By Denis Atemnkeng
First, I should thank you for having the courage at long last to even speak out, against what you regard as injustices. Over the years, many of you have been too fearful to speak out. And even those of you who have managed to speak out this time are still too afraid to address the injustices from their roots. Nevertheless, even this small step must be considered as significant given your long silence.
Your letter provides the opportunity for me, as a Southern Cameroonian, to present you with the bigger picture of our situation, which is by no means hopeless, but full of hope that we shall in due time overthrow the illegal occupation.
We are just from interring and celebrating Mandela, one of the greatest Africans who ever lived. He willingly accepted to spend twenty seven years (27) in prison for the sake of changing a system. I guess many of us made speeches on his passing to acknowledge the great of work of liberation he carried out for his people. More than ever, Southern Cameroonians are waiting for a Mandela, for one who would raise his head and ask the questions that must be asked in public, and not beat about the bush out of fear. We have been so intimidated that many of us close our doors and look over our shoulders before calling the name “Southern Cameroons”.
Soon, Mr. Biya may be going to Buea to celebrate his illegal occupation of our country, the Southern Cameroons. He would likely bring some of us along to clap and to cook up the usual motions of support. In this stage-play, the role of collaborating Southern Cameroonians will be critical. The colonial master will allow the Anglos, by their simulated celebration, to tell the world that the two Cameroons are one and “indivisible”; that there is absolutely no problem between them; that it is an example of bilingualism and democracy; that his presence in Buea, undisturbed, is proof of his words. He knows that the world doesn’t listen until war breaks out! How long will this falsehood continue? Colonisation! How obstinate and blind it is! If there be only one Southern Cameroonian who will oppose this celebration, let him do so. History will record it as it did for Mandela and other opponents of White domination when Ian Smith was saying that not in a thousand years would Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, be free.
If you see the long list of the injustices you have enumerated and how long they have gone on, and the fact that most of them are repeated violations of so-called “laws” and previous understandings, it should not be too difficult for you to understand that there is an agenda being pursued. That agenda is the complete colonisation and assimilation of the Southern Cameroons before it is too late! All the complaints you have cited amount to the simple fact that they are systematically destroying your own system and imposing their own in its stead! From the moment you (Southern Cameroonians or “Anglophones”) accept to be ruled without questioning the terms on which you are being ruled, you have forfeited your right to be listened to! You may be too afraid to raise the fundamental injustices from which all the other injustices you refer to arise: that of the complete colonisation and rule, without any agreed terms, of the Southern Cameroons by Republique du Cameroun. You have chosen to regard yourselves as MPs of “English speaking expression”, rather than MPs of the Southern Cameroons origin. That is fine and good, because that serves the colonial master very well, who does not want you to think in terms of your own nation, territory, identity and homeland, but in terms of linguistic distinctions, thus making yourselves a mere minority in their country, rather than an occupied people. But as you know, people are not referred to by the language they speak but by the place from which they hail. That is why we talk of French people, Americans, British, rather than refer to them as Anglophones or Francophones.
All the complaints you refer to are related to bilingualism, because the preservation of what you refer to in your letter as “Cameroon’s dual system of education” relates to the preservation of your own heritage, language, and world-view. But have you ever asked yourselves why if the intention of the colonial master was to foster the two systems and two languages, English would not have been made the official language in Southern Cameroons or what you may choose to call English Cameroon? The purpose of bilingualism is to enable each linguistic unit in a given nation or organisation to maintain and use its own language. For this to happen, no foreign language can be imposed on any linguistic unit! That is why in the United Nations, in Switzerland, in Canada, each linguistic unit keeps its own language and it is the central government that is obliged to be multilingual or bilingual.
In Cameroon, the colonial master has used the mere word “bilingualism” to blindfold its captives who go around talking of bilingualism without ever knowing that it is a calculated and systematic attempt to abolish their own language from public affairs altogether! French has been imposed on Anglophones without them having any means of reciprocally imposing English on Francophones!
Notices are served in the Southern Cameroons in French; sign boards are in French; the car inspection results are served in French and so on! Look across the Mungo! How many sign boards do you see in English? I challenge you to show me one single nation in the whole world which is practising the kind of deceit and fraud which the Cameroon government calls “bilingualism”! In every nation which calls itself bilingual, each of the linguistic components preserves its own language as the official language on its own territory or sector of the country, and then in public offices the two languages have equal authority. Whether you think of Canada, Switzerland, or anywhere else, this is the only way due respect is given to the people and their language.
