This write up is conditioned and necessitated by the share fact that during this historic book launch on Nov. 27, 2015 the high table in Machiavellian style deleted “Q & A” from the programme and allowed no room for the anxious audience to ask a question or make a comment. Instead the Governor made his remarks and the occasion closed. The shouts from the floor “Questions and Answers” from the floor changed nothing. I had to confront the Chairman Prof. Ndumu on this and reminded him that a book launch is an academic exercise and not a political party affair and could never have ended without opportunity for reaction from the audience. But to my surprise I discovered that he had been as embarrassed at the twisting of things as many of us were.
What follows here is twofold. Firstly what I had to say based on what I gathered from the speakers including the author NfonMukete. Secondly, I want to turn this disappointment into some good to reach the wider audience, most especially those who could not attend for one reason or the other and the greater majority nationwide and beyond, an audience dominated largely by those who never participated in the February 1961 plebiscite but most unfortunately have come to be the gross victims.
May it be known that the issue of Cameroon “unification” or “reunification” is a dangerous bleeding wound on the conscience of all Southern Cameroonians, irrespective of social and political status and standing, and a scar on the conscience of the UK, and the UN in particular and humanity in general until the problem is solved politically and legally in the interest of Southern Cameroonians. Playing games with is like giving a loaded gun to a child in the name of a toy gun to play with among his friends.
Though yet to read the book I have every reason to heartily congratulate Senator Nfon V.E. Mukete for this rich legacy he has made available to the younger generation and the future. We thank God Almighty for granting him long life, good health and the vision to record his experiences and vision, rightly or wrongly, for a “unified” Cameroun. We heartily salute him for both the good and bad of yesterday must be known for each generation has it a bounding duty to shape its destiny. Though the past cannot be re-ordered, learning and identifying yesterday’s pitfalls each generation has the will power, good conscience and inherent right to design and shape its future. We believe Senator NfonMukete knows very well that national heroes are those who stand on the edge in time of urgent need and national despair, indeed when the TRUTH, and nothing but the ABSOLUTE TRUTH must be defended for national redemption.
The key speakers at the historic launching were Prof. Victor Ngoh, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Bamenda University and Prof. Anthony Ndi, all renowned historians on Cameroon history. They did their job.
In his presentation Prof. Ngoh told his audience that by 1959 British Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun were equal. In an eloquent and brief historical recount, he told his keen listeners that on January 1, 1960 French Cameroun became independent. And he asked, an intriguing and rhetorical question, “Where they equal in 1961?”
By this question, to my mind, Prof. Ngoh wants Southern Cameroonians to understand;
- Why la Republique du Cameroun has annexed, colonially occupied, assimilated and is engaged in mindless and reckless plunder of the economy and natural wealth of British Southern Cameroons.
- Why la Republique du Cameroun ably supported by France and all independent French Africa, except Mali, voted against UNGA Resolution 1608 of April 21, 1961 and its mentor, France, worked hard and prevented the implementation of this land mark resolution?
- Why, la Republique du Cameroun having adopted a hidden agenda of annexing British Southern Cameroons with France and all French independent African nations except Mali vigorously campaigned against a vote for British Southern Cameroons independence in the 4th Committee of the UNGA and failing to obtain majority support, they staged a meaningless walkout? This notwithstanding the house overwhelmingly voted for British Southern Cameroons independence declaring 1st October 1961 INDEPENDENCE DAY.
- Why the government in Buea had to be abolished to make concrete annexation and colonial occupation of the unequal country and facilitate the assimilation of the people.
- Why having annexed Southern Cameroons it has been balkanised into two provinces of la Republique du Cameroun territory ruled by its proconsuls.
- Why the common law is being smouldered by the overbearing weight of the civil law, why bilingualism is euphemism of Frenchification of Southern Cameroonians, and why the inherited Anglo Saxon cultural values, educational system, among others are being vandalised for the grandeur and prestige of Yaoundé and Paris.
