The Anglophone Problem , as it is commonly referred to in Cameroon , is a socio-political issue rooted in Cameroon's colonial legacies from the Germans , British , and the French. The issue classically and principally opposes many Cameroonians from the Northwest and Southwest regions, many of whom consider themselves Anglophones, to the Cameroonian government. This is based on the fact that these two regions formally British Southern Cameroons were controlled by Britain as a mandated and trust territory of the League of Nations and the United Nations respectively. While many Northwesterners and Southwesterners believe there is an Anglophone problem, some do not. In fact, the term "Anglophone" today creates a lot of controversy, as many former French-speaking Cameroonians who are either multilingual or speak only English most of whom have gone through the English sub-system of education consider themselves as Anglophones.
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Le nationalisme anglophone au Cameroun. The article examines the historical process leading to the emergence of Anglophone nationalism in public space during the current liberalisation process in Cameroon.
Persistent attempts by the Francophone-dominated state to control the newly created Anglophone movements have made Anglophone nationalists resort to less obtrusive forms of resistance, creating public space for an Anglophone identity and nationhood in historical, artistic, virtual, legal and everyday domains. The winner of the match was to play Senegal, which had already qualified for the final by defeating Nigeria. What struck us most during the match was the sudden change in attitude of our fellow viewers.
Even a later remark by the commentator that one of the Cameroonian players was an Anglophone failed to change the mood and restore their enjoyment of the match. The imagination of a nation B.
Anderson usually requires a much longer historical process than Fardon is willing to accept—a process that state policies can only reinforce but never entirely determine. This is a project that is different from nationalism and opposed to existing ethnic and national identities Cahen Several Anglophone associations and pressure groups emerged that have protested against Anglophone marginalisation, assimilation and exploitation by the Francophone-dominated state in the post-colonial state.
Their explanation in terms of opportunist entrepreneurs in search of a political market comes close to the government position on Anglophone nationalism.
Probably on the assumption that government strategies of control, notably the frequent use of state violence, divide-and-rule tactics, and the co-optation of some Anglophone elites into the regime, would be effective, they claim that Anglophone nationalism will never witness an exponential growth in the public arena Sindjoun It is instead the result of a long historical process of identity formation, going back as far as the beginning of colonialism when two territorial communities were created each with its own distinct cultural legacy.
As Susungi aptly observed, one of its immediate consequences has been that the reunification episode was far from being the reunion of two prodigal sons who had been unjustly separated at birth, but was more like a loveless marriage arranged by the United Nations between two people who hardly knew each other. The most decisive factor in the construction of an Anglophone identity, however, has turned out to be the post-colonial nation-state project that led Anglophones to imagine Cameroon as a prison rather than as a nation.
Most agree that its roots may be traced back as far as the partitioning, after World War One, of the erstwhile German Kamerun Protectorate between the French and English victors, first as mandates under the League of Nations and later as trusts under the United Nations.
As a result of this partitioning, the British acquired two narrow and non-contiguous regions in the western part of the country, bordering Nigeria. The southern part and the focus of our study was christened Southern Cameroons, and the northern part became known as Northern Cameroons 2. Significantly, the British territory was much smaller than the French one, comprising only about one fifth of the total area and population of the former German colony Mbuagbaw et al.
The partitioning of the territory into English and French spheres had some significant consequences for future political developments. Importantly, it laid the historical and spatial foundation for the construction of Anglophone and Francophone identities in the territory.
The populations in each sphere came to see themselves as distinct communities, defined by differences in language and inherited colonial traditions of education, law, public administration and worldview.
Second, while French Cameroon was incorporated into the French colonial empire as a distinct administrative unit, separate from neighbouring French Equatorial Africa, the British Cameroons was administered as part of Nigeria, leading to the blatant neglect of its socio-economic development and the increasing migration of Nigerians, notably the Igbo, to the Southern Cameroons where they came to dominate the regional economy.
That their expressed wish was eventually not honoured must be attributed to two main factors. First, internal divisions among the Anglophone political elite prevented them from rallying behind the majority option in the territory.
In the end, they chose the lesser of the two evils. Their vote in favour of reunification appeared to be more a rejection of continuous ties with Nigeria, which had proved to be harmful to Southern Cameroonian development, than a vote for union with Francophone Cameroon, a territory with a different cultural heritage and at the time involved in a violent civil war Joseph Instead, it soon became evident that the Francophone political elite preferred a highly centralised, unitary state as a means of promoting national unity and economic development.
