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Cries from the Cameroons.

The silence of the International Community at the genocide and ethnic cleansing going on in Cameroon is very worrisome! The silence, in the final analysis, is not unconnected with the economic interest of their former colonial masters.

One wonders when these colonial masters would let Africa be, or rather when African leaders would cease to be the pawns in the natural resources’ chess games of Europe and the Americas, even at the expense of the blood of Africans. Equally disturbing and disgusting is the cheap propaganda in the Cameroonian’s print and electronic media that what has come to be tagged Anglophone Cameroon crisis is perpetuated by a group of selfish secessionists that needs to be stamped out of the surface of Cameroon.

The media justify the misuse of sovereignty rule by the Cameroon government and help to perpetuate its crime against humanity. The desperate effort of the President Paul Biya’s government to detach the crisis from its historical context holds no water even for the minimally informed Cameroonian on both sides of the divide. The effort rather feeds the unconvincing propaganda and the Anglophone protest.

The Lawyers and Teachers strike of 2016 in the North West and South West Regions (Anglophone Cameroon) that crystallised into the crisis is the trigger of the dangerous gun powder of grievances and discontent that had built up through the life of Cameroon as a country. While AEFJN does not in any way subscribe to violence as a means of expressing of discontent, it remains the only option left for a people who have failed to get the legitimate listening ears of their government for a dialogue.

Now rewind to the partition of German Kamerun after the defeat of Germany in World War I (WWI) in the Simon-Milner Arrangement of July 10, 1919, in which the German Kamerun was shared between Britain and France. In the British sector, there was fair amount of self-governing through the Indirect Rule. In the French Zone of occupation was the approach of the Traditional and Assimilationist Approach leading to a very tight and centralised form of Government.

After the Second World War (WWII), the territories were administered as Mandate C territories under the UN Trusteeship Council. The French Zone got her independence under the name: The Republic of Cameroon on the 1st January 1960. Meanwhile, the British Cameroon was administered from Eastern Nigeria. However, a political crisis of Eastern Regional House of Assembly (1953-1954) motivated the British Cameroon politicians to walk out in protest and displeasure of being under Nigerian rule.
The Plebiscite of 11th February 1961, united the British Cameroon with the Republic of Cameroon to form a Federal Republic of Cameroon on 1st October 1961, thus reuniting the two pieces of the former German Kameroun, but now with different political cultures.

Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) analysis shows that the systematic erosion of the Cameroun Federation and the Government of Cameroon’s repression are at the centre of Anglophone Cameroon’s quest for self-determination and independence.
As a matter of fact, the Federal Structure agreed upon at the Foumban Conference in 1961 was suppressed in May 1972 in favour of a unitary State and subsequently, the country was renamed Republic of Cameroon in 1984, a name the French Cameroon had adopted at her independence on January 1st, 1960.

The renaming was the final straw that broke camel’s back and severed, almost irredeemably, the relationship between the two brothers. What is more; the silence of the French Speaking majority over the present conflict and the readiness of the government to dialogue with the terrorist Boko Haram but utter refusal to enter dialogue with the leaders of the Anglophone Consortium smacks of bad faith. It has exacerbated the frustration of Anglophone and fuelled the crisis as the government uses violence as a state apparatus to force peace. The result is that the toll of the dead continues to rise and the living wait helplessly for death.

Sadly, the end to the conflict which has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced more than 500.000 IDPs and 160.000 Refugees is not in sight. The declaration of the restoration of independence of Southern Cameroon in October 1st, 2017 which witnessed the mass murder of hundreds of people with helicopter gunship by Government forces and the declaration of outright war in November 30th, 2017 by Paul Biya on the Anglophone Cameroon have worsened the situation.

In this midst of these, there is a worsening humanitarian crisis which the International Human Right Groups have termed “blatant crime of genocide”. Mostly affected are women children and the elderly. How do we sense make of this brutality in the North West and the South West regions of Cameroon? What becomes of our shared humanity? The Church and the missionaries in these regions have done much in terms humanitarian services, but it is like a drop of water in the ocean.

The institutional Church in Cameroon must stand up against this crime against humanity. The international community must step in as a matter of urgency to find a sustainable way of resolving the crisis. Obviously, the Anglophone Cameroon crisis is a quest for inclusion, and any exercise devoid of meeting this important human need will be an exercise in futility. Unequivocally, AEFJN calls for an immediate end to the violence. The International Community must rise to the challenge, put an end to the dehumanizing crisis and reaffirm the inalienable right of the human person to be heard and respected.
Every minute of delay, as the vulnerable suffer, groan and die in their numbers blights our common humanity and questions the core values of the International Community.

Chika Onyejiuwa

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