But we know Prof Ngoh is fully versed with the UN Charter as the constitution of all nations and humanity and that matters dealing with or governing relations between nations and peoples is a matter of law and not sentiments and personal wishes.
And we know that the principle of international jurisprudence of utipossedetisjuris and the critical date states that once a dependent territory becomes independent from that moment its inherited colonial boundaries become immutable and inviolable. And this principle is upheld by the AU in its Constitutive Act, Art. 4(b).
And above all, we all know that la Republique du Cameroun which became independent on January 1, 1960 is the successor state of the UN Trust territory of French Cameroun and that at independence and after la Republique du Cameroun never laid claims, and could never have, to British Southern Cameroons because this was/is a distinct territory under international law.
Discussions at this book launch, may be to justify the writing of and promote the book, gave the impression that “reunification” was so popular in British Southern Cameroons, a kind of the cry of the people.
From concrete evidence it is important that the following historical facts are understood.
- That the bottom line of the declaration of “Benevolent Neutrality” in Nigerian politics in 1953 was SECESSION and Dr. Endeley’s KNC won elections leading to the creation of British Southern Cameroons Government with Brigadier Gibbons as Commissioner of British Southern Cameroons on this. Consequently his forming an alliance with Chief ObafemiAwolowo’s AG was like a dog going back to its vomit. This was a bitter pill Southern Cameroonians could not understand let alone swallow.
- That J.N. Foncha and the KNDP stood firmly for British Southern Cameroons independence and that unification, a second thought, was a matter for negotiation by the future governments of the independent nations concerned. His speech at the UN on this issue bears eloquent testimony. The KNDP position and insistence on dual citizenship and for Southern Cameroons to have its separate army during talks with Ahidjo when the Two Alternatives were imposed speaks volumes as to his shaky faith and distrust of the character of the Yaoundé state.
- That unification was not as popular was self-evident at the Plebiscite Conference of Mamfe in 1959 at which Fon Achirimbi, the great British Southern Cameroons nationalist and patriot speaking on behalf of the Natural Rulers declared that they the custodians of the people and their heritage had abandoned Dr Endeley because he wanted to take British Southern Cameroons to Nigeria and that if Mr Foncha was bent on taking British Southern Cameroons to French Cameroun they would run away from him also. He then concluded, Nigeria is “Water” and French Cameroun is “FIRE” preferring SECESSION without unification.
- That the issue of unification remained an aching tooth even to Foncha and the KNDP throughout. This explains why when at the UN Foncha reluctantly accepted unification after serious pressure and lobbying, the KNDP Government solid foundation almost cracked and there were threats back home in Buea, while the delegation was still at the UN, of replacing Foncha as the leader.
- That when the UN approved the holding of a plebiscite with two obnoxious questions rejecting the preferred alternative, namely, “independence”, P. M. Kale, Chief Stephen Nyenti launched their own political parties and campaigned against the plebiscite and imposed obnoxious questions which denied the people their freedom and independence. But lacking in experience, human and logistic resources they could not do much.
- That what was popular was SECESSIONand not unification for French Cameroun with horrible stories and memories of atrocities and impunities could never have been an attraction for a people living in freedom. Foncha had to duel at length on a loose federation in which Southern Cameroons will have nothing to do with French ways of life and the dreaded gendarme and will continue living and enjoying their English way of life. As Southern Cameroonians voted for SECESSION in 1954 and Endeley formed the first government and when Endeley vacillated on this cherished and burning issue and Foncha continued to champion SECESSION, heand rode to victory in 1959. But UK failed to read and comprehend the Southern Cameroons anger against UK’s policy of administering British Southern Cameroons as part of Nigeria. In 1961 the people with faith in the KNDP SECESSION Charter in 1961 voted to make concrete their cry for SECESSIONto be who they are; Southern Cameroonians in a loose federation of two equal states.
- That this notwithstanding, Kumba Division, NfonMukete’s home division plus Nkambe Division still voted against unification. This proves beyond any reasonable doubt that “reunification” was not as popular as projected at this book launch.
