Southern Cameroons history

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Map of the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia)

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Geography – Southern Cameroons is the territory bounded to the west and north west by Nigeria, east by La Republique du Cameroun and south by the Atlantic Ocean.

Statistics –                                                                                                                                 Area: 43.000                                                                                                                          Population: 6 million                                                                                                             Language: English (official)                                                                                                    Religion: Christian


The territory of Southern Cameroon has been subjected to different colonial occupations;  Between 1885 and 1916, Southern Cameroons was part of German Cameroon (Kamerun).

In 1914, Britain and France invaded German Kamerun from their neighbouring colonial lands and at the end of  World War I with the Peace Treaty of Versailles, the League of Nations was born and both Britain and France attempted a joint administration of the German territory of Kamerun as it bordered their own West African colonies.  This joint administration failed and the territory of Kamerun was then partitioned by France and Britian.  The British took one-fifth and the French took four-fifths of the territory.  

The lack of forethought as to the nature of the partition and problems that it would cause the local peoples was completely ignored and was the start of the problems which have faced Southern Cameroons ever since; namely that they became a minority race of English speakers within a majority country of French speakers.

British Cameroons

To conveniently administer their own portion of Cameroon; as a mandate territory of the League of Nations, the British added it to the administration area of Nigeria.  They also  split the territory into two  areas                                  1. Northern Cameroons                                                                                                             2. Southern Cameroons.                                                                                                          At this point in time, these two territories were not considered as viable land to invest in and so the British administration did very little to develop the social and economic potential of the territories.  This lack of investment and interest caused the people of  Southern Cameroons to oppose the British mandate of their land.

The British first administered Southern Cameroons as part of Southern Province of Nigeria, whose headquarters was in Lagos and later; under the Eastern Region of Nigeria, when Nigeria was divided into three regions, namely, Northern, Western and Eastern.

Southern Cameroons was therefore administered from Enugu, which was the headquarters of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Under this administration  Southern Cameroons suffered ‘Ibo domination.’   The Ibo established control over Southern Cameroons who were then badly discrimminated against. 

When the first parliamentary elections were organised in the territory to choose representatives to the Eastern Regional House of Assembly and Federal House in Lagos, Southern Cameroonians walked out in protest at the inequalities and declared Benevolent Neutrality in Nigerian politics.

This then led to the holding of the first Southern Cameroons Conference in Mamfe in 1953. Attendees at the Conference adopted a petition which they addressed to the United Kingdom Government demanding separate regional status in conformity with Southern Cameroons’ status as a UN Trust territory. It was from this point that Southern Cameroons nationalism sense of born.

In 1954 Southern Cameroons achieved self-governing status, with Dr EML Endeley as first Premier, but nationalism took a multi-facet nature: some of its leaders thought that this was a progress that was to lead them to regional autonomy and therefore opted for integration into Nigeria. Some as a result of the experience they received as a colony under another colony, namely, Nigeria, opted for independence. Some as a result of nostalgia and influence from French Cameroun opted for unification with French Cameroun.

This lack of clear consensus among the leaders led to the United Nations taking over as the supervisory authority of the former mandate territories.    It then imposed two political options on them.                                                                                                                                1.  Achieve independence by reunifying with French Cameroon which as a result of their independence on January 1st, 1960 became La Republique du Cameroun                                                                                                                                                2. Integrate with Nigeria which had already been given independence.

Southern Cameroons asked the UN for a third option, that of independence but it was refused!  So on  February 11, 1961, Northern Cameroons voted for integration into Nigeria while Southern Cameroons; having previously suffered under Nigerian rule had little option but to choose unification with French Cameroon.  

In October 1961, unification of the two Cameroons (British with French) was intended to create a UN-sponsored federation of two states of EQUAL STATUS to be known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

However, The Foumban Constitutional Conference of 1961, which federated Southern Cameroons with La Republique du Cameroun, was not in line with what the UN had envisaged.  According to the UN the country was to involve the governments of Southern Cameroons, La Republique du Cameroun plus the United Kingdom as the Administering Authority and the UN as the Supervisory Authority.  

The Constitutional Conference to was held without the participation of the UN and UK and in their absence the Constitution was only signed by only the two parties present, Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun.   To further complicate the situation, the new Federal Republique of Cameroon that emerged from the Foumban Conference consisted of two federated states, namely, the State of West Cameroon: made up of Southern Cameroons and the State of East Cameroon: made of La Republique du Cameroun.   This meant the disappearance of both Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun; which respectively became sub nations of the new Federation with each retaining its inherited territory, colonial political and administrative system, legal, educational, economic and cultural systems.

From 1962 to 1972, the former, the now former President of La Republique du Cameroun, Ahmadou Ahidjo; who became the 1st President of the new republic decided to annex Southern Cameroons into La Republique du Cameroun, violating the Agreement at Foumban.  Ahmadou Ahidjo abolished the Federal Constitution and imposed a Unitary Constitution and renamed the new country ‘United Republic of Cameroon’.

This meant that Southern Cameroons lost the autonomous status it had enjoyed under the federal system and it became two of the seven provinces of the new Unitary state.