While the Francophone elite received strong support from the French during the constitutional negotiations, the Anglophone elite was virtually abandoned by the British, who deeply resented the Southern Cameroons option for reunification with Francophone Cameroon Awasom In the end, during the constitutional talks at Foumban in July , the Francophone elite was only prepared to accept a highly centralised federation, which was regarded merely as a transitional phase to a unitary state.
Such a federation demanded relatively few amendments to the constitution of the Republic of Cameroon. Even worse, a few months after reunification, Ahidjo created a system of regional administration in which West Cameroon was designated as one of six regions, basically ignoring the political character of the country.
These regions were headed by powerful federal inspectors who, in the case of West Cameroon, in effect overshadowed the prime minister with whom they were in frequent conflict concerning jurisdiction Stark Besides, the West Cameroon government could barely function since it had to depend entirely on subventions from the federal government that controlled the major sources of revenue.
When, in , Ahidjo created a unitary state in blatant disregard of constitutional provisions, there was in reality little left of the federation, except perhaps in name Benjamin For the Anglophone population, nation-building has been driven by the firm determination of the Francophone political elite to dominate the Anglophone minority in the post-colonial state and to erase the cultural and institutional foundations of Anglophone identity Eyoh A few recent examples seem to substantiate Anglophone allegations of systematic discrimination in the recruitment for government posts.
In February it was announced that there were only 57 Anglophone youths among the more than five thousand new recruits joining the police academies 4. And, even more significantly, these Anglophones were only given junior staff positions while all the senior staff positions went to Francophones 5.
There is also general agreement that Anglophones have been exposed to a carefully considered policy aimed at eroding their language and institutions even though Francophone political leaders had assured their Anglophone counterparts during the constitutional talks on reunification that the inherited colonial differences in language and institutions were to be respected in the bilingual union. And, last but not least, the relative underdevelopment of the Anglophone region shows that it has not benefited sufficiently from its rich resources, particularly oil.
Gradually, this created an Anglophone consciousness: the feeling of being recolonised and marginalised in all spheres of public life and thus of being second-class citizens in their own country. Apparently, when they realised that their influence within the federated state of West Cameroon was beginning to be whittled down, the federal arrangements no longer suited their designs.
The newly created Anglophone movements were then able to place the Anglophone problem on the national and international agenda 6. The umbrella organisation of all the Anglophone movements was subsequently named the Southern Cameroons National Council scnc.
Widespread euphoria could be felt in Anglophone Cameroon when a scnc delegation returned from a mission to the United Nations in During rallies attended by huge crowds in several Anglophone towns, the delegation displayed a large un flag, claiming it had received it from the un to show that the Southern Cameroons was still a un trust territory and that independence was only a matter of time 8.
Two factors were mainly responsible for this unfortunate development. First, the Biya government proved capable of neutralising the Anglophone movements to a large extent by employing a number of long-standing tactics including divide-and-rule, co-opting Anglophone leaders into the regime, and severe repression.
Second, there was the problem of leadership. With the resignation of the founding fathers from the leadership, the scnc lacked competent and committed leadership. Of late, Anglophone struggles appear to have acquired a new impetus.
In January , President Paul Biya for the first time admitted, albeit in a dismissive fashion, that such a problem existed, even if he perceived it as one created by a handful of hotheads and vandals. Still, he has not yet shown any interest in negotiating with Anglophone movements in spite of regular appeals by Anglophone, Francophone and international dignitaries to solve the Anglophone problem through dialogue They are, therefore, engaged in an impressive dose of historical amnesia—willed acts of selective remembrance of the past so as to erase Anglophone identity and heritage from national history.
Anglophone nationalist leaders and scholars, in turn, have quickly recognised the importance of rediscovering Anglophone history as an invaluable political resource in combating the regime and raising the consciousness of the Anglophone population. They have therefore attempted to bring back Anglophone identity into the historical space, strongly contesting some of the myths created by the regime and organic scholars. We have only room here for a few examples.
Anglophone nationalists have instead provided sufficient evidence that the people in both territories were reluctant to reunite. Not only had the two communities gone through two completely different colonial experiences prior to reunification but they had also lived longer apart than together in a body politic. The idea of reunification, which had been mainly propagated by the radical nationalist party in Francophone Cameroon, the Union des populations du Cameroun upc , and Francophone immigrants in Anglophone Cameroon Joseph ; Awasom , had for a long time remained a mere slogan in Anglophone Cameroon and had simply been rejected by the French colonial administration and the majority of the Francophone political elite.
