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The Anglophone Problem in Cameroon



The root of the 'anglophone problem' in Cameroon may be traced back to 1961, when the political elites of two territories with different colonial legacies - one French and the other British - agreed on the formation of a federal State. Contrary to expectations, this did not provide for the equal partnership of both parties, let alone for the preservation of the cultural heritage and identity of each, but turned out to be merely a transitory phase to the total integration of the anglophone region into a strongly centralized, unitary State. Gradually, this created an anglophone consciousness: the feeling of being marginalized by the francophone-dominated State. In the wake of political liberalization in the early 1990s, anglophone interests came to be represented first and foremost by various associations and pressure groups that initially demanded a return to the federal State. It was only after the persistent refusal of the Biya government to discuss this scenario that secession became an overt option with mounting popularity. The government's determination to defend the unitary State by all available means, including repression, could lead to an escalation of anglophone demands past a point of no return. Notes, ref
The Journal of Modern African Studies,,(), pp. .
Printed in the United Kingdom # Cambridge University Press
The Anglophone Problem
in Cameroon
Tpolitical agenda in Cameroon has become increasingly dominated
by what is known as the ‘anglophone problem’, which poses a major
challenge to the efforts of the post-colonial state to forge national unity
and integration, and has led to the reintroduction of forceful arguments
and actions in favour of ‘federalism ’ or even ‘ secession ’.
The root of this problem may be traced back to  when the
political e
!lites of two territories with different colonial legacies one
French and the other British agreed on the formation of a federal
state."Contrary to expectations, this did not provide for the equal
partnership of both parties, let alone for the preservation of the cultural
heritage and identity of each, but turned out to be merely a transitory
phase to the total integration of the anglophone region into a strongly
centralised, unitary state. Gradually, this created an anglophone
consciousness: the feeling of being ‘marginalised ’, ‘ exploited ’, and
assimilated ’ by the francophone-dominated state, and even by the
francophone population as a whole.
It was not until the political liberalisation process in the early s
that some members of the English-speaking e
!lite started openly to
protest against the supposed subordinate position of the anglophones
and to lay claims for self-determination and autonomy. Whereas the
most important organisations initially called for a return to the federal
state, the persistent refusal of the Government headed by President
Paul Biya to discuss any related constitutional reforms forced some to
adopt a secessionist stand. They attempted to gain international
recognition for their demands through a diplomatic offensive that
* Piet Konings is Senior Researcher at the Afrika-Studiecentrum, Leiden, and Francis
Nyamnjoh is Senior Lecturer at the University of Buea, Cameroon.
"Other scholars trace the genesis of the anglophone problem in Cameroon to World War I.
According to Nicodemus Awasom, ‘The Development of Autonomist Tendencies in Anglophone
Cameroon, ’, the unequal partition of the country between France and Britain, following
the defeat of Germany in West Africa in , ‘sowed the seeds of future problems’ in that this
accounted for ‘the ultimate emergence, in a reunified Cameroon, of an anglophone minority and
a French majority’.
    .
presented the anglophones as an oppressed minority whose territory
had been ‘annexed’ by the francophone-dominated state.
The Government has not surprisingly devised various strategies to
safeguard the unitary state, including attempts to minimalise or even
deny the existence of an ‘anglophone problem’, to create divisions
among the English-speaking e
!lite, to remunerate some allies with
prestigious positions in the state apparatus previously reserved for
francophones only, and to repress all actions designed to change the
status of the Southern Cameroons.
  
The birth of the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 
marked the reunification of two territories which had undergone
different colonial experiences after World War I,#when the erstwhile
German Kamerun Protectorate was partitioned between the British
and the French, first as ‘mandates ’ under the League of Nations and
later as ‘trusts ’ under the United Nations.$It needs to be recalled that
part of the British mandate}trust territory, which came to be called
Southern Cameroons, was initially attached to the Eastern Provinces of
Nigeria until , when it achieved a quasi-regional status and a
limited degree of self-government within the Federation of Nigeria,
where it attained full regional status in . There can be no doubt
that the administration of Southern Cameroons as an appendage of
Nigeria resulted in the blatant neglect of its development,%as well as
the dominant position of Ibo and Efik-Ibibio migrants in its economy.
#See, for instance, Willard R. Johnson, The Cameroon Federation: political integration in a
fragmentary society (Princeton, NJ, ) ; Victor T. Le Vine, The Cameroon Federal Republic (Ithaca
and London, ); and Jacques Benjamin, Les Camerounais occidentaux: la minorite
Udans un e
bicommunautaire (Montreal, ).
$See Edwin W. Ardener, ‘ The Political History of Cameroon ’, in The World Today (London),
,,, pp. ; David E. Gardinier, Cameroon : United Nations challenge to French policy
(Oxford, ); Victor T. Le Vine, The Cameroons : from mandate to independence (Berkeley and Los
Angeles, ); and Richard A. Joseph, Radical Nationalism in Cameroun: social origins of the U.P.C.
rebellion (Oxford, ).
%According to Paul M. Kale, Political Evolution in the Cameroons (Buea, Government Printer,
), pp. , Britain’s administration prior to World War II was ‘ haphazard and full of
misgivings’, provoked by ‘an apparent lack of administrative interest ’ which he thinks was due
to ‘the fear that Germany might suddenly demand a return of her former African possessions’. For
this reason, Britain might have thought it ‘preposterous spending, and possibly wasting, British
taxpayers’ money and talent on what was not, strictly speaking, a developing British country ’.
From Le Vine, op. cit. , pp. , we gather that Whitehall often regarded Southern
Cameroons ‘as somewhat of a colonial liability’, administered all the way from Lagos, with hope
of its ‘eventual integration with Nigeria’. It had neither a separate budget nor separate public
accounts; all its government revenues were treated as part of a common fund.
    
It was Southern Cameroons which voted in the  United Nations
plebiscite for reunification with French Cameroun rather than for
integration into Nigeria.&
What was expected to mark the start of a unique federal experiment
in Africa soon turned out to be ‘more shadow than reality ’.'During
negotiations on the constitution, particularly at the Foumban
conference in July , the bargaining strength of the francophone
delegation reflected the fact that the size and population of the
anglophone region was small, comprising only nine per cent of the total
area and about a quarter of the total population. And even more
important, by the time of these negotiations, the Southern Cameroons
had still to achieve its independence by joining the sovereign Republic
of Cameroon, whose President, Ahmadou Ahidjo, as leader of the
francophone delegation, was able to dictate the terms for federation by
capitalising on his territory’s ‘senior ’ status.(John Ngu Foncha, the
Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons and leader of the anglophone
delegation, had proposed a loose form of federalism but was eventually
forced to accept a highly centralised system of government and
&Concerning reunification, it is worth noting that in spite of a ‘ popular’ disinclination for an
early reunification after secession from Nigeria’, the UN never gave the people that option. Also,
the boundaries of the reunified territory ‘were not willed by those who wished for reunification’,
but were imposed on them; consequently, they were much narrower than they would have been
if a simple reconstruction of German Kamerun had been achieved’. See Edwin W. Ardener,
The Nature of the Reunification of Cameroon’, in Arthur Hazlewood (ed.), African Integration and
Disintegration (Oxford, ), pp. .
'Cf. Frank M. Stark, ‘Federalism in Cameroon : the shadow and the reality’, in Canadian
Journal of African Studies (Ottawa), ,,, pp. .
(This interpretation is not shared by everyone. V. J. Ngoh, for example, argues in Weekly Post
!),  July , that John Ngu Foncha’s ‘relegation to the back seat’ of the British
authorities, ‘who were expected to guide and give expert counsel to the KNDP [Kamerun
National Democratic Party] during their negotiations with Ahmadou Ahidjo’, was the real reason
why the Southern Cameroons emerged as the loser.
)The members of the Southern Cameroons delegation had met in Bamenda in June  to
decide upon their own version of federalism for a unified Cameroon. Their proposals included,
inter alia: (i) a separate government, (ii) a bicameral federal legislature, (iii) a ceremonial not
executive head of state, and (iv) Douala as the administrative capital. According to Joseph
B. Ebune, Growth of Political Parties in Southern Cameroon, (Yaounde
!, Centre d’e
!dition et
de production pour l’enseignement et la recherche, ), Foncha had a secret meeting with
Ahidjo prior to the Foumban conference in which private arrangements were negotiated between
them, whereas George Ngwane claims in Anglophone File (Limbe, Pressbook, ) that the
Southern Cameroons delegation arrived while still divided over what form of government they
really wanted. As such, the proposals of Bamenda were simply ignored and Ahidjo presented his
document, which some members saw for the first time on the morning of the opening ceremony,
including the leader of the opposition, Dr Emmanuel Endeley.
Because of the haste with which the deliberations were conducted, it was agreed that both
delegations would meet later, which they did at Yaounde
!in August . But after Ahidjo had
refused to consult the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly, his document became the
country’s federal constitution in October . Thus, instead of submitting the constitution ‘for
    .
Ahidjo looked upon federalism as an unavoidable stage in the
establishment of a strong unitary state, and employed various tactics
to achieve this objective. After becoming President of the Federal
Republic of Cameroon in October , he played anglophone
political factions off against each other, eventually persuading them to
join the Union nationale camerounaise (UNC), the single party formed in
September , and was able to penalise any anglophone leader who
remained committed to federalism. Hence his replacement of Augustin
Ngom Jua by Solomon Tandeng Muna, a ‘ unitarist ’, as Prime
Minister of the federated state of West Cameroon in , and his
creation of ‘clients ’ by according top posts in either the government
and}or the party to representatives of significant ethnic and regional
groups in the anglophone region.
On May , Ahidjo announced in the National Assembly that
he intended to transform the Federal Republic into a unitary state,
provided the electorate supported the idea in a referendum to be held
on  May, thereby abrogating clause of article  of the Foumban
document which read: ‘ any proposal for the revision of the present
constitution, which impairs the unity and integrity of the Federation
shall be inadmissible’. Even if the constitution were to be amended it
should not be done by referendum, because clause of article 
stipulated ‘that proposals for revision shall be adopted by simple
majority vote of the members of the Federal Assembly, provided that
such majority includes a majority of the representativesof each of the
Federated States’.*The autocratic nature of Ahidjo’s re
!gime helps to
explain why the inhabitants of Cameroon voted massively for the draft
constitution, and hence the immediate establishment of the United
Republic of Cameroon.
-   
The President’s justification for the ‘ glorious revolution of  May
’ was that federalism fostered regionalism and impeded economic
development. A growing number of articulate anglophones, however,
were inclined to attribute the emergence of ‘regionalism ’ and lack of
progress not to federalism per se, but rather to the hegemonic tendencies
ratification to the people of Southern Cameroons through Parliament or a Referendum ’, Ahidjo
had it ‘merely imposed on them’. See C. A. Taku, For Dame Lynda Chalker & Other Anglophone
Cameroonian Notes (Aba, Iduma Industries (Nigeria) Ltd, ), p. .
*A. W. Mukong (ed.), The Case for the Southern Cameroons (Yaounde
!, Cameroon Federalist
Committee, ), p. .
    
