19 Feb

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

The government of Cameroun is yet to ever embrace the hard truth that its diaspora plays a major role in the political, social and economic life of the country. This diaspora that the Yaounde tribal cabal of a regime has branded as extremists and manipulators by World Bank statistics accounts for 30% percent of Cameroons GDP in the form of remittances, add to these payments for importing goods, services, formal and informal sector human resource and material investments…

In West Cameroon, the diaspora is the backbone of the community.One will seldom find a family without a relative abroad in Africa or on other continents. With the anglophone component of the state’s population seriously disadvantaged in much sought after public service employment sector, it has reinvented itself as the prime mover in the digital economy and private sector entrepreneurship home-diaspora business ventures, despite the lack of an investment code that provides incentives specifically targeting diaspora investors. As it stands the investment statutes treat foreign investments in a basket case without preference for foreign based citizens or expatriates. It is far easier for a Chinese business to set up shop in Cameroon than it is for a Cameroonian expatriate to set up the same business.

In recent years, there have been shy efforts in government institutions to integrate the diaspora.The announced creation of a department in charge of diaspora affairs is yet to ever make its impact felt or come up with a policy paper for the future. The right to vote has been extended abroad but not the right to be elected exists as of now. Cameroons diplomatic representations are very out of contact with Cameroonians abroad and visits to them are often done for consular and civil status registration services mostly. Fellow African countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Chad have gone far in this aspect by recognizing dual-citizenship as a way to encourage brain-gain and integration of their diaspora in national life but in Cameroon a 1968 law on nationality remains ambiguous and selectively recognises dual nationality, most favourably for sports and state elites.

The West Cameroonian diaspora since January 17, 2017 has been cut off from cyber based communication utilities with home communities because it leads the charge in decrying and exposing government’s repression and gross human rights abuses on Anglophone citizens. Today the diaspora is being punished for its civic activism and political dynamism. Today government is targeting diaspora returnees and residents for direct and covert arrest and prosecution for dissent in exposing its abuses on citizens at foreign embassies and international organisations. Today government is hurting the diaspora psychologically by its disproportionate use of brutal and lethal force on members of their home communities.

The diaspora however refuses to be silenced, it has experienced what freedom of the individual and good governance is all about while residing abroad and will not therefore settle for anything less than these same wellness of society being served to their folks back at home. The diaspora has earned comparative experience of political economic systems and as such believes it is its moral and civic duty and right to transfer or cause similar impact of the functional benefits they find dysfunctional and lacking in their homeland.
Time is priceless and of essence in the Southern Cameroons question. The more government deprives people from communicating with its previous century repressive tactics, the more it increases anti government sentiments and widens the void for dialogue and peace. The task of nation building, social cohesion and pacific coexistence in diversity needs to be government’s long term policy and institutional super plan. Only government can narrow the chasm between the governed and the governor at this stage, if it continues to resort to force, it may obtain an uneasy peace that is doomed to shatter once the pressure of public discontent reaches or supersedes previous levels before the crack down.


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