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Interview with Abakwatimes in 2012

Friday 8 March 2013

Abakwatimes: Prof., you have been described as an astute, cold but resilient figure, a person very much admired and respected for his stance and tenacity; the conscience of the people of the Southern Cameroons yet a reluctant General unwilling to step forward and assume a more proactive and visible role of leadership in the Southern Cameroons struggle. Is this a very much simplistic claim to something more complex about you?

Answer: That is an involved question. If by that it is meant that I am lacking in enthusiasm it is not true. What is seen as lack of enthusiasm is actually deliberation. The second limb of your question is a caricature. It is a simplistic characterization. Quite early, I became aware of our political, economic, social, and cultural predicament. That got me involved in the thick of things with various Southern Cameroons struggle formations and leaderships. We are at the verge of becoming extinct as a people. Our Homeland is at the threshold of being completely defaced. I looked at our uncommon situation. I sought to understand why this wretched lot befell us. I sought to know whether God peculiarly created us for perdition as our earthly destiny. I came to understand our human condition and the nature and character of our people. So quite early, I resolved not only to engage in the Struggle but also to be a peacemaker and a consensus builder.

I decided to be a peacemaker and a consensus builder in the interest of the Struggle. Being a peacemaker in the Southern Cameroons Struggle requires that I contribute to the advantage of my fellow citizens of the Southern Cameroons. I abhor anything, any conduct, any posturing, any utterances, and any attitude tending to derail or constrain the Struggle. I am naturally not content with our present collective lot, including, by extension, the future lot of our progeny. If we take no remedial action now to change the negative destiny and the looming calamity staring us in the face we would be lost and our children will be lost. I seek no glory. I am content with what I am. I am content with what I have, be it so paltry.

I am ready to serve. But I will readily decline to do so if that would promote divisiveness, if that would be the source of acrimony rather than the source of a sense of purpose. I would readily decline to do so if that would promote bickering rather than the common good. In such circumstances I would rather defer to someone else. I prefer to be a consensus choice. I am for cultivating and sustaining our spirit of togetherness. This to me is critical for securing our collective freedom from colonial serfdom. So to be a peacemaker is an active virtue. It has never meant that I detach myself from the Struggle to ponder over peace in some monastery. I make every effort to advance the Struggle. At the same time, attitudinally and by word and conduct, I work actively and positively towards peace.

Abakwatimes: You have written and published many articles and books about the Southern Cameroons. Can you explain to anybody unaware of this situation what the Southern Cameroons problem is all about?

Answer: This country was placed by Britain under the international tutelage system. From 1922 until the demise of the League of Nations it was a mandated territory under the League. Then from 1946 to 1961 it was a United Nations trust territory. The ultimate objective of the trusteeship system was to lead the inhabitants of trust territories to “self-government or independence.” The UN-mandated plebiscite in the Southern Cameroons held out the promise that the territory would “achieve independence” consistently with Article 76 b of the Charter of the United Nations. The plebiscite vote was above all a vote to achieve independence, a process dictated by the Charter principle of the right of self-determination. That principle informed and formed the basis of the United Nations decolonization agenda. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1608 (XV) of 21 April 1961 took care to state upfront that the UN “endorsed the result of the plebiscite that … the people of the Southern Cameroons have decided to achieve independence.” After endorsing the decision of the people of the Southern Cameroons to achieve independence, the United Nations then proceeded in the same Resolution to decide that its trusteeship over the territory would be terminated “in accordance with Article 76 b of the Charter of the United Nations … on 1 October 1961 upon [the Southern Cameroons] joining the Republic of Cameroun.” Notice the sequence of the matters dealt with in the resolution: the plebiscite was basically a vote to achieve independence; the independence decision was endorsed by the UN; the UN then made two decisions (i) termination of the trusteeship, it being satisfied that the provisions of Article 76 b of the UN Charter had been met, meaning the Southern Cameroons had politically advanced to the level of ‘self-government or independence’, (ii) 1 October 1961 set as the date of ending of the trusteeship entailing automatic independence for the Southern Cameroons and then its ‘joining’ Cameroun Republic on that same date; ‘joining’ was legally infeasible in the absence of concomitant achievement of independence and termination of trusteeship.

What all this means is that there was a vote to achieve independence and the vote was endorsed by the UN. But a vote to achieve independence and even when endorsed by the UN does not mean independence was actually achieved. That is the first point we make on this subject. Arguably, the termination of trusteeship on 1 October 1961 ipso facto meant independence was indeed achieved. But that is not borne out by the evidence of what transpired. Well before that date Cameroun Republic purported to exercise acts of sovereignty over the territory such as by moving its troops into it and passing an annexation law laying claim to the Southern Cameroons as part of its national territory returned to it. The British themselves confessed that they transferred the Southern Cameroons to Cameroun Republic. A colonial territory does not achieve independence by being annexed by or transferred to another country. That is the second point we make. In sum, we are saying while the Southern Cameroons voted for independence, independence was in fact never achieved as Cameroun Republic simply annexed the territory and thereby frustrated and suppressed the achievement of independence set for 1 October 1961. This contention is further supported by the fact that there is no evidence that the Southern Cameroons ever achieved independence. The territory, cut into two and linked to bordering regions of Cameroun Republic, is under the rule and occupation of that country. There is no government in Buea as ought to have been the case. Politically, economically, socially, and culturally we are a dependent people under Cameroun Republic colonial rule just as we were under British colonial rule.

The Southern Cameroons problem then is essentially a sovereignty question, a question of legal title to territory, a decolonization problem. It is a case of colonial occupation and spoliation by a contiguous state. It is a case of black-on-black colonization. I have articulated this particularly in my Imperialistic Politics in Cameroun (2008), Betrayal of Too Trusting a People (2009), and Secrets of an Aborted Decolonisation (2010).

For the avoidance of doubt let us step a little back into history. Before the Act of the 1885 Berlin African Conference came up with the concept of ‘effective occupation’, the international law and practice of territorial acquisition at the time was that when a colonial power claimed a coastal strip the area beyond that strip also fell to the colonial power by virtue of the ‘hinterland theory’. Way back in 1844 Britain started concluding treaties with coastal chiefs from Bimbia to Bakassi (Ambose or Ambas Bay). In 1858 the missionary settlement of Victoria was founded by certain British subjects and subsequently taken over by Britain as an integral part of Her Majesty’s dominions. With the British assumption of sovereignty over Victoria the coastal environ from Bimbia to Bakassi also became British and the hinterland of that coastal strip automatically became a British sphere of influence. It remained so until 1887 when it was transferred to Germany.

That area corresponded roughly to the territory that later became the British Southern Cameroons. It was not part of the original Duala mud flat estuarine enclave claimed in 1884 by Germany as Kamerun. Victoria and the surrounding area were transferred to Germany in 1887 but because of the emergent concept of effective occupation Germany could claim only such territory as it could effectively occupy. Tedious military campaigns and exploration expeditions were undertaken inland to Saxonhoff (Buea), Kumba (Albretch…), Ossidinge (Mamfe), Baliburg (Bali) and Bande (Mankon) during a period lasting from about 1889 to about 1902.

The whole of that area was retaken by Britain in August 1914 at the very beginning of World War I. The frontier between the British Cameroons and French Cameroun was then determined and demarcated by Britain and France and confirmed by the League of Nations and later the United Nations. The frontier between the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroun was thus not determined and delimited by these two countries or either of them. The Southern Cameroons’ effective connection with Kamerun thus lasted less than two decades and was politically void. This compares most unfavourably with the 75 years of intense British connection (1858-1887, 1915-1961) and 38 years of equally intense Nigerian connection (1922-1960). The Southern Cameroons was self-governing from 1954 to 1961 though under British colonial rule and from 1962-1972 though under Cameroun Republic colonial rule.