of the francophone-dominated state. They started to resent their
region’s loss of autonomy and the allegedly subordinate position of the
anglophone minority in the unitary state. Their numerous grievances
were mainly of a political, economic, and cultural nature: notably their
under-representation and inferior ro
#le in national decision-making
councils; the neglect of their region’s infrastructure and the rape and
drain of its rich economic resources, especially oil, by successive
francophone re
!gimes; and the attempts at ‘frenchification ’."!
To reduce the growing dangers of united anglophone action, Ahidjo
decided to divide the erstwhile federated state of West Cameroon into
two Provinces, albeit well aware of the internal contradictions within
the anglophone community between the coastal}forest people in the
South West Province and the grassfield people in the North West
Province. The former had acquired a head start over the latter by being
exposed to early contacts with western trade, religion, and education.
The intelligentsia that emerged in the coastal areas, notably among the
Bakweri, had quickly risen to the forefront in the nationalist struggle
and dominated the anglophone political scene for a number of years.
But during the late s a fierce struggle took place between the two
major parties in the British trust territory about the political future of
the Southern Cameroons: the South West-based Kamerun National
Congress (KNC) led by Emmanuel Endeley, and the North West-
based Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) led by John Ngu
Foncha. Broadly speaking, the former championed the cause for
integration with Nigeria while the latter crusaded for secession from
Nigeria, and eventual reunification with the Republic of Cameroon.""
Following a narrow election win in , Endeley was installed as first
"! For the numerous anglophone complaints, see, for instance, All Anglophone Conference
(AAC), The Buea Declaration (Limbe, Nooremac Press, ); Southern Cameroons National
Council (SCNC), ‘The Buea Peace Initiative’, in Cameroon Post (Yaounde
!),  April ; and
Francis B. Nyamnjoh (ed.), The Cameroon G.C.E.Crisis: a test of anglophone solidarity (Limbe,
Nooremac, ) and Mass Media and Democratisation in Cameroon (Yaounde
!, Friedrich-Ebert
Foundation, ), pp. . For a perspective by someone who had previously held several
important government posts, see Solomon Tandeng Muna, ‘ Original Version of the Mem-
orandum Addressed to President Biya in January  on ‘‘ The Anglophone Problem ’’’, .
And for an elaborate presentation of the anglophone problem to francophone newsmen, see La
Nouvelle expression (Douala),  January , being almost entirely devoted to the AAC’s
spokesman, Dr Simon Munzu’s ‘spe
!cial club de la presse’, dubbed: ‘ çe que veulent les
"" Of course, the actual situation was more complex. Endeley, for example, had moved from
a pro-reunification stand towards a more positive view on integration into Nigeria when the
Southern Cameroons became a region within Nigeria, which meant that the inhabitants could
rule themselves, maintain their ties to the British inheritance, and avoid the violence and chaos
of civil war in francophone Cameroon. See, for instance, Bongfen Chem-Langhe
$, ‘The Road to
the Unitary State of Cameroon, ’, in Paideuma (Stuttgart), ,, pp. .
    .
Prime Minister of the Southern Cameroons in , but lost this post
to Foncha in .
During the  UN plebiscite the inhabitants of the South West
showed considerable sympathy for alignment with Nigeria, but the
choice for Cameroon prevailed, mainly on the strength of votes in the
North West, where the following song was composed immediately after
the plebiscite: ‘Foncha has walloped Endeley. Foncha has walloped
Endeley. If Foncha hadn’t been there, Endeley would have sold us.
Strikingly,  years after the event, the text of this song was changed:
Foncha trounced Endeley. Foncha trounced Endeley. If Foncha
hadn’t trounced Endeley, we wouldn’t have been sold. "#
Since the early s the North West e
!lite has continued to play a
dominant socio-economic and political ro
#le in both provinces, and its
acquisition of the best jobs and lands in the South West has provoked
strong resentment."$ The organisation known as the South West Elites
Association (Swela) looks back in anger at the catalogue of victimi-
sations at the hands of the KNDP, including the transfer to the North
West of infrastructure meant for the South West, and the Foncha
!gime’s associated ‘deliberate’ retardation of development projects
and foreign aid."% Such sentiments have been intensified by the fact
that the ‘entrepreneurial’ North Westerners have gradually succeeded
in dominating most sectors of the South West economy, in particular
trade, transport, and housing. Some resent the fact that Simon Achidi
Achu became Prime Minister in  on the strength of the anglophone
lobby, only to turn around and allegedly ‘ insult ’ the South West by
filling key positions in his office with North Westerners exclusively.
The implications must also be considered of the massive labour
migration from the North West to the South West, where a plantation
economy was established during the German colonial era at the turn of
the century. Pro-government Swela politicians and administrators
have used the presence of so many workers from the North West to
explain all political disturbances in their province, even going as far as
insinuating, as did Governor Oben Peter Ashu in a Radio Buea
interview after the January  municipal elections, that the poor
performance in the Fako division by the ruling Rassemblement
Umocratique du peuple camerounais (RDPC) could be attributed wholly to
the ‘settler population’ who voted for the opposition."&
"# Cameroon Life (Buea), ,,,p..
"$ See Ndiva Kofele-Kale, Tribesmen and Patriots: political culture in a poly-ethnic African state
(Washington, DC, ).
"% Swela’s magazine, The Oracle (Limbe), April ,p..
"& The Herald (Yaounde
!),  January ,p..
    
