oral tradition. So it’s known for example that the colonists used mass deportation of people within the country as well as from one country to another, and battled with heavy weapons against indigenous peoples. The German troops of Major Dominik had a hard time around Cameroon. The theory that the current US President Barack Obama wearing a name very well known in the southern region of Cameroon would be actually of Cameroonian lineage does not seem far-fetched its substance must be found in the complex history of German, French and British colonial administration in Cameroon, who did not hesitate to deport to distant lands recalcitrant elements.
Colonists used several tactics to maintain their hold on Cameroon's business, notwithstanding the fact that the country was never a colony, despite the Germano - Douala treaty of July 12, 1884. The imposition of colonial languages and religious beliefs helped to build a feeling of division that exists to this day between the so called Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon.
With the defeat of Germany Cameroon came under British and French control, without being a colony the country was to be administered under colonial rules. An unprecedented event, because never before any country had experienced tutelage of two different countries. Cameroon the country of diehards who had always resisted in the past with some success against the colonizers would be divided. By creating a Francophone and Anglophone entity. The colonial forces had no doubts the scheme to curb any future inclination to revolt in Cameroon, and the subsequent years would be crucial, since the antagonism between Anglophone and Francophone will be strengthened, to maintain the division of Cameroonian peoples. In addition the secession of a part of Cameroon and its attachment to Nigeria was a tactic which was to install an unhealthy climate in perpetuity, between the two riparian countries, which later experienced a deadly border dispute, as well as between people who became Francophone and Anglophone by the will of the colon.
While the referendum which intervened later had in substance, a material fact that would define sustainably what was to become the new independent states of Africa. If not why divide a country that already existed when it had barely reached independence? Why divide a country that was already clearly demarcated since the German occupation? Why was Cameroon the only former German colony to be divided? The answer is undoubtedly linked to the fact that it was necessary to fight the Cameroonian nationalism which had been formidable during the German occupation. In a kingdom like Kanem Bournou in the northern part that was dismembred between Chad, Cameroun and Nigeria the king Rabah who migrated from Nubia to take over after the dynasty of Selma which lasted over 7 centuries was eager to imprison and execute white colonist like Ferdinand de Béhagle or the famed François Joseph Amédée Lamy, who will die under his sword during the battle of Kousseri in April 22 1900. The Kanem empire will be totally destroyed purposefully by colonial powers, who were battling already nationalism in the rest of the country, even its capital Dikoa that went to Nigeria will never get the status of state, in a country that adopted federalism.
In fact Cameroonians witnessed a new "Berlin Conference" a scramble, a new division of the cake between the neocolonial forces, British and French, who intended to maintain their presence by exploiting the mineral resources of the said countries without stepping on the feet of each other. The referendum was not the will of some Cameroonians to attach them to any country whatsoever; where was the need? Since riparian families were not to be relocated because of independence and Cameroon was to be ruled by Cameroonians like themselves, not Francophone or Anglophone. The northern and southern Cameroons were simply Cameroon and worse the predominantly Muslim northern Cameroon which went to join Nigeria in the process lost its Cameroonian identity to become Nigeria and worse, its total independence was not guaranteed at the time. The northern Cameroon never became a state of the Nigerian federation the possibility of full independence had been rejected by the British representative at the United Nations Trusteeship Council Andrew Cohen, despite Nigeria's independence proclamation of October 20th 1960.
One may well ask how the Cameroonians of this part of the country had accepted such deceit, servility to join a country under the yoke of British colonists when the majority of Cameroon was fighting for its independence and had gotten it even by appearance, by January 1, 1960 a year before the fateful date of February 11, 1961 when Cameroon was amputated by this sham referendum while in 1958 a first referendum had a negative result populattion refusing to secede ?
Lays there, a quirk of history, that can only be the result of compromise between colonial powers. With its parterre of colonial domination and exploitation. This referendum had no reason to exist initially, the issue of camerooness of these populations did not arise, but the fall under the sphere of influence of France and England was the crucial question. The first electoral fraud in Cameroon is probably this referendum. Ultimately it’s easy to find that the outcome of the referendum was sealed in advance, because it was the outcome of a deal between France and England on the question of Cameroon. France became the dominant colonial power in the country after that part of Cameroon joined the British sphere of influence while it became Nigeria. The deal was respected since those years, England disappeared from Cameroon, never to interfere in the management of Cameroon's business like France, one can understand easily why. She was paid off with that part of Cameroon rich in mineral resource to be forgotten. The support of the french government to secessionists during the Biafra war was somehow a way to take back something to the British empire.
French and English are not the original languages of Cameroon, they are idioms that have been imposed on Cameroonians, reason why Cameroonian proud of their cultural identity should not use the language of the colon to define themselves and oppose each other. It is time for Africans in general to understand that religion or foreign language imposed on them is not worth dying for, because these are the tools that the "master" had to impose to build the house of his perpetual domination. Today it is important to ask the question of who are Cameroonians. Do they define themselves as Francophone first, Anglophone first, or Cameroonians?
When some public figures such as the Cameroonian prelate Christian Tumi, who is not of Anglophone origin but Cameroonian, state that another referendum has to be organized for Anglophone. One can ask the question it’s to become what? Be linked back to Nigeria and enter the sphere of English influence or define themselves as Cameroonians of another kind when diversity is the essence of Cameroon?
One can wonder if “Anglophony” and “Francophony” have taken over the Camerooness. Does the assimilationist acculturation have finally had the better on what are Cameroonians in essence?
