In response,Ã‚Â CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s President Paul BiyaÃ¢â‚¬â€ a wily and cocky politician, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron grip for the last thirty five yearsÃ¢â‚¬â€promised reforms, but reneged on the promise a few months laterÃ¢â‚¬â€instead ordering the arrest of thousands of Anglophones who now languish in CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s notorious prisons.
What began as a lawyersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and teachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ protest soon morphed into a vortex of political and cultural nationalism, when last October, unfazed by BiyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crackdown on the protesters, Anglophones unilaterally declared an independent stateÃ¢â‚¬â€ The Federal Republic of Ambazonia Ã¢â‚¬â€for themselves.Ã‚Â The immense feat of having this freshly-minted state recognized by African countries Ã¢â‚¬â€and other countries around the world Ã¢â‚¬â€was placed in the hands of an interim government.
The Biya administration Ã¢â‚¬â€and to some extent those not conversant with CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Anglophone historyÃ¢â‚¬â€have raged against that declaration of independence, calling it a cheap shot at secession. Among Anglophones, however, the declaration evoked old memories of Southern Cameroons, their one-time, self-governing territory that was dissolved (through CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s government machinations), and for which they are today yearning for its restoration.
Not until October 1961, when Anglophones got stuck between the rock and a hard placeÃ¢â‚¬â€IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m referring to the arbitrary October 1959 United Nations order, which mandatedÃ‚Â that Anglophones choose, by October 1961, either to be integrated into the Republic of Nigeria or join the Republic of Cameroon (they chose the latter) Ã¢â‚¬â€Anglophones freely elected their own prime ministers, had their own police force, had their own judiciary, had their own parliament, had their own educational system and had their own semi-independent state, called Southern Cameroons.
Fifty seven years later, Southern Cameroons Ã¢â‚¬â€ or Ã¢â‚¬Å“West CameroonÃ¢â‚¬Â, as it was later known (both names no longer exist) Ã¢â‚¬â€ is a shell of its old self. Its aforementioned institutions, which were already under assault during President Amadou AhidjoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reign, have been annihilated since BiyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ascension to power in 1982.
This is what has roused AnglophonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ resentment against the government over the years. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of the darkest chapters in the Republic of CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history, but unlike like Germany and the United StatesÃ¢â‚¬â€ two countries that have courageously made amends for their past iniquities associated with Nazism and slavery, respectivelyÃ¢â‚¬â€President Biya and his administration have neither acknowledged, nor are willing to find solutions to these issues that Anglophones today collectively refer to as Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Anglophone ProblemÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Buoyed by the notion that justice is on their side, Anglophones have deployed an array of actions once successfully used by British colonies Ã¢â‚¬â€in their quest for independenceÃ¢â‚¬â€to exert pressure on the Biya regime to relinquish its rigid control over their territory.
Last OctoberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s peaceful declaration of independence, the numerous non-violent demonstrations that followed and the Ã¢â‚¬Å“ghost townsÃ¢â‚¬Â currently being strictly observed in the Anglophone regions, perfectly capture Mahatma GandhiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Satyagraha or Passive Resistance, the weapon that Gandhi brilliantly used against Britain as India strived for its independence.
And like Gandhi, who once wroteÃ¢â‚¬â€Ã¢â‚¬Å“To Every EnglishmanÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€ that, it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the British people whom he was attacking but the system of British AdministrationÃ¢â‚¬â€Anglophones have, throughout their protests, profusely said their attacks arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t aimed at CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s majority French-speaking citizens; rather, they are protesting against CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s government assimilationist policy, which targets them.
The grisly response to these peaceful protests by CameroonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s militaryÃ¢â‚¬â€in which a 92-year-old woman was reportedly burnt to death in her hut in the village of Kwa Kwa Ã¢â‚¬â€has drawn the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attention to the plight of Anglophones, thousands of them who currently live in refugee camps across neighboring Nigeria, because of this climate of fear.
There were dissenting views a few years ago on whether the demise of Sam Nuvalla Fokem, Akwanka Joe Ndifor, Albert Mukong and Bobe Jua had muffled the voices of those who could rekindle the Anglophone cause on the world stage.