Lack of unity and severe repression precluded anglophone leaders
from openly expressing criticisms about francophone domination until
, when Paul Biya took power, but in the wake of his introduction
of a limited degree of liberalisation they began voicing their long-
standing grievances. In  the Government promulgated an order
modifying the anglophone General Certificate of Education (GCE)
examination by making it rather similar to the Baccalaure
Uat, and the
ensuing demonstrations and boycott of classes were repressed by police
brutality at the University of Yaounde
!and in urban centres in
anglophone Cameroon."' In  the Government changed the official
name of the country from the ‘United Republic of Cameroon’ to
simply the ‘Republic of Cameroon ’ despite strong protests that this was
what independent francophone Cameroon had been called by Ahidjo
before reunification. In  a prominent anglophone lawyer, Fon
Gorji Dinka, was arrested after distributing a statement declaring the
Biya Government to be unconstitutional and calling for the Southern
Cameroons to become independent and rebaptised as the Republic of
Ambazonia."( Almost concurrently, two memoranda submitted to the
Bamenda congress of the ruling UNC by members of the North West
and South West e
!lites resident in Douala drew attention to the plight
of the anglophone minority, and highlighted that it felt sidelined from
political power.")
Other factors fuelled frustration with the francophone-dominated
state in the late s, notably the increasing monopolisation of key
posts by members of the President’s ethnic group who appeared to be
much bolder in staking out claims on the state’s resources than had
Ahidjo’s barons. As of August , according to Joseph Takougang, 
of the  senior pre
Ufets were Beti, as were three-quarters of the directors
and general managers of the parastatals, and  of the  high-ranking
bureaucrats who had been appointed in the newly created office of the
Prime Minister."*
In addition, there was the deteriorating economic crisis which
"' For a detailed and documented account of what happened during , see Nyamnjoh (ed.),
op. cit. pp. .
"( See Fon Gorji Dinka’s ‘ The New Social Order’, dated  March , addressed to H.E.
Comrade Paul Biya at the Bamenda CNU Congress, and his accompanying letter : ‘Your
Excellency, find enclosed an address which I had thought could be delivered at the Congress, and
which could transform the Congress into a forum for the reconstruction of our institutions, those
of Ahidjo having been peacefully swept away by God in his mysterious way’.
") For an elaborate and critical comment on these documents – to be found in Mukong (ed.),
op. cit. largely suspected among anglophones to have been sponsored by senior francophone
officials, see Stephen Mungwa Tebi, Cameroon and a New Militantism :the faces behind the mask ().
"* Joseph Takougang, ‘The Demise of Biya’s New Deal in Cameroon, ’, in Africa
Insight (Pretoria), ,,, pp. .
    .
anglophones were inclined to attribute first and foremost to the
corruption and mismanagement of Biya’s re
!gime.#! They claimed that
their region had failed to benefit from its rich oil resources, and
criticised the absence of increased investments in its ailing economy and
neglected infrastructure. Oil revenues were alleged to be used by those
in power to feed ‘the bellies’ of their allies,#" and to stimulate the
economy in other regions. The Socie
Unationale de raffinage (Sonara), the
oil refinery near Limbe (or Victoria as some prefer to call it again),
continued to be headed and predominantly staffed by francophones.
There was also great anxiety in anglophone Cameroon that its major
agro-industrial enterprises, especially the Cameroon Development
Corporation (CDC) and Plantations Pamol du Cameroun Ltd (Pamol),
would be either liquidated or sold to francophone or French interests
during the ongoing structural adjustment programme.##
    
Not surprisingly the first opposition party in the country appeared in
anglophone Cameroon during the growing economic and political
crisis. In  the Social Democratic Front (SDF) was formed at
Bamenda, the capital of the North West Province. Its chairman was
John Fru Ndi, a book-dealer by profession, who was to achieve great
popularity among the urban masses because of his courage and populist
style of leadership. After the massive rally to launch the SDF in May
had ended in the deaths of six young anglophones, the state-controlled
media tried to deny the Government’s responsibility for this bloody
event and to distort the facts.#$ Leading members of the RDPC strongly
condemned the anglophones for this ‘treacherous’ action, and their
reaction to this peaceful demonstration shocked many in the country.
#! For more on the Biya re
!gime’s corruption, mismanagement, tribalism, and other excesses as
seen by an anglophone, see Rotcod Gobata, The Past Tense of Shit (Limbe, Nooremac Press, ),
and his follow-up volume, I Spit on Their Graves (Bellingham, Kola Tree Press, ).
#" The politics of ‘scratch my back, I scratch yours ’ and ‘politics na njangi ’ – both meaning, ‘ one
good turn deserves another ’ – had been vulgarised by the ruling RDPC, especially after a North
Westerner, Simon Achidi Achu, had become Prime Minister in . Following his replacement
in September  by a South Westerner, Peter Mafany Musonge, the latter declared during a
reception at Buea: ‘President Biya has scratched our back, and we shall certainly scratch the Head
of State’s back thoroughly when the time comes ’ – meaning that South Westerners should resolve
to manifest their total support and allegiance to the President who had appointed Musonge. See
Cameroon Post, November .
## See Piet Konings, ‘Agro-Industry and Regionalism in the South West Province of Cameroon
During the National Economic and Political Crisis’, in Paul Nchoji Nkwi and Francis Beng
Nyamnjoh (eds.), Regional Balance and National Integration in Cameroon: lessons learned and the uncertain
future (Yaounde
!, ASC}ICASSRT, ), pp. .
#$ Nyamnjoh, op. cit. pp. .
    
In June the anglophone architect of the federal state resigned as the
First Vice-President of the RDPC. As Foncha explained:
The Anglophone Cameroonians whom I brought into union have been
ridiculed and referred to as ‘ les Biafrais ’, ‘ les ennemies dans la maison ’, ‘ les
#tres’ etc., and the constitutional provisions which protected this Anglo-
phone minority have been suppressed, their voice drowned while the rule of
the gun replaced the dialogue which the Anglophones cherish very much.#%
Under considerable internal and external pressures, the Government
introduced a greater measure of political liberalisation. In December
 it announced the advent of multi-partyism, as well as a certain
degree of freedom of mass communication and association, including
the holding of public meetings and demonstrations.#& As a result,
several political parties, pressure groups, and private newspapers were
established in Cameroon which began to express and represent
anglophone interests.#'
Subsequently, the SDF spread its influence to the South West and
soon became the major opposition party in anglophone Cameroon.
Nevertheless, the e
!lite in the province continued to be suspicious of the
aspirations of the SDF leaders for fear of renewed North West
domination. With the exception of the Liberal Democratic Alliance
(LDA), which has attempted, with marginal success only, to become a
serious political formation, the South West has failed to produce a
strong and credible party, mainly because of personal animosities.
Indeed, the current leadership struggle in the LDA between Mola Njoh
Litumbe and Lydia Belle Effimba is but a further indication that the
!lite in the South West has yet to come up with an effective alternative
to the SDF.#(
The leaders of the SDF helped to turn the anglophone region into a
veritable hot-bed of rebellion, organising several serious confrontations
with the re
!gime in power, especially during the ghost town
campaign.#) The impact of this on the anglophone community was
particularly visible during the ensuing presidential elections, when Fru
#% John Ngu Foncha’s letter of resignation from the RDPC is reproduced in Mukong (ed.), op.
cit. p. .
#& Socie
!de presse et d’e
!ditions du Cameroun, Cameroon.Rights and Freedoms : collection of recent
texts (Yaounde
!, Sopecam, ). #' Nyamnjoh, op. cit. pp. .
#( For reports on the leadership struggle in the LDA, see Cameroon Post (Yaounde
!),  April
, and The Rambler (Yaounde
!),  April–May .
#) This was the period from April  to January  when the radical opposition issued
calls, ultimatums, tracts, etc., asking the public to immobilise the economy by staying indoors,
blocking streets, refusing to pay taxes and bills, and boycotting the markets and offices. The ‘ghost
town’ campaign aimed at forcing the Biya Government to hold a Confe
Urence nationale souveraine. See
!lestin Monga, La Recomposition du marche
Upolitique camerounais, (Douala, ).
    .
Ndi received respectively ±and ±per cent of the votes cast in the
North West and South West Provinces. It is hardly surprising that the
declared victory of Biya in October  was a traumatic experience in
anglophone Cameroon, with violent protests against his ‘theft of Fru
Nidi’s victory’ throughout the North West. The President then
imposed a state of emergency on this province for three months, and
Fru Ndi was kept under surveillance in his house in Bamenda.#*
Whereas the United States, Germany, and the European Community
denounced the fraudulent elections and the state of emergency in the
North West and threatened to abandon their aid programmes to
Cameroon until ‘there was a clear advancement in the democratic
process’, the French continued to support Biya who appeared to be
willing to safeguard their interests in Cameroon.
Paradoxically, although the SDF and Fru Ndi have contributed
immensely to anglophone consciousness and action, the party increas-
ingly presented itself as a ‘national ’ organisation, evidenced by a
growing number of francophone supporters, most of them originating
from the neighbouring West and Littoral Provinces. The SDF appears
to have adopted a rather ambivalent attitude towards calls from newly
emerging pressure groups for a return to the federal state. Its 
national convention at Bamenda emphasised ‘devolution of powers ’,
and ‘decentralisation’ was the rhetorical focus the following year at
Bafoussam, where not once was the word ‘federalism’ used by Fru
Ndi.$! Although SDF members have been given the green light to
belong to any anglophone movement, it would appear that the party
is losing its initial appeal for English-speaking Cameroonians, because
of its half-hearted stand as regards the ‘anglophone problem’.
In fact, following political liberalisation in , several associations
and pressure groups were created or reactivated by anglophone e
to represent and defend their interests. Some, notably the Free West
Cameroon Movement (FWCM) and the Ambazonia Movement (AM)
of Fon Gorji Dinka, advanced outright secession, but most initially
championed a return to the federal state, especially the Cameroon
#* For a government account of the violence that took place after the presidential elections, and
their aftermath, see Cameroon Tribune (Yaounde
!),  and  October , and the Ministry of
Communication’s white paper on ‘Human Rights in Cameroon ’, published in November .
For a detailed alternative account, see Boh Herbert, Cameroon : state of human rights violations
following October  presidential elections (Bamenda),  November . The US Department of
State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for  (Washington, DC, February ), pp.
, is also relevant.
$! Cf. Milton Krieger, ‘Cameroon’s Democratic Crossroads, ’, in The Journal of Modern
African Studies (Cambridge), ,, December , pp. .
    