Many Anglophones did eventually vote for reunification but only after they had been forced by external forces to abandon their preferred option of creating an independent state. His caution that these issues fell within the reserved competence of the French government was superfluous because Anglophone Cameroon was terra incognita to the parliamentarians. He did not want to upset the current situation and thereby cause a shift in power relations. However, for Anglophone nationalists, the conference was an occasion where the Francophone majority used its superior bargaining strength to control negotiations and enforce a form of federation far below Anglophone expectations.
In other words, fear prevented Anglophones from expressing their objective interests. The ballot box was far from secret, election results were fixed beforehand, and it was neither politically wise nor politically safe to hold and express views different from those of the president, let alone oppose in word or deed any of his plans or actions.
On these days, Anglophone activists have frequently attempted to hoist the federation, the United Nations or independent Southern Cameroons flags—attempts that were often brutally challenged by the security forces. They have particularly opposed the change of name of Victoria, a coastal town named after Queen Victoria Courade , into Limbe, the name of a river that flows through the town. Government failure to implement a similar policy in Francophone Cameroon is clear proof that its avowed goal was to erase the Anglophone identity and history Anglophone nationalists have re-introduced the name of Victoria during political liberalisation.
Anglophone perception was strengthened by the belief that the archives were a repository for documents that could give the regional population an insight into what really transpired before, during and after the Foumban Conference. It was even rumoured that one of these documents envisaged secession should Anglophones be discontent with the outcome of the conference after a stipulated period of time.
Remarkably, in the wake of the death in of John Ngu Foncha, the Anglophone architect of reunification, another rumour rapidly spread in Anglophone Cameroon that this particular document, almost the holy grail of Anglophone nationalism, which the government wanted to remove from the Buea archives, had actually been in the custody of Foncha after reunification.
He was said to have handed it over to Augustine Ngom Jua, his successor as prime minister in Ambassador retired Henry Fossung, a leader of one of the scnc factions, claimed that Foncha had given it to him shortly before his death.
However, it acquires some respectability when it is placed in the perspective of a deep Anglophone concern with its past and identity. Confronted with severe state repression, Anglophone nationalists have resorted to the arts to create public space for the Anglophone problem and raise Anglophone consciousness and action. In this section, we focus on Anglophone dramatists and performers who have played a major role in this respect Lyonga et al.
A cursory overview of his own writing leaves one in no doubt that Bate Besong has lived up to his own prescriptions. Throughout the play, the Francophones are presented as reckless destroyers of the nation because of their unbridled appetites and moral insensitivity.
The narrator, a kind of priest who will lead the down-trodden Anglos to the New Jerusalem, makes it clear that they will have their freedom—perhaps a nation of their own—or death. It is the story of Weka, a child brought up in an orphanage run by Reverend Gordon and Sister Sabeth. When Weka reaches marriageable age, two suitors ask for her hand in marriage.
Weka soon discovers that Garba is no good: he maltreats and neglects her and cannot tolerate her questioning attitude. He exploits the rich cocoa farms left by her father and squanders the money on his concubines. Garba pursues her there, threatening to forcefully take them back to his house. Reverend Gordon and the orphanage stand for the United Nations trusteeship mandate over Southern Cameroons.
His drivers gathered all our staff trampling and damaging many things and so he forced me to settle in with him. Plays staged by the Mountain Mourners in Germany have contributed inordinately to bringing the Anglophone plight to international attention.
Unsurprisingly, the government quickly sought to muzzle it as part of its strategy to erase Anglophone identity from public space. Anderson The Anglophone youth in the diaspora, notably in the United States, have underscored the importance of the Internet. The scnc -North America na has actually played a vanguard role in creating websites on the Internet It is considered to be the largest Cameroonian site, receiving, at its peak, more than hits a day.
One of its most successful activities has been the posting of declassified documents from the British archives, which provide ample evidence of the alleged British betrayal of the Southern Cameroons in the pre-reunification era.
It aimed to make the Cameroonian and British people aware of the refusal of the British government to protect Southern Cameroonian interests against the Ahidjo regime supported by the French and to solicit their support for the renewed struggle for the independence of Southern Cameroons. Despite government orders banning all demonstrations throughout the Anglophone region, a considerable number of scnc activists decided to march in the North West Province of Anglophone Cameroon on that day, defying the massive police and army presence.
At Kumbo, five peaceful demonstrators were killed and many more were injured.
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