The Peopling of Ambazonia: Some Observations
September 8, 2004
There are six categories of nation states in Africa. My attempt to classify them is base on their ethnic group compositions. This classification ranges from single-nation states with 60-95% ethnic group composition through bi-nation states to multi-nation states. We will avoid details as what we are drawing your attention to is urgent food-for-thought. We will examine population influx at various phases of the evolution of Ambazonia.
Ambazonia falls under the last category and this does not mean that it is last on the list. It is because it is composed of several tribal groups , call them mini kingdoms, states or communities as you like to do in North America. By virtue of its composition, Ambazonia will never be a single-nation state or homogeneous in ethnic make-up unless some miracles or revolutions were to occur. Not in our lifetime! Even England in Britain, called Pretanics before the Roman invasion was not purely English. It was a conglomerate of tribes like the ones we have in Ambazonia today. Various tribes in England had their chiefs or leading grandees. Owing to the fact that there were no major threats of wars, thanks to their natural fortifications, the encompassing seas, there were no battlements and they live on hillocks, and open country where they cultivated crops, hunted the teaming games in the woods and meadows. There activities were synonymous to those of the peasants in today’s Ambazonia.
However, Ambazonians farmers of today are far advanced.
This was before the Romans came with their civilisation which they had got from the Greeks, and the Greeks had got them from the Egyptians. These primitive Britons were clad in animal skins, lived a communal life, and their only weapons were javelins, and rocks that they hurled at the enemies who occasionally came from the mainland Europe that was once connected to Britain before the subsidence of the English Channel. Some of these invaders were the Belgics, Normans, Anglo-Saxons, Barbarians, Norwegians, usw, who came, conquered, settled and blended with the Britons. Even the Moors, black Africans came in and settled later on. They were employed as entertainers and minions in the courts just as Africans in Diaspora were allowed to come in in droves after the Second World War to settle.
All was pacific with the relative booming of that economy and there was unchecked miscegenation. It was not until the time of Elizabeth I, the flamboyant spinster Queen, and bastered daughter of the satyr Henry VIII that there were claims and counter claims of Africans prostituting the pure English race. The persecution of Africans because of the color of their skin started in earnest and that was the beginning of institutionalized racism. Many Africans had intermarried then in the 1650s and although Elizabeth’s attempt brought to a temporary halt to the immigration of Africans it was inutile. It was still a fallacy as Sir Francis Drake who was the highest sea robber that ever lived, a torn in the flesh of Philip of Spain (1670s) had used escaped Africans slaves, Marrions in the Caribbean to plunder and rob Spanish treasures from their American colonies and merchant fleets. In spite of their color, Africans were after all still useful commodities. You may guess where the gold,
silver bullion and pearls went to that were stolen from the Spanish galleys? They went to the Tower of London, embellish Queen Elizabeth I and she used the rest to pay her parliamentarians and lavish lifestyle. All these happened before the London money houses sponsored Drake’s famous voyage around the world that shot him to fame.
The Britons who were there before the coming of foreigners were known as the aborigines or natives. The Latin name for the first occupants is prima occupantis. Although most Ambazonians have their history, and we will safely called their mythical origins or their origins as no details written records were kept, they were supposed to have drifted from some distant places and settled where they are today. Before the 14th century we see Biafra Regnum on ancient charts as occupying the area of the Southern County of Ambazonia, extending to the country of Bafia and to the area of Kribi and a bit of the coastal area of south-eastern present Nigeria. As most of the charts were produced by armchair artists in the 15th century Europe, we cannot give a hundred per cent to their information content. Biafra eventually disappeared or they moved taking along a different name, and was replaced by myriads of tribes as recorded by European adventurers in the 16th century.
