(An in-depth comparative analysis of the perennial struggle by the people of Southern Cameroons to wrestle their sovereignty after 158 years and the malign erosion of Britain’s sovereignty during her brief stay of 43 years in Europe.)
By Ojong Clement Akem
Minor infringements on British sovereignty provoked outrage and triggered BREXIT, whereas they have refused to repair the damage inflicted on the people of Southern Cameroons by selling them into slavery to La Republique.
This research endeavour is an attempt to draw parallels with what had happened in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016, and ask why the people of Britain have failed to notice the injustice their Government had imposed on our people (by refusing them independence). This exercise is intended to educate our people, the British public and our neighbours. It will be presented in two parts.
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance” (Jawaharal Nehru – at midnight on August 14th 1948, on the eve of Indian Independence).
That moment should have come for Southern Cameroons on October 1st, 1961, but a conspiracy of three exogenous forces (the creation of the Unification Movement by the East Cameroon Workers Union in Kumba in alliance with the U.P.C. & R.D.A, the fear of communism (U.P.C & R.D.A were allied to the Soviet communist party) and perhaps of more significance, the non respect by Britain of Her obligations under Article 76 of the Trusteeship Council Agreement), all combined to derail the prospects for our independence. We are sure the sovereignty of Southern Cameroons will soon be installed.
One of the things we humans have in common is a reluctance to discard the past, and a willingness to look back for whatever may still fit in our lives (Mary Catherine Beteson 1990). Our generation yearns to prove itself – and, in proving itself, to accomplish great things for our people. Researching, composing and publishing this narrative involves a continual reimaging of the future of our territory, her people, and the reinterpretation of our past so as to give meaning to our quest for a bright future – the coming of the sovereignty of Southern Cameroons.
The territory and homeland of our people has been occupied for 158 years (1858–2016), by European intruders and by an illegal neighbour to the East. However, BREXIT has shattered the myth. It has demonstrated, that “PEOPLE POWER”, can, and should reverse any treaty agreements that erode (or in the case of Southern Cameroons), takes away your sovereignty.
We lay emphasis on the fact that memory is crucial in shaping our identity, and can motivate us in the face of the challenges we have faced over the years, the driving force behind this researched article is to educate our people about the reality of the nation of Southern Cameroons which has sometimes been questioned by usurpers.
We have been inspired by three historic events which have rekindled our hope, the hope that has never been extinguished as far as regaining our sovereignty is concerned. The 2009 recognition by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights that “the people of Southern Cameroons,” qualify to be referred to as a “PEOPLE” (cf 45th Ordinary Session Banjul Gambia, 13-27 May 2009).
The Green Tree Accord signed by the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and the Republic of Cameroon Paul Biya witnessed by Mr. KOFI Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, UN. The signatories of this accord accepted the clause which demanded “that each country will respect its boundaries as they stood at independence” (October 1st, 1961 for Nigeria, and January 1st 1960, for the Republic of Cameroon). The boundary treaties exist.
Then on 23 June 2016, in a referendum, the people of Britain voted to leave the European Union. BREXIT was a defiance of international treaty obligations, a defining moment which demonstrated, that anything that infringes upon the SOVEREIGNTY of a nation can, and should be nullified by a vote of “the people.”
The February 11, 1961, plebiscite vote to create a Union with our neighbour produced a stillbirth, so we adopted the motto, “the force of argument, not the argument of force” to educate our neighbour about the wisdom to part ways. Now that BREXIT has cleared the way, what is our option?
This researched article is devoted to, and dedicated to the 13 selfless, fearless nationalists from Southern Cameroons who risked everything by walking out in block of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in Enugu. Their action created a political crisis and forced the British Government to grant self Government to Southern Cameroons in 1953. Their statues will be erected at the Independence Square to immortalize them.