When Paul Biya became President of Cameroon in  November 1982, he completed the annexation by changing the name of the country back to ‘La Republique du Cameroun’, the name by which French Cameroon had gained its independence.  This then led to the emergence of Southern Cameroons liberation movements like the Ambazonia of Fon Gorgi Dinka and Cameroon Anglophone Movement (CAM).  

The climax of the liberation movements came in 1993, when Southern Cameroons liberation movements and Southern Cameroonians as a whole met in Buea under the banner of the All Anglophone Conference (AAC I). Its aim was to press for the autonomy of Southern Cameroons in a restored federal system as declared in the ‘Buea Declaration’.

Another meeting was then held in Bamenda (AAC II) which issued the Bamenda Proclamation. These declarations led to the formation of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), which is a political organisation committed to gaining full statehood and sovereign independence of Southern Cameroons.  A break away state from the intransigence and repressive nature of the Paul Biya regime towards the English speakers of Southern Cameroons.

The campaign of the SCNC has led to arrests, torture, harassment and murder of if members, which has forced many of its active members into exile and has caused others to become victims of state blackmail and misinformation campaigns undermining their  policies and actions.

Since the mid 1990’s the SCNC has won the admissibility stage of their case deposited against La Republique du Cameroun via the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.  It has won a legal case against Nigeria, which obliged Nigeria to table and support its bid for independence to the international community and recently.  It has also been admitted as a new member of the “Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)” in The Hague.

As a result of the ongoing work of SCNC members progress is being made, but it is dangerous work within a dictatorship that seeks to repress and destroy the vision of an independent Southern Cameroons.  The reason for this that Southern Cameroon is an oil rich region.

The Paul Biya regime has imposed its rigid centralised government system, which is characteristically insensitive to the cultural heritage of Southern Cameroonians. To make Southern Cameroons a real colony and an appendage of Yaounde, the Southern Cameroons government was officially divided into two provinces within La Republique du Cameroun in 1972.  The two provinces are ruled by two governors appointed by Presidential Decrees and as representatives of the President, each is accountable and responsible to him.

The two governors, Koumpa Issa, for the North West, and Ejake Mbonda, for the South West, are both francophone Camerounese (French speakers).

The administrative system is a replica of the 200 year old Napoleonic Prefectoral System in which the governors rule supreme and wield unlimited powers; they are a law unto themselves.  Within their area of jurisdiction they are absolute tyrants.  They owe their high position and continuance in that post or rise to an even higher post to the President alone.

There is an unwritten but well executed policy in Southern Cameroons; for the governor (proconsul) to demonstrate his loyalty to the President and account for his stewardship by the use of brute force in order to keep the subjects of his jurisdiction subservient and under control.  Colonial history as well as world history has shown us all that the most oppressive prefects/ governors and uniformed personnel earn accelerated promotion and appointments to higher posts in government.   Determined to keep Southern Cameroons a province of La Republique du Cameroun, genuine democracy has been blocked by sophisticated rigging mechanisms styled “democratie avancée.”   This perpetrates the ideal of the Napoleonic dictatorship on a people who fervently believe in democracy, the rule of law and human freedom.  Under the Biya dictatorship, victory for the incumbent President (Paul Biya) is programmed and sealed before the date of any election is announced and voting materials printed. The simple duty of the ‘so called’ electorate is to confirm the right of the present incumbent to remain in power.

The over riding will to protect and reserve supreme French interest by the francophone political elite in La Republique du Cameron; involves faceless politicians and civil servants in Paris.  It is their goal to ensure that the French overseas territory of French Cameroun effectively blocks the process of democratisation.

As a former trust territory under United Kingdom administration, Southern Cameroons inherited the Westminster Parliamentary system.  Southern Cameroons became a self-governing trust territory in 1954 under a democratically elected government led by Dr EML Endeley. With a genuine democratic and constitutional evolution.  In 1957 Southern Cameroons was granted a House of Chiefs, akin to the House of Lords in Westminister and like Britain, Southern Cameroons operated a bicameral legislative system.

While French Cameroun has never known democracy, by total contrast the social and cultural make up  of Southern Cameroons developed under constitutional democracy.  This then causes a huge variance in political freedom and experience of Southern Cameroon and proves how incompatible the two cultures (Anglophone and Francophone) are as one nation.

The Southhern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) is to right the wrongs of yesterday; restore Southern Cameroonians to the dignity, their natural rights as the legitimate owners and masters of the Southern Cameroons territory; masters of their own destiny by peacefully leading Southern Cameroons to take her deserved seat within the community of sovereign nations.

Southern Cameroons is currently a colony of La Republique du Cameroun and in consideration of the fact that the modern world has banned colonialism just as it banned slavery, Southern Cameroonians are legitimately entitled to international support to depose the coloniser ie: La Republique du Cameroun.

It was in recognition and defence of the enjoyment of this inalienable right of all peoples that classical colonialism, foreign domination and the abolition of apartheid took place. Southern Cameroons is the only UN Trust territory abandoned to a fate that has seen it annexed, colonised and occupied by La Republique du Cameroun. It is a victim of classical colonialism and foreign domination and as such should be decolonised under international law and with international support.


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