British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has again stressed the need for the Biya regime to hold talks with the leadership of the Southern Cameroons revolution. The UK’s chief diplomat observed that there was an urgent need for dialogue in solving the political crisis in Southern Cameroons. Boris Johnson made public the position of Her Majesty’s Government during a meeting with Prime Minister Philemon Yang on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London. The 85 year old President Biya was conspicuously absent.
Cameroon Concord News Group gathered that the London talks between the British Foreign Secretary and the Anglophone Prime Minister were frank, intensive and “productive”. Johnson pointed out that it was in Yaounde’s best interest to pursue dialogue and respect human rights.
When the Southern Cameroons crisis started in October 2016, few people thought it would last for a week. Very few even thought it would have an impact on the government. The two English-speaking regions were considered insignificant, especially as they only constitute 20% of the country’s population.
Senior government officials such as Laurent Esso and Jacques Fame Ndongo felt it was not even necessary to pay attention to the English-speaking minority. To the government, it had everything under control and if the population insisted on carrying through with its demands, then the government would stop at nothing to crush the English-speaking minority.
Mr. Fame Ndongo, who is the country’s higher education minister, is alleged to have compared the two regions to “two cubes of sugar” which could be easily melted in an ocean; with the ocean being the 80% Francophone majority. Little did he know that those “cubes of sugar” had stood the test of time and after 56 years of marginalization, the people of the North West and South West regions had had enough and were prepared to make their grievances known to the international community.
The fighting is ongoing, and it is getting nastier by the day, as government soldiers erase whole villages from the country’s map, a tactic it used to intimidate French-speaking freedom fighters popularly known as “Marquisards” in the 60s. These acts of violence do not seem to be producing the desired impact. Far from dissuading the determined Southern Cameroonian fighters, they are instead breeding revenge which is feeding the circle of violence that the government has triggered in the country.
Today, Cameroon government officials are gradually coming to terms with the fact that the two “cubes of sugar” will not easily melt. Instead of intimidating the fighters, the violence has now become a reason why the people of Southern Cameroons have to fight to the finish. They know the government is not willing to solve the problem and yielding to government pressure will only imply that they will have to go back to the status quo ante where they were regarded as second-class citizens.
By Chi Prudence Asong in London