Southern Cameroons is the territory bounded to the west and north west by Nigeria, east by La Republique du Cameroun and south by the Atlantic Ocean.
Population (2018): 8 million Land Area: 43,000 Sq. Kilometers Capital: Buea Form of Government: Federal Official Language: English Currency: Amba Legal System: Common Law
British Southern Cameroons
As a result of the First World War, which pitched the Germans against the British and French in Cameroon, the Germans were defeated and ousted from the territory. As result of German defeat, the British and French attempted a joint administration of the territory, which failed. Consequently, the territory was partitioned by both powers. Hence, the British took one-fifth and the French took four-fifth of the territory. From the nature of the partition, the seed of the Southern Cameroons problem began, namely, minority problem.
In order to conveniently administer their own portion of Cameroon as a mandate territory of the League of Nations, the British administered it as an integral part of Nigeria. To better do this, they further split the territory into Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. Since the British did not consider the territory as viable, they did very little as concerns social and economic development of the territory. This caused particularly Southern Cameroons to be against British mandate in the territory.
The British first administered Southern Cameroons as part of Southern Province of Nigeria, whose headquarters was in Lagos and later; under the Eastern Region of Nigeria, when Nigeria was divided into three regions, namely, Northern, Western and Eastern. Therefore, Southern Cameroons was administered from Enugu, which was the headquarters of the Eastern Region. Under the Eastern Region, she suffered what was known as the Ibo domination. The Ibo established their hegemony over Southern Cameroons and caused them to be further frustrated by foreign domination.
However, it was during this period that the first parliamentary elections were organised in the territory to choose representatives to the Eastern Regional House of Assembly and Federal House in Lagos.
Following discrimination they faced as a minority group in the assembly, they walked out in protest and declared Benevolent Neutrality in Nigerian politics.
This led to the holding of the first Southern Cameroons Conference in Mamfe in 1953.
This Conference adopted a petition addressed to the United Kingdom Government that demanded for a separate regional status in conformity with Southern Cameroons’ status as a UN Trust territory. It was from here that Southern Cameroons nationalism began. This political action yielded the desired results.
When in 1954 Southern Cameroons achieved self-governing status, with Dr EML Endeley as first Premier, its nationalism took a multi-facet nature. Some of its leaders thought that this was a progress that was to lead them to regional autonomy and therefore opted for integration into Nigeria. Some as a result of the experience they received as a colony under another colony, namely, Nigeria, opted for independence. Some as a result of nostalgia and influence from French Cameroun opted for unification with French Cameroun.
Unable to come to a consensus, the UN, which became the supervisory authority of the former mandate territories, including British Cameroons imposed two options on them. The options were: whether they would like to achieve independence by reunifying with French Cameroon which as a result of their independence on January 1st, 1960 became La Republique du Cameroun or integrating with Nigeria which was already given independence too. Prior to the plebiscite, 1n 1959 Southern Cameroons organised democratic elections for a third time and effected the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in the 20th Century Africa.
In this election, the incumbent Premier Dr E.M.L. Endeley and his ruling party, the CPNC were defeated and he became leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly.
Following the UN organised plebiscite of February 11, 1961, which was organised on the same day separately for Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons, Northern Cameroons voted for integration into Nigeria and was thus integrated, while Southern Cameroons voted for unification with French Cameroon and was thus reunified. This began the story of unification of the two Cameroons united in a UN-sponsored federation of two states of EQUAL STATUS known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon in October 1061.
Annexation of Southern Cameroons by La Republique du Cameroun:
The Foumban Constitutional Conference of 1961, which federated Southern Cameroons with La Republique du Cameroun was not in line with what, the UN had envisaged. According to the UN such a conference was to involve the governments of Southern Cameroons, La Republique du Cameroun, United Kingdom as the Administering Authority, and the UN as the Supervisory Authority. Unfortunately, it was held without some of these parties like the UN and Britain. Again, there was no accord signed by the two parties that discussed in Foumban.
However, the Federal Republique of Cameroon that emerged from Foumban Talks, was made up of two federated states, namely, the State of West Cameroon, made up of Southern Cameroons, and the State of East Cameroon, made of La Republique du Cameroun. Thus, the disappearance of Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun, which respectively became sub nations of the federation with each retaining its inherited territory, colonial political and administrative system, legal, educational, economic and cultural systems.
From 1962 to 1972, the former, the former President of La Republique du Cameroun, Ahmadou Ahidjo who became the President of the Federal Republic took steps to annex Southern Cameroons into La Republique du Cameroun. He finally organised on May 20th, 1972 a referendum, which violated the Talks at Foumban. He abolished the Federal Constitution and imposed Unitary Constitution. Hence the name of the country became United Republic of Cameroon. Southern Cameroons lost its autonomous status it enjoyed under the federal system and became two of the seven provinces of the Unitary state.