But in Cameroon, it has been fraud and deceit of “Anglophones” from day one! My Dear MPs, the system is designed to strip you naked of what is yours and impose French and its ways on you and your people! This is what colonisation is about! They make the laws, they make the policies; they issue the licences for business activities: they control everything! What will you do, unless you claim the undeniable right to make your own laws and your own policies on your own territory, free from foreign domination? All so-called “Anglophones” working in Education, no matter their level, are obliged to pay homage to their Francophone bosses in order to keep their posts! You can plead and cry as much as you like, no one will listen to you. Already, they have almost sold out our territory in Victoria and other places to themselves through their administrative authorities! The project of assimilation, colonisation and destruction of Southern Cameroons must be completed as quickly as possible! Your complaints are simply regarded as “le chien aboie et la caravane passé”.
Do not consider my words as idle accusations against Republique du Cameroun. NO! These are serious and thoughtful statements which I am prepared, in any fair court, to demonstrate and prove to the finish. You may still be willing to say that your own country, the Southern Cameroons, is part of the colonial country, Republique du Cameroun. You say this not because you have proof, but only out of fear of intimidation, and to pay homage to the colonial masters. Even their own experts preparing Republique du Cameroun’s celebration of their occupation of the Southern Cameroons in Buea some time in the future failed to find any legal basis of their presence in our territory. They can only continue their illegal occupation through the bribery and corruption of our consciences. Again I repeat, as long as you continue to repeat the falsehood that the Southern Cameroons is part of Republique, the colonial regime is very happy, because that is what it wants you to say. Some of you may even be tempted to issue statements in the press saying that you dissociate yourselves from the contents of my letter. You may say so, but history will one day vindicate these statements.
Colonisation, if you wish, is for one people to rule another people without any terms and without any right! Is this not the relationship that obtains between the Southern Cameroons and Republique du Cameroun? They can kill your own nationalists and celebrate their own; kill your own language and promote their own; kill your own culture and celebrate their own, kill your own education and impose their own; kill your own justice system and impose their own, make you simply chips in their calculations, while all the time saying in words that the “country” is bilingual! They know you will believe it, and some of you will even go round preaching it! The beautiful way of sweetening the colonisation is to give you the opportunity to talk and make proposals which they can show to the world as your participation in a “democratic” country, then in practice laugh at you and never implement a single one of those proposals. Is this not what is happening?
Coming back to bilingualism, I would like to tell you about a natural law that makes it impossible for English to survive in public affairs in Cameroon. If you mix twenty people who speak English to one hundred who speak French, no matter what law you make to say the languages are equal, French must automatically dominate. Why? Because in their interactions, the twenty Anglophones will be obliged to use French four times more than any Francophone. So before the Francophone ever gets round to learning English, the Anglophones have already learned French! Now, language is only a tool of communication. When the Anglophones all begin to speak French, what use will there be for English? Do you now see the mechanism that is automatically at work, no matter what law you make?
This is the same law that makes English dominate in the world, the UN and all international organisations. The only law in the context of the two Cameroons that would preserve English and the English system in public affairs is to make English the official language in English Cameroon! No other law will be of any use! If the Anglophone enters 100 public offices, he will be obliged to speak French in 99? Why do your Anglophone Prime Ministers and government officials not consistently speak in their own language, English? Because the law of majority imposes itself on them.
They always find that if their audience, which is mostly Francophone, will understand them, they must speak in French. But when they speak in a foreign language, who will speak their own language? So the mechanism for assimilation of Anglophones is perfectly at work! Everywhere, Anglophones find that circumstances oblige them to speak in French, even if only to get their documents treated.
To speed up the assimilation, the colonial government has refused to make it obligatory for the government to be bilingual or for text served to Anglophones in French to be invalid. Some people say: Francophones are also learning English. Yes, but this is only for the enormous advantages that English offers them in the rest of the world. The English is not intended to be used in the Cameroun administration. This is precisely why even Francophone Ministers who studied in Anglophone countries do not use their English in the Cameroun administration. They must use the colonial language!