Since 1972 the Southern Cameroons no longer has self-rule. There is no longer a government in Buea for the governance of the Southern Cameroons. There is no longer Parliament (House of Assembly and House of Chiefs) in Buea to make laws for the peace order and good government of the Southern Cameroons. There is no longer a Southern Cameroons-based judiciary to administer justice according to the common law inherited system of the Southern Cameroons and to ensure respect for the rule of law. There is no longer a Southern Cameroons-based public service commission and system of administration. There is no longer a Southern Cameroons-based constabulary to enforce and maintain law and order according to our inherited value systems and human rights culture. There is no longer a Southern Cameroons-based educational system grounded in good and sound education and upbringing of our children anchored in the value of our Christian faith and the wider context of the English-speaking world of which we are an integral part. There is no longer a Southern Cameroons-based medical system anchored in effective medical service for all (including the poor and vulnerable) staffed by devoted, professional and disciplined uniformed nurses, doctors, pharmacists and ward servants. Our living habitat was surveyed, planned and zoned: town centre, markets and a park next to each, GRC, Clerks Quarters, Nurses Quarters, housing for doctors and pharmacists, police barracks, warders’ barracks and so on. All that is gone! Destroyed! Today sprawling shanty towns are mushrooming everywhere.

A system, corrupt and counterfeit in every respect, has been foisted on us.

An alien system and culture has been imposed upon us. A colonial extractive and exploitative economic system now obtains. Our entire existence is controlled and manipulated. It is controlled and manipulated from outside our Homeland. Even our traditional rulers now owe their chieftaincy stools to Cameroun Republic. They are locally manipulated and controlled by some ‘sous-prefet’ or ‘prefet’ ignorant of our traditions and customs but to whom our traditional rulers are constrained to pay fealty under pain of being ‘unrecognized’. Even our basic education teachers owe their teaching appointments from Cameroun Republic. The colonizing state seeks to destroy our autonomous identity as a people. It seeks to cow us, to crush our individual and collective spirit and to put fear in our hearts so that our human personality deteriorates and our dignity, self-worth and self-reliance disappear. We are liable at any time to be arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned and tortured. Our homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure. All this exemplifies the mark of every colonial arbitrary government and differentiates a constitutional democracy from an autocracy.

Not one hired minister, legislator, judicial officer, or civil servant from our Homeland has standing to challenge this debilitating, disabling and humiliating dispensation. Like all of us, and contrary to what they may have thought, not one of these individuals hired from our homeland is safe from torment and injury by Cameroun Republic. Recent happenings provide ample corroboration. Today, in 2012, it is a fact that our lot under British colonial rule was a thousand times better than our present situation. At least the British gave us a measure of self-government and we felt able to manage our own affairs except for foreign affairs and defence which constituted the reserved domain of the British colonial power. Today, we have been taken more than a hundred years backwards in every sphere of human endeavour. How can any rational people, any people with self-worth and dignity, possibly accept this kind of wretched condition? None! And that is why the people of the Southern Cameroons have not, will not and will never accept it even in a thousand years. We demand what is rightfully ours by justice, by law and by the law of nature. We ask simply to be left alone!!!

No citizen of the Southern Cameroons, irrespective of what position they are hired to by the colonizing power, can ever speak authoritatively about the Camerounese system. No native of the Southern Cameroons can freely and with dignity assert or claim a right or a privilege in Cameroun Republic.

Every single native of the Southern Cameroons, child or adult, experiences themselves as an alien. They are conscious that they are so regarded and so treated. It is so irrespective of whatever position they find themselves in or have been co-opted into. They remain outsiders. There are firm no-go areas for them. The Camerounese citizenship foisted on them is a fake. It is without content. It is meaningless to all intents and purposes. Every native of the Southern Cameroons is legally required to have with them at all times a piece of document denoted as ‘carte d’identité’. The document serves not only to identify its bearer. Because of the very intrusive particulars in that document, it also serves, above all, extortionist, labelling and discriminatory agendas. Citizens of the Southern Cameroons may carry a Camerounese passport. But they know deep down in their hearts that the document has little meaning. The document serves for the time being as a travel document of convenience, like a foreign ship flying a flag of convenience. The reason for obtaining the document is that even as persons from a dependent territory they are entitled under international law to have a travel document to enable them to exercise the fundamental human right of freedom of movement.

Abakwatimes: In 1993 and 1994, you, Dr. Simon Munzu, Barrister Ekontang Elad and, to a limited extent, Benjamin Itoe, convened “Anglophones” to an All Anglophone Conference. What was the motivation for this very public challenge to what Republic of Cameroun calls its ‘unity’?

Answer: Look, misrule and other violence have always afflicted that country right from the start of French colonial rule and quite early we helped by granting asylum to thousands of refugees from there. Today, gross maladministration and other serious governance deficit have exacerbated tribal factionalism, schism and systemic corruption in that country and the state itself has become bandit. Those are internal matters of that country.

They certainly put into doubt the question of a common citizenship for natives of that country. But that is a matter for the people of that country to sort out, one way or the other. We, citizens of the Southern Cameroons, have never challenged, and have no intention to challenge, the unity of Cameroun Republic. What we challenge, and rightly so, is the annexation of the Southern Cameroons by that country. We shall continue to challenge that annexation until Cameroun Republic becomes a credible law-abiding member of the international community by renouncing its colonial pursuit and leaving us alone to manage our own affairs and control our own destiny.

You will probably recall that my colleagues and I were part of a Constitutional Drafting Committee set up by the Yaoundé Tripartite Meeting to write a constitution. The meeting was called ‘Tripartite’ because it was a gathering of three constituencies: political parties, so-called ‘civil society’ and ‘independent personalities’. It was a poor and unstructured substitute for the ‘sovereign national conference’ which opposition political parties were calling for at the time and in furtherance of which they had pressed into service the deadly civil disobedience protest action known locally as ‘ghost towns’. All Southern Cameroons leaders at the Meeting made speeches to the effect that the occasion was an opportunity to correct past ills in the political association of the two Cameroons and to put that political association on a mutually acceptable foundation. Cameroun Republic leaders were of course determined to make the Tripartite a mere talking shop and something of a circus or a jamboree.

The Committee was mandated to draft a constitution. But it was not apparent the entity for which the constitution was meant. From the onset therefore we tabled this question for determination. We were alive to the fact that citizens of Cameroun Republic constituted the majority on our Committee and that whatever contribution we made would run the gauntlet of cultural and hegemonic prejudice. But since we were all lawyers we thought we could have a full debate on this particular issue and arrive at some acceptable accommodation. Our ‘friends’ were nonplussed by the fact that we should even have raised that question. For them it was self-evident that our brief was to draft a constitution for Republic of Cameroun. We told them that that was not our understanding of our remit, especially in the light of the various statements made by all Southern Cameroons leaders at the Meeting and the complete unacceptability by the people of the Southern Cameroons of the 1972 gigantic fraud and historical swindle that passed for a ‘referendum’. We reminded them that in 1984 Cameron Republic reasserted its separate identity as a distinct political expression. We also reminded them that there are two Cameroons: the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroun. Each of these countries was a former Class B Trust Territory of the United Nations under a distinct and separate administering authority. Each country followed its own distinct pathway and Cameroun Republic achieved its independence on 1 January 1960. We argued that if there was still a desire for political association between the two countries that political association had to be put on clear and sound foundations. We stated that it was important to do away with the horse and rider relationship existing between the two countries since October 1961.

