Mr. Chairman of Conference,
Distinguished Parliamentarians for Self- Determination,
Honourable Members of the House of Lords and House of Commons
Ladies and Gentlemen
The SCNC leadership, on behalf of the people of the former UN Trust territory of Southern Cameroons under UK Administration, is grateful to be here once more to cry to the British Government and people and the international community at large for their rights to self-determination and national sovereign existence. To our friends Parliamentarians for Self-Determination who are working for justice and the rule of law for all peoples we heartily congratulate you for selfless service to humanity and pray that you remain steadfast and intensify your efforts for world peace based on justice.
The British Southern Cameroons Question will remain a recurrent issue until UK, as the Administering Authority or the trustee, and the UN, as the trustor, summon the necessary political will and from a legal frame of mind, as defined by the UN Charter, other international instruments and in respect of the will of the people of British Southern Cameroons, adopt a road map for a permanent solution.
On the strength of the incontrovertible facts before us all, it’s self evident that British Southern Cameroons is a victim of botched decolonisation in 1961. Both the UN Charter, as the supreme law of all humanity and the Trusteeship Agreement were disregarded. Through external manipulation and building of political hurdles the right to self-determination was denied the people of British Southern Cameroons. To this effect a plebiscite was imposed with two obnoxious questions denying the people their inherent right to sovereign independence.
Prime Minister J. N Foncha who won the 1959 general elections on the platform of secession from Nigeria wanted that Southern Cameroons should of right attain independence as prescribed by the UN Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement. In addressing the powerful 4th Committee of the UNGA on September 24, 1959, he said “Any attempt to force us gain independence in a way that does not accord with our wishes would tantamount to a breach of the UN Charter and a violation of our fundamental human rights.” It is bewildering that HM Government failed to understand, respect and defend manifest will of the people of British Southern Cameroons as enshrined in the UN Charter.
But we all know that:
- The right to national self-determination is an inherent right of any people and dependent territory defined by colonial treaties.
- They are no preconditions attached.
- This right is not only inherent, it is equally permanent.
- This inherent right becomes more active when the people are subjected to foreign domination and alien rule and that when repression is intensified and prolonged it can ignite revolt in the oppressed. This is natural for each people are entitled to their rightful place within the family of the human race in order to make their just contribution for a better world and greater humanity.
As bad as the failure to respect the UN Charter and Trusteeship Agreement was/is, the situation was made worse by non-implementation of UNGA Resolution 1608 of April 21, 1961. This landmark resolution was adopted for the holding of a post plebiscite conference – a tripartite – between the Government of British Southern Cameroons, la Republique du Cameroun, and UK as the Administering Authority to finalise arrangements for the formation of the UN-envisioned FEDERAL UNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC. The formation of this federal union of two states Equal in Status was to take place under international supervision with UK playing a key rule as the Trustee with the moral and legal duty of reporting to the UN. British Southern Cameroons was not to be abandoned at the mercy of la Republique du Cameroun nor was British Southern Cameroons to be handed to la Republique du Cameroun as a gift for annexation and military occupation.
Botched Decolonisation Facilitated Annexation
La Republique du Cameroun’s hidden plot to annex British Southern Cameroons was hatched when the plebiscite vote went in favour of “independence by joining” la Republique du Cameroun. This was clearly demonstrated before the UN as follows;
- At the 4th Committee of the UNGA on April 19, 1961 la Republique du Cameroun, France and all French-speaking Africa, except Mali, staged a walkout when they failed to block the vote for the independence of British Southern Cameroons. UK with 49 other nations, USA, USSR, Nigeria, inclusive, voted overwhelmingly “YES” and 1st October, 1961 was declared Independence Day of British Southern Cameroons.
- On April 21, 1961 on the floor of the UNGA, la Republique du Cameroun supported by France and all French-speaking Africa except Mali, voted against UNGA Resolution 1608. This certainly blocked implementation for the Tripartite Conference couldn’t hold without one of the key players, la Republique du Cameroun. By voting against this landmark resolution la Republique du Cameroun did not only reject forming a federal union of two states Equal in Status with British Southern Cameroons, it clearly exhibited its imperial annexationist fangs.
Unfortunately, la Republique du Cameroun’s display of annexationist tendency on the floor of the UN failed to attract appropriate action in defence of British Southern Cameroons right to national self-existence. This is what has led some authorities on the British Southern Cameroons decolonisation to conclude that, this UN Trust territory in which the Westminster Parliamentary system functioned so well (witnessed peaceful transfer of power in February 1959) for a long period in colonial Africa was simply betrayed.
