Anglophones from Southern Cameroons are calling for an independent and sovereign nation they call Ambazonia. Cameroonian President Paul Biya does not want anything.
The name Ambazonia comes from Ambas Bay. The bay, which is located in southwestern Cameroon, is considered to be the border between southern Cameroon and the Republic of Cameroon. In 1858, the British missionary Alfred Saker founded a colony of freed slaves in the bay, later renamed Victoria. Great Britain established Ambas Bay Protectorate in 1884 with Victoria as capital. The region was later ceded to Germany in 1887.
When Germany lost its African colonies during the First World War (1914-1918), Cameroon ceased to be a German colony in 1916. The country received the mandate status of the League of Nations in 1919, administered at the same time by Britain and France.
“The problem is that when the European powers divided Africa, they split families, families and communities that got along very well, while in some cases the communities that were enemies or competitors were grouped together in one. only territory “, Jürgen Zimmerer, a historian from the University of Hamburg, told DW.
UN and Southern Cameroon
Before Cameroon’s independence in 1961, Southern Cameroon was administered as a United Nations territory. By the time Southern Cameroon and French Cameroon gained independence in 1961, French territory was more economically developed than its British counterpart. Two former unequal colonies became a single federal state; However, the disparities between the two have not been addressed.
The English-speaking region then received two options from the UN; either join Nigeria or Cameroon as a federation. “I still do not understand why the United Nations has not given a third option,” said Feh Henry Baaboh, legal expert in Doula, DW.
“Logically, I expected the UN to give them the opportunity to gain independence and self-sufficiency,” said Henry Baaboh. “I think it is this third option that disturbs the Anghophone people to this day.” Since the two territories became one, English-speaking Cameroonians complained of being politically and economically marginalized.
Republic of Ambazonia
In 1984, an English-speaking group of people, led by renowned Widikum advocate and advocate Fon Gorji Dinka, declared the “Republic of Ambazonia” unilaterally. It was in retaliation for the initiative of President Paul Biya to unilaterally change the name of the country from the United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon.
“The 1961 constitution [in Cameroon] gave rise to a federation,” said lawyer Henry Baaboh. “As a young boy, I knew the State of the Federation of Western Cameroon and the State of the Federation of Eastern Cameroon.”
In 1972, Cameroon held a controversial referendum that changed the shape of the state. “It was a violation of the 1961 constitution which stipulated that the form of the state should never be discussed,” added Henry Baaboh. These political changes were perceived by many English speakers as an attempt to absorb or remove everything they brought to the union, including the legal, political and educational systems.
According to lawyer Henry Baaboh, the Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia does not need to fight for independence because it already reached it in 1961. “There is confusion in the terms used, some people speak of restoration of independence which means returning to the status of UN Trust ”
The repression of President Biya
The government of President Paul Biya, 83, showed no sign of compromise. Instead, Biya, who has been in power since 1982, has ordered a military crackdown on the protests. The English-speaking region is considered a bastion of the opposition. This adds to the volatility that is overtaking Cameroon as the country prepares for a presidential election in 2018.
For lawyer Henry Baaboh, there is no need for a referendum like those held in the Catalan region of Spain or the Kurdish territory in Iraq. “Legally, maybe we can talk about secession or separation.” The quest for independence for Southern Cameroons began in October 2016 when lawyers and teachers took to the streets to denounce perceived economic injustices as well as cultural and linguistic discrimination.