‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’. Home on sick leave from Anglophone West Cameroon Fr Arnold Verhoeven mhm lets his heart speak as he reflects on what has been happening in this part of the country over the past year and a half. Anger over the violent repression visited upon the people he has loved and served for nearly fifty years boils over in a passionate plea for justice – a thunderous ‘j’accuse’.
This is part 2 of a three part series.
The international community’s blind smile
For the international community some minorities are too minor and offer too little economic return. Better ignore the Rohingyas, the Palestinians, the Anglophones. The UNHCHR steps back. He will not compromise as governments will. So, no harm for Cameroun to keep denying Anglophone Cameroon any future. No official TV and Radio Stations as we see in Wallonia or Quebec. Just CRTV which has -look!- created a wonderful ‘national unity’ in the past sixty years! Their present boosted broadcasts could work marvels. BUT the Anglophone reality IS AND REMAINS REALITY. The proposal to boost bilingualism will see no better fate. Can you teach all Canadians French in order to swarm Quebec with them? Is a Quebecan not more than just a French speaker? Is a Walloon not more than just a French speaking Flemish Belgian, at home in Flanders? Cameroun has played a persistent game with their Anglophones, a childish game. And even after sixty years they refuse to see that game has failed both Cameroun and Cameroon badly and it is over; it brings nothing but failure, worse and worse. In the background of the present crisis is persistent international blundering over the heads of the Anglophones, hanging in the balance between European –French- greed and European –English-perfidy. This began with the English taking a mandate of the League of Nations over a land they did not really want. –AS CAMEROUN TAKES CAMEROON TODAY not really wanting them!s
The international community on a blunder tour
Brittish armies had taken parts of Kamerun from the Germans in 1914-1916. They just wanted a no-man’s-land between their Empire and French Equatorial Africa. They were positively disinterested in the land and the people. The lone Academic Center, Sasse, was to disappear forever. The Agricultural and Botanical research center had its economic aims for the locality cut out. The German archives in Buea gave the English high-quality paper to use in their offices; they would use the empty retro-versos of ruined German documents but imported mainly the most inferior typewriter copy-paper for their use. By the beginning of the Second World War there were just over 60 English colonial personnel to hold the country, while the Germans had five times that number, all most interested in the country for their own greedy ends, but not including expansion. Expansion belonged to the mindset of the French. The two allies in the war settled the boundary between Cameroun and Cameroon, with the English showing their true disinterest, by simply leaving the French with a long strip of English occupied Cameroon: from Bonaberi to Banyo. This strip had been part of Pidgin speaking Cameroon and its new social bonds and new indigenous African culture long before there was to be anything English or Anglo-Saxon in the land.
French monstrous expansionism.
The French – in the negotiation phase after World War I under the leadership of Clemenceau, le Tigre, – got their teeth into the Cameroon strip, never to let go; only ready to bite more. They never thanked the English for it. In fact, there was never any love lost between the two sickly nationalistic former allies. Only missionaries tried to build bridges between the two sides: Cameroun and Cameroon. They were blocked, even persecuted, by obstinate British Occupying forces. At the time of Independence, the English at the highest point of perfidy in their history deceived the Anglophone negotiators feigning that they were promoting their side of the bargaining while dumping them into the hands of the French. The unjust ‘legal’ construction behind which they hide now, was spawned by themselves. No amount of handwashing will make them innocent. In a side-remark Charles de Gaulle thanked the English for their kindness, while shouting on the other side of the globe: “Quebec libre!” No such thing as “Free Cameroon!!” Cameroun had acquired what they and the French took to be pure conquest territory, property, jealously protected as absolutely untouchable. Today the Constitution guarantees it! When the Constitution needed change to accommodate the grabbing of Anglophone land, culture and democratic rights, it could not be done fast enough. For the reverse, that Constitution cannot change in any direction. A nasty children’s game!