How things fell apart
The ongoing Anglophone crisis that has been christened the “Ambazonian war of independence” by Anglophone activists who now prefer to be called Ambazonians has taken a different direction from what used to be seen as an act of patriotism. The one-time people’s struggle has now moved from “patriotism” or “nationalism” to “Personalism” where actors now seek personal interest.
When the crisis started, in October 2016 with teachers and Lawyers the interest of all Anglophones was feasible as the lawyers and teachers all wanted to protect the educational and legal system of Anglophones. This explains why during the inter-ministerial ad-hoc committee meeting in Bamenda in December 2016, bike riders, market sellers and people of all walks of life stormed the deliberation ground when they heard the news that the teachers were held hostage and being forced to uplift the strike without achieving the core demands.
On that night, tension mounted as those in Bamenda rushed to protect the teachers, trying to prevent what they termed errors from the Foumban conference from repeating itself. The evening was long as some Anglophones sent warning messages to the trade unionists urging them not to collect any bribe to call off the strike until their core demand for a return to a federal system of government is accepted by the Ghogomo led inter-Ministerial committee.
The tension was so high in such a way that it brought SDF’s Ni John Fru Ndi, Cameroon’s leading opposition figure, and Barrister Bernard Muna, son of Cameroon’s Former Prime Minister S.T MUNA, out from their homes late at night. They were there to see into it that the teachers were not being forced against their will.
The government in an attempt to solve the crisis accepted almost all the demands of the teachers excluding the demand for a return to a Federal system of government. Ghogomo pointed out that such a move can only be handled by the president of the republic of Cameroon since it is not an educational issue.
But the trade unionist maintained that the only thing that can protect the Anglo-Saxon educational system is a federal system of Governance.
At this level it was Patriotism as the teachers and lawyers refused calling off the strike because to them general interest comes first, and all attempts to let them call off the strike without yielding to their demand for Federation were futile.
9th of January, 2017 was a day that made the Cameroon government to understand that the trade unionists under the umbrella of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium meant business as the entire North West and South West Regions were on a lockdown as no school opened its doors and the streets were all shut down in what became known as ghost town.
From there, Emmanuel Rene Sadi, the then Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization banned the Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba-led consortium with its leaders arrested and others forced on self-exile. These actors were still seen as patriots within the Anglophone community, as they were for a united Cameroon under a federal system which they believe will prevent Anglophones from being marginalized.
From Patriotism to “personalism”
Personalism is a concept that describes a group of persons or individuals with known motives of fighting for the same course but ending up fighting for their personal interest and putting up a public image to show that they are fighting for the general interest.
It is a concept coined by Tah Javis Mai, a Journalist in Cameroon who is the founder of TNN Cameroon. He looks at the way at which world leaders claim they are fighting to make the world a better place in the name of being patriots of the world but end up doing things just to protect the interest of their nation and for self-pride.
If not, why is it that despite the existence of the United Nations in resolving conflicts, many more nations are descending into war, many more cases of human abuses and extra-judicial killings and genocides are on-going in the world yet the UN body and world leaders watch from a distance?
This is because of “personalism” they are afraid that their interest may not be protected should they intervene, their nations may suffer should they intervene hence, they will prefer to watch people being killed like animals and yet take no action.
Example of such is Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, slavery in the Middle East, Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, crisis in DR Congo, just to name but these and millions of people dies every year and the world leaders seems to be singing a different song.
“Personalism” is similar to patriotism but different in that one’s personal interest comes first before the interest of the nation, group or the world and even if it means bending the rules to achieve the aim then fine and good.
This is the case with the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. Many of the activists are all claiming to be fighting hard for the restoration of what they call “statehood of Ambazonia” but are all fighting for their personal interest and to enrich themselves at the detriment of the people of the North West and South West.
Pesonalism has taken the center of the struggle as activists are now fighting each other, separatist fighters are now attacking each other on instructions of their sponsors all in the name of trying to protect the so called revolution.
This is evidential in that they are kidnapping each other, kidnapping local people for ransom, kidnapping teachers for ransom, tagging people as sell-outs just to have them pay for their release.
Today, activists pointing fingers at each other for stealing revolutionary money, activists blackmailing each other just to prove that they are the legitimate group just to get money to fill their pockets while their home youths are dying like animals in the hands of merciless trained security forces are the new normal.
When the crisis was in the hands of the moderates who wanted better living conditions for Anglophones under the Republic of Cameroon, arms, kidnappings, killings, were a farfetched dream and public interest was at the center. Finger pointing was not part of the game instead unity was seen as a motto as the unionist all worked in close collaboration to ensure that their core demand of a return to a federal system is achieved under a one and indivisible Cameroon.
But when the leaders of the Anglophone civil society consortium were arrested on January 17th 2017, things started migrating from patriotism to personalism. On September 22, 2017 when millions of Anglophones stormed the streets it was still in the road of patriotism things finally graduated to personalism when the Ayuk Julius and co. were abducted in Nigeria and transferred to Cameroon.
At this level the crisis now became “any man for himself, God for we all” a money venture, were activists now started forming splitter groups, organizing gofundme campaigns just to enrich themselves in the name of fighting for the independence of the Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia.
The interesting thing here is that lots of young men with bright and beautiful futures are dying just because they were told to pick up arms and defend their “home land” for money and weapons will be sent to them, and naively they took up their den guns to fight a defiant and merciless army. And the outcome is disastrous to both the separatists and Cameroon Government.
And even as they picked up arms the money promised to them ends in the pockets of the activists who gallivant their respective host countries with new cars, live in luxurious hotels and eat good food while the people whom they are claiming to be fighting for are sleeping in the bushes, their homes are being visited by fire, thousands are dying of hunger and live under the rains.
The message has to be very clear, that the activists are now fighting for their personal interest using the name of Ambazonian to achieve their personal goal to what Tah Javis captions personalism.
Similarly, some government officials are dancing to this theory of personalism, they seem to be doing things just to protect their personal interest than the interest of the nation, reason why most are resisting inclusive dialogue because they think that if the nation moves to a federal system their interest will not be protected.
They move along the corridors of Yaounde singing the song of all is well in my home land just to be seen as a pillar of the system while hundreds are being killed in their villages. As we speak right now, many more are moving into the bushes yet elites sing the song“it is well, it is well in my village it is well with my people ohh thank God for our leader Paul Biya”
Some of them don’t even have villages again and cannot go back to their villages to face their own people, and some even request for heavy military deployment to kill their own people claiming that they are terrorist just to be seen as patriots and for their position to be maintained.
The Truth is that as it stands now, only an inclusive and genuine dialogue can resolve the crisis and protect the territorial integrity of Cameroon which will be one and indivisible.
But if inclusive dialogue is discarded we might end up being in the situation of Somalia, Afghanistan etc.
Cameroonians should know that we are stronger together as a people in our diversity and we should focus on what unites us than what divides us so that we can build a nation full of love, hope and glory.