Although French and English are both official languages in Cameroon, some Anglophones believe they have been long discriminated against and marginalised in terms of development, jobs and in the official use of English within the Anglophone judicial system. In 2016, this took the form of a series of strikes and demonstrations by teachers and lawyers against the government of President Paul Biya. In 2017, the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF), after mounting a number of strikes and 'Operation Ghost Town' which called for the shutting down of schools and businesses, unilaterally declared independence in some English-speaking regions in Southern Cameroon. Following clashes with government troops, a separatist Ambazonia Defence Force (ADF), known locally as 'Amba Boys' began armed resistance and attacks on state targets, with President Biya declaring war on the separatists. The separatists' main leaders are in the diaspora in the US and Europe.
Recently, an op-ed by the highly influential Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the New York Times, as well as comments from the former President of Ghana, JJ Rawllngs appeared to lay the blame for the violence on the Francophone segment of the country.
As a Cameroonian, I have recently found myself wringing my hands in shame and in pain, as I read or watched opinion pieces by the likes of former Ghana President JJ Rawlings, Professor PLO Lumumba and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, using their celebrity status to weigh in on the carnage ravaging Cameroon today.
By default, or design, they all refer to Cameroon not in the singular but in its plural form Cameroons. This was the same manner in which the colonialists referred to this former German Colony after it was divided up and given to the British and the French as trust territories after WW1.
Their insistence on still calling this country in the plural form reminds me of those colonialists and some of the few Nigerians, especially amongst the Igbos, who still consider, albeit jokingly, English-speaking Cameroon as theirs.
Their attempts to get behind the picture postcard presentation of this sorry mess of a country that is on the brink of a disaster, hoping that their contribution will help us (English-speaking Cameroonians) in what Ms Chimamanda referred to, in her opinion piece for the New York Times, as "by political intent, an unjust union" is not fair and does not peel back the traditional mystique of the many incomprehensible, reckless, barbaric, senseless and futile wars that have been fought and that have ravaged Africa since independence. The reasons for such wars remain the same--tribalism. Former President Rawlings, I am sure would agree with me, because when I interviewed him back in 1993/94, for a Channel 4 (UK) documentary, most of his venom was reserved for members of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), dominated by the Akans who often referred to him as not being a Ghanaian, because his father was Scottish.
I am sorry to say that this kind of celebrity endorsement writing--or TV lectures, based on anecdotes their friends tell them, and which I suspect they do not bother to do any kind of proper research on--ends up misinforming and misleading.
Despite giving the appearance of great profundity because they are made by Africans' and therefore must be true, these views are nothing more than opinion pieces given by foreigners about a people and a situation they are not current with, and do not understand or comprehend.
These are opinion pieces that are, to borrow from Chinua Achebe, "feeling sorry for the beautiful feathers while ignoring the fact that there is a chick underneath dying".
I live in Cameroon, and I can tell you that many of our English-speaking Cameroonian leaders living abroad are today living a lie of the past. The present narrative being put out is...