When Paul Biya became President of Cameroon, he completed the annexation by reverting the name of the country to Republique du Cameroun, the name by which French Cameroon gained its independence. This led to the emergence of Southern Cameroon Cameroons liberation movements like the Ambazonia of Fon Gorgi Dinka and Cameroon Anglophone Movement (CAM) the climax of this was in 1993, when Southern Cameroons liberation movements and Southern Cameroonians as a whole met in Buea under the banner of the All Anglophone Conference (AAC I).
Its aim was to come out with Southern Cameroons stand and to press for the autonomy of Southern Cameroons in a restored federal system. This firm stand is contained in the Buea Declaration. Another meeting was held in Bamenda (AAC II) which issued the Bamenda Proclamation. These declarations led to the formation of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), which is a political organisation fighting for the statehood and sovereign independence of Southern Cameroons, thanks to the intransigence and repressive nature of the Biya regime.
Despite the obstacles placed on the road to the statehood of Southern Cameroons like, arrest, torture, killings, forcing its nationals into exile, blackmail, misinformation, counter-acting their action and you can name more, it has been succeeding. For instance, it has won the admissibility stage of the case deposited against La Republique du Cameroun in the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul won a case against Nigeria, which obliged Nigeria to table and support its bid for independence to the international community and recently, it has been admitted as anew member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) in The Hague.
Prior to the advent of the white man and colonialism, the territory that today constitutes Southern Cameroons was not one geo-political entity that could equally be designated as a cultural entity. It was inhabited by different ethnic groups with different cultures, traditions and languages. As they differed in origin and culturally, so did they differ in outlook, aspirations and world view. Nothing held them together as one people.
The different ethnic groups with different indigenous political systems, religions, also differed from one another in their occupational activities and socio-economic development. Thus there was a vast difference between the peoples of the coastal region and those of the grassland, which difference is not only visible in art, dance, economic life but also in social organisation and social relationships.
This means that one can rightly to refer Southern Cameroons as a multi-cultural and multi-lingual political entity carved by the ambitious colonial masters without any recourse to the inhabitants. In the carving of their colonial empires these empire builders mindful of their economic interests fractionalised some ethnic groups and even families. This greatly contributed to the weakening of cultural ties and the capacity to resist invasion by the empire builders.
To build up one large political entity the colonial masters had to impose its political centralising authority from above, undermining the cultural diversity below. For an understanding of the rich cultural diversity the following ethnic groups can be identified (from coast to the north).
County Ethnic Groups
Fako Bakweri, Mboko
Meme Bafaw, Bakundo, Balundu, Balong
Kupe Manenguba Bakossi, Mbo, Bassosi
Ndian Ngolo, Batanga, Ekondokondo
Lebialem Banwa, Nweh-Mundam, Wabane
Manyu Banyang, Kenyam, Ejagham, Boki, Ayang, Momo Widikum broken into the Metta, Menemo, Ngie, Ngwo, Menkas, Mezam Ngemba, Chamba
Menchum Aghem, Jebah,Mnen, Boyo Kom, Bum.
Ngoketunjia Tikar fractionalised into small different language groups.
Bui Nso, Oku, Noni
Donga – Mantung Wimbum, Mfumte, Yamba, Mbembe of Jukunoid.
In summary the Grassland Region is peopled by the Tikar, Widekum Ngemba, Hausa and Fulani. While the rest are geographically located, the Hausa and Fulani, who are Moslems by religion, were the late comers into this region and are thus scattered all over.
Like all human societies, irrespective of sophistication and technological development the different ethnic groups had their manner of organisation, settling disputes and managing their affairs. All these were greatly influenced by their backgrounds and environments.
All without exception, depended on nature and the land to earn a living. In the coastal region farming, fishing and hunting denominated the life of the inhabitants. Blessed with abundant fertile soil farm work is not as irksome and intensive to have a heavy yield. From the forest they had abundant wood to build their simple houses which were roofed with palm fronts.
In the grassland region with poor fertility the people had to work large expanse of land to have a reasonable harvest. They also have a large variety of food crops grown at different times of the year. Primary occupation is farming and hunting but little fishing for want of large rivers or lakes.
This culture of handwork has been so rewarding to the men and women of the Grassland region who happen to migrate to the Coastal or Forest region to work in the plantations. They easily acquired land for food crops production. This has not only introduced the food dishes of the Grassland or Graffie, this easily made some of wealthy land owners to the envy of some indigenes.
Social and Political Life:
In the coastal region the ethnic groups established no strong central authority as is the case in the grassland region. Family elders constituted Council of Elders that met periodically to resolve matters affecting the inhabitants.