It needs be recalled that prior to this imperialistic posturing exhibited by la Republique du Cameroun at the UN in 1961, other authorities had warned that British Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun were completely incompatible, consequently can’t coexist under one national polity. HRH Fon Achirimbi speaking for the Natural Rulers at the Mamfe Plebiscite Conference in 1959, opined that Nigeria is deep “Water” and French Cameroun is “FIRE” and declared, “Sir, I support secession without unification.” i.e. to say they favoured secession and sovereign independence for their nation.
On Oct. 6, 1959 the US Ambassador, H. E Clement J Zabloiski contributing to debate on the political future of British Southern Cameroons, congratulated the people for attaining self-government. Opposed to the idea of unification declared “The results of a hurried choice imposed on the population of the Trust territory would be catastrophic for their political future.”
And in the British House of Commons G.M Thomson (MP) (later Lord) on 1st August 1961, said, “The problem of uniting these two territories would in any event be difficult. There are two territories of completely different cultures with different political systems… there are extremely complex problems in bringing these two countries together within one national state.” He concluded, “I therefore raise the matter because we in the House are concerned with the good name and reputation of the Government in administering this kind of trusteeship territory”.(emphasis, mine).
To justify “independence by joining “ either Nigeria or la Republique du Cameroun, UK as the Administering Authority argued that British Southern Cameroons was small and economically unviable. But interestingly while denying British Southern Cameroons with an area of 43,000 sq km, population of about a million and a variety of mineral and natural resources and wide variety of food and cash crops with the CDC at the head, Kuwait, a British colony, with an area of 17,818 sq km and then population of less than 300,000 inhabitants, a sandy barren territory though blessed with large deposits of oil, was granted independence on June 19, 1961. However on December 14, 1960 UN amplifying the right to self-determination of all peoples as enshrined in the Charter, adopted Resolution 1514 which makes independence the inherent right of all dependent territories: neither size, nor lack of economic or educational preparedness was/is to serve as condition for delaying the people’s right to sovereign independence for their enjoyment and exercise of complete freedom. This landmark resolution for universal application was adopted some three months before the ill-fated UN Plebiscite of 11 February 1961. British Southern Cameroons currently with population of more than five million is more populous than 60 UN Member Nations, 18 AU Member nations, and 30 Commonwealth Member nations. And with an area of 43,000 km2 it is larger than 12 AU Member States and 30 UN Member Nations.
CONSEQUENCES OF ANNEXATION AND MILITARY OCCPATION
From the founding of the League of Nations in 1922 and the UN in 1945, this territory was firmly under international instruments and obligation. It was protected against annexation.
An annexed people live under despicable circumstances worse than a colonised people. A territory under annexation is under a constant reign of terror and with the policy of divide and rule the people are kept weak, decapitated and submissive. The imperial dream is to perpetually keep the people subjugated. While colonised territories are recognised and enjoy some protection under international system, the annexed enjoy no such international visibility.
The consequences of annexation are not far to seek. They are political, economic, cultural, legal/judicial and psychological. The annexed are ruled by an evil mind to decapitate the territory and people – body, mind and soul perpetually for the glory, prestige and splendour of the annexationist state. It is for this reason that the UN declares annexation a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace.
What we have suffered since the 1961 botched decolonisation that facilitated annexation can be summarised as follows:
- The Southern Cameroons, a UN Trust Territory under UK Administration lost its international standing and protection. The territory has been balkanised into two provinces and sunk into the territory of la Republique du Cameroun. While every other UN Trust territory and colony on the African continent emerged into sovereign independence with a seat at the UN, British Southern Cameroons is the only trust in recorded history annexed by another former UN Trust territory, namely, Cameroun under French Administration.
- Under British Trusteeship Indirect Rule, in which the indigenous political system was respected and the Natural Rulers under the Native Authority system participated in governance, annexation has imposed direct rule in which the venerated Natural Rulers of yesteryear have become subjects of the Francophone proconsuls to be seen and instructed only. One painful consequence of this is direct interference and imposition for self interest and grabbing of choice lands by the proconsuls and their political elites thus depriving the poor large chunks of ancestral lands. This facilitates population dilution. The poor are weak and powerless.
- Incredibly, British Southern Cameroons which attained self-government in 1954 three years before French Cameroun, adopted Westminster Parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, conducted free and fair elections, is today ruled by foreign proconsuls. By Presidential decree of the Yaounde state backed by crack down occupation force, the Buea Parliament and Government and all state institutions were abolished.
- One of the immediate consequences of annexation was the loss of preferential treatment which British Southern Cameroons enjoyed with Britain and the Commonwealth. Britain and the Commonwealth nations used to be the main trading partners and consumed the highest portion of our banana, palm produce, tea, among others. Annexation dragged us, like a sacrificial lamb, into the Franc zone and French established trading partners without rights to market our produce but without a choice to accept their expensive goods which many described as inferior.
