10 Feb
By Nwanatifu Nwaco

A reign terror and state sanctioned violence has descended upon the population in the English speaking regions of Cameroon. In the face of government intransigence, arrogance, snubbing, a prolonged military repression, the disproportionate use of force and brutality, wanton arrests, extortion, rape, deprivation, economic meltdown, rape, intimidation, human rights abuses and the curtailment of civil liberties and public freedoms, elite collusion and general insincerity from the central government to enact reforms; the people of West Cameroon are getting bolder by the days in articulating and aggregating their interests.

The reports coming from the communities about sporadic acts of arson, sabotage and targeting of perceived oppressors with the intention to cause physical injury is witness to the fact that people’s agitation has reached a tipping point where fear and civil disobedience as a tactic is now is being normalized as a not too-scary-issue anymore if people are pushed further out of the tolerance zones. Cameroons policy on national integration, social cohesion and its overall civil-military relations is being tested in the behavioural laboratory as we read.

The central government really needs to smart up, end its arrogant posturing and initiate meaningful dialogue with the people. It can as well internally democratise itself by auto-enacting reforms based on the list of popular demands called for, if it is too proud to talk with the activists it has branded as extremists and terrorists.We may in all naivety still call this resistance a peaceful revolution but from the way its folding and faulting, it is gradually getting into a rebellion or insurrection if left unchecked by the bravado posturings on both camps.

It is easy and just for government to use military force against out of state invasive militant groups but it is counter productive in the case where it concerns its own citizens and indigenous populations. Using these same tactics is nothing short of a massacre and genocide. Inasmuch as civil society leaders have called on the affected population to show restrain and pursue their cause via non-violent means, it has no enforcement mechanism to deter lone-wolf and sporadic outbursts of force from the weary population.

If these self-defense and vigilante acts replicate itself in multiple communities, I strongly doubt if the government of Cameroon has the human resources to suppress anti government subversive acts in all these communities, given that it is already entrenched in campaigns against the religious fundamentalist group Boko Haram in the North of the country from Nigeria and guerrilla rebels encroaching in the east of the country from the volatile Central African republic. Add to these maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the needs for everyday public security in every municipality across the country.

Cameroon is among the top five countries in the world according to the World Economic Forum 2017 report with a very diversified and varied linguistic and ethnic cluster, minting a homogeneous nation-state out of this variables given the current world order is not a feat that can be dictated or decreed but must be negotiated in the most elaborate liberal constitutional and republican sought of an à la carte menu. As long as the hegemony of state elites from power wielding clans dominates the discourse, minority questions will remain the Siamese twin of state formation, nationalism, human and resource governance, representation and the political culture of the country.Hence fragilizing the country even more and earning it dismal scores on the failed states index.

The government of Cameroon must understand that it does not have the monopoly over setting the national agenda always but shares and derives it more fundamentally from the people: the true reservoir of sovereignty exercised directly or indirectly. Federalism as a state system is therefore valid and negotiable as requested by the people of Southern Cameroon contrary to government’s one and indivisible centralisation rhetoric. Government must be able to discern what a state system is from what and administrative system is.

In order to avoid an escalation of a full scale rebellion, the government and the leadership of the West/Southern Cameroon cause must make compromise and concessions, call in quasi neutral mediators and arbitrators so as to break their deadlock and chart a road map for a peaceful resolution of the Anglophone problem which is on the highway to becoming Africa’s next breaking news conflict.


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