It is not in dispute that the “Republic of Cameroun” attained independence on January 1, 1960. Nor is there any doubt that Southern Cameroons voted in a plebiscite on February 11, 1961, to join the “Republic of Cameroun”. The two states “federated” on October 1, 1961, and became known as the “Federal Republic of Cameroon”. But Ahidjo, the “President of the Federal Republic”, moved to abolish the federation as early as 1968. Whereas J N Foncha and A N Jua, leaning on Section 47 of “The Constitution of the Federal Republic”, objected, S T Muna took the opposite direction. By a presidential decree of that year, Ahidjo replaced the two objecting Anglophone leaders with the colluding Muna who now doubled as the Vice President of the Federation, and the Prime Minister of West Cameroon with residence in Buea. Four years later, in 1972, the “peaceful revolution” transformed the country into the “United Republic of Cameroon” contrary to the said Section 47 of the “constitution” which provided, inter alia, that “No bill to amend the Constitution may be introduced if it tend(s) to impair…the integrity of the Federation”. By artificial resurrection, Muna, on the last day of 2009, some 41 years after his first pact, accomplished the task by leading manifestations at the National Museum that purported to seal the obliteration of the Anglophone identity.
Not too many reasonable persons would be surprised about this divisive official policy though. Since Ahidjo’s resignation in 1982, there has been the systematic effacement of the Anglophone identity and the distortion of the history of Anglophone Cameroon in manner inimical to national unity. Two years after taking office, Biya procured the National Assembly to change the name of the country to the “Republic of Cameroon” with a single star on the flag. The adoption of that name was exclusive of Anglophone belonging for reasons too obvious to dwell upon. And the dropping of the other star was like scrapping Anglophone Cameroon. And so was it indeed! Practically, the State authorities went ahead to commemorate the 30th anniversary of independence of the “Republic of Cameroun” in 1990. To consummate the exclusion, a postage stamp was produced carrying the map of the “Republic of Cameroon” exclusive of the territory of previous “West Cameroon”.
To justify the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of “Cameroun” today, the noisy minister of communication has told the whole world that the only documents deposited with the Secretariat General of the United Nations do establish conclusively that the Independence Day of Cameroon is January 1, 1960; and that the celebration of the 50th anniversary is within international norms. He more or less enjoined journalists so to uphold! The President of the Republic soon contradicted him by telling the nation, most probably as an after-thought, that the said celebration is only a prelude to the celebration of “reunification” on October 1, 2011.
The minister’s utterance reminded me of a portrait I once saw in my late law professor’s house. I should paraphrase it as “May God help me to keep my big mouth shut until I know what I am talking about”. If reminiscences I have of my transient flirtation with the judiciary, prominent among them is that the guilty are ever eager to explain. If the minister had been familiar with the saying that “silence is golden” he certainly would have been so vociferous only after due introspection. The doorway here is usually adorned with knowledgeable wisdom, maturity and honesty, rare as they are. Half-truths and loquacity do only end up in a boomerang of betrayal.
In his attempt to hide the truth in a net, Mr. Minister only ended up corroborating and upholding squarely the assertion by SCNC that there never has been a union between the two “Cameroons” as there is no instrument in the said secretariat attesting to the fact of union. And the effect of such official admission wholly negatives the recommendation by the African Commission that the SCNC should “abandon secessionism”. No pronouncement from a body with quasi judicial competence can be more preposterous! How does anyone see secession where the “part” has never been part of the whole? And how convincing is the President of the Republic in the face of that admission when he tells us that the fiftieth anniversary celebration is only a prelude to the celebration of October 1, 2011? Is he saying that Cameroon will have deposited new documents with the United Nations’ secretariat by then? And if we have two Independence Days, how on earth does anyone have the authority whatsoever to treat the SCNC as an illegal organization? The answers to those rhetorical questions should be catalysts for uneasy consciences.
The plain truth is that any conduct tending to exclude Anglophone Cameroon by returning to the pre-reunification status is unconstitutional. Some bold jurist would even read treasonable offences in such conduct in a country in a state of law, if one of such countries we are.
Citation of foreign examples and irrelevant quotations from foreign authors cannot help the situation. Wholly idle then is it that some talkative minister has cited the example of the United States to gloss over the unconstitutional character of the 50th anniversary celebration. Clearly, it was just one of those grotesque commandeering appearances of intimidation embellished with faulty premises that superimpose abstract harmony on disguised polemics. It makes no difference that someone is susceptible to contradiction!
If the minister had sought counsel, he would have been told that the United States’ Constitution of Abraham Lincoln of over 200 years old is still in force. All states adhering to the “Union” subsequent to the adoption of the said constitution do accept it upon adherence.
The situation of Cameroon is totally different. The “Republic of Cameroun” threw its constitution over board at “reunification” and submitted to “The Constitution of the Federal Republic”. That marked the demise of the “Republic of Cameroun”. A new nation was apparently born. We cannot bank on the constitution of the new nation to revive institutions that disappeared with the “Republic of Cameroun”. The contrary would only be true if we reincarnate the pre-reunification statuses, thereby rendering the crusade against SCNC unlawful. If the minister does not know this, any jurist would put him through with just a little bit of lowliness on his part.
Why did the ministeo for the example of the United States of America by the way when Tanzania is at our doorstep? Has the minister forgotten, or does he not know that at the time Zanzibar attained independence on December 10, 1963 Tanganyika had been enjoying its own independence for years? Is it not true that when the two countries united on April 26, 1964, the last-mentioned date became their national day? Did their respective Independence Days not go into the archives as of course?
If one may ask again: why the example of the United States absolutely? Is it infatuation? If infatuation it is, the minister ought to have begun by asking himself what the United States did to get to where they are so that Cameroon can follow in their footsteps to get there soonest. Cameroon should not measure up to the United States only in talking! The true Cameroonian patriot then should begin by seeking answers to such fundamental questions as why Cameroon is still to manufacture its first hoe for tilling the soil almost half a century since “reunification” when Americans are flying to other planets in rockets. Anything that precedes such fundamental questions is mere self-serving political claptrap.
We surely are not too far from the truth when we hold that we are doomed because we have far too many talkers but far too few doers. What’s more, we glorify despotic domination for vacant grandeur, and perpetrate divisiveness that fosters perpetual occupation of the pedestal even as the masses are wasting away in crippling poverty designed, methinks, to impel subservience in consideration of benevolent doles.