- Intensified repression and persecution in different forms and across the territory is the constitution that rules this former British Trust territory that was a shining example of Westminster style parliamentary democracy in Africa.
- To erase the British heritage which we cherish and are proud to preserve and promote cultural assimilation through Francophonisation and despoliation is tacitly sponsored by the Yaounde state. Bilingualism is a deceit. It is euphemism for Francophonisation.
- The Anglo Saxon educational system and the Common Law heritage which emphasises the dignity of man are under serious attack and are being eroded. The Napoleonic civil code is being imposed to replace the Common law. To Yaounde Cameroun is one and indivisible.
- As it is a crime to wear even a T-shirt with the map and inscription of British Southern Cameroons, so have we as a people lost our identity and inherent right to our natural resources and wealth which are being plundered for the development of la Republique du Cameroun and prestige and grandeur of the powers that be and France their master. Is it not heart breaking to learn that petrol tapped from British Southern Cameroons soil is more expensive in the territory than anywhere else in la Republique du Cameroun territory? Is it not revolting to hear that though SONARA (French acronym) is located in the sea port town of Victoria (changed by Yaounde to Limbe) management is in the hands of Francophone and royalty is paid but to Douala City Council? This is just a tip of the iceberg.
- To reduce the well endowed British Southern Cameroons to an economic liability and wrongly paint it as dependent territory, all the sea ports, airports, river ports, economic and financial institutions and infrastructure which Southern Cameroons successive governments established, for example, National Produce Marketing Board, Santa Coffee Estate, Powercam, Cam Bank, were by decree closed down. Bereft of industries to employ the growing manpower, Southern Cameroonians suffer from mass unemployment and with repression this has encouraged mass exodus of the youths. Foreign investors are discouraged from investing in British Southern Cameroons which has no good roads. To move from the north to the south and vice versa, one is bound to traverse two provinces of la Republique du Cameroun territory.
- With annexation by la Republique du Cameroun, the people of British Southern Cameroons have been disenfranchised. Though the Yaounde regime has some three hundred political parties on its register there is no democracy: Cameroun is a one-party dictatorship ruled by an ethnic oligarchy. The stark difference and our love of democracy is self-eloquent in the fact that between 1954 and 1960 British Southern Cameroons had two Prime Ministers, democratically elected. But since 1958 la Republique du Cameroun has had only two leaders who rule and reign. As an annexed people the few in President Biya’s government and parliament do not represent the will and supreme interest of the British Southern Cameroons nation and people. They have no voice. Freedom and sovereign independence under UN Charter and international instruments through external self-determination is what the people want. This is to correct the error of 1961.
JUSTIFICATION FOR RESTORATION
The warnings made against “independence by joining” la Republique du Cameroun have come to pass. As demonstrated on the floor of the UN twice in April 1961, la Republique du Cameroun’s determination of annexing British Southern Cameroons has been fulfilled. It has been reduced to two Provinces of its territory ruled by proconsuls. To decapitate the people and keep them perpetually weak and subservient, military repression and kale kales as happened recently in Wum are constant. In spite of these Machiavellian tactics, the annexationist regime is faced with stubborn resistance of a people who are proud of their identity and determined to maintain their cherished values, their belief in the dignity of man and their “English way of life”. If they are being repressed, maimed, imprisoned and tortured, murdered in cold blood for being proud of their inherent identity and resisting Francophonisation, should the British collaborate with their oppressor? The history of liberation struggle the world over, point to the fact that, the annexed and the oppressed, can never regain freedom and independence without foreign assistance and support.
The UN has declared annexation a crime against humanity and threat to world peace and for this reason UK and USA, for example, led the Gulf War against Iraqi annexation and occupation to restore Kuwaiti sovereignty. This was not intervention in Iraqi internal affairs. We believe, as was with Kuwait in 1990, that the UK owes a moral and legal responsibility to British Southern Cameroons and in this light should use its diplomatic influence and under preventive diplomacy place the British Southern Cameroons right to self-determination on the agenda of the UN. We believe you have a key role to play to bring about the change that is our right without bloodshed that will bring dishonour to the British Crown.
In conclusion, we state without fear of error or contradiction, that HM’s Government did not administer the UN Trust territory of British Southern Cameroons on behalf of France or the UN Trust territory of French Cameroun with a reversionary right. Bound by the UN Charter, the Trusteeship Agreement and good conscience, HM Government under the SACRED TRUST was duty bound to lead this trust territory to sovereign independence.
Thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.
By Nfor Ngala SCNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN