Friday, November 15, 2013

Southern West Cameroon Revisited, 1950-1972: Unveiling Inescapable Traps

Dr. Anthony Ndi, the famous historian has published another history book which covers the period from 1950-1961 when Southern Cameroons was administered by Britain as an integral part of the Eastern Region of its Nigeria colony and 1961 to 1972, when it became part of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, hence the appellation, “Southern West Cameroon”.
In a Press briefing at the Ideal Park Hotel in Bamenda on November 14, 2013, Dr. Anthony Ndi told journalists that history does not stand for or against, history he emphasized is neutral. According to Dr. Anthony Ndi, must be authentic and truthful because what society needs is not historian but history. Harping on the inescapable traps and the importance of united and indivisible Cameroon, Dr. Anthony Ndi reiterated that “I am not one who would advocate that we take matchets for what I do not know, you have to learn the lessons of history or history will not forgive you”.
The book which pundits say is a masterpiece, stresses how Britain which administered this United Trust Territory as its colonial master intended that at independence it would remain part of its Nigerian colony. It did not for any moment envisage a separate existence of Southern Cameroons.
Towards this objective, especially from 1958 to 1961 as the territory gathered momentum towards independence, Britain working in complicity with international organs such as the UN and the Afro-Asian Bloc of Nations and individual nations like the US and France, laid a series of “inescapable traps” for the Southern Cameroons political leadership who demanded for extended trusteeship followed by independence and negotiated reunification with the Republic of Cameroon. These were steadfastly rejected by Britain which instead manipulated the powers involved to ensure that for the impending Plebiscite on 11 February 1961, the options were limited for Southern Cameroons to attain independence either by joining an independent Federal Republic of Nigria or the independent Republic of Cameroon totally blocking out the third option of independence which the majority of Southern Cameroons craved for. They did this by throwing in their support for the opposition covertly and overtly in a sordid manner which created “a dense atmosphere” that tore the territory into ideological camps marked by regional, sectional and tribal factions sowing seeds of hatred, and enmity not experienced in the territory before. Till today, the vestiges of these feelings continue to linger, he continued. However,  the electorate rather than Nigeria, voted overwhelmingly for reunification with their “Francophone Brothers” even though it was then engaged in a most ferocious fratricidal conflict. The book further enters into the political old days of the Southern Cameroons, and opens another episode and debate on the role played by some political parties like KNDP, CPNC, OK as well as some traditional rulers and British officials who attended the Bamenda All Party Conference, which met in June 1961 during which they all agreed on the terms of reunification with the Republic of  Cameroon, resolutions which were taken to Foumban and discussed at the Foumban Constitutional Conference from July 16-21 1961 which like the Bamenda All Party Conference concluded in seamless and consensus and uniformity. All these Dr. Anthony said were put in legal form at the Yaounde Tripatite Conference which became the substance of the famous Foumban Constitution on the basis of which Reunification and Independence were constructed on October 1, 1961.
The book also cast a glimpse on the deeply entrenched colonial cultures which constituted the challenges that the Federal Republic of Cameroon faced during it brief existence from 1961-1972 under President Ahamdou Ahidjo’s dictatorial and authoritarian style.
To Dr. Anthony Ndi, the 50th anniversary or golden jubilee authorized by President Paul Biya, certainly whet Cameroonian appetites especially those of the people of the North West and South West Regions, who naturally would like to know more about their rich and checkered historical past. That is the task this book according to Dr. Anthony Ndi set to accomplish in creating the awareness of the historical adage that “those who do not know what happened before they were born remain forever children”.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

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