Rebecca Enonchong Profile picture
Sep 27, 2017 65 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
For non Cameroonians: when we refer to Southern Cameroons or Northern Cameroons these are territory names both located in West Cameroon.
S. Cameroons and N. Cameroons administered by British w/ Nigeria. S. Cameroons now in Cameroon as SW and NW regions. N.Cameroons in Nigeria
Many still refer to SW and NW regions under the original Southern Cameroons even though it’s in the West and not the South.
N. Cameroons is now in Eastern Nigeria in Adamawa State.
So if you’re not confused you might not get it.
Territory known as Eastern Cameroons became la Republique du Cameroun Jan 1 1960. S.Cameroons and N.Cameroons gained independence Oct 1 1961
By vote (fairness can be debated but they voted)Southern Cameroons joined la Republique du Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon
Northern Cameroons voted to become independent by joining Nigeria.
Again, people will say vote wasunfair. But no Northern Cameroons movement today. Southern Cameroons movement aka anglophone movement active
This explains the significance of the October 1 date for Southern Cameroonians. Not just Nigeria.
Many Nigerians, not just francophone Cameroonians never knew that N. Cameroonians are part of Nigeria since 1961.
It was a UN resolution that set this in motion
Many West Cameroonians petitioned the UN for a third option beyond joining Nigeria or la Republique du Cameroun: their own country.
Interestingly, those from Northern Cameroons have not been very vocal or shown any interest in joining what is now the Republic of Cameroon
But independence movement for Southern Cameroons has been active since 1961, many considering that the plebiscite itself against intl law
Here is the UN General Assembly resolution for any interested…
So why, if Southern Cameroons voted to join French Cameroons aka la Republique du Cameroun, are people in that area protesting today?
When the two nations joined into the Federal Republic of Cameroon, S. Cameroons had a number of institutions including its own parlement
S.Cameroons had its own legal and educational system dating from pre-colonial missionary days.
It was not outwardly rich but it had oil.
So with the support of the French, who, unlike the British, never really left Cameroon, a referendum took place in 1972
This referendum, based on majority vote of the entire country and not just West Cameroon as with the plebiscite, eliminated the federation
And instituted the United Republic of Cameroon with a highly centralized government
This meant an end to many of the institutions and governance checks and balances that existed.
One after the other, every single institution, company, system was replaced in favor of the French Cameroons way.
The only surviving systems were the GCE based educational system and the common law based legal system.
But even those saw huge changes and many in Southern Cameroons felt that they were threatened into losing the last of what was theirs.
So it’s not surprising that the current movement is led by lawyers and teachers from Southern Cameroons
Who are fighting to retain the very last of what they knew was key their democratic institutions and their future.
many don’t understand why civil society, lawyers, and teachers union are taking a seemingly political stance when it’s role of politicians
For then, they have already lost all of their known, loved way of life and Yaoundé wants to take the last 2 remaining: school and courts
The line was drawn. This, here is where it ends. Don’t touch my legal system, don’t touch my educational system.
only way movmt leaders, led by teachers, lawyers, felt they could protect this way of life was going back to system they knew: federalism
Unfortunately, even talking about federalism in Cameroon is an affront to the government
Leaders were jailed and internet was cut in Southern Cameroons. Federalism was equated with terrorism
the population has had Ghost towns for almost a year, shutting down businesses and economic activity a couple days a week in quiet protest
Govt response? Massive arrests, heavy militarization of area, an impotent bilingual commission, and of course the famous internet shutdown
These all served to radicalize Southern Cameroonians and embolden the secessionist movement which had been sputtering since 1961.
With the more moderate federalist leaders in prison, the only loud voices left were the secessionists.
Then after 9 months, a few leaders were released with the others still in prison awaiting military trial on terrorism charges.
The govt seeking to ‘divide and rule’ pitting the leaders against one another. Not understanding one fundamental point:
This is not leaders based movement, it’s a population based movement. The leaders can change, the people are determined to see this through
secessionists represented by Ambazonians. Ambazonia is the name separatists (they say restorationists) have given independent S.Cameroons
name Ambazonia comes from Ambass Bay a settlement of free slaves near Limbe (former Victoria) established by Alfred Saker in the mid 1800s
In the early 80s, Fon Gorgi Dinka a well known traditional leader and pro independence activist coined the name. He too was jailed.
So although we refer to this as anglophone problem it has little to do with language. They could speak Chinese and pb would remain.
lack of effort of govt to translate documents including laws, into English has exacerbated situation. But these are symptoms not cause
strong tradition of holding authority accountable, rule and respect of law, of order, of civic responsibility are what comprised S.Camers
The glue that held these elements together was indeed sharing the English language but speaking English does not make one a S.Cameroonian.
We are at an impasse because two people with very different civic and political traditions don’t know that they don’t have same past.
The reaction of a Southern Cameroonian to repression from Yaoundé will be radically different from that of East Cameroonian (French zone).
So although both people are suffering from the same ills of poor governance they don’t have the same approach to fixing this.
Southern Cameroonians (Anglophones) accustomed to standing up to authority thru history think East Cameroonians (francophones) too passive
East Cameroonians (francophones) find S.Cameroonian methods too radical and unpatriotic.
But Eastern Cameroonians (francophones) have their own weight of history. Having to fight France for independence losing up to 1 Mln lives
Those who fought for independence (many finding exile in Southern Cameroons) were not those who led independent la Republique du Cameroun.
Those who won have been using the same methods of repression that was used by Colonial France. silence dissent by any means necessary
This is only type of governance E. Cameroonians (francophones) have ever known. 1st French for 57 yrs 1 regime (current president was PM)
Most Cameroonians think that this governance is normal. They have learned to live with it and manage their way around it.
Then come these crazy anglos who sacrifice schooling, business and their lives They march when marches banned. They close shop and refuse to
Refuse their kids to school! Madness to the East Cameroonians. Principles to the Southern Cameroonians.
And this only makes this crisis more difficult and at the same time provides an opportunity.
silence from E. Cameroonians is not as some say a sign of complicity with authority. Many are shocked and stunned and don’t know what to do
Sometimes they will clumsily but not maliciously say stuff like ‘we all have problems why are your problems more important than mine.’
similar to the #alllivesmatter #blacklivesmatter debate. It’s very difficult for someone w/ different life ‘experience’ to understand

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