So UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres sneaked in and out of Yaounde, as we thought he would, with little more for the history books than his smiling pictures with his host and, some say, friend. How heart-rending to read the disappointment of many West Cameroonians who had expected the UN Scribe to make some dramatic pronouncement that would liberate their space from the present siege. That was an expectation The Rambler did not share, knowing as we do that the UN Secretary General, far from being the boss of any Head of State, is merely the manager of a club wherein heads of state, including offending ones, pull the strings on key issues. Indeed, until the peoples of the world arise and wrest back ownership of the UN, it remains a power-mongers’ league, serving their interests often with benign neglect for human values and universal standards.
This may sound cynical, but how else do you explain the fact that any one of five Security Council member countries (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States) can veto any substantive resolution even if all the other nations of the world deem it justified and necessary? How do you explain the money and energy that goes into nuclear nonproliferation and yet de-nuclearisation is never an option?
So, in expecting the UN to ramp up pressure on the Yaounde regime to cut out its crimes against humanity in Southern Cameroons, one must not lose sight of the fact that Yaounde is doing most of these things at the behest of, and as a proxy to France, one of the privileged veto wielders. In the matter of Southern Cameroons’ self-determination, France had already shown where it stood by rallying its African satellites to vote against it at the UN early in 1961. And so if anything could restrain France from using its veto power to block any UN attempt to set things right for Southern Cameroons, it can only be some kind of assurance that its colonial interest in Cameroon is not in jeopardy.
At present, French interests are facing an existential threat in Africa, with strident calls for a review of her mainly exploitative relations with countries in its zone of influence. In fact, it does seem that the Elysee has lost its long-standing psychological hold on much of its African pre-carré, and all it will take for the whole house of dominoes to come tumbling is a brave new crop of visionary and patriotic African leaders, undaunted by the prospect of being ‘Thomas Sankaraised.’
By all indications, Yaounde’s “meilleur éleve” is not of this stamp, despite recent prattle from an errant first daughter claiming he is part of some half-hearted attempts to ditch the colonial currency, the CFA.
Because of France’s economic dependence on the pre-carre, it tends to consider it suicidal to let catchments like Southern Cameroons slip between her fingers. And in a UN where there seems to be tacit maintenance of the old partitioning of Africa, who will rock the boat in what concerns Southern Cameroons? Certainly, not the UK, that clearly bungled the territory’s transition from trusteeship to independence.
In fact, we are still to hear the UK refute allegations (citing declassified British Government records) that it sold Southern Cameroons to France for a paltry 20 million pounds sterling. This sale, if confirmed, would be tantamount to a new form of slave trade at state level, for which one should hope that the UN can, and will, hold Britain to account. It would be so obnoxious an act as to have reduced the UK to a moral dwarf in the eyes of Southern Cameroonians who, all these years, have been claiming great moral high ground for their former “mentor.” Finally, it would explain Britain’s silence in the face of Southern Cameroons’ present predicament, because you cannot do that and not feel like Judas Iscariot. But that can of worms will have to be opened sooner than later.
So who will raise a finger for poor Southern Cameroons at the UN, even as its sons and daughters are dying and thousands are fleeing for refuge? It was heartening to read Donald Trump’s tweet in this regard, after his ambassador’s statement decrying corruption at the UN. He may be a maverick but it may also just take someone like him to upset the applecart. After all, like it or not, he is the leader of the free world, and tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere.
Postscript: Suspicion is rife that Biya’s recent “goodwill message of peace” missions to the ravished Southern Cameroons territory were an eyewash; surreptitiously, hastily concocted to deceive a gullible Guterres?