In the Grassland region social and political setting is far more organised. The Fons and Ta Nfors are the centre of authority. They wield great authority over their subjects. Before the colonialists they reigned and ruled. The Fon, among his people, stood as first among equals, and embodiment of the will of his people and a symbol of unity. As protector of his people, custodian of their customs and traditions, custodian and ruler over their territory they exercised sort of feudal and religious power. Though polygamy, which is still practiced, was common, it was/is mandatory for the Fon to have many wives.
These fashioned a collective psychology of the people and built intimate solidarity around the traditional ruler of the community. The palace, which belongs to the entire community was/is a sanctuary to the extent that even in time of war if an enemy escape into the palace, he automatically regained his freedom, he could never be pursued, captured and killed.
The Southern Cameroonian, like the African, is highly religious. He believes and worships the one supreme being, God, the creator of man, heaven and earth, all the visible and the invisible. Regarding God to be unreachable directly, so holy, they worship him through the super natural. They believe in the omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience of God so he cannot be confined to catherdrals and churches.
Ancestors are not worshiped for they do not creat. But since the people fervently believe in life after death, it is believed the dead, living in the spiritual realm are closer to the creator so he is called upon to intercede on behalf of the living. Here ancestors serve as mediators between the Most High and living.
Unfortunately the white missionaries wishing not to learn and understand regard this as ancestral worship. This is very wrong.
Like modern independent nations each Kingdom was independent and carried out diplomatic functions with other kingdoms as well as went to war and signed treaties. Community spirit was very strong and through this, the spirit of solidarity and loyalty was built.
Individual importance was measured not so much in what he has for himself but in contribution to the community. Men of valour were recognised as heroes and their history conserved on music, proverbs and as passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.
Advent of Colonialism
This territory has passed through the British, the Germans, then the British again and most unfortunately at independence is now under the yoke of French colonialism via La Republique du Cameroun.
Through Baptist Missionaries the coastal region came into contact with the whites before colonial adventurism. British conservatism gave room to the Germans to establish a protectorate over the area in 1884 and the British had to withdraw after many years of fruitful contacts. This was at the displeasure of many inhabitants who had grown to cherish the British ways of life.
Both introduction of Christian religion by the Baptist, the Catholics and Basel (Presbyterian/Missionaries) and imposition of colonialism was destined to affect and influence the culture of the inhabitants in all ways possible.
It was British rule, more than that of the Germans, that greatly influenced the cultural life of the people of Southern Cameroons. Even the name Southern Cameroons is British. Christian religious values and the introduction of western education came with values that emphasised individualism as opposed to communalism (community spirit). While in the traditional setting religious worship is a community affair with no emphasis on individualism, the Christian religion lays great emphasis on the individual and his God, his salvation. It also challenges some values of the indigenous life and religion which were attacked as barbarism or primitivity, which should be abandoned. While indigenous religion was described as idol worship, polygamy was condemned. Traditional society abhorred prostitution and promiscuity.
British colonial administration valued the established indigenous political system in the grassland. In the coastal region where such established central authority never existed, they introduced the warrant chiefs. They needed these chiefs to facilitate cheep labour for construction of roads, public buildings and collection of taxes. During the struggle for independence the influence of the Traditional Rulers was very strong and with constitutional evolution the British approved a House of Chiefs, with consultative powers in 1957 thus like the British House of Lords, Southern Cameroons had an upper house. This was a clear recognition of the important role of the Fons and Chiefs.
Within the brief period of self rule Oct. 1954 – Sept. 1961, there was fast development in all sectors of life. Anglo-Saxon culture flourished as democratic political institutions took firm roots in national life.
But the treachery of “independence by joining” reversed the clock of progress. The worst came as from 1972 when French culture, values were imposed with the abolition of the State Government, House of Assembly and House of Chiefs in Buea. The traditional rulers are now auxiliaries of the Yaounde administration whose francophone proconsuls lord it over the traditional rulers. They no longer serve as the embodiment of the culture and tradition of their people, the Fons and Chiefs are the agents of the Yaounde dictator against their people.
It is only the restoration of the statehood and sovereign independence of Southern Cameroons that can reverse the negative situation. French colonialism has badly affected the Southern Cameroons society both culturally, socially, morally, economically and politically. Moral bankruptcy, the francophone corrupt culture implanted by the francophone colonists rigid bureaucracy and the love of leisure, high consumption of alcohol, copied from the francophone has so negatively ruined the Southern Cameroons society leaving terrible scars that beg even for a revolution.
Some of the Fons have become real tyrants and are known to have been responsible for the death of their subjects simply for opposing the Yaounde regime. But by tradition a Fon is not supposed to do evil, shed blood, and see a corps. Under the dispensation of Yaounde annexation and colonial rule and so long as they act to further the interest of Yaounde annexation and colonial rule they are protected.