The Committee’s chairman, a citizen of Cameroun Republic, brushed aside our submission and ruled that we had to proceed with drafting a constitution for Republic of Cameroun. We replied that while we were willing to assist them as consultants draft a constitution for Republic of Cameroun we were opposed to the Southern Cameroons being considered part of Republic of Cameroun. We told him that in our view it was critical to go back to the federalism that was agreed upon by the two countries as the condition sine qua non of political association. His reply was that federalism was tantamount to secession. At that moment, we knew we were dealing with persons who were impervious to reason. We then served notice of our intention to discontinue our participation in the Commission. But before we left we told them they had better accept the federalism we were offering. We said we were making the offer at our own risk because, given the long and bitter suffering of our people at the hands of Cameroun Republic, we were not sure they will even accept a federal arrangement with Republic of Cameroun. We then left and later tendered our resignation from the Committee giving reasons for our action.

We then decided to convene AAC1 for the following reasons: (i) in order to report to our people what transpired at the Commission because without such a report they would not know why we resigned from the Committee and would be fed with the Government’s propagandistic version of our action; (ii) in to enable our people to pronounce themselves clearly on their future given the sustained propaganda by Cameroun Republic that the plebiscite vote was a vote for so-called ‘reunification’ and not for independence; and (iii) for our people to give us clear directions as to the way forward from that moment.

As you would recall, at AAC1 our people gave us thumbs up for insisting on a return to the federation of two states, equal in status as that was the common understanding of the meaning of the second plebiscite question. Conference then directed that we keep the federal offer open in the hope that Republic of Cameroun would buy into it. It mandated us to draft a federal constitution and to submit it to the President and Prime Minister of Republic of Cameroun. AAC2 would hold in a years’ time and it would, amongst other things, consider the status of the federal offer to Cameroun Republic. We drafted the federal constitution as AAC1 mandated us to do. We submitted it to the Camerounese President who did not even have the decency to acknowledge receipt of it. We also submitted a copy to the Prime Minister of that country at the time. The chairman of the Committee later appeared on television and in a display of ignorance and of Cameroun Republic’s well-known Nigeria-phobia peremptorily dismissed our draft federal constitution as the Nigerian constitution. But that did not vex us in the least and it did not deflect us.

Cameroun Republic’s active non-cooperation was fully discussed at AAC2. An all-important decision was taken and reflected in the document that was unanimously adopted at the end of Conference. That document, the Bamenda Proclamation, commanded that should Cameroun Republic “either persist in its refusal to engage in meaningful constitutional talks or fails to engage in such talks with the Southern Cameroons within a reasonable time” the Southern Cameroons National Council “shall so inform the people of the Southern Cameroons by all suitable means and shall thereupon proclaim the revival of the independence and sovereignty of the territory of the Southern Cameroons and take all measures necessary to secure, defend and preserve the independence, sovereignty and integrity of the said Territory.” This was the declared and published policy statement adopted at AAC2. This pathway was indicated almost two decades ago. The challenge since then has been for the people of the Southern Cameroons to implement AAC2.

In those years Sam was chair, Simon spokesperson and I secretary general. You might be intrigued to know that we see each other from time to time. While at the Committee in Yaoundé we caucused every single night and strategized with a close-knit group of our people from various callings whose identity must for the time being remain anonymous. We adopted the same fruitful strategy at Buea and Bamenda and after each Conference held inclusive meetings with large sections of our people, including our traditional leaders and men and women in uniform. After Bamenda the ‘Anglophone Council’ was advisedly transmuted into the Southern Cameroons National Council to indicate we had crossed the Rubicon.

Abakwatimes: In the past few weeks, Dr. Susungi has openly questioned a historical claim that the ‘unification’ between the State of Cameroun and Southern Cameroons was not grounded in any treaty law. He calls this assertion revisionist at best ad distortionist at worst and has produced a series of documents to show the ‘union’ was actually grounded in law. Why have you been very silent on this challenge to your legacy? Is there any validity in what Dr. Susungi has been writing?

Answer: When he talks of revisionism and distortion the boot, in fact, is in the other leg. There is no validity whatsoever in his assertions. He can repeat them a thousand times à la Goebbels if he wants. But that will not change the stubborn fact that the Southern Cameroons was annexed by Cameroun Republic and remains annexed to this day. He may undertake a thousand fishing expeditions in search of an imaginary treaty or some other phoney document. But he will find nothing because none exists. It is a matter of some amusement that the Southern Cameroons Sovereignty Question is the only matter concerning which every Tom, Dick and Harry claims legal expertise.

That said, you are in fact inviting me to say quite a lot. I will not dodge from doing so. In order to dispel a good many myths distilled and propagated by some it is important I say the things I have to say but which, as you have noted, I have been silent about. Some of the things I will say would be new and may come to some people as a surprise. The misinformation and disinformation by the person you allude to relate mainly to the following matters: ‘reunification’, the Foncha-Ahidjo joint communiqué, economic viability of the Southern Cameroons, ‘the Federal Constitution’, annexation of the Southern Cameroons, and the Foumban meeting in July 1961. I shall take these matters one after the other.

1. Reunification. No talk on ‘reunification’ of territories is meaningful unless there is clearly identified the territories that were once unified, separated and then re-unified. Germany which was unified by 1871 thanks to the labours of Bismarck, remained one country until the defeat of Hitler in 1945 when it was split in 1949 into two states, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 the two countries agreed to reconstitute a single Germany, underpinned by a treaty. The 1990 reconstitution of Germany was correctly presented as ‘reunification’. The same would be true if the two states of North Korea and South Korea were today to decide to reconstitute the single independent state of Korea that was forcibly annexed in 1910 by Japan as Chosun and which was split in 1948.

In the present case one cannot credibly talk of reunification of Kamerun, the German colonial territory that lasted less than thirty years. Five parts of that entity are now within the territory of five limitrophic states: Nigeria, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Chad and Central African Republic. Reunification or even unification of Kamerun will require bringing together again all these various parts to form a single state, inclusive of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic. That has never been on the cards, is not and will never be. One cannot even begin to talk of reunification or even unification of Cameroun Republic. The existence of Cameroun Republic as a political expression goes back to French Cameroun which emerged in 1922 as a result of the political force represented by the mandates system. (It is noteworthy that from 1916 when Germany was defeated in Kamerun until the institution of the mandates system in 1922, France, still licking the wounds of its crushing defeat in 1870 by Prussia, held the Kamerun area under its occupation as enemy territory seized in war, the enemy being of course Germany). At independence Cameroun Republic inherited its territories from French Cameroun. The country has suffered no dismemberment. There are therefore no separated parts which are then being reconstituted. One cannot therefore speak of unification or reunification of Cameroun Republic. The Southern Cameroons was not part of French Cameroun, has never been and will never be part of Cameroun Republic. The plebiscite vote on 11 February 1961 for independence, and political association with Cameroun Republic in a federation of two states, equal in status cannot therefore be presented as a vote for ‘reunification’ whether of Cameroun Republic or of Kamerun, a name that has never had currency in Cameroun Republic, and an entity long extinct. At the plebiscite on 11 February 1961 there was no such political status option available as ‘reunification’. There could therefore have been no vote for an option that was not available.

