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Cameroon: What every Anglophone should know about Feb. 11.

The Feb 11, 1961 Plebiscite was neither a life nor death sentence, so it can be reversed. Just know how your parents voted, before blaming others.
On this day, 58 years ago on Feb. 11, 1961, Southern Cameroons voted for independence in a UN plebiscite and joined French Cameroun; a different country which gained independence from France on January 1, 1960 (as Republic of Cameroun) with international borders that did not include Southern Cameroons.


The plebiscite vote never made Cameroon one, united and indivisible; nor was it intended to. To begin with, the obligation imposed by the UN that Southern Cameroons should obtain “independence by joining” either Nigeria or Cameroon violated Article 76(b) of the UN Charter, and UNGA Res. 1541; which both reaffirm independence as the inherent and inalienable right of all colonies and Trust Territories. Even after the independent Southern Cameroons state joined French Cameroun in a two-state federation to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961, no Union Treaty was registered with the UN General Assembly secretariat as mandated by Articles 102 and 103 of the UN Charter. The right to separate from French Cameroun is also laid out under Principles VII and VIII of UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of December 15, 1960. Over the past 58 years, the world has looked the other way while Southern Cameroonians have been denied their independence. The ongoing struggle to restore Southern Cameroons independence is therefore consistent with International Law, including the right to self-determination.

Besides, the occupation, annexation and recolonization of Southern Cameroons by French Cameroun also violate Article 4(b) of the African Union Constitutive act. It also violates UN resolutions against colonialism and external domination of other people; and it contravenes Articles 19-24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right; and other principles of International Law. The unilateral abrogation of the two-state Federation by French Cameroun under the subterfuge of the May 20, 1972 referendum was a constitutional coup d’état, which violated Art 47 of the Federal Constitution. Even were Southern Cameroons to be an integral part of French Cameroun, any such referendum on abolishing the federation ought to have been an issue solely for the people of Southern Cameroons to decide, since they were the ones who voted to join French Cameroun, in the first instance.

A review of UN General Assembly resolutions and other international legal principles regarding the right to self-determination shows incontrovertibly that Southern Cameroons became independent in 1961, but has since been recolonized and occupied by French Cameroun. This anomaly makes independence worse than colonization, and it is an illegality that is being challenged by Ambazonia restoration forces in the ongoing civil war. French Cameroun has no legal basis for its occupation and recolonization of Southern Cameroons and have been frantically pushing the theory of a one united and indivisible Cameroon based on the fact that the two countries were formerly part of German Kamerun.

The truth is that Southern Cameroons was first British and was only ceded to Germany after the Berlin Conference of 1884. Therefore, the ridiculous assertion that Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun were part of German Kamerun; hence must remain “one, united and indivisible” is laughable because German Kamerun as a political entity was a mere geographical contraption and there is no basis for its reconstitution, either in history or international law, as it included several other territories which are now independent nations. French Cameroun can only claim Southern Cameroons as part of its territory from the former German Kamerun if it can also claim other territories of that German Kamerun (Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, and former British Northern Cameroon in present day Nigeria) as part of French Cameroun.

French Cameroun cannot ignore historical facts that the territory geographically delimitated as German Kamerun existed merely for 32 years (1884-1916), and the entity itself was held to obedience by German military conquests and treaties of friendship with different tribes, independent of each other. From 1884-1916, the Germans signed 95 treaties with various ethnic groups wherein Kings and Chiefs on both sides of the Mungo River, surrendered sovereignty and administration to the Germans, who established their capitals in Buea and Yaoundé. After defeat in WWI, the pernicious enterprise of German Kamerun ended.

When French Cameroun argues that Southern Cameroons is an integral part of its territory because they have been administered jointly as the NW and SW regions for 58 years, remind them that Ukraine and Russia parted ways despite sharing over 1,000 years of common history. And Southern Cameroons broke away from Nigeria in 1953 despite sharing 34 years of common history as well. Even if French Cameroun claims Southern Cameroons is two of its ten regions, it cannot forget that Eritrea used to be the only former Red Sea Province of Ethiopia, but that did not stop Eritrea from gaining independence.

It is a matter for regret, indeed shame that some Anglophone sycophants and Biya regime apologists continue to hee-haw the one, united and indivisible Cameroon fallacy, even as the bonds that bind the two Cameroons have fallen apart. The decentralization offer for regional autonomy sold by the Biya regime as tangible reform under the 1996 Constitution is unacceptable, notably because it makes the misleading assumption that Southern Cameroons is part of French Cameroun, and not an illegally occupied and recolonized territory. Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun were never one people; let alone united and indivisible. Let no one tell you otherwise!

Therefore, arise oh Ambazonians, for as Thomas Paine said, these are the times that try men’s souls. The struggle to restore our independence is our struggle; no less than it is that of the Anglophone leadership or the Anglophone Diaspora. We must have faith and not be distracted by detractors and naysayers. Let us unite in banishing fear. Together we cannot fail. And if we must die as Claude McKay told Black Americans during their fight for freedom and equality; “let us nobly die, so that our precious blood may not be shed in vain; then even the murderous Biya monsters and genocidal soldiers we defy shall be constrained to honor us though dead! If we must die, let us face our murderous cowards like men with their backs against the wall; dying, but fighting back.” Let the conscience of every Anglophone hold a conversation with his/her soul; then take this solemn vow: I am fighting for my freedom; I know not what course others may take; but as for me, the choice is simple - give me freedom or give me death!


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