Cameroon: Anglophone Nationalism Pops-up Ahead of Elections

This page is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011.

As candidates campaign ahead of the 9 October, 2011, presidential poll in Cameroon, supporters of English-speaking separatist movements attempted a protest on 1 October in Buea the former capital of British-controlled Southern Cameroons.

Several of these activists, mainly supporters of the separatist Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) were arrested by security forces.

Journalist Patrick Sianne posted a memorandum by 150 SCNC activists who were held by the police in Buea on the Up Station Mountain Club collective blog:

Arrested severally and collectively at various points of Buea especially Mile 17 where we were converging, on October 1st, 2011 to begin our Commemorative March to freedom, up to Bongo Square. We were utterly surprised and dismayed, when we were brutally confronted by armed police of the GMI N0 5, and humiliated to the core, concerning hence our understanding that the forces don’t consider Southern Cameroon as full fledged citizens, with equal rights, especially the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to peaceably assemble to protest our grievances.
After our suffering for two days running without a crime, and as victims being further victimized, we strongly recommend:
• That our rights to self determination as recognized by international law be scrupulously respected and that the occupation forces of the regime be withdrawn forthwith, to enable us be masters of our destiny.
Done at the canteen of the GMI N0 5, this 2nd day of the month of October, in the year of Our Lord 2011.

NB: We remain a distinct people, committed to the force of reason, and not the reason of force.”

Southern Cameroons National Council militants singing liberation songs while in detention. Image courtesy of Cameroonian journalist Patrick Sianne who was also detained by security forces.

Southern Cameroons National Council militants singing liberation songs while in detention. Image courtesy of Cameroonian journalist Patrick Sianne who was also detained by security forces.

Solomon Amabo writes that security forces also held Njoh Litumbe, one of the separatist leaders, under house arrest and molested journalists:

I write to confirm that Molah Njoh is under house arrest. It is infront of his residence that police men have just beaten me, seizing my id card. just few minutes ago. I was with Mua Paul another colleague. We went there to check whether Mola Njoh was still alive given the troops sorrounding his home.

Officially 1 October is the day British Southern Cameroons and the independent former French-controlled Republic of Cameroon re-unified to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1961.

However, some Anglophones perceive the relationship as annexation by the former French-ruled Cameroon leading to calls for secession which are loudest when activists attempt to commemorate what they claim is their independence day. The government regularly declares these meetings and protests illegal resulting in cat and mouse chases between security forces and activists.

Here is an example of what some of them were chanting while in detention, according Up Station Mount Cameroon blog:

This is the voice of the Mighty Lord.
Let My People go. X2
Voice of the Mighty Lord
“Go down, go down
Go down to Buea
And tell Biya [N.B. President of Cameroon]
Biya let my people go”

Meanwhile, five Anglophones – John Fru Ndi, Kah Walla, Ben Muna , Paul Ayah and George Nyamdi – are among the 23 people running for the office of President of Cameroon this year.

Stephen Neba-Fuh who blogs at Voice of the Oppressed argues that all the Anglophone candidates are aware of what he refers to as the “plight of (Anglophone) Southern Cameroonians”. He sees this as an opportunity to strike the Anglophone issue from within:

Therefore, the inability to bar Southern Cameroonians from taking part in the politics of the Republic of Cameroun leaves us with nothing but a tactical approach to the struggle- a multi-faceted approach. Since the struggle this far has been void of an armed approach, it will be restrictive and unprogressive to pursue the Southern Cameroonian struggle in a uni-facet fashion mainly on resignation. Afterall, if we possess their identity cards,carry their passports and land on their airports, why can we not penetrate their system and fight it from there.

In a related development, one of the (Francophone) presidential candidates Jean Njeunga, says there is no Anglophone problem in Cameroon. He told journalists on the privately-owned Equinoxe TV channel that the people calling for the secession of the English-speaking part of Cameroon were from Nigeria or Nigerians.

Watch the video below where Jean Njeunga talks about the Anglophone question [he begins speaking about Anglophones from 6 mins 25 secs].

This page is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011.

1 comment

  • Fouelefack

    Nonsense what kind of nationalism? There is no need for such demonstrations because English speaking Cameroon has no problem. A group of stupid individuals wanting to take control of a whole part of the country tend to hide behind nationalism, it will not work.

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