Politicians did sometimes use the term ‘reunification’. But our politicians are not known for always using apposite terminology. Besides, the fact that the term was used does not make such use legally, historically and etymologically correct. There has been no such thing as ‘reunification’ of the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroun. Even at Foumban, the banner on display spoke of ‘unification’ and not of ‘reunification’. Some argue that the terms ‘reunification’ and ‘unification’ mean one and the same thing in Cameroon historiography. Historiography is writing about history rather than of history, a meta-level analysis of descriptions of the past. If that is the case writers of our history who persevere in the use of unification and reunification as interchangeable terminologies lay themselves open to a charge of poverty of thought and conceptualization regarding the event they analyse. The truth of the matter is that Republic of Cameroun’s addictive use of ‘reunification’ is meant to camouflage the fact of its colonial occupation of the Southern Cameroons and to condition the people of the territory to acquiesce in that colonialism. In the watery mouth of the slippery rulers of Cameroun Republic ‘reunification’ has changing meaning depending on time, place and audience. According to Cameroun Republic officialdom, that country achieved ‘independence’ on 1 January 1960 and then ‘reunification’ on 1 October 1961. It then proceeded to achieve ‘total national unity’ on 20 May 1972 and ‘completion of total national unity’ on 4 February 1984. It valiantly moved on to achieve ‘completion of complete national unity’ following the promulgation of the 1996 constitution, and ‘the apotheosis of national unity’ since then. The voyage to Buea of the President of Cameroun Republic would then be the ‘super apotheosis of national unity’. This is an impressive Alice-in-Wonderland gobbledegook! The appropriation of ‘unification’ or ‘reunification’ by Cameroun Republic is a self-serving highly instrumental strategy. It has always been an attempt by that country to legitimize its colonial occupation, rule and exploitation in the Southern Cameroons. All Southern Cameroons anti-colonial forces are determined to delegitimize that rhetoric and narrative.

Southern Cameroons plus Cameroun Republic cannot be equal to Cameroun Republic. That would be annexation, not reunification. Cameroun Republic knows this only too well. So right from the beginning it contrived to make its annexation and colonial occupation of the Southern Cameroons somehow palatable to swallow. It uses reunification as a polysemous expression to camouflage annexation. It has been aided in this cheap language ploy by the polysemous name ‘Cameroon’. There cannot be reunification of two political entities resulting in the existence of only one of the two reuniting entities. In other words, to say that the Southern Cameroons + Cameroun Republic = Cameroun Republic is a mathematical nonsense and is possible only if the Southern Cameroons = zero, which is not and cannot be the case. The equation: the Southern Cameroons + Cameroun Republic = Cameroun Republic signifies in political terms that the Southern Cameroons has been absorbed, annexed, colonized by Cameroun Republic. This is the conclusion arrived at by every single serious writer whether jurist, politician or social scientist who has applied their mind to the Southern Cameroons tragedy.

2. Joint Communiqué. It is said by the person you allude to that a joint communiqué signed by Foncha and Ahidjo on 3rd December 1960 amounted to a treaty and resulted in a valid political association of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic. That claim is false on several counts. First, contrary to what is claimed the document in question, which has been in the public domain since January 1961, was never intended to be a treaty and could not have been one. Object and subject of international law cannot conclude a treaty. Ahidjo probably had treaty-making capacity. But Foncha lacked such capacity in terms of the Southern Cameroons Constitution Order in Council and the Trusteeship Agreement for the British Cameroons. The head of government in the Southern Cameroons at the time was JO Field, Commissioner of the Southern Cameroons who assented to laws passed by the House of Assembly, made appoints to the office of Minister of the government of Southern Cameroons, and presided over the Executive Council (Cabinet).

Constitutionally, matters relating to defence and foreign affairs lay with the British Government. That is why the British questioned the normative status of the joint communiquét and made it clear that Foncha signed it not for and on behalf of the Southern Cameroons but in his capacity as leader of the KNDP. That political party favoured the proposition for ‘joining’ Cameroun Republic. The pertinent point is often overlooked that Foncha and his party stood for the second plebiscite alternative. His efforts were directed at obtaining from Cameroun Republic the best possible constitutional terms of ‘joining’ so as to counter those offered by Nigeria and so obtain a favourable vote. The British Government included the Foncha-Ahidjo document in The Two Alternatives, a pamphlet used for the plebiscite enlightenment campaign. But that was only after Cameroun Republic had in its Note Verbale of 24 December 1960 formally requested the British Government to do so.

One of the three documents that Cameroun Republic attached to its Note was the Foncha-Ahidjo joint communiqué. In the Note, Cameroun Republic informed the British that the document resulted from ‘conversations’ between Foncha and Ahidjo and declared elliptically that “it adheres to the spirit” of the said documents “which indicate its desire for unification with the Cameroons under British Administration on the basis of a federation.”

The Note then concluded, “The Government of the Republic of Cameroun request the British Embassy to consider the attached communiqués as an expression of the official views of the Republic and further request that they be published for the purposes prescribed by Trusteeship Council resolution 2013 (XXVI).” The Note Verbale constituted a unilateral act of a hetero-normative character giving rise to an international legal obligation. It was taken as the official undertaking given by Republic of Cameroun regarding the meaning of the second plebiscite question. The relevance of the joint communiqué and the other two documents attached to the Note was derivative, for without the Note those documents would have been meaningless and ineffectual. The Note, read together with the attached documents constituted the unilateral undertaking of Cameroun Republic. They were taken as Cameroun Republic’s constitutional offer to the Southern Cameroons in the same way as Nigeria’s integrationist offer of a “fully self-governing Region equal in all respects with the other Regions in an independent Nigeria” was taken as that country’s constitutional offer to the Southern Cameroons. The two offers were published side by side in the Two Alternatives.

An attentive reading of the phraseology of the constitutional offer by Cameroun Republic shows that it was characteristically nebulous and most economical in content. The Note stated that the joint communiqué resulted from ‘conversations’. The commitment given by Cameroun Republic in the Note was merely to ‘adhere to the spirit’ of its constitutional offer of a federation. That is another reason why the document could not have been a treaty. No legally valid agreement or treaty ever proceeds from mere ‘conversations’ without more. A party to a treaty does not undertake simply to “adhere to the spirit” of the instrument. Foncha probably thought he was concluding a binding agreement. Ahidjo, a master of deceit, obfuscation and duplicity like all Cameroun Republic leaders, did not. It follows that the parties were not consensus ad idem. That goes to reinforce the legal invalidity of the document as a treaty, as distinct from it being expressive of a mere policy manoeuvre.

Secondly, the document in question was signed well before the plebiscite and well before the date appointed by the United Nations for ‘joinder’ to take place after certain due procedures would have been followed. The document was thus in the nature of a mere policy statement, a political promise of a future and uncertain event (political association in the form of a federation) to happen. The happening of that future event was itself also dependent upon the happening of another uncertain one, a pro-Cameroun Republic vote at the plebiscite. The implementation of the decision taken at the plebiscite, even if it went in favour of ‘joining’ Cameroun Republic, dependent yet on another future and uncertain event, namely, evaluation of the results in the light of the recommendations of the Fourth Committee: date of termination of the Trusteeship Agreement with respect to the Southern Cameroons, date of achievement of independence by the Southern Cameroons, finalization of the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic would be implemented, and date of Southern Cameroons – Cameroun Republic political association. Thus the Foncha-Ahidjo document did not evidence, and could not even have purported to be evidence of, political association between the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic. At best the document could be likened to a promise to do something upon the happening of some future and uncertain event. A promise to do something is not the doing of the thing promised. Even a valid promise to marry is not the marriage itself. So to say the Foncha-Ahidjo joint communiqué attests to a so-called ‘reunification’, an imaginary event, is simply infantile and puerile.

3. Question of economic viability. The person you refer to also says there was ‘reunification’ because Foncha and other Southern Cameroons politicians conceded at the UN that the Southern Cameroons is economically not viable. Just because those statements were made does not mean the Southern Cameroons was indeed not economically viable. Even those who are doubting Thomas now know that the Southern Cameroons has always been economically viable. But why were those statements made? It was all part of the British strategy to induce the Southern Cameroons to return to Nigeria. The strategy started with Sir Phillipson’s 1959 consultancy report, commissioned by the British, on the consequences of the separation of the Southern Cameroons from Nigeria.