Can the system not be changed? It is impossible. This is because colonisation can thrive and live only on deceit, injustice, violence, intimidation and falsehood. If there were to be full justice and transparency, the first thing “Anglophones” would do would be to ask these questions: where is the international instrument by which Republique du Cameroun is asserting jurisdiction over the Southern Cameroons? What are the terms on which Southern Cameroonians are being ruled by Republique du Cameroun? What are the rights of Southern Cameroonians in the alleged union? Why is English not the official language in the Southern Cameroons? How can a party who no longer wants the alleged Union withdraw?
The system, being colonial, does not allow you to ask these questions. Consequently, none of your pleas can ever be addressed as long as you cannot ask them. The colonial master will give you only what he chooses to give you, but not what you ask. And what he gives you must be part of the colonial scheme to keep his rule and domination over you. Justice is alien to colonisation because colonisation is ever suspicious that at the first opportunity, the colonised people will free themselves. Therefore all the noise and drumming about democracy, dual system, bilingualism, and the rest is only to buy time to completely assimilate and turn “Anglophones into Francophones”! Ask yourselves, what has been your impact in the parliament? Make any bills and proposals you like, only what they want can pass. Therefore you sit there only as alibis, to permit the colonisation to proceed without much disturbance. You can see that you are not helping to build a so-called bilingual country. They are only using you to destroy your own identity and system. Those who talk about bilingualism or a dual system in Cameroun are only ignorant of what they are talking about.
You have raised the injustices only in one sector, education. What would you discover if you were to find out what is happening in all the other sectors? Do you think it would be different? It could not possibly be, because the same agenda of colonisation prevails in all sectors. You, Anglophones, are thought of only in passing, just so that you may feel that you are part. But you do not belong! That is why they call their country a “Francophone bilingual country”. High sounding nonsense to keep you confused! Read the Buea Peace Initiative from AAC1 and you will find a litany of injustices to which Southern Cameroonians are subjected on a daily basis, and with much of our own collaboration, out of fear!
You stand in a very privileged position to make things happen. If you have read the history of the Southern Cameroons, you know how the Southern Cameroons MPs walked out of the Eastern House of Assembly in Enugu and went back to Buea. You can choose to stay on and continue weeping and begging to be listened to. That is your choice, but no colonial master ever listens to the colonised people, except as a ploy to continue the domination. Already, you find yourselves in a position where you have almost deprived yourselves of the right to question the terms on which your territory and people are being ruled by an alien power in whose Parliament you have been drafted as part of the blindfolding exercise. You fear that if you raise your voice, you will immediately be accused of disturbing the peace. Notice that because colonisation has no truth on which to base its rule, it will never address itself to your questions, but deviate attention from them to your person or drum up false charges of disturbing the peace. If they can, let them put the proof by which Republique du Cameroun is ruling the Southern Cameroons on the table for all to see! In this, idle propaganda and the talk of peace cannot replace the proofs needed!
Peace! Peace indeed! Peace to the outside world is to accept domination without ever challenging it. Colonisation counts on the fact that very few people ever really take time to understand a story before they react. As long as war has not broken out, they talk of peace! And then when it breaks out after long and tedious years of oppression, they rise to the podium to make beautiful speeches about peace once more. You must therefore understand the hollowness of outside comments and make up your mind whether it is time to stand for the truth or for the falsehood under which we have been taken captive for so long. No one will pity us. We have to take our own fate into our hands.
I am convinced that the Southern Cameroons shall be free! World history teaches me so; natural law teaches me so. But you who are locked in the black box of the daily oppression and propaganda of colonisation may doubt it. I have seen the fall of all the past empires, some of which were thought to be so powerful that the Sun could never set on them. They have all collapsed, because they lived only on falsehood, intimidation, blindness and violence, exactly the same basis on which the power of Republique is exercised over the people of the Southern Cameroons. I have seen the birth of new states almost every decade. These states were once “indivisible” parts of other more powerful states, but illegally suppressed and occupied. Freedom and justice, the unstoppable motion of the world, have set them free. Do you think freedom and justice, which never retreat but ever advance, will bypass the Southern Cameroons? At the first ray of light all the falsehood will come crashing down! Since the world is advancing towards justice and freedom, we are advancing towards our liberation from this bondage!
Our role, as nationalists of the Southern Cameroons, is to hasten this day, is to make it happen sooner rather than later. We should do it, we must do it, we have to do it! Let us wake up! Our own name cannot be blotted from the book of life of the nations by Republique du Cameroun! Long live our beloved Country, the Southern Cameroons!