Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Washington D.C – All of us who sat through general education in Cameroon did so in preparation for the GCE exams. In those days results were read on national radio in Yaoundé. As a candidate, the unthinkable and most humiliating experience was to sit for the exams and not have to hear your name mentioned at the reading of the results.
Science students sat for a maximum of five subjects in those days, while art students could do a maximum of four, that is, at the GCE Advanced Level. All that any candidate needed for a pass to get an admission into the university was only two subjects or two papers, no matter whether you sat for two or five subjects.
In my case, an art student of CCAST Bambili then, I went in for three subjects. As was the case with everyone else, sitting for the maximum number of subjects as possible was a bargain. Should I end up passing only two papers, it would still be a pass. The two were like my fallback position incase I didn’t make all the three. But for those who went in only for two subjects, if they failed just one of the subjects they had no recourse – no fallback position. Thank God, I made all the three papers. I got the optimum I bargained for, so that those who passed only two papers were to me like those who bargained for meat but got a fish – though both were still considered a pass anyways.
When it was all set and done, all that counted wasn’t how many papers one had; the question was essentially whether one passed. But you see, those two subjects were like the red line, the fallback position. It was that number where if you sat say for five papers and didn’t hear your name mentioned among those who passed in five subjects, and still didn’t hear your name mentioned among those who passed in four subjects, and again, didn’t hear your name mentioned among those who passed in three subjects, you still had hope that the worst being the worst, you may make it among those who passed in two subjects. The two papers were the worst dream of any candidate, but better than total failure.
And that brings us to the premise of this editorial. Doesn’t this analogy sound like the argument that we have today in the struggle for the restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons? All of a sudden we have split into two camps. The minority camp refers to themselves as federalists and are begging LRC to summon them to the dialogue table, and the majority calls themselves “Independentists” and they have said it is their way or the highway, and like the GCE candidate, they think and perhaps rightly so, that they have a better recourse than federalists. So which of the camps here has a more resounding argument?
This editorial is about the wisdom and advantage in choosing the way to independence. Like in the GCE exam, proponents of independence know that at the end of the day, should it come down to the worst scenario, LRC will have to be compelled to sit down on table to talk federation with them. So, in their case, like in the GCE, the guy who stands for independence has a fall back line in federalism. He has more leverage and in a better position to say to any negotiator that ok, I want to meet LRC in the middle, let’s negotiate for a federal structure since they don’t want us to leave. The mediator then turns around and says to LRC ‘these people have shifted the goal post a little bit, they are a little more accommodating now, why not meet them at that point – at the middle?’ And LRC ponders over it and says, ‘well, if we don’t accept it, a total break up will be worst’ and so agrees for the two parties to dialogue. Won’t this be such a win-win situation?
Now, flip the coin to the other side, the side of those asking for federation. What do they resort to when LRC insists that federation is off the table? Like in the GCE, what is their fall back point, what is thier second game plan? Call on LRC to revert to the appellation Provinces? And what is really in a name? For the federalist, the only recourse he has when LRC says no federation is to harden up and recourse to the argument of total independence. But won’t that have been too late? And who knows, it may be taking the struggle another decade backward. We are stronger and better up united behind one thing now – that is, independence.
At the Cameroon Journal, we are convinced that we have reached the point in this struggle where our unity constitutes one of the biggest threats to LRC. For 56 years, they divided us each time we rose up like in ‘Opopo’ – one man, one power. They will use a South westerner this time, and the next, they use a north westerner to sabotage our resolve. Right now we see that ugly tactic being masterminded again through the Munzus of Cameroon. And they appear to be successfully penetrating the feeble and naïve minds among us, sowing the seed that federalism is what we need and that it is the way to go.
If federalism is what we need and it is as good as they now want you to believe, why did they take it off the table in the first place? And why have they resisted it for 56 years? Why do they keep Agbor Balla and others locked up in jail for talking federalism? If they think federalism is the way to good, why not release our leaders who have from the onset advocated for a federal system in the country?