We are simply stating that no particular group or community was born or created or evolved as some scientists want to claim in one locality where they are at the present. They were forced to move or wonder because of the following factors: wars, famine, exhaustion of cultivable soils, diseases, religious beliefs, other natural calamities and so on. Apart from seasonal transhumance by cattle grazers, mass migration was relatively halted with European colonisation of Ambazonia. Entire tribes had migrated as the Banjooners that once sojourned with the Viyars and Nso’s in the 16th century. Each of our tribes or communities have their own migratory stories to tell us of moving in and out or within Ambazonia. They are Ambazonian Exoduses.
Not all mass human movements were halted even with the false independence of Ambazonia. As recently as the 1970s a clan of several hundreds emigrated from Ambazonian Northern County to Nigeria. They disagreed with the powerful ruler of this Grassfields region over their forceful eviction from the water catchment area where their ancestral spirits were supposed to lodge.
Wars triggered mass movements of populations. We all are aware of the massacre of the related tribal groups in Cameroon by the French colonial government in the 1950s of what the colonialists erroneously called Bamilikes. European anthropologists and ethnographers for their convenient created that ghost word. These group of dynamic associated tribes became frustrated as Ambazonians are in their quest for independence from the French and took up arms. (We are not switching on the green-light for Ambazonians to do so). The French as in Algeria and Vietnam responded by wiping our any reeds that shock in the bushes and jungles of Bamilike region, The resilience of the Bamilikes was not as strong as that of the Haitians in the days of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The Bamilekes were defeated in a struggle that lasted from the 1950s till the capture of one of their leaders Ernest Oundze at Lum (Loum) in 1972. As such many Bamilikes fearing reprisals from the French and Ahmadou Ahidjo’s
Gaulist government sought sanctuary in major Ambazonian towns. The British fearing the spill over of the war that the French had wedged to stamp out the encroachment of socialism stationed troops in Ambazonia as from 1958-1961. The Bamilikes, Bassas, Dualas and other sympathisers of Um Njobe’s party were systematically wiped out by the combined French troops and naive Africans recruited from the then French Equatorial Africa. Some leaders were hunted down and even killed in Europe.
Ambazonia could not absorb many of the immigrants from the Cameroon and those who were active went on self-exile to Nkwame Nkrumah’s Ghana. Eventually many proceeded to Bulgaria and Abdul Nassar’s Egypt where they set up a radio station ranting their grievances. Their messages came across irrespective of persistent jamming of their signals by the French.
Those of them who came to Ambazonia did so because of its good democratic governance and tolerance. Many settled, intermarried or brought in relatives as some of you do to the USA, Britain, South Africa and Germany where you are languishing and praying for the day your independence will be restored. Hitherto, these Bemilikes are considered part and parcel of our kind. We read many of you worried about the so-called the 11th Province, the Bamilikes in Diaspora. There should not be any apprehensions as explained in the rationale that will follow.
We earlier stated that Ambazonia is made up of Counties with diversified tribal groups and Ambazonia poses no problem to their existence or traditional rules so long as they are in accordance with its Constitution that is not far from what it had since 1954 to 1972. The diversification in its ethnic composition is in itself a formidable advantage. You will know why you are a USA or Africa in microcosm or share similar characteristics with the tiny mountainous Switzerland in the heart of Europe! It is because of you ethnic composition.
Safe haven was not only provided to the Cameroonians in Ambazonia. In the days of the Biafra/Nigerian conflict, call it Nigerian civil war, the war of genocide, a crippled man called Ekocondiem shot to fame for his articulate summary of the atrocities committed by the Federal Troops of Nigeria against unarmed or scantily armed Biafrans. To him, it was the Anglo-Nigerian-Biafran War of Genocide. To the BBC, and Radio Cameroon, Yaunde, it was the Nigerian civil war. Many a southern Nigerian was rescued fleeing the swords and lances of the Hausas and Fulani in the North of that country. Ambazonia had an understanding Prime Minister, Augustine Ngong Jua. He opened his borders and gave the fleeing Ibos a safe passage to Ikum, and Mfum, Nigerian-Ambazonian natural frontier. To the best of our knowledge, no Ibo blood was ever spilled on the Ambazonian soil and will never. They had not squabble with Ambazonia and many were allowed to settle in Kumba and elsewhere in the days of the Trusteeship.
