The Anglophone crisis that started in October 2016 reached its apex on Sunday, October 1, 2017 following the declaration of independence in various cities across Southern Cameroons despite the heavy deployment of government troops to intimidate Southern Cameroonians who have clearly displayed their determination to quit a badly and hastily stitched union with East Cameroon. City after city in Southern Cameroons hoisted the new nation’s flag with pride and dignity which Southern Cameroonians think they have been robbed of for more than five decades.
Across the region, Southern Cameroonians could be heard chanting their nation’s national anthem joyfully in the presence of Cameroon government troops who had been given orders and ammunition to shoot at protesters. Mamfe, the birth place of Anglophone activism, registered one of the worst incidents on Sunday, with more than two people shot to death and many others seriously wounded. Due to this unfortunate situation, residents of Manyu Division have vowed to topple local authorities and roll back Cameroon government influence in Manyu which is noted for its radicalism.
In Kumba, the stories were not different. Several protesters were killed and many wounded. Buea, Muyuka and Tombel stood up to be counted among the brave Southern Cameroonians who have succeeded to demonstrate their will and determination to stand up against a moribund regime that is noted for its brutality and manipulation.
In the North West, brave Southern Cameroonians in Bamenda successfully hoisted the Southern Cameroons flag at Liberty Square and sang their anthem in the presence of army soldiers who were helplessly watching. But it was Kumbo, Bui Division’s capital, that stole the show. The city’s central prison was torched while protesters proceeded to demonstrate across the city, bearing the Southern Cameroons flag and singing their newly minted national anthem.
As usual, the regime in Yaounde noted for mowing down its own citizens, organized fake marches of peace to mask the killing of Southern Cameroonians in their own territory. In Yaounde, the ruling party’s members of parliament converged on the reunification monument where they pledged their support to the country’s absentee president, Paul Biya, who is currently in Switzerland where he is battling prostate cancer. On his Facebook page, the octogenarian condemned violence, adding that it was normal for citizens to express their views in a republic, but in a respectful and non-violent manner.
He however did not indicate that for almost one year, his government has been mowing down its own people and arresting armless and innocent citizens for expressing their views. It should be recalled that Cameroon’s president spends most of his time out of the country, leaving the country’s struggling economy at the mercy of members of his party who are doing their best to loot the state’s treasury. More than fifty of the president’s former ministers and closest collaborators are currently languishing in jail for looting state coffers, although some schools of thought hold that charges against those in jail are politically motivated.
It should also be pointed out that prior to the declaration of independence by Southern Cameroonians, Cameroon’s minister of communication, Issa Tchiroma,on Saturday, September 30, 2017, had visited media houses to court their support where he advised them not to give an opportunity to Southern Cameroonians to present their own perspective of events to the public. He called on private media houses to side with the government in its effort to silence Southern Cameroonians. He argued that there was no Anglophone problem in Cameroon, adding that all those who were protesting in the Anglophone regions were terrorists who were being manipulated by some power-hungry and disgruntled Cameroonians living abroad. The minister of Communication, it should be recalled, has once been jailed by the Biya government for his role in the 1984 coup d’état that almost saw Mr. Biya out of power.
Sunday’s protest might not have led to a total takeover of government institutions by protesters and the arrest of government officials who have been enforcing the government’s Machiavellian policies as declared by the Southern Cameroons governing council, it has however proven that Southern Cameroonians can defy government orders and challenge institutions that do not serve the people’s interest. The clashes between protesting Southern Cameroonians and security forces have also simply pushed the Anglophone struggle underground, as government determination to win by military means leaves the protesters with no other options.
The government might have disrupted things on Sunday, but the revolting Southern Cameroons are prepared to engage the government in running battles that will make the region completely ungovernable. They are counting on hit-and-run tactics which will lead to the sabotaging of facilities such as oil tankers, oil installations and other facilities that will help them bring the country’s economy to its knees. It should be recalled that prior to Sunday’s events, a few bombs had gone off in Bamenda and Douala, and October 1 clashes will only lead to more of those bombs wreaking havoc in the country.
Meanwhile it has been alleged that the American billionaire, George Soros, is using his vast resources to help Southern Cameroonians walk away from their oppressors of fifty-six years. Similarly, it is also alleged that a Canadian firm has signed an oil contract with the Southern Cameroons Governing Council regarding the Anglophone region’s vast oil fields. If this is true, then the struggle has moved into a very critical stage and this will imply the entire school year will once more be disrupted.
However, the Cameroon government still has a last chance to preempt the possibility of the struggle degenerating into an armed conflict. Many leaders across the world, including the United Nations Secretary-General, have already called for sincere and genuine dialogue as the surest means to find sustainable solutions to issues raised by Southern Cameroonians. If the government can listen and if its surrogates can change their rhetoric, attitude and approach to the problem, a conducive environment could be created for the holding of a meaningful dialogue that will spare the country the agony and hardship usually created by every armed conflict.
A Cameroon Concord News Production