Southern Cameroons after Sako: Reflections
I am afraid the groundwork is being laid for a Jonas Savimba and a South Sudan situation in Ambazonia especially in the light of the action of a local Amba commander meddling in matters political, matters that appertain exclusively to the civil order.
The reality is that the IG is yet to live up to expectation. There are accusations of an itching palm. There are accusations of leadership conspicuous consumption lifestyle at the expense of the Struggle. There are accusations of misconduct, contemptuous arrogance, and patronage management style.
The leadership is very divisive. It is not inclusive and accommodating. It is very intolerant of criticism and alternative viewd.
This holds no promise for democracy, free and safe political competition, robust civil society activism, and constitutionalism in an independent Ambazonia.
The leadership has fractured Ambazonians in the Diaspora and on GZ, putting them on each other’s throat.
It has not conceived or rolled out Struggle strategy and a vision for independent Ambazonia.
All one sees is groping in the dark, loud empty noises from left and right, a focus on money and power, and mere reactions to events that unfold.
People do not help things by their distortions of facts and inconsistent inconsistency.
Comrade Boh, for example, has for long attacked the IG on grounds that its head was not elected by the people by universal suffrage through the Internet. He vowed never to recognise the IG. Now he finds it opportunistically convenient to pledge ‘support’. I doubt that the person who is the object of this evanescent ‘support’ is fooled.
Further, comrade Boh gives a self-serving narrative, an ex post facto rationalisation, of the standing of Mandela while in jail.
Mandela became famous. But that is not who he was while in prison. He was an ‘extremist’ (to use the language of the French Cameroun colonial oppressor and federalists) convicted and sentenced to life for treason.
He was a felon. He was seen and listed in the West as a terrorist.
The ANC tactically decided to make him the face of the South Africa anti-apartheid struggle to mobilise domestic and international public opinion in favour of his release.
That is a common strategy now used by especially international human rights organisations to secure the release of any imprisoned prominent human rights activists.
There is another false account by comrade Boh in his write-up. Mandela did not become head of the ANC until after the death of Oliver Tambo in 1994. Throughout the time of Mandela’s imprisonment Oliver Tambo remained head of the ANC and conducted the affairs of the ANC from Norway where he was in exile. Mandela was head of the South African Youth League. At the time of his arrest and imprisonment he was the head of the ANC military wing known as Umkhonto We Sizwe.
The claim that Mandela “let his peers – Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela etc – be the leaders of the ANC” is utterly false and a piece of historical revisionism.
Thabo Mbeki was in exile and in charge, in the UK, of ANC communication. His father, Govan Mbeki, was in prison like Mandela. Desmond Tutu was not in the ANC but was, along with Pastor Allain Boesak, a leader in the rainbow movement that joined its voice in campaigning for Mandela’s release from prison. Winnie Mandela was a combatant in her own right.
All these South African freedom fighters did not need and did not have validation or authorisation from Mandela as Boh erroneously suggests.
A final and important point to make is that throughout the Struggle the ANC never set up a government internally or in exile. Boh’s analogy in this regard is therefore illegitimate and invalid.
It is often forgotten that the original idea of an Ambazonian IG was not to ensure the governance of Ambazonia from abroad. That is infeasible. The idea was to create a directive instrument responsible for: (i) prosecuting the national liberation struggle, (ii) internationalisation and education in regarding the quest for freedom, (iii) responding to the mounting humanitarian crisis, and (iv) crafting a vision for independent Ambazonia in all areas of national life.
We may have erred in designating the instrument for action as a government. The answer to that mistake is to fix things. This necessarily involves serious critical introspection, recognition of the mistake, development and adoption of a realistic solution, and then crafting the way forward.
This exercise requires the involvement of all willing and ready Ambazonians from the four corners of the earth. In this way Ambazonians will take ownership of the way forward and run with it.
There has since been a very detrimental deviation from the primary objectives of the Struggle. The focus now is on power – government per se, appointments, offices, titles, money, conspicuous consumption.
These expendable delusional quests are the root causes of the observed francture in the Ambazonian body politic, the bitter and acrimonious intra-Ambazonian fighting including deadly fighting on GZ, and the shameless peacock syndrome exhibited by some to the disgust and contempt of the informed outside world.
These are all signs that portend an Angolan or South Sudan civil war situation in tomorrow’s Ambazonia raising well founded fears among not a few people that “this your Ambazonia thing” is hardly worth the salt and that we might as well accept the status quo.
The world is now conflict fatigued. It has no appetite for assuming the role of knight-errand going about extinguishing the ambers of conflict here and there.
Accordingly, voices are beginning to say the UK was right after all in its conclusion that we do not deserve and merit sovereign statehood and that we inexorably have to be under the tutelage of either of our adjacent neighbours.
Sixty years after that perceptive assessment we have not been able to show cause why it should be changed. Of course, in the light of GZ sacrifices, the assessment has now taken the form of a prescription for a federation in whatever form, shape or size.
I dare to suggest, against my own instincts and belief, that given this pathetic display of childishness and high degree of immaturity on our part, the federal thesis is apt to prevail on the long run if we do not change our nationally erring ways, recentre the Struggle and restructure the instrument of national liberation for better and timeous results.
[5/4, 7:20 AM] Prof Carlson Anyangwe: On the specious claim that the President and our other leaders in jail want to be “ruling from prison” this is my take:
In the past 16 months there has repeatedly been a chorus of a rehearsed line about our imprisoned leadership trying to rule from prison. That line betrays the warped mindset of its propagators who are persons consumed by and fixated with some amount of power which, on analysis, is a mere figment of the imagination.
The urgent call of the hour is the necessity of unflinchingly and successfully prosecuting the national liberation struggle. It is not ruling or governing. There is yet no state and no people over who we exercise imperium.
Ambazonia remains a contested territory. We are not in control of it yet.
The political leadership we proclaim is entirely located in the Diaspora, bereft of any privilege, power or ability to govern the land.
There is nothing to exhibit as evidence of our governance of Ambazonia. A country and a people cannot be ruled or governed from abroad without a local presence on the ground.
The colonial power ruled from the metropole. But he had an established administration in the colonial territory.
Some national liberation struggles have been successfully prosecuted while its political leadership is in a closed prison or in the open prison that the Diaspora environment is for it.
An exiled political leader of a national liberation movement in effect is in an open prison because he is constrained in many ways by the explicit or implicit requirements of his host country.
While in exile the political leadership of a national liberation movement does not and cannot purport to rule or govern the contested territory because there is a de facto or de jure authority on the ground exercising governmental functions and powers, and exacting obedience and tax from the population.
Given that situation, the political leadership in jail or abroad, of the national liberation struggle, does not govern or rule but directs the Struggle.
Nothing inhibits or precludes such direction emanating from an imprisoned leadership. There are many historical examples of this.
While in jail Mandela was able to evolve into the kind of strategic leader who, from his solitary confinement imprisonment, secretly directed the Struggle and steered secret government meetings that eventually ushered a free South Africa.
Jomo Kenyatta became the president of the Kenya African National Congress while in prison. From there he directed the liberation struggle of the party until his release in 1961 and his voyage to London the followng year to negotiate the constitutional terms of Kenya’s independence.
During his year in jail Kwame Nkrumah did not hands-off the CPP he had founded.
Nor did Robert Mugabe, Malcolm X, Robert Sobukwe, Mohandas Gandhi, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr etc etc sit in their respective prisons twisting their fingers and waiting hopefully for release on some indeterminate date before once more engaging in the fight for freedom.
By Prof Carlson Anyangwe