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Chronicles of the Anglophone Problem: 2017 the Man-made Horrible Year
There is a Latin expression, “Annus horribilis” (horrible year) that describes a year in which nothing went right. The year 2017 will go down in Cameroon’s history as the year in which everything that could go wrong, went wrong–at the worst possible moment.
As we end 2017, Biya has declared war on Anglophones who want change in any shape or form (unarmed federalists are imprisoned, tortured, and killed, or exiled, while separatists fare no better). In his book, there is no difference between federalists and separatists or secessionists. The former Southern Cameroon is under military occupation and an undeclared state of emergency is in effect, complete with curfews.
The year 2017 was the year in which the colonial district officer for Manyu, OUM II Joseph, committed an unbelievable crime against humanity. He sowed terror in the hearts of millions of people when he expelled, through radio announcements, citizens of 15 Manyu villages– innocent men, women, and children from their homes to the inhospitable rain forest. Oum II Joseph was repeating a tactic used by the losing South Vietnamese army and its American allies in the Vietnam war– he decided to destroy Manyu villages in order to “save” them. This was an act of collective punishment –and it is clearly against international law– meted on thousands of people in retaliation for attacks against Cameroon army and gendarmes who had unleashed a reign of terror on unarmed civilians whose only crime who had been to ask for change in their unfortunate, marginalized circumstances. The result of OUm’s deportation order was was that a flood of thousands of terrorized Anglophone civilians fled to Nigeria to seek asylum.
The Anglophone Cameroon refugee crisis made the year 2017 the year of a monumental historic irony. In 1961 the grandparents and parents of these Southern Cameroonian refugees “voted” with their feet to leave a feared Nigeria, and make common cause with their so-called “kith and kin” of la République du Cameroun, despite dire warnings from Dr. EML Endeley and others. In 2017, thousands of the children and grandchildren of those who voted to join la Republique in the 1961 Plebiscite are flooding to Nigeria to seek refuge. John Ngu Foncha and Solomon Tandeng Muna, and other Anglophone architects of the reunification with la République must be spinning in their graves.
The events of the year 2017 showed that Nigeria is a responsible, African big brother. The Nigerian people, the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, and the UN High Commission for Refugees welcomed fleeing Anglophones with open arms and provided them shelter and asylum in Nigeria. The Nigerians even thwarted efforts by René Sadi, Cameroon Minister of Territorial Administration to have Anglophone dissidents arrested and sent back to Biya’s notorious jails. The Nigerians also thwarted efforts by the unelected Francophone colonial governor of the Southwest region, Bernard Okalia Bilai to intimidate fleeing refugees, in violation of international law. Okalia Bilai who took a few trucks with supplies and tried to cross the border into Nigeria to ostensibly distribute these supplies to the very refugees the government had expelled from their villages. The Nigerians and the UN saw Olalia Bilai’s shameless act for what it was–an attempt to intimidate fleeing Anglophone villagers and lure them back into the grip of the Cameroon armed forces of terror.
The year 2017 was also the year of propaganda. The star of Cameroon government propaganda was clearly Issa Tchiroma Bakari, Minister of Communication. The man will go down in history as one of the worst communicators ever to represent a country. His lies were so blatant and his press conferences so amateurish it was painful to watch. The problem is that Tchiroma is such a bad liar. His mouth said one thing and his body language said the very opposite. With his approximate English, he was no match for social media in the age of English. The global lingua franca. The words Cameroonian refugees have never crossed the man’s lips even once! It is as if these citizens do not exist.
The Year 2017 ended with a victory for the “good guys” and a defeat for the bad guys (Biya and his gang). A young, award-winning, Francophone writer and professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Patrice Nganang, did what no Cameroonian journalist has done since the Anglophone uprising started in November 2016. He came to Cameroon and for 30 days, travelled extensively in the Southwest and Northwest regions, and saw firsthand the military occupation and the human rights abuses the Cameroon armed forced visited on innocent civilians. He held discussions with Barrister Agbor Balla, and other Anglophone leaders. From Buea, he wrote a lengthy article of his tour for Jeune Afrique magazine. He stated that the Anglophone problem will only be solved when Biya is no longer president. He was arrested at the Douala airport on December 8, 2017 as he was leaving the country, secretly driven to Yaounde, and charged with insulting President Biya on Facebook, and threating to shoot him. Nganang was also charged with entering Cameroon with two passports– one from Cameroon and one from the United States. Cameroon (and Biya) became the laughing stock of the world, a place where there was no freedom. The government seized his Cameroon passport, and his Cameroonian citizenship was taken away from him without due process of law. Fortunately for him, he was saved by his American passport. The US government intervened and Biya blinked! He cannot face the wrath of Donald Trump. Nganang was hurriedly released and deported to the US on December 27, 2017. The irony is that Nganang, a black African, was arrested and deported to America by a government the majority of whose ministers have French passports and Swiss bank accounts.
The fault for this horrible year, dear friends, lies squarely at the feet of Cameroon’s 85 year-old dictator, Paul Biya, who has mismanaged, misgoverned, and brought a relatively wealthy country with a hard-working population to its knees. Paul Biya sleep-walked his way through the Anglophone uprising of 2016/2017 and stood passively by as a situation that could be managed through dialogue deteriorated. He has now opted to use military means to solve a political problem. This is the equivalent of using a sledge hammer to kill a fly on a glass table.
The year 2017 was a horrible year. The year 2018 will be the year of all dangers. Since Biya is not a man of dialogue, there will be no voluntary dialogue. His war against Anglophones is not going as well as he has hoped. Casualties are mounting on both sides. At the end of the day, the fate of the country–and of Biya–will be decided by what diplomats call, “the facts on the ground,” in Manyu and other parts of Southern Cameroon. When the dust settles in the next few years, the loser will undoubtedly be Biya.
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Cameroon Concord  is an online publication covering and reporting on  local and world news, sports, entertainment, politics, business, and religious news. Serving Cameroonians .

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