In an interim report based only on a two-day visit to CDC plantations in Tiko and Victoria, Sir Phillipson claimed that the Southern Cameroons as an independent state would not be economically viable. This was a rushed report. The British wanted it for use at the upcoming 14th session of the United Nations General Assembly as evidence of its claimed non-economic viability of the Southern Cameroons so as to support “the consistent firmness” of its repeated view at the UN that the Southern Cameroons must be integrated into “the socially advanced protectorate of Nigeria.” As the Southern Cameroons delegation was preparing to leave for the UN, Sir Phillipson purposely made the report available to the delegates so as to deflect them from pushing for separate independence. At the UN Foncha, Mbile and Ntumazah repeated Sir Phillipson’s line. This was echoed by Edmond of New Zealand, Espinosa of Mexico, and Sir Andrew Cohen of the UK who also mentioned “the added difficulties concerning staff” (a comical situation where the British were pleading their own failure to build Southern Cameroons human capacity as a reason for denying the territory independence). But Afghanistan and Guinea rightly pointed out that the question of economic viability was irrelevant when it comes to decolonization. Miss Brooks of Liberia who was in the chair then concluded that paragraph 2 of the draft resolution before the Committee “would serve to allay any apprehension that the Southern Cameroons might become independent as a separate entity, an eventuality which all were agreed should be ruled out in view of the territory’s limited economic potential.”

Now all this was incorrect. First, in the law of self-determination it is for the people to determine the destiny of the territory and not for the territory to determine the destiny of the people. Secondly, the economic viability issue was a red herring. If it was really a critical issue one wonders why the UN never conducted an economic assessment of the territory to determine is economic potential and viability. Thirdly, after that UN session, and with the objective of the economic non-viability thesis having been achieved, Sir Phillipson proceeded with his consultancy assignment for another week and wrote a final report. In the final report he stated that the interim report he had released was “of restricted circulation as it seemed advisable that those attending the 14th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations from the Southern Cameroons should be acquainted with my provisional conclusion.” He then admitted that the interim report was obsolete and should be disregarded. His final report came up with a more nuanced conclusion to the effect that “as a completely independent and sovereign state, the Southern Cameroons would not, at its present stage of development, be viable.” That was in 1959 and by 1961 even that final report had become out of date.

4. The SCHA and ‘the Federal Constitution’. The person you mention in your question also made the outlandish claim that the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly “debated and adopted the Federal Constitution which was then promulgated by President Ahidjo of Republic of Cameroun on 1 October 1961.” No one who reads what transpired in the House of Assembly on that 18th September 1961 and who understands simple plain English can possibly reach the conclusion made by the person you refer to. In the afternoon of 14 September 1961 after the House had read for a third time and passed the Bill for a law to amend the Labour Code Ordinance, the Premier of the Southern Cameroons, JN Foncha, stood up and moved a motion. He said: “Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move the motion standing in my name: That this Honourable House, taking into consideration the Constitution of the future Federal Republic of Cameroon, approves the actions of the Leaders of the Southern Cameroons in the negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Cameroon concerning the form of the future Federation and thanks the President and Government of the Republic of Cameroon for the co-operative and brotherly manner in which they have conducted negotiations. Sir, this motion seeks to ask members to approve the manner in which members of this Government have conducted negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, in bringing into being the Constitution which has now been produced for the future Federation for the Cameroons.” In plain simple English the motion invited members of the House to say ‘thank you’ to Southern Cameroons leaders for their action in securing a two-state federation and to the President and Government of Cameroun Republic for their cooperation in that endeavour. The House adjourned and not even Foncha raised the motion again the following day, September 15. In terms of the House Rules the motion lapsed. Then on the 18th of September after the House had passed the Finance Bill, the Minister of Finance, ST Muna, begged to move the motion again. He did so in identical phraseology as four days earlier by Foncha. He then craved the indulgence of the House to have the motion on the Order Paper for that morning. Various House Members then debated the motion.

At the end, the Speaker put the question and it was “agreed.” Motion was then made and question proposed “that this House do now adjourn sine die.” The Southern Cameroons House of Assembly then adjourned sine die on 18 September 1961 and is yet to resume sitting.

Now, in an email on this subject the person you refer to speaks of “motion regarding the draft constitution” and claims this to have been culled from the Debates of the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly. For self-serving reasons he fraudulently supplies a fictitious heading: ‘Motion to adopt the Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon.’ There is no such heading recorded anywhere in the Hansard or official report of the proceedings of the House of Assembly in that month of September 1961. There was no such motion on any of the Order Papers of the House. In September 1961 there was no document, even before the legislature of Cameroun Republic, known as ‘the Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon’. How could the House have been called upon to ‘adopt’ a ‘draft’? Moreover, the so-called Federal Constitution was passed into law on 14 August 1961 by the legislature of Cameroun Republic as an amendment law of the 1960 Constitution of Cameroun Republic and promulgated on 1 September 1961. It was passed, in the words of the document itself, so as “to facilitate the return of part of the territory of Cameroun Republic”. That was a veiled way of saying the law was passed so as to facilitate the annexation of the Southern Cameroons. The document was a piece of municipal law of a foreign country. The Southern Cameroons House of Assembly could not have been so stupid as to purport to debate and to adopt a law of a foreign legislature and one that vaunted the annexation of the Southern Cameroons. The fact of the matter is that there was no motion moved in the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly for the adoption of the document in question. I would suggest that the person you refer to betrays here a form of intellectual dishonesty not too far removed from criminal deception.

5. Annexation. Every single jurist and social scientist that has adverted their mind to the Southern Cameroons tragedy has come to the unequivocal and settled conclusion that the Southern Cameroons was annexed by Republic of Cameroon. I will consider the evidence from the British and from Cameroon Republic before providing the overwhelming view of writers who have paid attention to this issue.

The British Government concedes it transferred the Southern Cameroons to Republic of Cameroon. It began by first refusing to grant the Southern Cameroons independence on the ground that it would not be economically viable. This refusal had no basis in fact or in law because it is trite learning that economic viability has nothing to do with achievement of political independence. Moreover, in the law of self-determination it is for the people to determine the destiny of the territory and not for the territory to determine the destiny of the people. In January 1960, Lord Perth, Minister of State at the Colonial Office shamefully declared, god-like, that “the Southern Cameroons and its inhabitants are undoubtedly expendable”.

During Anglo-Southern Cameroons talks in London in October 1960 Mr. Iain Macleod the Secretary of State for the Colonies declared that if the plebiscite went in favour of ‘joining’ Republic of Cameroun arrangements would have to be made “for the early termination of Trusteeship and the transfer of sovereignty to Republic [of Cameroun]”. In June 1960 the British Government declared its firm opposition to an independent British Southern Cameroons in this manner: “We are not attracted by the idea of an independent Southern Cameroons because it would certainly not be able to pay its way and ... we are not at all anxious to have to do so on its behalf. We cannot expect to get any advantage from being foster mother to an independent Southern Cameroons and it is clear that it would have to be fostered by somebody.” This policy statement was repeated ad nausea by Sir Andrew Cohen, Britain’s Ambassador to the UN. In March 1961 the British Colonial Office disclosed that Nigeria was fully informed of “the discussions on the hand-over of the Southern Cameroons to the Cameroun Republic”. On 1 October 1961, Mr. Hugh Fraser, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies informed the House of Commons that as he was speaking, the British Government has already “transferred the Southern Cameroons to Mr. Ahidjo”. A month later, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs informed his Cabinet colleagues that “the transfer of power went smoothly” This overwhelming body of evidence is proof prositive that on 1 October 1961, the British Government transferred the British Southern Cameroons to a successor colonialist, the Republic of Cameroun, rather than allow the territory to emerge into independence as ordained under international law. Since the British Government exercised a colonial sovereignty over the territory it could not have transferred to Republic of Cameroun other than colonial sovereignty. The maxim of the law is nemo dat non quod habet. The very idea of a trust meant the trusteeship was a transitional arrangement. The Administering Authority had only delegated and limited authority in the Trust Territory. It did not enjoy an unrestricted plenitude of powers and thus could not for example annex, cede, transfer or otherwise dispose of the Trust Territory whether gratuitously or for value. In the face of this admission of the British slavery-like transfer of the Southern Cameroons to Cameroun Republic, are the wets propagating the reunification rhetoric saying that the transfer is precisely what they call ‘reunification’?