Our guiding and protection of the Ibos who could have been killed if allowed to make a Markudi detour did not signal the end of their plights. Many eventually died of starvation and the onslaughts of the Federal troops who outdistanced them militarily and numerically.
In the late 60s and early 70s when that war was going on, television broadcast was rare and far between. Only the Equatorial Guinea had a TV station and the only TV set in the whole of Buea Capital was in the Bishop’s House. Then the signals were feeble. There was only one medium of broadcast that was not censured, the Biafra Broadcasting Corporation and the sympathetic Radio Libreville that broadcast in Langue d’Oc in obscure accent that was barely comprehensible. What we mean is that it was useless as French was still Greek to most Ambazonians and had not yet been enforced on Ambazonia by the Gaulicized Cameroonians. The French daring mercenaries and Medicine Without Borders ferried medicine and food to skeletal starving Biafrans through Fernando Po and Gabon. It was in the course of their operation that veritable news were heard outside. The BBC, Bush House, London and Nigerian journalists were engaged in a propagandistic campaign as they had to be behind their governments. Then
it was far too dangerous and many reporters ended up in Calabar and relied on Nigerian commanders for news that was one-sided. Ambazonians fearing the spill over got glued to their wireless sets each blessed afternoon to listen to the sickening atrocities something reminiscent of the Second War War and lately (1994) the massacre of the Tutsis by the Hutus and their accomplices in Rwanda. Nigerians who had settled in Ambazonia never went back even after the civil war. It was safer in Ambazonia that even today for an Ibo to live in Kaduna, Sokoto or Kano.
Of course, some Biafran refugees managed to pass through by mingling with fishermen in Bakassi, the Ndian creeks, and Korup and found their way in Buea. Their gashing wounds of bomb shrapnel could be seen. Of course, these fortunate runaways could not be sent back to be slaughtered even then that Ahmadou Ahidjo who had bamboozled the over-ambitious and naive John Ngu Foncha to put Ambazonia in the mess it is in today, had sided with General Yakobo Gawon of Nigeria. The number of these fugitives was insignificant and posed no threat to Ambazonia else the gallant British-trained Mobile Wing Police would have been alerted and alarmed.
That was not the only group that Ambazonia had welcomed. It had since welcomed and incubated-till hatched ANC refugees from the atrocities of the Boers’ racist regime, let us call it apartheid. It had in the mid 1960s welcomed with open arms Suadanese youths and housed and educated them. Their parents had been killed as is still happening now in Dafur by light skinned Arabs in the Southern Sudan, a British inaugural creation. Those boys and girls had blue dark skins and had the purest hearts of Christians imaginable. The Arabs were enforcing in them Islam and they vowed to rather die than to accept it. Some of their parents died for them. The confusion in the Sudan had been a European creation, the assumption that if pure African tribes could be forced together, Arabs and Africans do live together. The British in this case had not done their assignments. European colonialists had forgotten that most Arabs with the Ottoman Turks had took part in the capture and sale of pure
Africans as slaves and that where the African and Arabs meet along the Sahel region from the Cape Verde to the Cape Guardifui in the Horn, the Arabs had ever used Africans as servants and worst as slaves.
In Mauritania at the time of writing, September 7, 2004 a good number of swarthy skinned Africans are still owned and kept by light-skinned Arabs as their slaves. It is left for the UN, anti-slavery, and human rights organisations to stamp this out. Some Lebanese are said to buy Africans clandestinely and sent to work for them in Lebanon and others are alleged to be sex slaves in the Middle East. This attitude had led to constant sporadic open hostilities between the Arab Africans and pure Africans even when Africans have accepted Islam as in Dafur at the expense of their own traditional beliefs.