Through the culture of brutal repression, the balancoire, the culture of fear has transformed the people into mere shadows of the indigenous personality. The clamour for liberation and restoration of statehood and sovereign independence is to build a vibrant and dynamic culture
As an annexed, colonised and occupied territory, the Southern Cameroons has no political system that is a true reflection of the legitimate aspirations of the people. The annexationist Yaounde regime has imposed its rigid centralised system, which is characteristically insensitive to the feelings of Southern Cameroonians. To make Southern Cameroons a real colony and an appendage of Yaounde, in 1972 the Southern Cameroons government was abrogated and the territory was balkanised into two provinces of La Republique du Cameroun. The two provinces are ruled by two governors appointed by Presidential Decrees and as representatives of the President, each is accountable and responsible to him the President. The two governors, Koumpa Issa, for the North West, and Ejake Mbonda, for the South West, are all francophone Camerounese.
The imposed administrative system is the Napoleonic Prefectoral system in which the proconsul wields unlimited powers, is law unto himself. Within his area of jurisdiction and above his subjects he is an absolute tyrant. He owes his high position and continuance in that post or rise to a higher post to the absolute President alone. There is an unwritten but well executed policy in Southern Cameroons; for the proconsul to demonstrate his loyalty to his mentor and account for your stewardship brute force must be used to keep the subjects subservient. As experience has proven it is the most oppressive prefects, governors and uniform personnels that have earned accelerated promotion and appointments to higher posts in government.
Southern Cameroons has thus become a land of golden opportunities for the most oppressive and exploitative francophones; indeed those who slice your throat while smiling with you. That is what Southern Cameroons has become in the third millennium.
Although Southern Cameroonians fought hard, lost lives, limbs and enormous property to bring about multipartism and democracy under which they were nurtured by the British, with the backing of France, the currently existing two hundred political parties are not worth more than the paper on which they are registered. Most of these mushroom political parties are sponsored by the ruling Rassemblement Democratique du Peuples Camerounaise(RDPC). Southern Cameroonians are fit only for sinecure posts and this explains why Ni John Fru Ndi, a Cameroonian) of the Social Democratic Font (SDF) who won the October 1992 Presidential Elections was denied the right to take over as President of the two Cameroons.
Determined to keep Southern Cameroons a colony of La Republique du Cameroun, genuine democracy has been blocked by sophisticated rigging mechanism styled “democratie avancée” to perpetrate Napoleonic dictatorship on a people who fervently believe in democracy, the rule of law and human freedom. Under the Yaounde dictatorship, victory for the incumbent President Paul Biya is programmed and sealed before date of election is announced and voting materials printed. The duty of the electorate is to confirm the right to remain in power of the incumbent. The over riding will to protect and reserve supreme French interest by the francophone political elite who are appointed by Paris to administer the French oversea territory of French Cameroun has grossly blocked the process of democratisation. This is a strong evident of incompatibility between the two Cameroon. While French Cameroun has never known democracy, the Southern Cameroons developed under constitutional democracy.
Prior to annexation, Southern Cameroons as a trust territory under United Kingdom administration inherited the Westminster Parliamentary system. Southern Cameroons became a self-governing trust territory in 1954 under a democratically elected government led by Dr EML Endeley. With a genuine democratic and constitutional evolution, in 1957 Southern Cameroons was granted a House of Chiefs, thus like Britain, Southern Cameroons operated a bicameral legislative system.
In 1959 through free and fair general elections, Premier Endeley led CPNC government was defeated and he peacefully handed over to the winner, J.N. Foncha of the KNDP. This was followed by the adoption of a new constitution, Constitution (Order) in Council 1960, which was meant to lead Southern Cameroons to independence. But through international colonial conspiracy, instead of granting complete independence in conformity with Art. 76(b) of UN Charter and UN Resolution 1514 of 1960, the colonial powers misled the UN to impose “independence by joining” either Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun. In addition to imposing this, the UN was led to adopt two obnoxious questions that denied Southern Cameroons their inalienable right to self-determination and sovereign independence.
By this colonial manipulation, effective and genuine decolonisation in Southern Cameroons was postponed. The mission of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) is to right the wrongs of yesterday, restore Southern Cameroonians to the dignity, their natural rights as the legitimate owners and masters of the Southern Cameroons territory, masters of their destiny by peacefully leading Southern Cameroons to take her deserved seat within the comity of sovereign nations. Southern Cameroons is currently a colony of La Republique du Cameroun and in consideration of the fact that the modern world has banned colonialism just like it before banned slavery, Southern Cameroonians are legitimately entitled to international support to oust the coloniser, namely, La Republique du Cameroun. It was in recognition and defence of the enjoyment of this inalienable right of all peoples that classical colonialism, foreign domination and the abolition of apartheid took place. Southern Cameroons the only UN Trust territory abandoned to its fate has been annexed, colonised and occupied by La Republique du Cameroun. It is a victim of classical colonialism and foreign domination and should be decolonised under international law and international support.