- Historical Background: Timeline
This timeline chronicles in summary form, the events that have marked the 158 years of occupation of our territory, together with the ascendant loss of power, freedom and sovereignty and our determination to end this state of affairs once and for all, by achieving our sovereignty. This is perhaps the longest occupation of an African country by Europeans, and an illegal neighbour:
2.1. The year 1858 marked the beginning of the intrusion by foreigners into our territory under our village chiefs or kings. This land gained international status in 1922 when it became the League of Nations Mandated territory – Southern Cameroons.
2.2. The first British Occupation lasted from 1858 to 1887.
This was confined to coastal villages which included Douala, Bimbia and Victoria. Their main goal was trade.
2.3. German occupation 1884 – 1914
The expedition was led by the warship Möwe under Dr. Nightingale and arrived the coast of our territory on 12 July, 1884 and by July 14, 1884, the Germans signed a treaty with chiefs Bell, Akwa and Deido granting rights of sovereignty, legislation and management over their respective countries (note that the word countries referred to the territories that were under the rule of the above chiefs. However, the Germans eventually extended their dominance over the entire country which became known as German Kamerun. They fought wars where they met resistance, like with the Bakweri people for the capture of Buea, the Bali people fought against Zintgraf, while Fontem fought against Gustaf Conrad. These battles took enormous tolls on our people and the Germans (witness the graves and tombstones in these chiefdoms).
By 1907 there were 800 Germans, 6 Austrians, 16 Swiss, 3 Dutch, 58 English, 2 Norwegians, 43 Americans, 3 Spanish, 8 Portuguese, 3 Russians, 1 Belgian, 3 French, 4 Swedes and 1 Japanese, giving a total of 1010 foreigners of different nationalities (cf appendix 1 W033/448). These foreigners and the population were guarded by German troops distributed across the country (cf distribution of troops in April 1907 p87 and 88 W033/448).
2.3.1. In 1905 – 1906 a joint Anglo-German Commission matriculated the boundary between Southern Nigeria and the Cameroons. It runs from the mouth of the Akwayafe River for about 85 miles. The agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany respecting the boundary between the British and German territories from Yola to Lake Chad was signed in London on March 19, 1906. This boundary goes through the so-called “Yola arc”, which has been fixed by the arrangement concluded in August 1903, was, with but slight modifications, allowed to hold good (cf W033/448 p6).
2.3.2. On 28 July, 1919 Britain, France and Germany signed the Versailles Peace Treaty at Le Palais De Galeries in Versailles France. This brought to an end German occupation of Kamerun after their defeat in World War 1.
- 1916 TO 1946 BRITISH ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS. THE INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF SOUTHERN CAMEROONS.
We must emphasize that Southern Cameroons was being administered as a mandated territory of the League of Nations NOT A COLONY. In 1922, Southern Cameroons gained International Status as a Mandated Territory of the League of Nations and was placed under the tutelage of the British Government.
The other Mandated Territories were; French East Cameroon, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Papua New Guinea, British Togoland, French Togo, Rwanda, Burundi and South West Africa. The question may be asked, why all other mandated territories gained their independence, while Britain sent Southern Cameroons into slavery?? There is a latin axiom “Nemo dat quod non habet” (you cannot give what you do not have), Her Majesty’s Government defied logic by transferring Southern Cameroons to the Republic of Cameroun (It was not her colony). This monumental error of judgement MUST be urgently rectified and Southern Cameroons returned to its legal owners “THE PEOPLE”.
- In December 1933, the Nigerian surveys, Lagos drew and reproduced the orographical map of Nigeria and Southern Cameroons under British Administration in the scale of 1:3000 000 or 1 inch to 47,35 miles showing the International boundaries of Southern Cameroons and Nigeria (perhaps it was this map that proved to the International Court of Justice at the Heague that Bakasi Peninsular belongs to Southern Cameroons, not Nigeria or La Republique).