Now, on its part, Republic of Cameroon claims that it did no more than recover from Britain and the United Nations a part of its territory, without saying when and how the Southern Cameroons was part of Cameroun Republic and how it was then lost to Britain and the United Nations. In August 1961 the President of Cameroun Republic claimed in an address to his country’s National Assembly that the United Nations, by its Resolution 1608 (XV) of 21 April 1961, “imposed on [our government] the obligation to adjust the institutional structures of Cameroun Republic so as to received back a dismembered part of our country”. In a speech to his political party congress in Ebolowa in July 1962 Ahidjo stated: “The reunification of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic did not necessitate a fundamental change of the constitution of Cameroun Republic, but only a minor amendment to allow for part of the territory to rejoin the motherland … It was Cameroun Republic which had to transform itself into a federation, taking into account the return to it of a part of its territory …” On 1 September 1961, Republic of Cameroun passed a law in its Assembly amending its Constitution by providing for the annexation of the British Southern Cameroons. The long title of that law which was deceptively passed off as ‘the federal constitution’ recited that Cameroun Republic amended its constitution “so as to allow the return of part of its territory.”

This annexation of the British Southern Cameroons is akin to Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1939. In the same month of September 1961, the French-led forces of Republic of Cameroun marched into the British Southern Cameroons, killed several citizens, destroyed property and occupied the territory. In spite of this aggression and the violation of the territorial integrity of the Southern Cameroons by Republic of Cameroun, its President was invited by the British Government to the British Southern Cameroons on 30 September 1961. Britain then formally transferred powers it exercised over the territory to him, hurriedly left the territory and has since acted Pontus Pilate each time it is reminded of its indecent abandonment of the British Southern Cameroons.

We then see a consistent theme in Cameroun Republic’s rhetoric. The theme is that the Southern Cameroons is part of its territory; that it simply got back the Southern Cameroons officially on 1 October 1961 and hence what it calls ‘reunification’. This convoluted rhetoric is simply designed to mask the fact of annexation. The Southern Cameroons has never been part of Cameroun Republic. So no question of reunification arises and will ever arise. When a hitherto estranged part of a country is returned to it, there is simply a recovery of territory without the need for a plebiscite. Walvis Bay was returned to Namibia, Hong Kong to China, Alsace- Lorraine to France, and Ifni to Morocco. There was no plebiscite in any of these cases and none of them was characterized as reunification? Nor was the union of the Gold Coast and British Togoland, of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland, of New Guinea and Papua, and of Tanganyika and Zanzibar characterized as cases of reunification even though in each case there could be found a distant and remote historical connection between the two uniting countries.

As earlier indicated, the overwhelming view of even authors who are not citizens of the Southern Cameroons and who have examined the evidence is that the Southern Cameroons was indeed annexed by Cameroun Republic. Aboya Endong Manasse writes, “A federal constitution adopted on 1 September 1961 … established a very centralized system in which the Southern Cameroons saw its autonomy gradually whittled away up to the point of total annexation. … The exploitation of … oil marked the beginning of the acceleration of the process of enforced franconisation.” (‘Ménaces sécessionistes sur l’Etat camerounais,’ Le Monde Diplomatique, Décembre 2002, no. 585, p.12). Luc Sindjoun another citizen of Cameroun Republic also writes that the ‘federation’ was a mere make-belief strategy by Cameroun Republic designed to hoodwink the United Nations and the Southern Cameroons. It was “a federalism of absorption of the Southern Cameroons by Cameroun Republic … a phagocytosis strategy” and it “was used to procure the enlargement of Cameroun Republic.” He also writes that on the 30th September 1961 at Buea the Government of the United Kingdom solemnly transferred sovereignty over the Southern Cameroons to Ahidjo. (L’Etat Ailleur. Entre noyau dur et case vide, Paris, 2002, pp. 127-129, 171). Exactly the same conclusion was arrived at by other citizens of Cameroun Republic such as Lekene Donfack, and François Mbome (‘Les expériences de la révision constitutionnelle au Cameroun,’ Pénant, no. 808, janvier – avril 1992, p.20).

Pierre Messmer, the last colonial governor of French Cameroun, states that on 1 October 1961 Ahidjo effected the annexation of the Southern Cameroons to Cameroun Republic. He points out that the so-called federal constitution provided merely for “a sham federation, which was, except in appearance, an annexation of the Southern Cameroons.” “President Ahidjo came up with a draft deceptive federal constitution carefully written for him by his French lawyers. Ngu Foncha … accepted without discussions what was, except in appearance, an annexation.” (Les blancs s’en vont – Recit de Decolonisation, Paris, 1998, 134-135). Philippe Gaillard states that there was no union on 1 October 1961 and that what took place was a mere border adjustment. (Ahmadou Ahidjo: Patriote et Despote, Batisseur de l’Etat Camerounais, Paris, 1994, p.123). Stark argues that a federation in the sense of a voluntary relationship between political units did not exist.

He points out that there was no true and genuine federation and that in reality the Southern Cameroons was incorporated into Cameroon Republic.

(‘Federalism in Cameroon: The Shadow and the Reality,’ Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. x, no.3, 1976, p.441). In the Northern Cameroons case it was opined that “on 1 October 1961 … the Southern Cameroons joined the Republic of Cameroon within which it then became incorporated.” (ICJ Reports, 1963, at p. 22).

J. Vanderlinden concludes that the federation was merely a smoke screen meant to enable the Southern Cameroons to swallow the bitter pill of its annexation by Cameroun Republic, as in the case of Eritrea annexed by Ethiopia. (L’Etat Federal, Etat Africain de l’An 2000?’ in L’Etat Moderne Horizon 2000, LGDJ, Paris, 1985, p.307). J Crawford cites the Southern Cameroons as one of a number of former colonial territories ‘integrated in a state’. (‘State Practice and International Law in relation to Unilateral Secession,’ Report 1997, para 21) Jacques Benjamin says there was a creeping annexation of the Southern Cameroons by Cameroun Republic.

(Les Camerounais Occidentaux – La Minorité dans un Etat Bi-communautaire, Montreal, 1972). Deltombe et al. write: “Ahidjo effected the political asphyxiation of the Anglophone newcomers. He did so … at the Foumban ‘constitutional conference’ where his French advisers devised a water-tight plan which, under the pretext of an egalitarian federation, consisted in reality in the annexation of the Southern Cameroons to the centralized and authoritarian system already in force in Yaoundé since the previous year. … In the purest of French traditions Ahidjo annexed the Southern Cameroons … thanks to the help of his clever French advisers. He then quickly embarked on a policy of forcible cultural assimilation with the help of ‘la Coopération Française’, as always. … Noting the effects of this enforced political and cultural assimilation, Bernard Fonlon, a native of the annexed country, quickly sounded the following alarm: ‘In two or three generations, we shall be French’.” (Kamerun! Une Guerre Cachée aux Origines de la Françafrique 1948-1971, Paris, 2011, pp. 483-485).