In the days of Governors Sudden and Jesco Von Puttkamer renounced for building the Prime Minister’s Lodge in Buea, the enlargement of the plantations in the coast necessitated additional labor supplies. Some Cameroonians were brought in to fill the gap. The Germans even thought of bringing in the Chinese coolies as the Canadians had done and as the British had brought in the Indians in Kenya and Uganda. Those plantations were later owned by the CDC, a parastatal of Ambazonian Government after 1945. It is for this reason that the liquidation of those plantations to the South Africans who were never in the past friends of Ambazonia at the instigation of the World Bank’s globalisation policy, triggered passionate outcries from Ambazonians.
The Germans did not get enough of the labor force they wanted and solved this with the introduction of poll-tax that had been experimented in the British East Africa, Belgian Congo, and Southern Africa particularly in Zimbabwe that rightly should be called Monomotapa. There was no means to earn raw cash and Africans either devil for the whites in plantations, concessions, mines, work in road constructions or be imprisoned. That led to rapid recruitment of Ambazonians who were sent to the plantations in the south. Many died from hardship and diseases. We will keep that for subsequent commentary.
Before we forget, there were also the Jews of Ambazonia who were settled in Victoria. Unconfirmed sources state that they later on moved to South Africa as Ambazonian last Governor, Hon, J. O. Field. (Any correction of this will be most welcomed). Today, Ambazonia is having a trickle of Chinese business persons whom the locals like for living like them and not being snobbish as the Greek, French and Lebanese in the past.
The Hausas were among the earliest settlers and they competed with the Germans in their trade as far back as in the 1910s. However, they easily settled in main settlements. Coming along with their trade was Islam. Many Ambazonians were converted particularly those in the Grassfields. Islam as Christianity are forces to be reckoned with and useful channels of education. The other traditional belief is animism. That is covered in the Ambazonian Handbook.
Why do we have to go into all these? It is simply to illustrate to the readers that Ambazonia is a modern state, a milting pot with a modern sense of direction and tolerance and not made up of ragtags. The climate had ever been inviting to European visitors and settlers and no visitor ever leave that state without ever thinking of returning. They report that the citizens are charming in spite of their hardship imposed by the Cameroon Republic and lack of basic amenities. Ambazonians speak the world’s leading commercial language, English. Many have come there thinking that it was to sojourn and ended up staying permanently.
I once met an African-American peace corp volunteer who had rendered his services to that Nation State. He swore that his great great grand parents who were sold as slaves originated from Ambazonia. He pointed out his features and his humble mannerism that were akin to those of Ambazonians.
That leads me to the question of appellation that had been swingling like a sick pendulum in this forum. I heard many of you debating as who was an “African-American.” We are not going into details on who is an African-American as it will divert our attention and take away most of the time. This article is not the only one but one in the series and I do not want to be selfish. An African-American, as I see it is a descendant of an African or Africans who were forcibly brought to America to devil for the Caucasian overlords as a slave. If your parents or great great great grand parents were not slaves, brought from Africa to America in chains and on Spanish, English, or Portuguese argosies or galleons, you are automatically disqualified.
Having defined this, it would be to the advantage of those who are stoically not flexible and calling themselves African-Americans to relax their definition and incorporate the newly arrived brothers and sisters as it is in unity that we will overcome all odds. Let us exhume Marcus Garvey! A Latino is still a Latino before George Bush and after John Terry. They should turn round and look at Caucasian-Americans. They all came from different countries with backgrounds and when it comes to loyalty, the home of origin is immaterial.
It is not the economic wealth that attract people to Ambazonia. The roads are dirt roads, the hospital are the worst equiped int the region, colleges and schools are without libraries, etc. The supposed to be the commercial capitals Victoria and Bamenda are messy in planning and there are no industries. I will not go into that as Justice Mbuh and his assidious colleagues had treated this before else it will bring tears into many dry eyes. Bamenda is been voted by the occupying government as the cleanest in the two countries. It cannot be compared with the ghettos of Milwaukee, or New York. It will be called a slum except for a few wards. It could be the most beautiful from a developed nation’s perspective if it is planned and run by Ambazonians for Ambazonians without the thievery of infidels and loafers from the Cameroon.
