By Janvier Tchouteu
After watching a debate featuring the redoubtable Cameroonian journalist Franklin Sone Bayen and Joshua Osih (The Vice President of the Social Democratic Front), with the two facing off a host of French-speaking (Francophone) Cameroonian panelists, I could not help but come out disheartened by a fundamental fact---These Cameroonian patriots, Cameroonian civic-nationalists of Anglophone Cameroonian identify who deplore the system's handling of Cameroon, especially its treatment of the land and populations West of the River Mungo (The Northwest and Southwest regions or what was formerly West Cameroon and before that the British Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons, and what was down the line the Southwestern part of German Kamerun), apparently could not be understood in their brilliant presentation of the Anglophone Cameroonian problem. And what was even more disheartening was the fact that most of their learned counterparts were off the mark so many times and even went off-on-the-tangent on the grievances of Cameroonians West of the River Mungo.
The New Cameroon would be able to resolve Cameroon's fundamental problems, that's for sure, fundamental problems of which the Anglophone Cameroonian problem is the Number 1. But then, what is the Anglophone Cameroonian identity that the other panellists failed to get?
In a nutshell, what binds Anglophone Cameroonians together is something akin to a national identity, an emotional feeling of being a part of the geopolitical entity that is the Southwest and the Northwest regions of Cameroon (the former British Southern Cameroons and the former West Cameroon), a special feeling that arose from sharing a common history, a common language (pidgin English/English), a unique/similar culture, and a sense of marginalization. This sense of belonging, subjective as it may appear, is nurtured by Anglophone Cameroonians grounded on their ancestral ties to the area, or their native ties (having been born in either the Northwest and Southwest), and/or from growing up there from quite a young age, ignorant or hardly/barely conscious of any other identity. A person born and raised in Bangante, Yaoundé, Douala, Mbouda, Edea, Banyo and other towns of the former East Cameroon (French-speaking region) and who studies in English in these places, may not develop that Anglophone Cameroonian consciousness or feeling of belonging. This Anglophone Cameroonian identity does not hinder a person from being a Cameroonian Union-Nationalist (Cameroonian civic-nationalists). In fact, most Anglophone Cameroonians and most Francophone Cameroonians are Union-Nationalists, unlike the pseudo-nationalists that make up the political establishment (The CPDM elites and the elites of the so-called opposition―SDF, UNDP, CDU etc.) in Cameroon today, the French-imposed system stirred yesterday by the Ahidjo regime and today by the Biya regime; a system that has collaborators from all the religions, ethnic groups or tribes, regions of the country. And in fact, the Anglophone Cameroonians who want a separate state for the land West of the River Mungo are a minority.
Cameroonians should not be alarmed by the protesters in the streets of Buea, Bamenda and other towns and cities of the Northwest and Southwest regions. They are the unsilenced voices of patriotic Cameroonians who reject the French-imposed system, the Biya regime and their perception of Cameroonians as a people that cannot set themselves free from tyranny. Cameroonians from other parts of the country should echo this voice of protest and resuscitate the honorable cause to found the “NEW CAMEROON”. We should all join hands irrespective of religion, ethnicity, tribe, region and other special interests, and then march forward and dismantle this system once and for all, so that we can all begin the arduous task of building the country that our forefathers fought and died for, and voted for in the struggle for independence and reunification. We have an opportunity to build the Ideal Cameroon that filled the dreams of Martin Paul Samba, Rudolf Manga Bell, Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix-Roland Moumie, Ossende Afana, Albert Kingue, Ernest Ouandie, EML Endeley, John Ngu Foncha, Ndeh Ntumazah etc. This would be an inclusive nation that would be the light of Africa, instead of the black sheep that Cameroon under Paul Biya and the anachronistic French-imposed system, is today.