Anglophone Movement (CAM) and the All Anglophone Congress
(AAC). Other pro-federalist organisations with a more restricted
agenda included the Teachers’ Association of Cameroon (Tac), the
Confederation of Anglophone Parents–Teachers’ Association of Cam-
eroon (Captac), and the Cameroon Anglophone Students’ Association
(Cansa). In  they forced the Government to create a General
Certificate of Education Board, and this signified an important victory
for the anglophones in their ten-year-old struggle against determined
efforts to destroy the GCE.$"
These associations and pressure groups have regularly promoted
demonstrations, strikes, and boycotts in their fight against the
francophone-dominated unitary state, and the participation of various
strata of the population demonstrates that the ‘anglophone problem
is no longer to be perceived as simply and solely an e
!litist concern.
Interestingly, these actions are partly directed against the discourses,
myths, and symbols publicised by the re
!gime in power. Anglophone
movements have boycotted the celebration of the national feast day on
 May, the ‘day of the  glorious revolution ’, declaring it a ‘ day
of mourning’ and a ‘day of shame’.$# They have instead called upon
anglophones to celebrate the ‘ day of independence ’ on October and
the ‘day of the plebiscite’ on  February. On these feast days during
attempts by CAM activists to hoist the federation flag were
reportedly answered by the police with ‘ extreme brutality ’.$$
In addition, there are increasing references to the ‘ Southern
Cameroons’ by those who allege that the proper procedures for the
enactment and amendment of the federal constitution were not
followed by Ahidjo.$% From this perspective, some anglophones claim
that they are living in a pre-reunification trust territory, and the flag
of the United Nations has consequently been seen in recent years as a
symbol of their belief in the continuing responsibility of the UN for the
Southern Cameroons.$& Although the provocative reintroduction of
this terminology has the advantage of reminding the inhabitants about
the historical foundation for their anglophone identity, Luc Sindjoun
has rightly observed that anglophone identity can actually only be
claimed by inhabitants belonging to one of the territory’s ‘ autoch-
$" Nyamnjoh (ed.), op. cit. $# Cameroon Post, May .
$$ Ibid.  January–February ,February , and  October .
$% The Buea Declaration, pp. . For a critique, see A. D. Olinga, La ‘‘ Question
anglophone’’ dans le Cameroun d’aujourd’hui’, in Revue juridique et politique (Paris), ,, pp.
$& See ‘Anglophone Independence: SCNC adopts UN flag, calls for Quebec-style referendum ’,
in The Herald,May .
    .
thonous’ ethnic groups, a distinction which tends to exclude immi-
grants from Southern Cameroons citizenship,$' and which makes being
anglophone ’ more of a geographic and administrative reality than a
cultural one. Hence the references made to the imagined ‘ eleventh
province’ for those who are seen and treated as ‘ francophones of
anglophone culture’.$(
A major challenge to the francophone-dominated unitary state
occurred during the Tripartite Conference convened by President Biya
from  October to  November . Although representatives were
not selected on a bicultural basis, four anglophones were able to
impress on their francophone counterparts that it was time for
Cameroon to return to the Foumban federal arrangements of .
Sam Ekontang Elad, Simon Munzu, and Benjamin Itoe, all from the
South West, as well as Carlson Anyangwe from the North West, virtually
torpedoed the proceedings by coming out with the EMIA constitution
(named after their initials), which called for a West Cameroon state in
a loose federation.$) They went on to convene the All Anglophone
Conference (AAC) following the re
!gime’s announcement in March
 of a national debate on constitutional reform, and the next month
over , members of an ‘ All Anglophone Congress ’ met at Buea, the
ex-capital of the Southern Cameroons, ‘for the purpose of adopting a
common anglophone stand on constitutional reform and of examining
several other matters related to the welfare of Ourselves, our Posterity,
our Territory and the entire Cameroon Nation’.$*
The Buea Declaration listed multiple grievances about francophone
domination and called for a return to the federal state.%! Like previous
documents written by similar pressure groups,%" it tended to blame the
wicked francophones as a whole for the plight of the poor anglophones,
and compared both in rather idealised terms: the former, in full
solidarity, agree among themselves to oppress the latter who, by their
$' Luc Sindjoun, ‘ Rente identitaire, politique d’affection et crise de l’e
!quilibre des tensions au
Cameroun’, in Afrique politique (Paris), forthcoming.
$( Indeed, in June , the national radio carried an announcement on the creation of ‘une
association des francophones de culture anglophone’.
$) See Cameroon Post,June , for the full text of the EMIA constitution.
$* The Buea Declaration,p..
%! Realising how ‘ignorant’ many francophones were about ‘ the history of the political union
between the Southern Cameroons and La Re
!publique du Cameroun’, and how little they knew
about federalism, Carlson Anyangwe and others gave themselves the task of educating the general
public on ‘the anglophone problem ’ and ‘ the federal option ’. See Cameroon Post, October–
November .
%" See, for instance, Mukong (ed.), op. cit., and Anglophone Patriotic Alliance, ‘The
Restoration of the State of West Cameroon’, in The West Cameroon Journal (Bamenda}Victoria),
, pp. .
    
very nature, are peace-loving, open to dialogue, and committed to
freedom.%# Of course, this demagogic approach, which is commonplace
in ethnic discourse, serves to emphasise the ‘insurmountable ’ di-
chotomy that justifies the AAC call for autonomy. This approach may
be efficient in mobilising anglophones but has hardly helped the
struggle against their ‘real ’ enemy, the francophone-dominated unitary
state which has allies and opponents in all parts of the country. In
addition, it denies the existence of various ethnic links, and creates
serious obstacles to any francophone sympathy for the anglophone
In May  the -member Anglophone Standing Committee
established by the AAC submitted a draft constitution which would
provide for major political, financial, and fiscal autonomy for the two
federated states, for the provinces inside both, and for the communities
inside each province. There would be the usual separation of powers
between the executive, legislative, and judiciary, and a senate and
national assembly for each federated state, as well as a rotating
presidency for the Federal Republic, whereby after at most two
consecutive mandates of five years an anglophone would succeed a
francophone (or vice versa). This proposal was even reiterated for each
of the federated states to ensure alternation between the provinces
(obviously with the South West}North West divide in mind).%%
Confronted with the Government’s persistent refusal to discuss the
AAC constitutional proposals, one of the most important associations
affiliated to the AAC declared itself in favour of the ‘ zero option ’ on
December  i.e. total independence for the Southern Cam-
%# V. E. Ngome claims in his article on ‘ Anglophobia ’, published in Focus on Africa (London,
BBC African Service), ,,, pp. , that ‘ Anglophones see Francophones as fundamentally
fraudulent, superficial and given to bending rules : cheating at exams, jumping queues, rigging
elections and so on…The Francophones are irked by what they see as the anglophone air of self-
righteousness and intellectual superiority’. Quoted by Richard Fardon, ‘‘‘ Destins croise
histoires des identite
!s ethniques et nationales en Afrique de l’Ouest’, in Politique africaine (Paris),
, March ,p..
%$ Indeed, because of such collective condemnation the French-language newspapers have
been quite reluctant to admit the existence of an ‘anglophone problem ’ in Cameroon. See, for
example, La Nouvelle expression, January , pp. , for the hostile reception experienced
by Simon Munzu when trying to explain to francophone journalists and intellectuals the
anglophone problem’. It is only recently, thanks to the trivialisation of the whole idea of
minorities in the  constitution, that the francophone press appears to be waking up to the
concerns of the anglophone minority. See La Nouvelle expression.Dossiers et documents (Douala), 
May , pp. , devoted entirely to ‘Minorite
!s, autochtones, alloge
'nes et de
!mocratie’ in
%% The full text of the draft (EMIA) constitution was only released when Simon Munzu,
Ekontang Elad, and Carlson Anyangwe realised that the other members of the reform committee
set up by President Biya in May  were impervious to any ideas on federalism.
    .
eroons.%& The CAM’s shift from federalism to secession was more or less
adopted during the Second All Anglophone Conference (AAC II),
which had been organised in Bamenda from  April to May ,%'
when it was decided that if the Government ‘either persisted in its
refusal to engage in meaningful constitutional talks or failed to engage
in such talks within a reasonable time’, the Anglophone Council should
proclaim the revival of the independence and sovereignty of the
Anglophone territory of the Southern Cameroons, and take all
measures necessary to secure, defend and preserve the independence,
sovereignty and integrity of the said territory’.
The Bamenda Proclamation added that following the declaration of
independence, the Anglophone Council should ‘ without having to
convene another session of the All Anglophone Conference, transform
itself into the Southern Cameroons Constituent Assembly for the
purpose of drafting, debating and adopting a constitution for the
independent and sovereign state of the Southern Cameroons’.
Delegates voted to replace the AAC with the Southern Cameroons
Peoples Conference (SCPC), and subsequently the Anglophone
Council was in August  rebaptised as the Southern Cameroons
National Council (SCNC).
  