Again, the attraction of these persons is due to its climates, the kind hearts of Ambazonians, its scenic landscapes, beautiful black sandy beaches that are unique to Ambazonia and a handful of Pacific Ocean islands. It forest reserves are among the best in the tropics as portrayed by the film Korup shot by the British crew some years back. Tourist skim over Cameroon because of the hassles of the thugs, gendarmes and police. Kleptomaniacs in uniforms. Those are complete alien traditions in Ambazonia and that is why they most be rooted out before it it too late and out brainwashed children who have been born under occupation give up. It had been late but it must be done.
We cannot indulged in the cleansing of our population else no one would be left there for most of us in the distant past were foreigners. We would have to tell the infamous Bali chief who supports the elimination of his political opponent instead of using the ballot box to take his people and go back to the land once christened by Flora Luggard as Nigeria. Most Tikerized tribes would end up in the Sudan, Central Africa Republic and the interlacustirine region of East Africa. No nation state had ever succeeded by being homogeneous and Ambazonia cannot set precedence.
Now most of you will understand the debacle of Israel. They essay to build a nation based on religion and purity of race. Hitler tried one on race and failed. The Malaysian government tried to clean the Chinese speck and that was against anything written in the Koran if they are really Muslims. The Ivory Coasters tried this in Ivory Coast and it misfired. The German Nazis tried that in the past are we are still paying for their attempt today by paying for the creation and guarding of Israel. You did not know that the Iraqi war is for the safety of Isreal?
Let me not stray once more. You all saw what the Dutch Reform Church and the Boers in South Africa relentlessly tried to establish a purely Caucasian socieity with Africans working at the periphery as reserved p\ool of workers and it did not materialized. They created the infamous Bantustans reminiscent of the the reserves for the Indians in Canada and sadly in the USA where poor Indians or First Nation Peoples are kept in their place so to say. That is wrong and all and sundry should do all to bring them and Africans into the mainstream of development. Institutional racism should be done away with. So is trabalism and sexism. Indians are not different from any Caucasians, Latinos or African Americans. In certain cases, we must bring in the milky heart as we have been doing with the Cameroon Government to reasons with us and let us part.
After the October 1st, 1961 bogus referendum that started this problem of asking Southern Cameroons to achieve independence by joining another independence state, Cameroon, some Northern Cameroonians crossed over and settled in Ambazonia. They were welcomed and free land was given to them. Who is a good neighbour? What have you had in Cameroon Republic since 1961 when you were fooled by the UN, Britain, France and Ahidjo to leave your house and go to Yaounde? I would like to read from anyone of you who was given free land in Yaunde, Duala, Fussam, or Kribi to build a hut. Were they not the brothers some of you embraced? I will tell you that Ambazonians gave out lands free until Cameroonians taught them how to sell themselves and their feases.
Ambazonia opened its doors to the Fulani grazers in the early 1930s. You offered them lands free and they settled and build huts now they have permanent houses where huts used to stand. They will never go back to the fringes of the Nile. What happened to Ambazonia natural cattle? They were driven off the land and slaughtered and not a single indigenous cattle can be seen. They were not hostile to the landscape as the Fulani heavily hoofed cattle. Was that a grievous mistake? It was our hospitality that went on without limit. The farmer-grazer land problems stated and had never ended. That was the price we pay for our hospitality.
Whatever the cost of our immigration policies, it had to be changed and the Cameroonians asked to go to their home as we do not want them in our home. It is important for Ambazonia to agree to disagree and stop dithering as the SDF that is immune to pains and outmoded.