6. Foumban. Over the years inattentive commentators have been misled into believing that Foumban was a credible ‘constitutional conference’ that produced a constitution, the so-called federal constitution. In reality Foumban was all a hoax. It was a political feint and a jamboree planned and carried out by Cameroun Republic and its French puppeteers. First of all, the place and time of that meeting was chosen by Cameroun Republic. Secondly, the chosen venue was deliberate: Foumban, an isolated place in an active insurgency region in a Cameroun Republic that was in the throes of a maquisard rebellion was a very high security risk area. That meant the Southern Cameroons delegation was in effect held captive and could not discontinue its participation at the meeting and safely find its way back home in the event where it was minded to stage a walk out. July is a rainy season month and even for a robust Land rover it normally took about six hours on the dusty/muddy bush tract to cross the frontier at Santa to Bamenda and another two days to get to Buea travelling via Bali-Mamfe-Kumba. The strategy of choosing such a remote enclave (rather than say Buea, Yaounde, or Douala) was to induce in the Southern Cameroons delegation a siege mentality and reinforce their isolation. Thirdly, consider this: 16 July – Southern Cameroons delegation flies from Tiko airport to Koutaba airstrip and travels by road, a dusty bumpy road, for hours to Foumban where they arrive in the late afternoon to a staged welcome by a rented crowd. That same evening the delegation was taken to attend a ceremony of singing and dancing that went well into the night. The delegation had had a long and tedious journey and had had no time to rest and to caucus. Meanwhile, Cameroun Republic put in place another of its rehearsed strategies: corruption of members of the Southern Cameroons delegation. It stocked the fridges in the rooms of members of the delegation with assorted alcoholic drinks and, pimp-like, procured girls to standby to warm the beds of delegates. 17 July – the Southern Cameroons and Cameroon Republic delegations moved to a hall in a teachers’ training college for the meeting. The whole morning session was taken up with long circumlocutory speeches of doubtful value.

At the end of the speeches Ahidjo tossed at the Southern Cameroons delegation a document he said was a draft constitution and rudely asked them for their observations. Taken aback the Southern Cameroons delegation requested three weeks to go and study the document but Ahidjo insisted on their observations within two days, there and then. The view has since been peddled that Ahidjo supposedly gave Foncha a copy of a draft constitution which Foncha allegedly hid from everybody. But no one has ever produced that document so that a comparison can be made with the one tendered at Foumban. No one has been able to say whether or not the document tossed in the face of the Southern Cameroons delegation at Foumban was the very one allegedly given to Foncha some months earlier or even whether it was the document drafted by Ahidjo’s French draftsman, Jacques Rousseau. Be that as it may, the Southern Cameroons delegation was shocked by Ahidjo’s improper conduct. They had participated in constitutional conferences in Nigeria and the UK and in delicate political conferences in Mamfe and Bamenda. These had all been meaningful engagements. They thought Foumban was going to be even more meaningful in the sense that together with Cameroun Republic delegation they were jointly going to draft a constitution, laying a solid foundation for the future federal political association between the two countries.

Cameroun Republic, always up to no good, had other ideas of the meeting.

Mbile cried out in disbelief: “We have the feeling that we have wasted our time coming to Foumban for the draft to be tabled to us for our observations in this way. This is in total contradiction to our expectations; instead of a draft confederal constitution, we are being requested to make observations on a draft highly centralized constitution with unlimited powers.” Endeley warned: “Too much haste would have far-reaching consequences on the people of the Cameroons.” And Jua screamed in utter consternation: “I have never seen people expected to write a constitution in two days.” At this point the Southern Cameroons delegation could have justifiably abandoned the meeting, returned to Buea, declared Foumban a failure and aborted the policy of political association with Cameroun Republic. But as noted earlier at Foumban the delegation was in effect taken hostage. From the afternoon of 17 July to the afternoon of 20 July the Southern Cameroons delegation pored through the Ahidjo document while members of the Cameroun Republic delegation simply loafed and indulged themselves. The observations of the Southern Cameroons delegation were handed to Ahidjo in the evening of 20 July and the following day, 21 July, closing speeches were made. That was the end of what some have claimed was ‘Foumban constitutional conference’!! Your readers would notice that even those individuals Ahidjo tagged along as part of his delegation were in fact mere spectators in his organized fraud.

The truth of the matter is that Foumban was never intended to be and was never a constitutional conference. This is what really happened. Soon after United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1608 (XV) of 21 April 1961, the French and the British met for three months, from May to July, hoping to write a constitution to underpin a federal political association of the two Cameroons, that is to say, a federal constitution as Cameroun Republic had committed itself to in its pre-plebiscite constitutional offer to the Southern Cameroons. On the French side the draftsman was a law lecturer called Jacques Rousseau and on the English side was an Attorney whose name Rousseau had since forgotten. The French are forever seeking any form of revenge against the British for humiliating them at Fashoda in 1890. This was one occasion they felt they should get at the British. They succeeded in outwitting the British in this constitution-making exercise. Deltombe et al. relate the following edifying account: “Regarding the writing of the federal constitution in 1961, as in the case of the writing of the Cameroun Republic 1960 constitution, what went on behind the political scenes was more revealing especially concerning Cameroun Republic’s motives. Distinct and separate from the Foumban meeting of the delegations of the two Cameroons, the ‘drafters’ from the two sides, Jacques Rousseau for Cameroun Republic and a British Attorney for the Southern Cameroons, regularly met to draft the federal constitution. For three months the atmosphere was tense between the two European draftsmen. Jacques Rousseau made the following disclosure during an interview in 2008: ‘The British Attorney proposed a convoluted text. I remember that his primary concern was about human rights, like every British in fact. It was really ridiculous. We, the French, Ahidjo and Kame, had prepared a cunning document of a federative nature, where all political power rested with the federal president. In the document I provided for something nasty, a federal president invested with all powers. Here, it is better to have one potentate than many: an enlightened despotism of sorts’.” (p. 483) Rousseau was speaking 47 years later and at the evening of his life he was still able to poke fun at the British.

Abakwatimes: Can you explain to our readers within the context of the Southern Cameroons and the state of Cameroun’s dispute the difference between ‘UNIFICATION’ and ‘RE-UNIFICATION’?

As I have said there was no reconstitution of extinct ‘Kamerun’ in 1961 or at any time after that date. It was and shall ever be infeasible for that to happen. The ‘reunification’ of ‘Kamerun’ would have entailed bringing together the Southern Cameroons, the Northern Cameroons (part of Nigeria since June 1961), Cameroun Republic, the Neue Kamerun (part of Gabon and Congo Brazzaville), and the Duckbill (part of Chad and Central African Republic). The projected political association of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic in 1961 cannot credibly be touted as reunification for the simple reason that the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic never at any time formed a single political entity and then later became separated, in which case the projected political association could then have been accurately said to have been ‘reunification.’ It is futile trying to go back to the territory over which Germany proclaimed a protectorate in 1884. Let the record be put straight.

There was no Kamerun nation in 1884 or at any time before or after that date. The area depicted in colonial maps as Kamerun at the time of Germany’s defeat in World War I was inhabited by a multitude of distinct and far flung tribal communities with hardly any connection or anything in common with each other. As of 1914 only in the coastal area was there any sense of the existence of Kamerun. What was claimed in 1884 was the Dwala (Douala) mud flat estuarine enclave. That was the territory, and none other, that the Duala chiefs handed over and could have handed over to the Germans. In 1884 the Ambas Bay coastal strip (Bimbia to Bakassi) and its hinterland was British and not part of the German Kamerun. Even when it was later ceded to Germany in 1887 it was quickly retaken by the British in August 1914 and became the British Cameroons. Germany’s original Douala estuary protectorate proclaimed in 1884 and subsequently extended inland went to France and it became French Cameroun. The idea that there was a Kamerun nation that was partitioned or dismembered following the defeat of Germany is an elephantine political falsehood peddled over the years to serve a hegemonic agenda.