The Anglophone Standing Committee and the SCNC have made
strenuous efforts not only to secure the wholehearted backing of the
anglophone community for their strategies to create a federal or an
independent Southern Cameroons state, but also to gain international
support for their cause.%( The delegations sent in  to the United
Nations to protest against ‘the annexation of its ex-Trust Territory, the
Southern Cameroons’, were following the example of Fon Gorji Dinka,
%& Cameroon Post,December , pp. , and Cameroon Life (Buea), , October .
%' Elad declared in an interview with Cameroon Post, April , that ‘Zero option remains
a principle and a clear option that Southern Cameroonians will consider at AAC II in Bamenda’.
%( For more information about this diplomatic offensive see, for example: ‘ SCNC Delegation
Leaves for UN, UK: constituent assembly envisaged’, in Cameroon Post, May ; ‘SCNC
UN Mission Back Today: Southern Cameroons tables formal request for independence’, in ibid.
 June–July ; ‘SCNC Homecoming : la Re
!publique ordered out of Southern Cameroons ’,
in ibid.  July ; ‘Is Cameroon admissible?: Commonwealth team arrives to assess human
rights record’, in ibid.  July ; ‘ Anglophone Problem : shouldn’t Biya now open
debate?’, in The Herald, July  ; ‘ Commonwealth : delegation returns in total
disappointment with Biya regime’ and ‘Commonwealth Admission : anglophone factor is
inevitable’, in ibid.  July–August ; and SCNC Writes to UN Secretary-General : calls
for intervention to avert catastrophe!’, in ibid.  September .
    
as well as Albert Mukong, one of the most militant opponents of the
!gime and a leading member of CAM, who had petitioned the UN
during the s and early s to intervene on behalf of the
anglophone minority. The co-option of Ngu Foncha and Solomon
Tandeng Muna in the SCNC’s delegation sent to New York was of
considerable importance, since they are widely regarded as the
anglophone architects of respectively the federal and the unitary state.
Rites were performed to celebrate their return to the Southern
Cameroons when they crossed the river Mungo in July , and the
Fon of Bafut, an SCNC sympathiser, conferred the title of ‘Lord’ upon
both in recognition of their symbolic ro
#le.%) These missions to the
United Nations may not have yielded any tangible results, but they
have given wide publicity to the anglophone cause and helped to
discredit Biya’s re
Although Cameroon had applied in  for membership of the
Commonwealth, it was not until June  that the Secretary-General,
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, visited the country to examine whether the
Republic met the conditions for admission. He was then virtually
hijacked ’ by anglophone pressure groups which succeeded in
subverting the programme drawn up by the Government and in
familiarising him with their plight. They pointed out that the nation
they represented was able to meet the historical and linguistic
conditions for admission, and that the Commonwealth should therefore
reject the application of the Republic and seriously consider granting
the Southern Cameroons either full membership or a special status.
During the October  Commonwealth summit held in Nicosia,
Cyprus, Cameroon’s admission was postponed on the grounds that it
failed to meet the criteria for membership stipulated in the  Harare
Declaration, namely: the establishment of a democratic system, good
governance, and respect for human rights. The uninvited two-man
delegation sent by the Anglophone Standing Committee lobbied some
of the participants intensively, making them more aware of the Biya
!gime’s persistent oppression of the anglophone minority, and
undoubtedly influenced their eventual decision to postpone the
country’s admission.
Cameroon failed to achieve any democratic advancement in the next
two years but became a member of the Commonwealth on November
. It is widely believed in anglophone circles that Nigeria’s positive
attitude towards admission may have been due to the ‘deal’ made by
%) See ‘SCNC Homecoming’, in Cameroon Post, July and  July .
    .
Biya and Sani Abacha to defend each other against international
criticisms of their re
!gimes. Other Commonwealth countries, including
Britain which has often professed to be sympathetic to the anglophone
cause, followed Nigeria’s lead and voted in favour of Cameroon’s
admission.%* The argument that this would bring pressure to bear upon
the Government to introduce political reforms was supported by the
chairman of the SDF, Fru Ndi, although SCNC leaders have deeply
regretted Cameroon’s admission. The latter appeared to have adopted
a new strategy when they pleaded during the November  summit
at Auckland, New Zealand, for a Quebec-style independence refer-
endum for the Southern Cameroons, and filed an application for
separate membership, even though the Commonwealth, as an
association of sovereign and independent states, is usually reluctant to
grant admission to ‘separatist movements of minority groups’.&!
There is no doubt that France has strongly supported Cameroon
during several economic and political crises. Besides the various
agreements of co-operation between the two countries, there are other
factors to explain the French strategy. There is the apparent
concentration of organised opposition around a ‘ hard ’ anglophone
core, not least since the chairman of the SDF has never concealed his
resentment about French neo-colonialism and his pro-American stand.
Fru Ndi’s anti-French rhetoric coupled with his call for a boycott of
French goods was not well received in Paris. Moreover, the AAC draft
federal constitution has been regarded as a threat to France’s ‘superior
interests in Cameroon, and it continues to be widely believed that
American decision-makers in Washington are exerting too great an
influence on the policies not only of the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank, but even those of the anglophone
Some changes have occurred in French thinking partly because of
growing dissatisfaction with the Biya re
!gime’s economic and political
performance, as well as an increasing interest in certain English-
speaking African countries, notably Nigeria and South Africa. A few
months after arriving as French ambassador to Cameroon in ,
Gilles Vidal did what none of his predecessors had ever done previously :
%* The SCNC chairman, Ekontang Elad, however, claimed after the summit in Auckland in
 that Cameroon was admitted because no member-state of the Commonwealth opposed its
admission, not because they voted in support.
&! See ‘Commonwealth: SCNC application referred to  ; liaison office recommended ’, in
The Herald, November , and ‘Anglophone Independence: SCNC adopts UN flag, calls
for Quebec-style referendum’, in ibid. May .
    