- On the May 18, 1940, Protocol No. 11 was drawn up in Victoria between Monsieur George Verges Administrateur en chef des colonies and Mr. J.G.C. Allen, District officer, Nigerian Administrative service, commissioner appointed for the delimitation of the Anglo-French Cameroons boundary. The protocol was signed on behalf of the French Government by the French commissioner and for the British by the British commissioner (cf FO37/32066 page 11). This protocol closed the loop on the question of boundaries and proves that Southern Cameroons has identified boundary demarcation that separates her territory from Nigeria in the West and East Cameroon to the East. It is a nation state period (not part of another country).
- 1946 – 1953 British Administration of the United Nations Trusteeship Council Territory (NOT A COLONY OF BRITAIN)
In 1946, Britain signed Article 76 of the charter of the United Nations designating her as the Administering Authority for Southern Cameroons. This article set out the obligations of the British Government.
- The British Consul General on January 24, 1952 in a confidential letter addressed to the foreign office, (cf paragraph 18 ref. F037/10/390) clarified as follows: Our obligations under article 76 of the charter of the United Nations are: “To promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the Trust territories, and their progressive development towards SELF-GOVERNMENT OR INDEPENDENCE as may be appropriate to the particular circumstance of each territory and its people and the FREELY EXPRESSED WISHES OF THE PEOPLES CONCERNED, and as may be provided by the terms of each trusteeship agreement”.
Unfortunately, despite the precision, logical and unambiguous manner in which the mandate was drafted, the British Government still found a way to circumvent article 76 (read paragraph 18 p7 of the letter referred to), and what follows below.
“The British view is that in the particular circumstance of the British Cameroons the progressive development of their inhabitants towards self-government or independence may most appropriate be promoted in association with the socially advanced protectorate of Nigeria. The British Delegation has impressed this view with consistent firmness and frankness upon the Trusteeship council, and the council has been obliged to accept it, grudgingly”.
This attempt to derail the determination of the people of Southern Cameroons to achieve self government was emphasized in paragraph 8, page 3. “The failure of the British Cameroons people in the course of the review of the constitution to achieve Regional Status, in spite of the guarantees they have received for representation in the central, as well as the Eastern Regional legislature, automatically inclines the politically conscious elements in Southern Cameroons to turn towards the prospect of union with French Cameroons. In fact, “we have deliberately accepted the possibility of embarrassment from a unification movement as part of the price to be paid for our success, during the review of the constitution, in restraining Cameroons nationalist demands in the interest of the over-riding policy of consolidating three strong regions in Nigeria’, but Southern Cameroons was not a British Colony. The British Government was redefining the terms of reference of Article 76 which they had already signed. How dishonest was this?
Enters the East Cameroonians to destabilize Southern Cameroons
THE UNIFICATION MOVEMENT A DANGER
In summary form, the Unification Movement was conceived, designed by the French East Cameroonians, hatched in East Cameroon, and transported to Kumba were it was born under the midwifery of the French Cameroons Welfare Union of the Cameroons Development Cooperation C.D.C.
The President of the Movement was Mr. R.J. DIBONGE (President of the French Cameroons Workers Union, Vice President Chief Joseph FORMIYEN, and Secretary Mr. N.N. MBILE. The movement was sponsored by the representatives of the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine R.D.A, and Union of Population of Cameroon U.P.C (cf paragraphs 14,15 and 16 of the confidential letter no 5 referenced 5/10/52 no 24/173 of the British Consulate General Brazzaville French Equatorial Africa addressed to the foreign office F0371/10/390.
Without receiving any mandate from the people of Southern Cameroons the unification movement addressed secret petitions to the Trusteeship Council on the possible unification of Southern Cameroons with East Cameroon (attempts to divert our independence).
Unfortunately, the R.D.A and the UPC were known allies of the Soviet Communist Party (communism was enemy No.1 in the Western World). To counter this movement, the British intensified their deliberate attempts to annex Southern Cameroons to Eastern Nigeria in gross violation of their treaty obligations under article 76 of the UN charter (witness item 8… “the British view…)”.