The most laughable is this situation of acculturation is the fact that it is the first Cameroonians who live in areas where national identity began to form, who are the first to mess it up, yet they should be the first to inculcate to other Cameroonians what it means to be Cameroonians because those coming from the banks of the shrimps river and from the feet of the the chariot of gods are the first Cameroonians and should be the last to leave the ship even when it would be in fire. These areas were not the largest theater of operations of colonial battles against Cameroon for nothing.
Nevertheless it must be admitted that there is some frustration born from an illegitimate feeling, because grafted into the mentality of each other by the colonist, with the history of the independence struggle that unfortunately remains obscured with the half million deaths of the French colonial army against the Cameroonian people from the late 40s and early 70s, and the dummy independence that knows the Cameroon since 1960, the masters of manipulation of the masses continue to act in the shadows placing pawns who have since served their political division and control. The Cameroonian citizens unaware of the way their country is run are obviously always ready to blame those who serve them as leaders, leaders who are in power only because of the will of the colonizing forces they are subjected to, while keeping the appearance of state sovereignty.
It is extremely difficult to be president in Africa because at one time or another you have to make a difficult choice. Serve your people and run the certain risk of being most often drop violently with bloodshed of the same people you want to serve, or follow the directions pf neocolonial forces and implement the Third World impoverishment doctrine for the enrichment and the hegemony of the West.
Between these two currents, there’s Cameroon with Paul Biya who in 32 years of rule has maintained the status quo. Cameroonian President has demonstrated what political strategist he is, keeping the Cameroonian boat afloat year after year, serving intelligently the two currents; please the masters of the West and maintain a semblance of social progress in his country. A posture that he was obliged to hold since every time he dared to overlook the colonial directives, by trying a progressive policy he was brought to order by painful events. like in 1984 when he decided to start a big revival and policy of liberalism of the different component of the Cameroonian nation he had to deal with an attempted coup that brought him back to order, 7 years later he has to undergo other upheavals, the economic crisis created by the West, which the direct consequence was the devaluation of the FCFA and a democracy imposed to distract from the scandal of the economic spoliation of the continent started with the structural adjustment program of the IMF and the deterioration of exchange terms. The economic situation and democracy became pressure levers on policy direction.
Since 2009, with the new defense agreements, and the change of development partners, insecurity has settled in Cameroon; a fact not so trivial.
Anyway today the political balancing act is now insufficient with more informed people, aware of the new challenges of this era. The Cameroonian president has finally turned towards progress and economic growth in his country. The security problems with the activities of terrorist groups operating in northern part of the country to impose underdevelopment as standard, while eyeing a total imbalance in the country, is a very bad coincidence.
It is difficult to explain to some frustrated by years of renouveau (renewal- new deal ) that in fact Francophones are in no way responsible for the decay of the country, because in fact this garish failure in the social progress of the masses, is part of the program defined by foreign forces, a government that would nationalize mineral resources companies, rather than privatize by selling them to the western companies as stipulated by IMF programs (AES, Eneo, Camrail) is exposed to the drama. Nationalizing the economy and redistributing the benefits of economic growth to the population can only drastically reduce the profits of Western companies, and prestige of westerners towards African. As a result, the Western wrath could manifest as a remake of what happened to Gaddafi and the Libyan people if the ingredients were completed.
Also in the same logic it is time for some Cameroonians to stop thinking that they should engage in an ignoble bargain on their camerooness, when one looks at the infrastructural development of the country, the part so called Anglophone is not necessarily the least furnished, when at 50 km from the political capital of Cameroon, there are serious problems of roads, water and electricity supply, and worse northerly in the regions of the far north underdevelopment remains the norm. Should these Cameroonians "Francophone" from the north, south east and west, feel guilty about the bad situation in which the country is in, and give in to every whim of Anglophone Cameroonians of the Northwest and Southwest, while they live themselves under the pangs of misery? Do The rest of Cameroonians must yield to the blackmail of certain so-called Anglophone Cameroonians, to offer them a luxury union they cannot afford, while in reality for ages they are all Cameroonians?
In a less commendable paradigm of political bargaining some evoke the return to federalism by creating an Anglophone and Francophone state, when we know that the Northern Cameroon which once was attached to Nigeria lost its identity, and never became a state of the federation of Nigeria, it is important to note that in the context of a new federalism in Cameroon the 10 current regions rather should all qualify as state government. Perpetuate the colonial division of Cameroon under the prism of outgoing cleavage Anglophone against Francophone, would not help to build a united nation in its diversity, and proud of its social and cultural identity.
Besides the more than 50 years of dummy independence were run with the same “Anglophones “who so far occupied and occupy key positions, since the 60s in the management of national affairs. Francophone or southerners in this case should in no way alone feel guilty of the bad passes in which Cameroon lays, and bear the blame alone, they owe no excuse to anyone. Having one of their fellows as head of state has not made them elect who live above the poverty lot, Cameroon was not done or undone with one man, every Cameroonian in its own way contributed to what the country is today. The words of the first president of Cameroon Ahmadou Ahidjo ring with insight today: "Cameroon will be united or will not be. “Every Cameroonian must draw the necessary conclusions and ask the right questions to get the right answers. At a time when the challenge of globalization is due, micro states are unfortunately expected to disappear (failed states are those who are divided, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, and Ukraine) and it is certainly inappropriate to expect an nth division of Cameroon and Africa at a time when the united front should be mandatory.
By Hubert Marlin Elingui Jr