he visited Buea and Bamenda and conferred with anglophone leaders,
including Ngu Foncha, and later organised a meeting with members of
the Anglophone Standing Committee to familiarise himself with the
objectives of the AAC. His successor, Philippe Selz, has also been
careful to keep in touch with the opposition, even dining with the SDF
leader, Fru Ndi, on his ambassadorial ‘ tour of French-sponsored
projects’ in the North West Province in April .&"
Cameroon’s recent membership of the Commonwealth is one
indication of a growing distance between France and her former
colony, and another was the French President’s decision not to visit
!during his African tour in .&# Jacques Chirac is said to
have lost patience with the slow and inconsistent pace of economic and
political reforms in Cameroon, as well as being very critical of
continuing large-scale corruption, and this may help to explain why
even the May  visit to Paris by President Biya is not felt to have
done much to thaw the strained relations. Certainly he was
disappointed to find himself welcomed at the airport by the Minister
of Cooperation, and not Chirac, as must have been expected, even
though the French President had so recently distanced himself from
the Government of Cameroon by ‘ recognising the anglophone
problem’ and ‘ proposing dialogue and a constitutional approach as
solutions’.&$ Matters were even exacerbated when Biya boycotted
the December  franco-African summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina
Faso, that was attended by President Chirac.
The SCNC set October  for the declaration of independence
of the Southern Cameroons, but the date came and passed with
nothing but an ‘Independence Day’ address by its new chairman,
Henry Fossung, in which he called upon Southern Cameroonians to
use their ‘national day’ as ‘ a day of prayers ’, asking God ‘ to save us
from political bondage’, and reiterating that independence was
irreversible and non-negotiable ’.&%
Although international recognition of an independent Southern
&" Cameroon Post, April , and The Rambler, April–May .
&# See ‘En Tourne
!e africaine J. Chirac ignore le Cameroun’, in La Nouvelle expression,
July .
&$ See Cameroon Post, April , for Chirac’s appeal and CAM’s reactions.
&% Ibid.  October , and The Witness (Bamenda),  November . Momentum
had earlier been somewhat weakened by the departure of Ekontang Elad for treatment in the
United States, and his ensuing replacement as chairman of the SCNC by the more moderate
Henry Fossung, a former ambassador. See Cameroon Post,June , for ‘Change at the Helm
of SCNC: Elad dropped, Fossung is new chairman’. In addition, Carlson Anyangwe and Simon
Munzu, the brains behind AACI and AACII, had left for jobs in Zambia and Rwanda,
    .
Cameroonian state is unlikely to occur, the SCNC hopes that its
diplomatic offensive has at least raised external consciousness enough
to make the Government think very hard about possible military
intervention after the eventual declaration of independence. Never-
theless, it has never excluded the possibility of a ‘long-drawn-out war
and hence the need to create ‘defensive shields ’ in the Southern
Cameroons,&& so that ‘the brutal forces of the Republic with their
incessant provocations will not deter us’.&'
   - 
Attempts have often been made to minimalise the anglophone–
francophone divide by emphasising that this did not exist during the
German colonial era. At present, Cameroon is officially a bilingual and
multi-cultural nation, which many regard as a safe guarantee for the
preservation of its differential linguistic and cultural heritage. But
according to the authors of the Bamenda Proclamation, the Biya
!gime has preferred
to feign ignorance of the anglophone problemto seek by diverse manoeuvres
to create division within the anglophone nation with the aim of giving the false
impression that there is no general consensus within it on constitutional
reformand to accuse the All Anglophone Conference and its affiliated
organisations unjustly and falsely of having adopted a secession of Anglophone
Cameroon as their goal.
The Government has often stressed that the unitary state is the
outcome of the massive vote of the Cameroonian people as voluntarily
expressed during the  referendum. In reply to the anglophone
demand for a return to the federal state, Biya has claimed, like Ahidjo,
that this tends to be costly, weak as far as state power is concerned, and
divisive, provoking ethnic and regional sentiments rather than national
consciousness. From the very start, the President has also tried to
equate federalism with secession. While constantly declining to discuss
the federal or so-called ‘two-state option’, he appears to be willing to
concede a certain degree of decentralisation within the unitary state
by means of the present ten provinces in Cameroon.
Biya has attempted to divide the anglophones, like his predecessor,
often capitalising on existing contradictions between the North West
&& See The Herald,November , for Elad’s admission of a war of independence.
&' The SCNC chairman, Henry Fossung, declared in his New Year message to Southern
Cameroonians that  would be a ‘turning point in our strategy’. Cameroon Post, January
    
and South West e
!lites. Some of the latter have been appointed to key
positions in their province in response to complaints about North West
domination. For example, Peter Mafany Musonge replaced John Niba
Ngu as general manager of the CDC, Dorothy Njeuma was appointed
Vice-Chancellor of the newly created anglophone University of Buea,
and Becky Ndive was transferred from Yaounde
!to head the Cameroon
Radio-Television (CRTV) station in the South West. In addition, Biya
has used his anglophone allies for the defence of the unitary state, and
some have been adequately rewarded for their services. Indeed, many
have blamed the leaders of the anglophone movements for their
demagogic and irresponsible ’ calls for federalism or secession, and
dispute their claim of being the ‘spokesmen’ of the English-speaking
community, thereby leading to severe confrontations between the two
Following the organisation of the AAC in April , there were
attempts by certain members of the South West Chiefs Conference and
Swela, who were known to be closely allied with the re
!gime in power,
to dissociate the South West from the deliberations and resolutions of
the AAC and from the Buea Declaration. There was also a meeting of
a previously little-known North West Cultural and Development
Association (Nocuda) at Bamenda in May  to dissociate the
province from the AAC by branding the latter as a South West affair.
This gathering seems to have been organised by those North Western
members of the RDPC who in the following year would actively work
against holding AAC II in Bamenda in a bid ‘to kill the Anglophone
In September , nine representatives of the South West Chiefs
Conference travelled to Yaounde
!to pledge their unalloyed allegiance
to President Biya. They told him that ‘they were alarmed at the
numerous demonstrations, blackmail, civil disobedience, rebellious
attitudes and recurrent activities designed to destabilize the state and
the government’, and strongly condemned any attempt to partition
Cameroon on the basis of anglophone and francophone cultures. They
asked the Head of State to transform the present ten provinces into ten
autonomous provinces, and drew his attention to the fact that after
reunification the South West Province had been discriminated against
in the distribution of ‘strategic posts ’.&)
&( See Cameroon Post, April ; April–May ; and  June–July  ;The
Herald, April–May ; and The Messenger (Mutengene), May .
&) The Herald, November .
    .
Following the military brutalities in the South West during the
Government’s  anti-smuggling campaign,&* a split occurred in
Swela which had been founded to promote the socio-economic and
cultural development of the province and to combat its domination by
the North West. On the one hand, there are those who maintain close
links with Biya’s re
!gime and the RDPC, and who often display strong
anti-North Western sentiments. The members of this group include
older and younger RDPC barons, like Emmanuel Tabi Egbe, Peter
Agbor Tabi, John Ebong Ngolle, Ephraim Inoni, and Caven Nnoko
Mbele, as well as such important South West chiefs as Mola Samuel
Endeley and Nfon Victor Mukete. They are opposed to a return to the
federal state and champion the ten-state option, which would retain
the present separation between the South West and North West
Provinces, and thus safeguard the former’s autonomy.'!
By way of contrast, some Swela members are more critical of
government policies and often allied to opposition parties, notably the
Social Democratic Front. They advocate closer co-operation between
the South West and North West e
!lites as a necessary precondition for
an effective representation of anglophone interests, and strongly
support the demand for a return of the federal state. But in order to
show the powerful nature of the pro-RDPC Swela, its secretary-
general, Caven Nnoko Mbele, was appointed government delegate for
the Kumba urban council following the January  municipal
elections, while Martin Nkemngu, secretary-general of the pro-SCNC
Swela, was transferred from Buea, where he was provincial head of the
news agency known as Camnews, to Yaounde
!as an ordinary member
of staff with Sopecam.'"
Since  a number of South Western and North Western chiefs
and members of the RDPC have repeatedly condemned the call for
Southern Cameroons to be independent, appealing to the Head of
State to employ every available means to defend the unitary state.'#
&* The easy access offered by Cameroon’s sea and river ports to and from the south eastern
region of Nigeria explains why the South West Province has traditionally attracted informal, often
illegal commerce between traders from the two countries. A significant number of basic consumer
items sold in Cameroon are smuggled across Nigeria, often with the complicity of customs at the
borders. Prior to the anti-smuggling campaign, most users of cars in the South West Province had
acquired much cheaper fuel from Nigeria, a development which could not be condoned by the
Cameroonian authorities, in dire need of liquidity from the sales of their own oil, especially
following the crippling effect of the ‘ghost town’ campaign.
'! See Weekly Post (Yaounde
!), November , for a comprehensive account of the pro-RDPC
Swela’s ten-state federation option.
'" For an idea of the Swela ‘war ’, see ibid.  January–February .
'# See ‘Pro-CPDM Chiefs Bargain Destruction of SCNC’, in Cameroon Post, July .
    