The people of Southern Cameroons now had two forces to battle against. Those whom we had accepted as refugees fleeing oppression from their dictatorial masters, had prepared a political vendetta against the innocent people of Southern Cameroons because they were refused voting in the C.D.C Workers’ Unions (refugees have no voting rights in the host country). We emphasize that by 1937, there were 4343 East Cameroonian in the labour force in Victoria Division alone (cf C.O.582/228/2 p137).
Our people had accepted these refugees, without knowing, that, they were Trojan horses that had been smuggled into our territory to sow the seeds of our future annexation to their country of East Cameroon. The British colonial forces were the others we had to confront (the British began to deliberately forget that Southern Cameroons was a UN Trusteeship Territory not their colony).
- This British refusal to abide by the terns of Article 76 of the UN charter provoked a political crisis in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in Enugu. In 1953, all the 13 representatives of the Southern Cameroons in the House walked out as a block. This idea had immense impact on the struggle four our independence. All the cunningly woven arguments which the British were advancing for our annexation to Nigeria were brushed aside.
The names of these confident, self esteemed and patriotic leaders who represented all constituencies in Southern Cameroons shall be engraved in gold, under their statues, that shall be erected upon our liberation at our independence squares. We therefore cite them here for posterity because they forced the British Government to reluctantly grant Southern Cameroons self government. Here then are the heroes: Hon. Emmanuel M.L. Endeley of Buea, Hon. Martin N. Foju of Bangwa, Hon. John Ngu Foncha of Bamenda, Hon. Sampson A. George of Mamfe, Hon. S.T. Muna of Mbengwi/Ngembu, Hon. Rev. J.C. Kangsen of Mbem, Hon. V.T. Lainjo of Kumbo, Hon. A.T. Ngalla of Ndu, Hon. R.N. Charley of Tombel/Bakossi, Prince Sama C. Ndi of Kom, Hon. J.T. Ndze of Tabenken, Hon. N.N. Mbile of Ngolo-Batanga and Hon. Motomby Woleta of Victoria.
These leaders, upon returning to Southern Cameroons mobilized all the influential traditional rulers, opinion leaders and the elites to attend the historic Mamfe conference, which took place May 22 – 24, 1953. They brainstormed on the intrigues, deceit and flattery which our people have been subjected to and ruled out all options except independence that must be granted to our people.
That conference will be remembered for the prophetic, and wisdom packed words of advice from the natural traditional ruler of Bafut Abumbi I. He expressed dismay about any suggestion, or proposal that may delay our independence. Here is what he said; “Joining Nigeria was like jumping into the ocean, but joining East Cameroon was like running into a blazing fire”. We were forced against our own deep convictions and free wills to accept the option of joining la Republique and, we have been burning ever since.
The Mamfe conference produced a compelling letter based on irrefutable statements of facts, addressed to the Secretary of State for colonies, demanding the creation of a separate and autonomous legislation for the Trusteeship Territory of Southern Cameroons, as stated in the mandate.
On May 28, 1953, Dr. E.M.L. Endeley left Lagos, Nigeria for London with the petition which he delivered to the Secretary of State for colonies.
Now, if we admit, as historians do, that great men lead humanity to the attainment of their ends, then, the 13 Southern Cameroonians who risked their lives and triggered the process which resulted in the granting of self-government, were indeed great men.
- 1954 TO 1961 THE GOLDEN AGE SELF-GOVERNMENT
The two essentials for “representative” democracy are the freedom of the individual, and the regular opportunity for him to join with his fellows in replacing, or reinstating the government of his country by means of the ballot-box and without recourse to assassinations or uprisings.
In 1954, following the granting of self-government to Southern Cameroons, a general election was organized. The Kamerun National Congress K.N.C of Dr. Endeley won the election. Legal Institutions of Government were established, the Assembly, House of chiefs and the Government Ministries. Dr Endeley became the first Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons.