We would like to state that the Bamilikes are linked to us traditionally and consanguineously. Those who had been with Ambazonia could stay provided they accept to be part and parcel of Ambazonia. We know their history. Those who had been in Ambazonia and cooperting are known and are seen even in darkness. Some of their brothers in Yaunde, Duala and Fussam call our towns bushes. They are black French Men and they could safely depart. There is not coercion and no question of the 11th Province being debated endlessly. Those who are to stay must assist in the immediate restoration of Ambazonian independence. Therefore, it is crucial that they make their position crystal clear and do not play the game of naivety as some of them have been doing in the past. It was observed that when the Cameroon gendarmes were shooting at Ambazonian when demonstrating for their rights, they did not issue any statement of condemnation. Some of them feared that if they got involved their businesses would be
destroyed by the Betis and Bassas in Yaunde and Duala. That was not a strong enough statement to be apathetic. We may insinuate that they are conniving with the Cameroon to completely wipe us out as the Cameroon Government had been trying to do since 1961.
To emphasize on the point made above, who in the Arab world could stand and claim that he had no pure African blood in him or her?The Caucasians, yellow Chinese, Aryans, Asians, etc, have no podium to stand on and make such a claim. Africa was the mother of the world where man originated. Whether he evolved as Charles Darwin who fanned colonialism claimed, and is adored by the British to the extent that his face is brighter than that of the Queen Elizabeth II on bank notes; whether created by God as most of us believe, or hulled from outer space to our planet, the truth is that the first man, homo spient was in Africa.
I am digressing on the point of peopling the Nation State of Ambazonia, a personal view to the matter of how sluggish development is in mother Africa. Those who slip in comments that downgrade Africans in this forum should bear in mind a couple of things: It is no fault of theirs and it is not a weakness as alleged by some insensitive racists commentators. When foreigners are supporting Cameroon to trample on a people, Ambazonians trying to live as good neighbors in peace are they not downgrading us? The European Union are doing this. If not, had it once been debated in their parliament in Brussels? No. It is a coffee table or toilet conversation.
Further, if not, why can the United Nations not admit its mistake and halt the Ambazonian suppression by the Cameroon? Some of them are asking aloud and clearly too this question: Is the Secretary General of the United Nations not an African-African? What is his record on the stamping out injustice in Africa? Is it not in his time that we have witnessed the worst attrocities ever commited in Africa?
Additionally, how many other races where brought to Africa to work for Africans and build their economy gratis? None! Not for one day, not for a year, a decade or centuries? None! Africans had to do that for Americans and Europeans for centuries. What is the false or crime of Africans to always receive abuses and have no sympathy from the rest of the world?
Tell me dear patient readers, if the Marshall Plan, money that the Americans poured in other countries to jump-start their economies after the Second World War ever entered Africa? It did not. I tell you that this money went to France, Southeast Asia, and even to Japan that was an ally of the Germans. Was the part played by Ambazonians fighting along side the British troops in the Middle East and the Jungles of Burma not being forgotten? Are the French not openly giving logistics, intelligence to the Cameroon government to ascertain that Ambazonia is not free from the servitude of the Cameroon? What are the French troops doing in Ambazonia when it is not waging war with any neighbouring state or are they acknowledging the fact of the name and status of French Cameroon Republic in the 21st century?
Many of your uncles, grand fathers dead or living fought with the British troops against the Nazis to liberate France, the Poles, Dutch, Belgians, etc, from the mistreatment and humiliation of their brothers the Germans. Why is it that they are ignoring the Ambazonians whose plights are synonymous to those of the French in the days of Nazi occupation? Is it because Ambazonians are not people as Africans were once treated as not people but means of production for other races?
The French should go back to their national achieves and read Andre Maurois’s book published in 1940 entitled Why France Fell. We implore the French whom we believe are Christians not to philander in the affairs of Ambazonia. We implored them to call Ambazonians for immediate dialogue. It should be made distinctly clear, as broad day light that we do not want any forced marriage with the Cameroon for any price.