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Monday, October 16, 2017
The crackdown on Southern Cameroonians
THE axiom that freedom is never willingly given by the oppressor but must be demanded by the oppressed cannot be more apt in dissecting the current crackdown on “dissident” elements in Southern Cameroon. Just like the unsavoury events that followed the independence votes in Kurdistan and Catalonia, Southern Cameroon was a theatre of anguish penultimate week. On October 1, the day some separatist elements in the region sought to symbolically regain their independence from the Republic of Cameroon, the Paul Biya-led government unveiled the state apparatus to crush any dissent. The symbolic declaration of independence was made on social media by one Sisiku Ayuk, the “president” of Ambazonia.
Early this year, the Biya government cut off internet access in the region for three months. It did not even bother to adopt the option of counter narratives to whatever the “separatists” were saying. It announced a temporary restriction on travel and public meetings across the South-West Region. This was after imposing a curfew in the neighbouring North-West Region. Only a fifth of Cameroon’s 22 million people are English-speaking, and the government has always sought to suppress this minority. In 1961, the former British entity, Southern Cameroons, united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960. At the inception of the union, the federalist system was adopted, but things were to change in 1974 when a patently fraudulent referendum stage-managed by the centralist government in Yaounde imposed the establishment of the Republic of Cameroon.
The assimilation process, a feature of colonial rule, was adopted by the Yaounde government, along with disparities in many parts of the country’s national life: the distribution and control of oil wealth, education and the judicial system. Believing that the federal arrangement, which would allow them considerable power over their own destiny is the way forward for a united and prosperous Cameroon, the Southern Cameroonians have always staged protests, with a much more hard-line section embracing violent rhetoric and calling for outright secession from the country and the formation of a dream country, Ambazonia. But the central government has never pretended to be enamoured of the federalist proposal, let alone secession. On September 22, as thousands of “Ambazonians” took to the streets in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, soldiers reportedly shot at least eight people dead in the restive Anglophone belt, notably Buea in the South-West and Bamenda, the main town in the North-West. Thereafter, teachers and lawyers hit the streets in protest over the use of French in Anglophone schools and courts. This soon mutated into an outright demand for Ambazonia.
It seems fairly clear that the dominant powers in modern states will always strive to preserve the status quo, yet much progress can be made by attending to the cries of marginalised groups. The Biya government may be justified in going after the secessionists, but it can surely not be forgotten that it was only after the second Francophone president of Cameroon had unilaterally changed the name of the country from United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon that the Republic of Ambazonia was declared in 1984 by some English-speaking Cameroonians, led by a renowned lawyer, Fon Gorji Dinka. In other words, the Biya government would be doing itself and the future of Cameroon a favour if it situated the current secessionist agitations in their historical context and embraces the federalist imperative.
We deplore the crackdown on Southern Cameroonians and the suppression of legitimate dissent by the authorities in Yaounde. This is nothing but a demonstration of intolerance and lack of respect for the fundamental rights of the people. The people of Southern Cameroon deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. In the same vein, we call on the agitators for secession to temper their demands with rationality. There is as yet no empirical proof that the issues that agitate their minds cannot be adequaely addressed in a federal arrangement. We call on the African Union to take more than a passing interest in the developments in Cameroon, if only because the consequences of armed insurrection in the region for the continent may be too dire.
THE IGBO RANT
BIBLICAL TRADITIONS OF NDI IGBO BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO AFRICA* IGBO 101.
THE IGBO TRIBE AND ITS FEAR OF EXTINCTION
The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities
Written by Emeka Maduewesi
~on fb. 28th September, 2016.
The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.
The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.
In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.
Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.
In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.
The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.
Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.
The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.
The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.
The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.
This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.
RT. HON. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE TO DR. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1981)
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