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Time for a Southern Cameroons International Think Tank
By Jonathan Awasom
My fellow citizens of Southern Cameroon,
The Land of our ancestors under siege by strangers. Courage!
We shall overcome and be freed from bondage. Fear Not!
God is not lying low ! Let the pharaohs harden their hearts.
The time will come when the walls of injustice and oppression will fall down.
Why the Southern Cameroon International Think Thank(SCITT) will be indispensable
I greet you all! I appreciate your insights, foresights and recommendations from all and sundry. However, I also will like to chip in my own contribution with the hope that we find common grounds in order to work together under the same platform as a united people with one voice and one action plan. Right now there are too many divisions and contradictory actions.
It is not enough to send a petition to UNO.I signed it and passed it on. It is commendable but the way it is done is not going to yield results. So, while encouraging and supporting one another I wanted to make my own able propositions toward a robust plan of action. This is only my personal opinion but it is laced with acquired training, knowledge and experience.
It is abundantly clear that over the years many scholars, activists and advocates have made the case for our freedom and Independence. I have spoken to many people and learned with my deepest condolence about individuals who have died fighting for Southern Cameroon statehood. Some died on exile and as we speak many Southern Cameroonians are languishing in jail following the 2008 murder and arbitrary arrest of protesters. I am sure it will continue. We risk being extinct as it seems if we are not FOCUSED. We are distracted by the likes of Nji Paul Atanga etc. Please, let us think of the risk involved and the many lives being sacrificed every now and then.
There are paradigm shifts and dynamics but the problem is not shifting at all. I have read all the correspondences and particularly the memorandum of SCNC Chairman, Dr. Nfor Nfor Ngalla. It is a fine document in its own right. It has some technical issues that require correction. It is obvious some people are sitting on fence or acting neutral in this struggle because some people expect La republique to hand over the Presidency to an Anglophone in order to calm the Southern Cameroon people.
This is the kind of mentality that keeps us perpetually enslaved because we still don’t realize that once we become independent we will elect a President and Vice President and Speaker of the House under a three arms of government that will lead to self-government. So, why are we some people always acting desperate? I have also added my voice to this struggle like many others. Last week I argued that rather than malign those who are still attached to the regime, we should ask them to come back home! I am glad to know veteran warrior Dr. Nfor Nfor share the same sentiments.
There is no doubt that Southern Cameroonians are not united and an appearance of unity is misleading to the extent, which if anyone believes in an international conspiracy, then he or she should think about the conspiracy orchestrated by la republique to ensnare you. If we cannot handle the conspiracy of the CPDM regime, then how can we handle the one at the level of the international community if that is the case of Dr. Nfor Nfor? It is obvious to me that many different people have approached the problems of Cameroon from different angles! No matter how one looks at Cameroon, one will arrive at the same conclusion and the best word to use is ANGER. However, we must be careful how we proceed in terms of strategy.
I will object to the language used by Dr. Nfor about “International Conspiracy”. This is not a diplomatic language and is ambiguous when you intend to rely on the international Community to help resolve the issue. Even if we know that it does exist, we should never use such a language because it will scare people from becoming willing participants. This phrase alone is enough to sabotage any endeavor no matter how noble. You see I have been listening and also talking at my own corner.
I have studied the plight of Southern Cameroon also known as West Cameroon and Anglophone problem. Lately, I have read circulars from certain quarters within the struggle arguing that Francophones claim to be Anglophones, too due to the fact that many of them are sponsoring their kids in the so called Anglo-Saxon Educational system. That means it weakens the argument that we have an Anglophone as a unique problem. In this light they resolved vehemently that the name Southern Cameroon be adopted henceforth to define the struggle.
Now what is not clear to many people is the notion about West Cameroon? Where does this fit into the struggle? The next issue to clarify is the notion of Ambazonia ! These are some of the issues to clarify because in a struggle like this you do not want to narrow it down to yourselves and amongst yourselves as if you own the struggle inside .Many of us are not responsible for these problems and have only being trying hard to understand and be part of the solution. You must remember that we are a minority already and any further divisions amongst ourselves will only help the oppressor in Yaounde. If a minority is reduced into minority, then how can we succeed?
If you approach this struggle from the momentous and spontaneous action of the Common Lawyers, who revamped the struggle, then as it stands, we owe it to the people to lead them. It seems to me that many people have spent way too long into endless legal arguments and debates which serve as a weakness as opposed to a strength. In the true sense of a noble cause, lack of a solution –oriented mind set is a recipe for failure. Nobody within the cycle of the La republique cares about our plight. In fact if they are agents and participants in our problems, then why should anyone think that they should dialogue with us without a 3rd participant? So, logically if you accuse the International Community of a conspiracy, then how can you turn to them again to listen and partner with us? We must be diplomatic because we also need a diplomatic solution to this problem.