And by the way, if federalism is as dangerous as LRC has said previously, and are holding our leaders in jail for advocating it, how come people like Simon Munzu, Akere Muna, Benard Muna, John Fru Ndi and many others who have downright advocated federalism are still walking free? Why have they not been arrested like Agbor Balla and others? Why is federalism a taboo only when Balla, Fontem Neba, Mancho BBC, Ayah Paul and others in jail are concerned? Shouldn’t Munzu, Akere Muna, Ben Muna and John Fru Ndi be in jail?
To our comrades who continue to preach federation, the danger in your stance is that at the end of the day when LRC says federalism is unnegotiable, you have no safety net – no fall back position. Some have become so emotional and militant about it to the extent they have elevated federalism to a religion, so that those who talk separation are perceived to be antichrists.
In this cause, whether you are a federalist or an ‘independentist’, we all have a common goal – that of the restoration of our dignity in a country that we will call our own. We all yearn for equality, equitable distribution of our resources, good schools, good roads, our own courts, school system, deep sea port, international airport, our PowerCam, our Cameroon Bank, PWD, WADA, Marketing board, and you name the rest. These things ought to be uniting us than the feeble subject of federalism. Let’s remember that when LRC sends its thugs down the streets to arrest, brutalize, rape, torture and kill, they care less what you stand for. They don’t ask whether you are for federation or separation. They treat all of us as criminals.
We cannot therefore continue to attack, smear, sabotage and destroy one another as if the battle is between us. We are not our own enemies, Francophone Cameroonians are not even our enemies – LRC – the regime, is the enemy. If we can all pause for a moment to reflect on these lines of thought, resolving to all re- embrace the path to independence, won’t such cohesion give us more bargaining power than when some say they are for federation and others say they are for independence? If we buy into this wisdom, we lose nothing, because be it independence or federation, at the end, we all win or “na God e win,” as the song writer says.
The second part of this editorial is directed at the Governing Council of SCACUF. SCACUF adopted the independence platform as far back as February when it was still operating as the Consortium. Since then every move and advocacy it has pursued has been directed towards achieving that goal. But since taking the independence route, and up till now, SCACUF hasn’t told us where it stands on the question of dialogue with LRC – whether they are still pursuing it and in what form?
It is our opinion here at the Cameroon Journal that it is incumbent upon SCACUF to step out in the public square and formerly make it clear that they are severing any form of dialogue with LRC that does not border around a referendum. SCACUF should strongly denounce any form of dialogue that has federalism as agenda. SCACUF should send out an unambiguous public statement to the effect that it can only dialogue with LRC after a referendum that decides on the fate of the two Cameroons.
And having formed a governing council, SCACUF ought to BE ALL ABOUT ACTION NOW. It should start asserting some form of authority and making its influence felt on the ground. Start severing any form of political and economic ties between LRC and the Southern Cameroons bit by bit. That means using every available tool to stop the flow of oil from Victoria to Douala and Yaoundé, stopping the flow of Timber from Meme, Mamfe, and Ndian to Douala and Yaoundé. CDC, PALMO and others must also be constrained to sever ties with LRC. All Francophone administrators in our two states should be given ultimatums to start evacuating the territory including French speaking gendarmes, Police and the military. Infiltrate the ranks of the gendarmes, the police and the military using our compatriots serving in the force to send a message to LRC that we are growing invincible in taking back our territory since they won’t give it back to us. All Gov’t Delegates should be forced to step down, and plans made for elections that elect indigenous administrators for our regions/states.
This Independence is not going to come to us by way of proclamations and declarations. It will only come by way of some action, and until we begin with something significant as these, nobody is ever going to take us seriously.
We have heard so much of self-defense talks from Ebenezer Akwanka, Foncha Nkem and Cho Ayaba. This is time for action sirs. Stop waiting for the next donation to come in and stop lamenting of shortage of funds. You owe it to the people from whom you have raised funds to start showing some physical manifestation of action on the ground. Use what you have raised so far; the rest will begin to come once people begin to see that their donations are working and making a difference on the ground.