What is “The Southern Cameroons Problem”?
It is the annexation of Southern Cameroons (independent on 1 October 1961) by the expansionist government of La Republique du Cameroun (independent on 1 January 1960).
Is this the same as what some have called “The Anglophone Problem”?
No, it is not. The so-called “Anglophone Problem” is the catch-all phrase used to denounce the systemic (official policy) of institutionalized discrimination against citizens of Southern Cameroons by the Government of La Republique du Cameroun on the basis of language (the fact that they are mostly not French-speaking) and hail from the former British Southern Cameroons.
Is there a solution for both “The Southern Cameroons Problem” and “The Anglophone Problem”?
Yes, there is. It begins by recognizing that the Anglophone Problem is one of the symptoms of the Southern Cameroons Problem. The sustainable solution to both problems is the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons.
Are Southern Cameroonians seeking the restoration of their independence from the United Nations, the African Union or from La Republique du Cameroun?
Southern Cameroonians are seeking worldwide recognition that the independence of our people and our homeland has been confiscated ever since 1961 and the people of Southern Cameroons have been made second class citizens because of the ongoing occupation of Southern Cameroons and its colonial misrule by the annexationist and expansionist Government of La Republique du Cameroun.
Is the other name for what you are seeking not secession?
We do not seek secession. Southern Cameroonians voted in 1961 for the creation of a “Union of Two Equal States” bringing together La Republique du Cameroun (independent on 1 January 1960) and Southern Cameroons (independent on 1 October 1961). The “Union” that was supposed to have formed was named the Federal Republic of Cameroon. On 20 May 1972, the annexationist Government of La Republique du Cameroun used the overwhelming French-speaking population to topple the government of Southern Cameroons and impose a unitary dictatorship in which Southern Cameroonians have been condemned to second class status. In April 1984, one of the parties to what was supposed to be a “Union” of two equal states, finalized its secession from the “Union” by unilaterally reverting to the name La Republique du Cameroun.
Can the problems of marginalization not be resolved without a break-up?
The marginalization of Southern Cameroonians is very real, but marginalization, as grave as it is, stems directly from and is only a byproduct of the ongoing colonial occupation. The imposition of French (the dominant language) in courts and the use of French-speaking teachers in schools earmarked for English-speaking students are occurrences that would never be there had the people of Southern Cameroons maintained their government, as agreed to in the lead-up to independence in 1961. It will take the withdrawal of French-speaking occupation troops and paramilitary forces like Gendarmes; the calling back of French-speaking colonial administrators posted to Southern Cameroons by La Republique du Cameroun and the restoration of the Government of Southern Cameroons to begin to address marginalization.
Is the situation that bad?
It is worse than anyone can find appropriate words to paint. The intent of La Republique du Cameroun from the very beginning has always been to annex Southern Cameroons. That is why it voted against independence for Southern Cameroons during the April 21, 1961 session of the United National General Assembly which granted the territory international sovereignty. Destroying the Federal Republic of Two Equal States in 1972 was consistent with that plot; as was reversion to the name La Republique du Cameroun. The Justice Minister of La Republique du Cameroun told its parliament in 2015 that “unification” in 1961 was meant to be like “dropping a cube of sugar into a bowl of water”. They wanted Southern Cameroonians to melt into oblivion and become Francophones. The many injustices of the past 55 years have now left Southern Cameroonians with no choice than to call for the restoration of their independence.
Should citizens of the French-speaking part of the Cameroons have a say in what Southern Cameroonians seek?
No, they should not and this is why. The decision to form a “Union of Two Equal States” was made in a Referendum (on 11 February 1961) in which only Southern Cameroonians voted. Putting an end to that experiment only requires those who voted for it to say they want out. Besides, citizens of La Republique du Cameroun have proven to the entire world that they are a different people from the people of Southern Cameroons, whom they mockingly refer to as “ennemis dans la maison” (enemies in the house), Nigerians and/or “Biafrans” (in reference to citizens of the failed Biafra Republic in Nigeria). For example, lawyers, teachers and students across La Republique du Cameroun are totally unconcerned by the injustices that led to the strikes by lawyers, teachers and students in Southern Cameroons because the police brutality and the killings of peaceful protesters have targeted Southern Cameroonians exclusively.