Marafa Hamidou Yaya, imprisoned former minister of Territorial Administration has in a December 12 letter addressing the ongoing Anglophone tensions acknowledged that Anglophones in Cameroon are severely marginalized, before stating that reverting back to federalism isn’t the best approach to resolving the crisis.
Marafa, once, one of the most powerful man in the country and one who equally formulated and carried out some of the policies that Anglophones are detesting, states unambiguously in the write up that the 1972 Foumban experiment has failed. “Anglophones have the rightful feeling of being marginalized, of being lower ranking citizens compared to the Francophones.” He continues; “This inequality also has a bearing on their living conditions: they suffer even more than their francophone compatriots from unemployment and infrastructural deficiencies.”
Though he bluntly holds Francophones responsible for the marginalization, he equally blames Anglophone elites who took up high ranking gov’t jobs to become silent over the marginalization of their brethren. “They were not willing to denounce this drifting Francophone power.” Marafa says. Read the full text bellow.
Dear fellow Anglophones and Francophones compatriots,
These last weeks, the deep malaise of anglophone Cameroonians has turned to anger when lawyers and teachers took to the streets of Bamenda and Buea to demand greater respect for bilingualism in our country particularly within judicial and educational systems. These last few days, this anger has unfortunately turned to violence: in these same streets, young proponents of the independence of the anglophone regions clashed with armed forces. Blood has been spilled and human beeings have been killed. How did we come to this? How come that today Cameroonians are fighting other Cameroonians? Why are we experiencing this outburst of fratricidal violence?
When following the may 20, 1972 referendum, the Cameroonian people decided to put an end to federalism to give birth to a “United Republic of Cameroon”, the ambition of all, Anglophones and Francophones together, was, we thought, to pave the way for the advent of a new Cameroonian, that is bicultural, the heir in equal part of the “lessons” learned from the two regencies and capable to make the best out of the two inheritances. The present events have
amply proven that this project has failed. Two distinctive Cameroonian entities co-exist today and the Anglophones have the rightful feeling of being marginalized, of being lower ranking citizens compared to the Francophones. The bilingualism inscribed in our constitution is applied in a profoundly in equalitarian manner in the administration, in the judiciary and in education. They do not enjoy the level playing field granted to all citizens of a modern and democratic State. This inequality also has a bearing on their living conditions: they suffer even more than their francophone compatriots from unemployment and infrastructural deficiencies. And Anglophones have no recourse, no relays to denounce these discriminations since their community is largely kept away from key positions within the State and the administration, even within their own regions.
Cameroonian Anglophones who today have the feeling that they are no longer masters of their destiny, rightfully denounce the treason of the spirit of the unification pact established in 1972 between the representatives of the two communities. The responsibility of not abiding by this pact falls firstly on the Francophones and they must recognize their wrong. Later on, to make matters worse, from a “United Republic” our country became a simple “Republic” merely through a modification of the law by the majority. This semantic shift foreshadowing a progressive neglect of the bicultural identity of Cameroon by a monocultural and centralizing Executive. The francophone rulers have not lived up to their commitments of 1972 towards their Anglophones compatriots. But the Anglophone leaders also, who have been part of this unification pact, have failed to carry out their duties: because they were too happy with the privileges they were enjoying, they did not know how to, or rather, they were not willing to denounce this drifting Francophone power.
But should the new generation of Anglophone Cameroonians, who suffer from the combined effects of this treason and of this renunciation, turn their back on their Cameroonian identity and on our common history? Not even to speak of the illusory and suicidal character of the independence of Anglophone Cameroon, going back to federalism, as manyAnglophones clamor for today, is not a solution to their difficulties. Going back today to two federal States, one Anglophone and one Francophone, will definitely consecrate the failure of the 1972 pact and emphasize the marginal characteristic of the Anglophone regions economically as well as geographically. On the contrary, we must finally bring to life the 1972 pact, by finally building a United Republic of Cameroon. Because bilingualism, our historical heritage, is today an asset for our country. Being the only French and English bilingual country in the world with Canada, a certainly inspiring model, Cameroon could, by instituting an egalitarian bilingualism, integrates itself more efficiently into the practices and norms of a globalized world.
In order to succeed, we should not resurrect the ghost of federalism, but rather make the choice of modernity and progress, that of diversity in unity, by finally implementing the decentralisation process. The representatives of the two communities must sit together at a table and craft out a new code of togetherness based on past experience and on the 2004 decentralisation laws that unfortunately are still to be implemented. This greater dialogue will be conducive to infrastructure development in Anglophone Cameroon and could for example, lead to the building of a new international airport or a university twinned with a prestigious higher learning international institution delivering specific and vanguard training (pilots, high-tech …) lacking in the francophone part of the country. I propose that a National Council of Unification be set up at the highest level of the State. This Council will meet every six months to evaluate the implementation of this code which purpose is the advent of a new Cameroonian, rich of his double culture. In order to symbolically but decisively indicate a definite change from the centralizing policy that the government has conducted these last decades, I propose also that our country returns to its appellation of “United Republic of Cameroon” and that our national flag bears again two yellow stars in the green stripe rather than the single star in the red stripe as is presently the case. Returning genuinely to the spirit of 1972 is the best guarantee of a harmonious and prosperous future for all Cameroonians.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya