The Ambazonians, an adopted name for the people of Southern Cameroon, have been agitating to be separated from their francophone-speaking counterparts. Cameroon was initially colonised by the Germans who then lost control of the country to the French and the British after the First World War. Since then, the country has been split along language lines. The Northern part of Cameroon speaks predominantly French whilst the Southern speaks English.
Since the 1960s, many southern Cameroonians felt uncomfortable with the forced union, accusing the United Nations of not giving them the opportunity to choose to be an independent nation of their own. In 1961, they were willing to make a leap of faith, tying their future with Francophone Cameroon. However, there have been complaints of forced annexation and assimilation of francophone way of life on the Anglophone Cameroonians.
In 2016 the Paul Biya government, one of Africa’s oldest governments, insisted on the transfer of Francophone judges, who operate a civil law approach, to Anglophone Courts who adopt a common law approach. This caused a lawyer-led strike, followed by a crackdown on the dissenters by the government. Soon, Anglophone teachers joined the protests, citing that the government was deliberately sending non-English-speaking teachers into Southern Cameroon Schools, thereby forcing the children and students to adopt French. The government addressed this dissent with soldiers and whips, harassing and intimidating protesters. In one instance protesters were shot in the back of the head and legs.
The people of Southern Cameroon have however, begun to revolt. There have been a series of attacks by separatist groups on the government soldiers and vice versa. It seems most likely that a civil war is brewing as there are increasing casualties on both sides and the government has resorted to burning down villages harbouring separatists.
In a recent investigation, the BBC uncovered the role of the government in the unrest, as well as the various atrocities committed by both parties. It was also estimated in the investigation that a total of 21,000 displaced persons have fled to neighbouring Nigeria, while there are 160,000 internally displaced persons in Cameroon.
While the Southern Cameroonians have been calling for the United Nations to come to their aid, there seems to be silence from the African Union and ECOWA, both of which Cameroon belongs to. In July 2018, the Commission Chairman for the African Unionvisited Cameroon to discuss security with Paul Biya, the president of Cameroon. This, however, was after the AU received massive outrage from citizens of various African nations, when no AU leader criticised Paul Biya or condemned the actions of his government.
On the 7thof October, Cameroon will return to the Presidential polls to elect a new president. Paul Biya will be contesting for a 7th time and will most likely win the elections, although the Ambazonian struggle will be seen as a failing on the part of Biya and his regime.
Pictured: Paul Biya
There have been various human rights breaches, including dehumanisation and borderline genocide, which contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was ratified and adopted by Cameroon. The Cameroonian government has been urged by Amnesty International to ensure that there is accountability for any human rights violations in the country.
There have been calls for a new referendum to allow the people to decide if the people of Southern Cameroon can form their own country, Ambazonia, or if they would remain with Northern Cameroon. This will probably be a worthy consideration by other aspirants running for the number one position, with the intent of unseating the longest serving President in the world.