REPUBLIC OF AMBAZONIA – “CAVEAT EMPTOR”
- Author : Udoh Elijah Udom
On 11 February 1961, the English-speaking people of Southern Cameroon, in a plebiscite, voted to break away from Nigeria to join the French-speaking Cameroons. More than fifty-six years later, they are now seeking an independent state of Ambazonia. In their statement, the Southern Cameroonians stress that they are not separatists nor secessionists, but a people asking the United Nations to restore their sovereignty as enunciated in the UN Resolutions 1608(xv) of 21 April 1961, recognizing the existence of two nation-states—i.e. La Rèpublique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroon existing side by side within the geographic boundary called Cameroon.
Territory shown in red
Southern Cameroonians are working untiringly to give birth and obtain international recognition for the Republic of Ambazonia (see the map above). The flag and national anthem have been crafted. What the Ambazonians are waiting for is international recognition.
The struggle for independence by the Southern Cameroonians is said to have been caused by the marginalization and discrimination they have suffered in social, economic and political affairs of the country. The French speaking Cameroonians control the political and economic power while the English-speaking group are on the passengers’ seats. There are also the complaints about the gendarmes parading the villages in the Anglophone area and terrorizing the young and the old in French language.
The UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 deals exhaustively on the question of human rights and self-determination of all people. Those who have experienced internal colonialism are likely to understand how the Southern Cameroonians feel. No one should run into a quick judgment or classify the Ambazonians as secessionists, without careful study and understanding of the cause and effect. Stakeholders must watch out for neocolonialists (internal and external) waiting to take side to their individual benefits.
It is contended here that any violation or uneven protection of basic rights appurtenant to all the people of a given polity, such as, press freedom and civil liberties, as well as any widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights for individuals, groups, or cultural institutions (e.g., harassment of the press, politicization of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution) mark a failure of the government to execute its primary responsibility.
The independence of Ambazonia will not be obtained without a fight with La Rèpublique du Cameroun. The dinosaur that has ruled Cameroon since November 1982 is unlikely to negotiate his territory. Already, security forces are reported to have killed six protesters and arrested hundreds of others agitating for the Republic of Ambazonia. The government of Paul Biya has also taken action to isolate and disconnect Southern Cameroonians from the rest of the world by shutting down Internet in the region, thus crippling businesses and social life of the Ambazonians. This crackdown has been condemned internationally, except France.
This is certainly going to destabilize the lives of the people of Southern Cameroon or the Region at large with large outflow of refugees into neighbouring countries, e.g. Nigeria and Chad. The government of La Republique du Cameroun needs to find a nonviolent means to resolve this problem. One way to solve this problem is through dialogue and socio-political reforms aimed at removing the age-long systemic unequal treatment of equals. This is also a test for international community, particularly the African Union. If there is a real or subtle evidence of dehumanization of Ambazonians, this is the time for the advocates of human rights/equality to step in to resolve this imbroglio without bloodshed.
There is no better way to conclude this article than quoting the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We cannot afford another Biafra in this part of Africa.