Paradoxically, the ‘anglophone problem ’ has enhanced the chances of
such Biya loyalists being appointed to government posts which used to
be reserved for francophones only. Obviously, the decision to enhance
the position of anglophones in the state apparatus is designed to belie
charges that they only play second fiddle in the francophone-dominated
unitary state, and simultaneously to attract new members of the
anglophone e
!lite into the ‘hegemonic alliance’.
In  Simon Achidi Achu, a North Westerner, and Ephraim
Inoni, a South Westerner, were appointed respectively as Prime
Minister and Deputy Secretary-General in the Presidency of the
Republic. Other highly placed anglophones, including Peter Abetty,
John Ebong Ngolle, John Niba Ngu, Francis Nkwain, Peter Agbor
Tabi, and Samuel Ngeh Tamfu, may also expect to be members of the
delegations which are regularly sent from Yaounde
!to contest the
claims of the leadership of the anglophone movements and to defend
the unitary state. It should, however, be noted that Biya’s policy of
allocating prestigious positions within the state apparatus to anglo-
phones has also encouraged internal competition among these
privileged allies. In fact, South Westerners still feel that they are under-
represented in the highest government offices and have constantly
requested that a politician from their province should succeed Achidi
Achu as Prime Minister.'$
So when a South Westerner, Peter Mafany Musonge, was appointed
in September  to take over from Achidi Achu as Prime Minister
and more South Westerners were maintained in key cabinet positions
than North Westerners,'% the former reportedly ‘ went wild with
excitement and jubilation and loudly praised the Head of State ’ for
having at last listened to the cry of despair of South Westerners, who
for over  years were ‘confined to the periphery of national politics
and socio-economic development’.'& In the words of Musonge himself,
this being ‘the first time in our history as a united nation that a South
Westerner has been appointed Prime Minister’, South Westerners had
to come together to galvanise the second political awakening in the
South West Province’, and ‘to strengthen our position and bargaining
'$ For example, after winning a seat in Mamfe during the  municipal elections, the
Minister of Higher Education, Peter Abgor Tabi from the South West, could not conceal his
ambition to replace Achidi Achu when the Prime Minister was defeated in his home constituency
in the North West. See The Herald,April and  April .
'% Cameroon Tribune (Yaounde
!),  September and October .
'& Significance of P. M. Musonge’s Appointment ’ by a member of the South West e
!lite, Kome
Epule, in The Star Headlines (Limbe),  November .
    .
power’.'' At his RDPC congress in December , Paul Biya further
strengthened the position of the South Westerners by admitting more
of them into the central committee of the party than North Westerners;
and the -member political bureau formed after the congress included
two South Westerners (John Ebong Ngolle and Dorothy Njeuma) and
only one North Westerner (Samuel Ngeh Tamfu).'(
And, last but not least, the Government has for years relied on a
strategy of repression. It did not allow the convenors to hold AAC I on
the premises of the University of Buea in , and the following year
attempted to obstruct the organisation of AAC II on the grounds that
the participants had come ‘together in Bamenda to declare secession ’.')
The leaders of the anglophone movements tend to be harassed by
security forces, threatened with arrest, and subjected to travelling
restrictions.'* Repression has increased with mounting threats of the
proclamation of an independent Southern Cameroons, and SCPC
rallies and demonstrations are officially banned in the anglophone
provinces.(! Despite the intimidating presence of a large number of
security forces, however, SCNC actions have continued; for example,
during the so-called ‘sensitisation tours ’ to urban centres in anglophone
Cameroon, when the organisation’s leaders informed the urban
population of their programme and strategy, the military could often
not stop them from entering the towns and addressing the crowds.("
Neither could the military prevent the SCNC ‘signature referendum
conducted during September , when , anglophones
'' For reports on (i) the reaction by South Westerners to the appointment of ‘ a son of the soil
as Prime Minister, (ii) how, thanks to Paul Biya, ‘the South West Smiles… Again ’, and (iii) the
grandiose reception they offered Peter Mafany Musonge in Buea, Lime, and Yaounde
!, see The
Herald,October,  November, and December . Also The Star Headlines,
November ;Cameroon Tribune, November and December ; and Cameroon Post,
November .
'( Cameroon Tribune, December , and The Herald  December .
') See Cameroon Post, April ;The Herald, April–May ; and Cameroon Post,
 June–July .
'* According to the Governor of the South West Province, Oben Peter Ashu, the ‘ SCNC
is…an illegal pressure group which wants to turn Buea into a battle ground ’, and ‘we must chase
the leaders of that group out of this province ’. Cameroon Post, July .
(! Ibid.  July  and The Herald, July–August . Indeed, any gathering likely
to bring together critically minded anglophones risks being banned. For example, in May 
the South West Governor banned without explanation the meeting to be chaired by Christian
Cardinal Tumi in Buea that was to have launched Nyamnjoh’s aforementioned publication, The
Cameroon GCE Crisis: a test of anglophone solidarity. See Cameroon Post, May , and The
Herald, May .
(" Newspaper reports of these ‘sensitisation tours’ include ‘ SCNC Hits Kumba :   jam
town green’, in The Herald,August , and ‘As Elites Condemn Military Occupation :
SCNC plans operation storm Mamfe’, in Cameroon Post, August .
    
