On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

20th May Cameroon: The Age of Reason and Unreason May 21, 2009

Louis Egbe Mbua

Originally published in Living Lights 

It crossed my mind that the exact reasons for the formulation of this day in Cameroon nationhood has not been fully examined with a very fine lens. This day is a blessing to a few elite Cameroonians, a mixed blessing for a majority Cameroonians and a great political, social and economic misfortune and disaster for a significant minority. The three groups at play here are: the Cameroon elite – this includes groups from both the English-speaking (Southern Cameroons or Federated State of West Cameroon) and French Speaking (La Republique du Cameroun or Federated State of East Cameroon.) regions; the gross majority of the Cameroon masses who are French-Speaking from La Republique du Cameroun; and the final unfortunate English-speaking Cameroonians from minority Southern Cameroons. In between these fundamental groups are other tribal geopolitical factors which will not be examine

d here: as it is of minor significance in relation

to the creation of The Federated States of the Cameroons on the 1st of October 1961.


President Ahidjo had failed to implement the legal requirements of the United Nations: to implement the terms of the February 1961 plebiscite; but rather had used subterfuge, deceit and other politically motivated cunning schemes to co-opt elite Southern Cameroons politicians from Buea, the Capital of Southern Cameroons, to Yaoundé, the Capital of La Republique du Cameroun. Although there was a meeting in Foumban in July 1961 to finalise the Federation, it ended inconclusively because any agreements that could have been reached would have been practically and legally inapplicable as Southern Cameroons was still a UN Trust Territory; and that only the UN could sanction any agreement between the two states. But since Ahidjo had a Union des Populations Camerounais (UPC) guerrilla war on his hands, he thought it would be easier to call for national “unity” between the two states rather than risk a legalistically powerful Southern Cameroons that had the powers and political will to have opposed his absolute brutality in putting down the UPC Rebellion and other acts of genocide. Buea, at the time, was a very powerful political base to launch any challenge against Ahidjo – both in policies and his political position. Worse, Ahidjo, having come to power by questionable undemocratic means in East Cameroon, feared that Southern Cameroonian politicians will demand that he subjected himself to popular democratic vote as was the custom in their own part of the country. The state was then set for an unreasonable move that would spiral the country into the brink of disintegration almost 50 years later.

Ahidjo, therefore, instead of doing what was right and just to the entire Federation, being in a position of strength as opposed to the trust territory of Southern Cameroons, decided to disregard international law, impose a constitution onto the people of Southern Cameroons who never democratically deliberated on it in the first place, as was their tradition at the time, brought in his army who had been in brutal confrontation with the UPC Guerrillas in East Cameroun; and went on to harass the people of Southern Cameroons into submission and unconstitutionality.

Meanwhile, he had brought over or bought over — depending on one’s point of view — seasoned Southern Cameroons politicians such as Nzo Ekangaki, John Ngu Foncha who was Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons, Prof Bernard Fonlon and a host of top level Southern Cameroonians to Yaoundé. Again, this was an illegal and unconstitutional sham that continues to be this day. Yaoundé had and has never been democratically approved as the capital of Southern Cameroons people or the Federation: so quite why the Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons, Dr. Foncha, would have accepted the position of Vice President of the Cameroon Federation without the peoples approval is open to debate. The main suggestion as to this Southern Cameroon political folly may be grounded on personal political profiteering.

So in 1972, when Ahidjo abrogated the illegal constitution, it meant very little to him as he had no legal right to rule in the Southern Cameroons. To "legalise" this constitutional Coup D'Etat, he concocted a fraudulent referendum for the entire Federation in complete violation of the terms of the plebiscite. Thus, Ahidjo’s 1972 act was a forgone conclusion because he had never fulfilled the UN and plebiscite terms in the first place. So, there we have it: a Southern Cameroons (and French Cameroun) elite who enjoyed and continue to enjoy the trappings of power in a foreign capital but kept and continue to keep their eyes away from the big picture: their people in Southern Cameroons and the depletion of political savvy hands from Buea and their own country; thus rendering their own capital and country a reduced powerbase and a shadow of its political self to this day.

Although Dr. Endeley and Bobe Jua had remained behind, Buea’s days as a renowned democratic capital in Africa were over: The Houses of Parliament and Chief, having been bypassed by Ahidjo in the watch of the elite now ensconced or promised to be given positions in Yaoundé, was now finished.

Ahidjo and the Francophone elite, therefore, now had the opportunity to work and examine the skills and ability of the West Cameroon elite in Yaoundé in their own turf and on their own terms. Reduced in power and carriers of water, and knowing full well that their presence there was illegal and unwarranted by the East Cameroon elite, the Francophones now applied their full rights upon them; and making it very clear that Southern Cameroonians were second to them irrespective of qualifications. There were arguments in offices in Yaoundé as to whether Southern Cameroonians were equal to East Cameroonians as a people within the Federation.

Nevertheless, Ahidjo and his coterie of Francophones knew that they were no match in qualifications and experience to West Cameroonians. This being the case, he had considered this a threat to his own country East Cameroun; and the West Cameroon elite a threat to his own political position as an absolute ruler. As a result it seems that the only way Ahidjo were to eliminate this threat, once and for all, was to annex the state of West Cameroon, one of the Federated states. As he had bought or brought over the West Cameroon elite, he knew or calculated — quite rightly — that they would not dare oppose him. Ahidjo then went forward and performed an international criminal act by abolishing a state that was internationally recognised; which he is not a citizen; and where his rule was illegal. That is the reason for 20th of May in Cameroon’s annals. It is not a National day nor is it an Independence Day. It is the day when people applied their reason to create chaos, commit a crime and allow unreason to flourish and illegality to prevail in Cameroon to this day; and why thieves run Cameroon today.

Ahidjo’s unreasonable political machinations didn’t end there. He had, unlike the Southern Cameroons elite who had deserted Buea and their own people, foreseen the huge economic potential in Southern Cameroons in terms of social, economic and human resources: for the United Nations and the British had laid a very strong educational, economic, political and administrative foundation in the country embedded in the rule of law and fair play; and the minds of the people of Southern Cameroons. In this wise, Ahidjo knew it would have been impossible to exploit these resources without him being referred to the Southern Cameroons parliament or being prosecuted in Buea if he were to allow the West Cameroon state to exist, or taken to the International Court of Justice for trial. So, the only way he could extract these resources to augment his impoverished and war-torn country was to act illegally by annexing the West Cameroon state. And that is what he did in 1972, 20th of May the day when political, economic and social madness took hold in Cameroon; and the day the age of unreason began.

Ahidjo — and his partners in crime went further – closing down airports, seaports, and other important institutions such as the West Cameroon Parliament; and the West Cameroon National Electricity Board. All resources from Southern Cameroons as from that period ontowards ended up in Yaoundé and Douala to this day: making the Francophone Middle class rich while impoverishing Southern Cameroonians. Power now resides in the hands of Francophones who now determine, illegally, what Southern Cameroonians should do, say or what positions they should occupy in their own country. They monopolise the oil industry which is mostly in Southern Cameroons and discriminate against the inhabitants of Victoria, steal lands from indigenous Bakweri and commit all kinds of crimes against the people of Southern Cameroons. While French Cameroonian middle classes and the political elite can celebrate their loot, the Southern Cameroonian people must mourn this day as the day when unreason replaced reason. Consequently, this day of unreason must be overthrown in Cameroon to be replaced by a legally binding date – if any Union is to continue — so that reason and law may reign: for peace, stabilty and justice to prevail in that country.

Endeley and Mbile


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