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Anglophone Problem: The Sting of the Diaspora
Category :- Politics Author :- Admin 
Posted on April 15, 2019, 12:00 am

The Cameroonian diaspora is currently one of President Paul Biya’s greatest nightmares. And probably, the greatest nightmare comes from the Anglophone Cameroon diaspora. At the onset of the Anglophone Crisis in November 2016, the Cameroon government had no idea about the potential of the Anglophone Cameroon diaspora. They thought that the old tactics of repressing dissidents into silence would work just fine, again. But it was a big mistake. Once the leaders of the striking teachers and lawyers were caught and thrown into the jail (in January 2017), the diaspora stepped in to stand in the gap. Using mostly social media, the diaspora was able to direct event on the ground in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, keeping the fervor of the protests alive. What had started as a demand for the Francophone-dominated government to stop diluting the Anglophone legal and educational system had rapidly morphed into demands for the total independence of the English-speaking regions of the country.

 

 Separatist voices that always been in the minority took advantage of the situation and moved into center stage. Organizations like the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) which had held public imaginations spellbound in the 1990s experienced a surge in followers. But again, it was the diaspora membership of the SCNC and other splinter groups that bounced into action, directly protest movements on the ground from the safety of Europe, Americas, Nigeria, South Africa, and Asia.

There have been harrowing reports enhanced searches and interrogations of English-speaking Cameroonians arriving at the country’s international airports. This fact is evidence that Anglophone activists (or Ambazonians as they call themselves) are under high risks of being arrested and thrown in jail should they set foot on the Cameroonian soil. The abduction and repatriation to Cameroon of the president of the self-declared republic of Ambazonia (Julius Ayuk Tabe) and forty-seven of his close collaborators show just how far the Biya government is ready to go to squash the Anglophone revolt. These are only the high-profile cases. There are hundreds of Anglophone Cameroonians whose arrest and incarceration may never receive wide coverage from the media.

To give our readers an insight into the predicament of some Diaspora Anglophones, LeGideon spoke with Engineer Efuet Atem who has been an SCNC activist from a very young age. He said when the strike action began in 2016, he and his friends immediately saw in it an opportunity to exploit for the advancement of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonian quest. Engineer Efuet Atem who currently lives in Europe expressed his frustration with the Biya regime for the sheer degree of state violence and reactionary approach to solving a crisis that did not need to have gotten to the civil war currently tearing the country apart. Engineer Efuet Atem thinks the only solution is a 1961-type referendum for the people to decide their future.   

Efuet Atem

On his take in the present situation, “I am very bitter with the way Mr. Biya is handling this crisis. He cares less about the life of the Southern Cameroonian/Ambazonian. I read the report from Kumbo Diocese and that from Human Rights Watch. They are terrifying. Personally, I have lost friends, relatives, and the situation is not getting any better. I get news from friends, the family almost every day telling me how this or that person has been killed. I was discussing with a friend, who is part of Mr. Biya’s military stationed in Limbe. He told me: ‘the Amba boys can’t win this war’, I told him, ‘of course, they can’t win. The objective is not for them to win by the way’, but neither can Mr. Biya win this dirty war he has declared on our people. Even the highest diplomats are on the same page with me on this one. Herman J. Cohen said ‘the Biya’s government can’t win this war neither can the separatist”. An exasperated Tibor Nagy told reporters on Tuesday, March 12 that ‘my heart breaks for Cameroon … I just don’t understand why this crisis goes on and on and on.’ If Mr. Biya is intelligent enough, he could have supported the Munzu-Tumi conference as a prelude to the dialogue the UN and the US have called for. But of course, we know that he doesn’t give a dam about the lives of our people. The people of Southern Cameroons joined La Republique du Cameroun in 1961 after a plebiscite. Only a referendum can put a definite end to the present predicament”  

Mr. Atem also weighed in on his personal experiences as an Anglophone Cameroonian that helped in shaping his unflinching stances against the Cameroon government: “In 2009, I completed my studies as the best student from the prestigious Bilingual Grammar School in Molyko Buea. Throughout my junior years, I have always wanted to be an engineer. Sadly, I realized that unlike my Francophone counterparts it would be an uphill task for me to realize my dream in Cameroon. There was no Engineering school for me to study in English, whereas my friends who studied in French, had a couple of schools at their disposal. That is the very first day that I saw myself lesser than my fellow brothers from the other side of the Mungo. Official documents were mainly in French, whereas the constitution says English and French are the two official languages. That is why in one of my articles I said: ‘If [a united] Cameroon is the United States of Africa in miniature’ then certainly it will be better we don’t lobby for such a state. Is that the United Africa we want?’. People want to live together, not under a corrupt and autocratic government, rather in a just society. For where there’s justice, there’s peace. The Cameroons should be a perfect example of what NOT to do in the African Project of political unity”  

On the thought of going back home to Cameroon: “If I say am not afraid to go back home it will be a lie. Even here in the supposed safety of France I still need to be watchful. I am afraid not just for my life, but for the thousands that continue to die every day on ground zero. My heart bleeds for them. But again, my person is too small, compared to the more than 5 000 Southern Cameroonians/Ambazonian that have lost their lives, since Mr. Biya declared war on our people. My heart bleeds. Last week, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the last in modern history, and the world said: Never Again. I hope the world is watching as my people are being slaughtered” Human Rights Watch and the Kumbo Diocese each separately published reports of documented killings of innocent civilians, rape, torture, abuses and other atrocities imputable to both government forces and the separatist. One thing is for sure: people like Engineer Efuet Atem can’t return to the Cameroons if Mr. Biya hasn’t called for a general amnesty. Unfortunately, many analysts and reporters, I included don’t see such an amnesty coming any time soon. At least not while Biya is still president of La Republique du Cameroun.

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