In my own humble view, I objected from the onset to any meeting with the CPDM regime whether represented by PM or any Minister/Governors etc. This came under the heels of Nico Halle’s publicity on the eve of their meeting with the Minister of Justice in Yaoundé. Apparently he and his delegation attended the meeting and failed. Then the Lawyers and teachers have also met with the PM and nothing good came out of these meetings.
The truth is, even as some people seem well spoken, some of us have not seen any mark difference in the way most people perceive this problem. While it is important to educate ourselves, I am also concern about lack thereof of self-discipline and loyalty to the struggle. The tendency of many of us rushing to meet with Yaoundé is a big problem. No independence and in fact given the complexity of this matter, can be solved in a single year. So, perhaps it is important for us to realize that we still have a long way to go . I have my own thoughts, ideas and in spite of the concerns, I am still very optimistic. Yet we must proceed speedily to unite all the factions within the struggle. The best way to unite all these factions is to establish a Southern Cameroon International Think Tank. Earlier on I proposed Cameroon Anglophone Think Tank (CATT).
Lastly, I just want to say that an independence of a people is never won in the court of law . It is not a force of argument based on the law because whatever law existed at the time and now is responsible for our plight. I have to be honest with many of you who are too legalistic that there are many dimensions to every struggle. You cannot make it absolutely a legal matter because clearly, the argument for legality is not embraced. So, why do you keep relying on the International courts who created the problem at some point to begin with ? While I admire the legal component of all these , please, it is about time that we begin to consider the over all big picture and be open to appreciate other ideas, perception and approach to bring about the results we are seeking collectively.
To begin with what happened to the law when in 2010 dictator Paul Biya intentionally changed the Constitution to abolish the two terms of 7 years limit to the Presidency? Part 11 Chapter 1 Article 5 (1) and (2) states that “ He shall ensure respect for the Constitution.” Yet people of the law profession did not challenge this in any court of law. The Cameroon opposition leaders who were also Presidential candidates collected 30 million frs CFA from Paul Biya claiming it was state money to participate in lies. Many of us here did oppose what happened in 2010 and 2011 but the MPS as the legislative branch of government were silent over this.
The dictator is definitely scared right now because he has already been preparing to run again in 2018. I am sure he has some money to spend again . This new period stretching from 2017 to 2018 is very timely. He has a lot of money to spare(corrupt) the opposition and MPs AND CO. Who is going to sell their conscience again? We must frame this debate from the fact that we cannot be part of a system of one man rule who has the absolute power to change the Constitution at will. The people of Southern Cameroon believe in the rule of law and good governance.
Having said this, SCITT serving as the power house and moral clarity of the struggle will establish a consistent message, an organization, leadership, vision and action plan to involve a grand fund –raising from a strategic point of view. It will embody leaders or representatives of all the different factions, professionals, scholars, leaders, opinion leaders, religious leaders and activists to come together and brainstorm against which backdrop we will then agree on a plan of action. Every protest counts. Every life count. Every effort past and present is appreciated. However, we must not think that the solution will come from without if we are not united and properly organized, and wisely led.
We have a good case but we lack organization, leadership, a message, vision and plan of action. Instead of overbelabouring the points, which I believe most people know already, we should lead. We must remember that our people are hungry for leadership. They want to follow and we should not wait . We should not be imagining things. If the someone asks you, Ok, what do you want from the UNO , what will you say? How do you want it? When ? Who ? Why? I have things to say but I am looking forward to the SCITT where one can act with integrity and consistency.
When the Lawyers strike erupted like a volcano everyone identified with them. Yet, the CPDM regime has succeeded to manipulate many people to accept the narrative that this is a lawyer’s problem. So, too is the teacher’s problem. Unfortunately, many people initially bought into that narrative until later when they realized that it was dangerous to go alone. I am afraid that we seem to allow ourselves to be told what steps we ought to take to solve our problems. The problem could because we are still to own this struggle. We must correct the idea that “ The UNO should come and solve the problem” .
We must also correct the notion that “ Yaounde should dialogue or solve our problems”. None of these will ever happen. We must take our problem to the UNO. We are to wait for UNO to come. In order to take our problem, we must have a strategy and plan of action. We must know that UNO has representatives inside Cameroon. I am referring to The Cameroon ambassador to UNO, the various members of the International Community like US embassy, British embassy, French and German embassy who have veto powers at the Security Council except Cameroon.
We have to think and act strategically. There is a lot to say but for the sake of strategy, we must wait for the appropriate forum where we can be very direct about what we all know is required for this to be successful. If anyone is expecting a solution from Yaounde, well, then they are lost. If anyone accepts appointments from Yaounde effective immediately often designed to sabotage then greed is still a moral problem. We must learn to reject any appointments no matter how prestigious they may come because that is a dead trap to us and of course those appointments have not solved our problems since 1961.