- That unification remained such an aching tooth giving KNDP leadership sleepless nights – they smelt danger – to the point that in November 1960, the Government and the Opposition went to HM Government in London for a mission to the UN to request for a cancellation of the plebiscite and granting of full independence to British Southern Cameroons. This trip to London in November 1960, less than three months to February 11, 1961, speaks volumes and bears eloquent testimony to the effect that the plebiscite and the obnoxious questions were a bitter pill forced down the throat of our political leaders of the day. Even during the plebiscite campaigns ordinary Southern Cameroonians still questioned UN plebiscite officers why the plebiscite was necessary.
SOME PERTINENT QUESTIONS.
ONE of the messages and that which strengthened my conviction and democratic rights of free expression was from Senator NfonMukete who called on Southern Cameroonians to rise up and speak out. In condemning Francophone imposition, ‘Francophonisation, assimilation, annexation, he defended the existence of two distinct Cameroons, one Anglo Saxon and the other Francophonie and to him “reunification” was not for one to swallow the other but for the good of each and for their collective good.
And of course, when the hope of collective good fails or is high jacked by one partner for his exclusive good, what does the other partner do?
While believing that NfonMukete in campaigning for “reunification” exercised his democratic rights, the younger generation prayNfonMukete, their father, grandfather and great grandfather to answer these questions for them.
- At the time of the plebiscite campaigns and vote on February 11, 1961 did you as one of the most educated Southern Cameroonian at the time, and the political leaders of the day; know of UN Resolution 1514 of December 1960 which declares colonialism, foreign domination and alien rule a crime against humanity and granting of unconditional independence to all colonies and Trust territories to enable the people enjoy and exercise complete freedom and independence?
- By the time of the so-called Foumban Constitutional talks in July 1961 did you and the KNDP top leadership know that la Republique du Cameroun, France and all independent French speaking Africa except Mali vote against UN Resolution 1608 of April 21, 1961 that prescribed a federal union of two states of equal status and christened the would be new nation FEDERAL UNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC? And by voting against, did la Republique du Cameroun and her master not reject forming a federal union with Southern Cameroons? If so which “reunification” are we talking about here?
- Having rejected unification as prescribed by the UN in 1961, on what international instrument does la Republique du Cameroun rule Southern Cameroons and on what bases do the few Southern Cameroonians sit in la Republique parliament?
- By October 1, 1961 did you and the top KNDP Leaders know that the UN post plebiscite conference to implement UNGA Resolution 1608 of 21 April, a land mark international instrument to safe guard the identity of and equality in the federal union, had not been implemented?
- Did you or any of the top KNDP LEADERS attend the UC Congress of Ebolowa in 1962 at which President Ahidjo assured his happy audience that in Foumban no new constitution was written and no federation was formed but that the constitution of la Republique du Cameroun of 1960 was amended to absorb Southern Cameroons into the mother country?
- Yes, you exercised your democratic rights to campaign for unification just as Foncha, Muna, Mukong, NdehNtumanza did. The end stand of Foncha, Mukong, among others, is well known and documented. Did the unification you campaigned for or the UN envisioned federal union of two states of equal status take place in 1961?
The younger generation – those who were kids when the plebiscite took place and those born after – are highly interested in listening to Senator NfonMukete and reading his book, though the price drives many panting for speech.
We pray for this book to be launched all over British Southern Cameroons. To bring it closer to the people the book should be launched in all universities, Polytechnics and Seminaries and in every division and not in CPDM Congress Halls where people and a party, the RDPC, that had nothing to do with the story make cheap political capital. The book is about British Southern Cameroons and the fate of Southern Cameroonians under la Republique du Cameroun colonial yoke and domination consequent upon botched decolonisation in 1961.
Your Highness, this recommendation should not be thrown to the dogs. Southern Cameroonians are anxious to hear you, Senator Nfon Victor Mukete, loud and clear and communion with you in 2016 for a permanent solution.
Done in Buea, this Tuesday 9th December, 2015
NFOR, NGALA NFOR
(National Chairman, SCNC)