However, following the 1957 constitution of the London Conference, membership of the House of Assembly was increased from 14 to 26 seats. The Assembly was dissolved and a new general election was convened for January 24, 1959.
The Kamerun National Democratic Party K.N.D.P led by Mr. John Ngu Foncha won the election. Dr Endeley conceded defeat, congratulated Mr Foncha who became the second Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons. They say, ‘’power is the combined wills of the masses transferred by their expressed or tacit consent to the rulers by the masses in a democracy”. These transfers took place in 1954 and 1959.
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “The subject of history is the life of peoples and humanity”. African history, must therefore record the two transfers of powers from one Prime Minister to the other which took place in Southern Cameroons between 1954 and 1959 as the VICTORY OF TRUE DEMOCRACY in AFRICA. The seeds of representative democracy were firmly planted in Southern Cameroons. This was quickly followed by the consolidation of economic and financial institutions, the Cameroon Bank, the Southern Cameroons Marketing Board (constituted by Farmers’ Co-operatives), the Cameroon Development Cooperation C.D.C – an inherited statutory corporation, the Southern Cameroons Power Company – POWERCAM and many others. It must be mentioned here that the hydro electric power station in Yoke was conceived, designed and built by a Southern Cameroon Electrical Engineering – Mr. Mbiwan.
- THE PLEBICSITE. The Decline and slow death of Southern Cameroons
This was a poisonous gift imposed on the people of Southern Cameroons, in violation of the principles and objectives that motivated the creation of the League of Nations. One of these principles was made public by the American President Woodrow Wilson while addressing the joint session of the two Houses of the American Congress on January 8, 1918. He said, and we quote, “A general association of nations should be formed on the basis of covenants designed to create MUTUAL GUARANTEE of political independence and, territorial integrity of states, large and small equally”. This was the corner stone for the creation of the League of Nations on January 10, 1920, and subsequently the United Nations.
The non respect of this secret pact has plunged the world into chaos and interminable wars. The two questions which were imposed on the people of Southern Cameroons were motivated by British greed and the French Cameroons Workers Union – the vampires who had descended into Southern Cameroons as refugees turned into Trojan horses to derail our quest for independence. These refugees had high jacked our political process through the unification movement and their association with the communist further complicated our quest for independence.
It was these three exogenous forces acting from different directions that combined to condemn Southern Cameroonians to vote on how they wished to be executed, by drowning in the sea, or by burning in an eternal fire – we chose the latter, from the prophetic declaration that has since been vindicated.
- THE FOUMBAN CONSTITUIONAL CONFERENCE WAS DESIGNED TO FAIL
On 17 July 1961 Ahmadu Babatura Ahidjo – President of the Republic of Cameroun opened the constitutional conference in Foumban, without a representative of the UN that should have chaired the talks or that of Britain, the Administering authority of Southern Cameroons (still a Trusteeship Territory of the UN).
This ran against the grain, because the “law of natural justice forbids any man from being the Judge in his own case”. President Ahidjo was therefore “NOT qualified” to preside over the constitutional negotiations between his country La Republique and the self-governing Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons.
However, the Southern Cameroons delegation was led by Prime Minister John Ngu Foncha, accompanied by Dr Emmanuel Endeley, leader of the opposition and their entourage.
Ahidjo tabled the draft constitution and announced that the negotiation would last just two days. Immediately, the Southern Cameroons delegation smelt the rat. Their request that the talks should last three weeks based on their rich experiences gained during the constitutional conferences in London and Lagos (Richards, 1946, Macpherson, 1951, Littleton, 1954 – cf Fonkem Achankeng 2014), was rejected out of hand.
One of the issues that Ahidjo rejected outright was the demand from the Southern Cameroons delegation to maintain their Police Force and have their own army, within the Federation.
