The struggle of the Southern Cameroonians hits another unexpected turn in the diaspora this week owing to the unexpected exiting of two interim consortium leaders. The interim leaders who stood firm to the consortium original ideals for a quest of federalism as was originally called by detained consortium leader Agbor Balla paid a prize for their pragmatism.
For almost half a century, there is little doubt that our marginalization had reached an unprecedented level. The recent repressive actions and the unlawful detentions of our comrades by LRC had heralded a popular movement, radicalized some and heightened the euphoria for an “imagined community” of a Southern Cameroons state. While we acknowledge that these recent events had angered, and push many opinions to shift from federalism to independence quest; It is high time to take a little step back and examine the merits of federalism or independence.
Living in Switzerland, I am personally thrilled with the Swiss type of federal system that is similar to what is articulated by George Ngwane. The merits of this system can be highlighted as follows:
A two states federation with equal weight that will enhance regional autonomies and maintain traditional/cultural specificity of regions.
Strong regional financial autonomy that will enable local areas to manage their finances and resources.
Strong local political empowerment that will enable localities to elect their leaders independently, hire local government workers including local police forces (sheriffs) and enact local laws.
Our areas will also benefit strongly to the strengthening of our cultural diversity notably our strong bilingualism for a cultural economy, tourism, digital entrepreneurship to name a few.
As a pan Africanist, the call of an independent sovereign state just because we are English speakers is an endorsement of a déjà vu western colonialist agenda. This once again redrawing another artificial boundary in the continent. This is one of the reasons I also feel the anglophone marginalization is getting little traction internationally especially in the western countries/medias as it isn’t perceived as indigenous but generic articulation.
The international community feels and empathizes with the Kurds for example who will wish to seal their traditional ancestral fraternal bond as a nation by merging Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq etc. Why in today’s world should we be prepared to sacrifice the lives of many of us to defend a foreign culture (English language) as the bases of a sovereign state while many countries are getting rid of these colonial relics. Rwanda had shown us the way by removing French as a national official language.
Beside the pan Africanist factor, the independent Southern Cameroons might be a recipe of potential perpetual problematics such as conflict, security & tribal issues, nonrecognition and failed state.
In addition to boycotts, strike actions and civil disobedience as the consortium federalist has been doing up to date; the independentists must be prepared for a more enduring fight both from the unitarist and LRC.
Expect resistance and even a call of another autonomy from huge tribal regions who waited for several decades to be united with families east of Moungo in 1960. They will certainly resist another separation from their ancestral families in the East. For example, the Kupe Muanenguba and Fako with littoral etc. They will tell you they are against the regime not against their families in littoral.
The issue of corruption and tribalism is another potential pitfall. We have seen it surface where no one expected such as in current ANC south Africa. The ANC fought for equity and against oppression for several decades but their current governance doesn’t reflect the ideals they fought for. There is today a widespread corruption, tribalism and xenophobia. South Sudan is another recent example of tribalism with in-fighting and corruption virtually becoming a failed state. The south west region that will certainly be a minority in such a future state got reasons for anxiety owing to the DNA of tribalism and non-respect of minorities in the continent. The executive composition of some groups in this struggle so far try to minimize the importance of diversity and equal representation of NW and SW regions. It might be a signal of a standard democratic majority rule that I think will be a recipe of discontent and fuel conflicts. Federalism safeguards these fears because it empowers strong local autonomies.
The recognition of such a state is not assured internationally. As from now, there is no major western power that is supporting the quest for our independence. Even support is gained overtime from some countries, France will certainly use her veto power in the security council.
A forced independence from LRC will have serious security challenges. Firstly, there will be a long Eastern artificial porous boundary with continued conflict due to the unfriendly divorce with LRC.
Hospitable to some of our exiled comrades, Nigeria might try indirectly to exert her influence over our territory notably Bakassi as the local community had vowed never to accept the ICJ ruling. “Anyone who thinks that we the people of Bakassi can come under Cameroon is wasting time because that will not work…” said by Mr. Solomon Inameti, coordinator of the Save Bakassi Group (2012). As in the 1950s and 60s, our people might once again will face incursions, banditry, ritual killings etc. from the western giant. A comparable situation that culminated to our benevolent neutrality in 1953 and eventual withdrawal from Eastern house.
Fellow Southern Cameroonians, we should now think critically not to start sailing and get imbibed at the middle of the ocean without a possibility to return.
By Ekah MN