rejected the unitary state in favour of total and immediate indepen-
The highly centralised form of federalism experienced by Cameroon
during  remained a historical and symbolical reference for the
anglophone pursuit of self-determination and autonomy after the
opposed creation of the francophone-dominated unitary state. In the
wake of political liberalisation in the early s, as this article has
shown, anglophone interests came to be represented first and foremost
by various associations and pressure groups that initially demanded a
return to the federal state. It was only after the persistent refusal of the
Biya Government to discuss this scenario that secession, which used to
be covertly discussed by a limited few, became an overt option with
mounting popularity.
With the exception of those who are closely allied to the re
!gime in
power, the anglophones have become increasingly aware of the
importance of united action, and the positive response of concerned
activists in both the South West and the North West to invitations to
participate in AAC I and II is proof that the old provincial divisions
have been somewhat reduced. The brutal clamp-down authorised in
the South West during the  anti-smuggling campaign was a
decisive factor in drawing several hesitant members of the e
!lite there
into the ranks of the pro-federal pressure groups; and not even the
appointment in September  of a South Westerner as Prime
Minister appears to have affected that – especially since Musonge
made a ‘false start ’ by appointing as chief of cabinet someone from the
Littoral Province.($
The Government’s continued denial of any ‘anglophone problem ’ in
Cameroon, and its determination to defend the unitary state by all
available means, including repression, could lead to an escalation of
anglophone demands past a point of no return.
(# For details, see Cameroon Post, May–June and  June–July .
($ After succeeding Achidi Achu in September , Musonge proceeded to substitute key
North Westerners in the Prime Minister’s office with South Westerners, except for the all
important position of chief of cabinet, which went to Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo from the Littoral
Province. This was perceived as such a grievous mistake that in an editorial entitled ‘ Musonge
Makes a False Start’, in The Herald, October , this South Westerner-owned newspaper
expressed the widespread disappointment among the South West e
!lite, calling on the Prime
Minister ‘to revert the act’, and lamenting : ‘What bad luck ? We all petitioned and fought for the
post, now Musonge is handing the fruits away. Isn’t it a shame ! Heads we lose, tails we lose!’
... The article equally establishes the basis for Southern Cameroons' right to selfdetermination against the backdrop of the fact that it is home to one of the most marginalised minority populations and regions in the country, with a common sociocultural heritage and distinct history as a British colony that had clearly demarcated international boundaries before joining the federation with Cameroon (Konings & Nyamnjoh, 1997). Drawing from the Remedial Right Only, we argue that the country's uneven development along bijural, bicultural, and socio-political lines, which has disproportionately affected the Southern Cameroonian population by subjecting them to various forms of marginalisation and injustice, warrants such rights. ...
... However, Southern Cameroons was given the option to either join Nigeria or Cameroon. The decision to join Cameroon remains disputed by some of the citizens of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon who contend that it was and remains a denial of their collective right to self-determination (Konings & Nyamnjoh, 1997). ...
... According to OHCHR (2013), the Baka and Bakola communities account for 0.4% of the Cameroonian population, the Fulani group 10% and the Mbororo community 12% (Minority Rights Group International's Newsletter, 2017). Although these groups are also economically and socio-politically marginalised, underrepresented, and discriminated against, Anglophones have been proactive in expressing their frustration with their unfair treatment and marginalisation since independence (Konings & Nyamnjoh, 1997). This implies that, while the Anglophone crisis seemingly started in 2016, the seeds of conflict existed for more than 60 years. ...
Full-text available
Is Southern Cameroons entitled to self-determination under international law? This article examines that critical question against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroons and the people’s quest for self-determination. While varied factors cause conflict, it has customarily been attributed to poor governance, non-compliance with the rule of law, injustice, inequality, abuse of minority rights, marginalisation, and colonially induced cleavages. Does this apply to the current crisis in Southern Cameroons? This article answers in the affirmative, highlighting that the current conflict in the regions arises from decades of marginalisation and underrepresentation of English-speaking Cameroonians in administrative, political, and socio-economic decisions.
... Furthermore, ethnocultural diversity is one of the main attributes it has earned the reputation of being an "Africa in miniature" throughout the continent [2]. However, what is undoubtedly perceived by many people as a benefit to the country is sometimes regarded as a ticking time bomb by many other experts [3,4]. Given the deadly violence that Cameroon has been experiencing in the NOSO (North-West and South-West) for the past six years, they were most likely right. ...
... The adoption of a unitary form of state following a 1972 referendum was a violation of clause 1 of article 47 of the 1961 Foumban Constitution, which stated: 'Any proposal for the revision of the present constitution, which impairs the unity and integrity of the Federation shall be inadmissible'. 23 The successful nullification of the federal nature of the state provided a basis for the central government to: ' francophonise' key Anglophone services, such as the judiciary and educational system; obliterate legacies of the Anglophone system that had been inherited from the British and to systematically alienate Anglophones from strategic political appointments. In 1984, to the outrage of Anglophones, the Biya government unilaterally changed the official name of the state from the United Republic of Cameroon to simply the Republic of Cameroon (La Republique du Cameroun). ...
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Separatist movements remain a common feature of contemporary African politics, largely because of the arbitrary fusion of different cultural, ethnic and linguistic groupings into modern-day states by European colonisers. The ongoing separatist conflict in Cameroon is just one example of this lingering colonial legacy. Although engendered by genuine grievances over the socioeconomic and political marginalisation of Anglophones by the Francophone-led government, the conflict has been hijacked by opportunists to prosecute their economic ambitions. The paper uses qualitative data from interviews with various stakeholders in the conflict, field observations and documentary sources and the greed versus grievance framework of analysis. It argues that the separatist conflict has provided an avenue for separatists, government officials, security forces and criminals to engage in unscrupulous economic enrichment. It concludes that opportunistic behaviour by government/military officers, separatists and criminals has escalated and prolonged the conflict. Such behaviour includes the smuggling and sale of illicit petrol from Nigeria, kidnapping for ransom, embezzlement of war funds, extortion of civilians and benefits from an increased security budget.
Since the end of colonial rule in Africa in the 1960s, Africa’s state politics has been littered with secessionists’ narratives, aspirations and a few definitive separations in different countries, albeit with varying degrees and frequency. The Eastern Africa region presents an interesting case for the general analysis of secessionism, particularly in Africa. Today, the region hosts a successful, failed and active secessionist agenda. This chapter comparatively analyses the emergence and trends for countering secessionist claims in Eastern Africa while also generating insights for discerning secessionist discourses and political action or public policy in Africa. Two questions are addressed: What explains the similarities in the emergence, escalation, maturity and final separation of a section of a state into a newer state, given experiences drawn from some nations in Eastern Africa? What policies and mechanisms apply in addressing the secessionists’ claims and problems of secessionism rooted in various parts of Africa? The chapter concludes with general remarks on the intricacies of secessionist claims underpinned in the ethnic-nationalist variables and a complex mix of socio-economic, historical heritages and political dynamics specific to each state.KeywordsEthnonationalismPolitical rhetoricsNational cohesionPublic policyDemocratic governanceNationalismPolitical settlementSDGsAgenda 2063Secessionism
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Cameroon’s Constitution of 1996 sought to put in place a decentralised system of government that would accommodate a diversity of communities, but the country faces a range of serious governance challenges today which the Constitution so far has not succeeded in addressing. These include difficulties in dealing with the country’s dual-state colonial heritage, particularly the perception of marginalisation by the Anglophone community. Other challenges include embracing constitutionalism, tackling minority concerns such as the rights of women and indigenous people, curbing ethnic tensions, and managing the transition from authoritarian to democratic governance. An examination of the constitutional and legal framework of decentralisation under the 1996 Constitution shows that these issues have not been adequately addressed under the current arrangement. There is thus need for a fundamental constitutional overhaul that would provide a more effective decentralised framework for administrative, political and fiscal decentralisation. The new framework should entrench basic elements of constitutionalism such as upholding human rights, the separation of powers and judicial independence, and limiting the ease with which the Constitution can be amended. This thesis concludes that there is a need for legal safeguards, such as a constitutional court, to ward against the usurpation and centralisation of powers by the central government. Only elements such as these can advance decentralisation in Cameroon and thus facilitate the accommodation of diversity, enhance development and democracy, and manage conflict.
This study examines the nature and factors associated with the onset of the conflict in Cameroon’s North West and South West regions to contribute to conceptual, theoretical and methodological debates in war/conflict studies. It used an explorative approach, examining the immediate political tensions prior to hostilities and major government policy areas. It shows that teachers’ and lawyers’ protests (beginning in 2016) and strategic miscalculations by the government and rebels are the immediate factors associated with the onset of the conflict. The underlying factors include greed, colonial heritage, a history of insurgencies, an internal geography conducive to group conflict and guerrilla warfare, poor macroeconomic performance, the ability to finance authoritarianism without relying on taxes, political decay, slow political development, a turbulent regional neighbourhood and unfavourable international relations. The results enable four main contributions to longstanding debates in war/conflict studies. First, an insurgency is a distinct type of war. Second, insurgencies occur due to several immediate and underlying factors unique to each case. Third, studying insurgencies requires a holistic approach, examining immediate and underlying factors. Finally, although rebel victory is impossible in an insurgency, multiple and widespread insurgencies can nullify the essence of a state, making insurgencies important national security threats.
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Since 2017, an armed conflict has been raging in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon between separatist forces and the Cameroonian military. This review analyses the historical origins and root causes of the conflict; the trigger mechanism of rising protests and state repression in 2016; the emergence and evolution of the armed conflict over the past 5 years; its impact on civilians; and hopes for peace. There is currently little prospect for conflict resolution as the Cameroon government appears intent on ignoring limited international pressure, maintaining the charade that the ‘security crisis’ is over and reconstruction is underway, while continuing its counter-insurgency strategy to militarily defeat the armed separatist groups. We note that, while the desire for peace is profound, the political status quo is no longer tolerable nor acceptable, with conflict resolution dependent on political changes that provide, at a minimum, the Anglophone regions with greater autonomy and protection of their particular identity and institutions.
Le paysage politique et institutionnel au Cameroun depuis la décolonisation connaît des vagues successives de crises qui placent cet État dans une incertitude structurelle. Cette incertitude est aussi politique et dévoile alors un appel d’une autre forme d’État par les sécessionnistes et un vœu de participation à la gestion des affaires au niveau suprême, régional et communal. Ces contestations de la forme de l’État unitaire se sont matérialisées par la résurgence de la question anglophone. Ce texte évoque les logiques des mouvements sociaux et de l’État dans la gestion de la crise anglophone. En d’autres termes, comment l’incertitude du lendemain et de la gestion de l’État a-t-elle engendré des ruptures et des revendications sociales et politiques au Cameroun? L’objectif de cet article est d’analyser les stratégies de mobilisation des acteurs de la crise anglophone tels que les pouvoirs publics, la communauté internationale et les organisations de la société civile. Il s’agit précisément de décrire et d’analyser les mécanismes de mobilisation des ressources. Pour appréhender cette réalité, l’article recourt à la théorie des mobilisations multisectorielles pour décrypter les ruptures, les continuités, les inflexions et les trajectoires des luttes qui structurent la scène sociopolitique au Cameroun. Il s’appuie sur l’exploitation des archives documentaires et de la presse locale pour retracer l’incertitude structurelle ayant engendré la crise.
This book is about bilingualism and its benefits. It is a compilation of papers written in English and French that showcase the bilingualism of the contributors. The volume sheds light on bilingualism and bilinguals as harbingers of a close rapport with otherness. Even in uncharted and divisive situations where language use becomes highly indexed, bilinguals can metamorphose into linguistic and cultural turncoats and accommodate to the hostile host environment. This book will be of interest to academics in the fields of language, bilingualism and multilingualism and to language policymakers in general and in Africa in particular. This book will be an invaluable resource for language scholars, professionals and policymakers alike.
Cameroon's upheavals since 1990 have not been widely reported among the more visible and violent African state-society conflicts. Their anonymity on the continent's political agenda is understandable, since by the formal, most visible indices, little has changed since pluralist pressures appeared. The ‘Gaullist’ monolith state remains fundamentally in place after 25 years: the constitution retains the unitary executive stamp of 1972, against federalist and devolution challenges, although multi-party politics were legalised in 1990. This and a new press law have been the régime's major concessions to emerging opposition forces, and led to presidential and national assembly elections in 1992.