Records have it documented, that the Southern Cameroons delegation put forward the following amendments to the draft; (a) the flag, (b) National Anthem (c) Motto (d) Federal Capital to be in Douala (e) Electoral maturity at 21 years, (f) Secret ballot (g) powers and attributions of the Federal President (h) Presidential Mandate Limited to two terms (i) a Federal Assembly made up of a National Assembly and a Senate (j) double nationality (k) Primary and Higher Education System and (l) cancellation of the word INDIVISIBLE from the constitution.
What is important is that the constitutional conference did not adopt a constitution, and the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly and the House of Chiefs did not rectify any constitution, because the Foumban conference had not produced any.
It must be restated that the Foumban Constitutional Conference was convened in violation of the London Conference agreement of October 10 – 13 1960, UN Doc T/1556 p40, UN resolution A/C.4/l685 of April 18, 1961 the Landmark UN resolution on the concept of independence by joining 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 updated 15/12/1960 by UN resolution 1541 (XV). Given the above violations can the resultant constitution drawn by Ahidjo be considered binding on Southern Cameroon?
The Southern Cameroonian delegation went to Foumban with open hearts, in anticipation that by blending together, both nations would one day form the foundation stone of African Unity. It was not to be-Ahidjo’s delegation came with a hidden agenda to lure the Southern Cameroonians into total submission of their identities. They failed because the constitutional talks were reduced to a stalemate. There is no written agreement as required by Article 102 of the UN chartter at the UN Secretariat to prove that Southern Cameroons and La Republique joined.
- 1961 – 2016 THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN CAMEROONS BY HER NEIGHBOUR
On the 30 September, 1961, at the invitation of Her Majesty’s Government, in violation of their obligations clearly laid out in Article 76 of the Trusteeship Agreement, Ahidjo moved in military forces and illegally occupied a United Nations Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons. Jeffrey Hughes has repeatedly asked; ʺWhy did the British Government abandon the people of Southern Cameroons in such great haste, failing to ensure an appropriate negotiating body in the post Plebiscite period in 1961 and continue to be negative to the Southern Cameroonian subsequent request for sponsorship to the United Nations for their independence, in accordance with the United Nations charter 76b and the United Nations charter 1514 (XV)ʺ (cf Jeffrey Hughes 1999 p 158).
ʺBREXITʺ has given us the answer, that when a people find out, that their sovereignty has been USURPED, they can vote to repel the obstacle. Britain did not seek authorization from the other member states of EU or the UN before launching their referendum.
The illegal occupation of Southern Cameroons has lasted more than half a century. It is time to vote and take back our sovereignty too. The occupation MUST END.
- THE OCCUPATION STRANGLED OUR DEVELOPMENT
They say knowledge is power. Unfortunately, ignorance has a way of robbing people of their rights, privileges and duties. It enslaves rather than liberates the mind. It brings about stagnation, and this explains why dictators are allergic to true intellectuals. Ignorance has delayed our liberation.
Ahidjo’s first administrative edict was the abolition of all the Teachers’ Training Colleges, followed up by the change of name from Southern Cameroons which has international boundaries to, West Cameroon, an anonymous state. He was laying the groundwork for the complete annexation of our territory, by blind fooling us with names.
He then suspended the production of electric energy from the Yoke hydro-electric power generation station, to force our people import electricity from Edea (located about 160km from Yoke). They destroyed our community Development System which together with the Swiss Technical Assistance ensured the installation of pipe born water in our villages. Transferred the headquarters of Cameroon Bank from Victoria to Yaounde, Southern Cameroons Marketing Board to Douala and emptied the cash savings of our farmers estimated at about 78 billion CFA, at the time. Our farmers have been reduced to beggars.
They destroyed our road network infrastructure too. Evidence exists to show that in 1961 there were 272km of paved roads in Southern Cameroons and 473km in East Cameroons. Our major streets were also paved in Victoria, Tiko, Buea, Kumba, Mamfe, Bamenda, Wum and Banso – Kumbo. The Public Works Department P.W.D stationed maintenance teams along the roads to guarantee all seasonal passage. Most of these roads and streets lie bare today from neglect. (To be continued)