There could not have been and there was no ‘reunification’ for the following additional reasons. At the plebiscite there was no such offer as ‘reunification’ as a choice. Such an offer would have been a complete negation of the international tutelage system and the United Nations Charter. Since there was no such choice there could not have been a vote for an inexistent alternative. Further, reunification would have made a complete nonsense of the plebiscite itself. If the Southern Cameroons was a part of Cameroun Republic the plebiscite would have been redundant and the territory simply returned to Cameroun Republic like Ifni to Morocco or Hong Kong to China. The indiscriminate and promiscuous use of the terms ‘unification’ and ‘reunification’ by some people is reflective of poverty of thought. Those who talk of ‘reunification’ seem unaware that even at Foumban the supposedly welcoming banner at the meeting room proclaimed, ‘Vive le Cameroun unifié’. The banner did not say, and could not have said, ‘Vive la République du Cameroun unifiée’, ‘Vive la République du Cameroun reunifiée’, ‘Vive le Cameroun reunifié’, or ‘Vive le Kamerun unifié/reunifié’. Cameroun Republic’s Note Verbale of 24 December 1960 spoke of unification and not reunification.

Two or more countries can unify to form one country whether they had any previous historical connection or not with each other. Sometimes the word ‘united’ or ‘union’ is used to denote such unification as in United States of America, United Kingdom, Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, United Republic of Tanzania. Sometimes the new country takes a completely new name as in the case of the union of the Gold Coast and British Togoland which saw Ghana as the new name of the conjoint countries, or the union of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland which took Somalia as the name of the new state, or again the union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika which gave rise to Tanzania. Sometimes also the names of the uniting countries are simply conjoined as in the case of the union of New Guinea and Papua where the new country took the name Papua New Guinea. So, conceivably there could have been a union or unification of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic resulting in a new name for the new state. Since two or more countries cannot unite informally, a union of the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic would have resulted in a new state and a new name and would have been on clear terms set out in a union agreement subscribed by the two uniting countries. This did not happen.

Contraptions such as ‘federal republic of Cameroon’ and ‘united republic of Cameroon’ despotically decreed into existence were not genuine legal and political expressions. They were strategies for effecting the annexation of the Southern Cameroons and to enable its people to adjust to the francophonity and the French world of Cameroun Republic. In the mindset of Cameroun Republic’s colonial-minded political leaders the term unification quickly metamorphosed within a matter of months into reunification. The shift was meant to soft-cushion and whitewash territorial expansion, annexation, and colonial occupation.

Cameroun Republic claims it simply recovered the Southern Cameroons as part of its territory returned to it by the UN, but it has been unable to say when and how it acquired the Southern Cameroons and when and how it lost the territory to the United Nations. Cameroun Republic chose to ignore international law. It conveniently forgets that in 1961 it made a similar claim in respect of the British Northern Cameroons but it was rejected in 1963 by the International Court of Justice in the Northern Cameroons case.

Following the rejection of that claim Cameroun Republic declared the British Northern Cameroons its Alsace-Lorraine, promising to recover it. It then decreed 1st June an annual day of ‘mourning’ for what it claimed to be the loss of part of its territory. But one year afterwards no one ever heard again of Cameroun Republic’s Annual Day of National Mourning and of its thoroughly misplaced Alsace-Lorraine analogy.

When the President of the occupying State suddenly announces an impending journey to Buea, capital of the Southern Cameroons, to ‘celebrate’ an imaginary ‘reunification’, he is provocatively going to Buea to commemorate colonial occupation by staging a Roman-like ‘victory parade’.

In this instance though there is no military victory for the Camerounese occupation forces to show. Cameroun Republic cannot show evidence of any conquest by bullet or even by pen. Going to Buea to ‘celebrate’ colonial occupation is adding insult to injury because the message that is being communicated is this: “I am here in Buea. Yes, you have been annexed.

You can go and drink the sea.” As part of the preparation for that ‘celebration’ the ever scheming rulers of Cameroun Republic plotted to knock down the Schloss. The reason is that they cannot stand the powerful symbolism of Southern Cameroons statehood that the Schloss represents. It is the same strong power of the symbolism of the name Victoria that prompted them to purport to change it to ‘Limbe’ in the hope of wiping out a piece of our shining history. Now they must be devising ways by which to move Buea Mountain, Victoria sea front, and Bakassi to their territory. Well might they ever spend troubled nights! Geography too is on our side. It is the same geography that impelled the Germans to move the capital of their original Kamerun colonial territory from Douala to Buea in the territory they had just newly acquired.

The falsity that any such event as ‘reunification’ took place on 1 October 1961 can be seen in another respect. Before that date Cameroun Republic purported to exercise acts of sovereignty in the Southern Cameroons even while it was still a UN trust territory. And in October 1961 Cameroun Republic’s ‘Inspecteur Fédéral d’Administration’ simply stepped into the shoes of the run-away British Commissioner of the Southern Cameroons. The President of Cameroun Republic himself assumed the role and functions previous carried out by the UK Government in relation to the Southern Cameroons.

Ironically, the reunification rhetoric would seem to apply more to the proposition for joinder to Nigeria than to Cameroun Republic. The Southern Cameroons had 45 years of intense and fruitful and constitutional association with Nigeria. It was separated from Nigeria on 1 October 1960. So in 1961 the plebiscite alternative of joining Nigeria could well have been touted as reunification of the Nigerian polity. But that language was never used and even the joinder of the British Northern Cameroons to Nigeria was never and has never been presented as reunification.

Abakwatimes: Apart from the claim of Southern Cameroons that void of a Union Treaty Cameroun’s extension of its internationally recognized border amounts to occupation. Is there any other claim under law that gives the Southern Cameroons the right to a state to a state of its own?

Answer: The claim of the Southern Cameroons to sovereign statehood is solidly anchored in international law, human rights law, and the law of nature. The British transfer of the Southern Cameroons to Cameroun Republic was in breach of the Trusteeship Agreement for the British Cameroons, in breach of the United Nations Charter, and in breach of the binding 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Britain now admits it made mistakes in the decolonization of the Southern Cameroons but argues that whatever mistakes may have been made by a colonial power in relation to its colonial territory the moment the colonial territory achieves independence the former colonial power falls off. This general statement is correct. The operative phrase however is ‘achieve independence’. Did the Southern Cameroons achieve independence? The weight of evidence conclusively establishes that it never did and that it was and has remained an annexed territory.

The people of the Southern Cameroons have under international human rights law the inalienable right to self-determination. They have the right to identity, to nationality, and to sovereignty over their land and natural resources. They are entitled to the enjoyment of the right to peace, the principle of sovereignty and equality of all peoples, and the right to freedom from colonial domination and oppression. The people of the Southern Cameroons are an oppressed people. They have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by any means under international law. Every people have the right to exist. Every people also have the right not to be dominated by another people. The inhabitants of the Southern Cameroons are a people and have the right to exist as such. They have the right to be free from the domination of the people of Republic of Cameroun and, as a concomitant of that right, they have the right to resist colonial occupation and domination. The eternal law of self-preservation and human dignity imposes upon them the imperative to rid themselves of their humiliating status and condition of a people under captivity. The right to resist and end colonial bondage is a natural right. Colonial occupation is aggression and a vicious form of terrorism, resistance to which is an obligatory act of self-defence.

Colonial occupation of the Southern Cameroons by Republic of Cameroun is palpable everywhere in the territory: the spoliation of resources by Cameroun Republic; the ubiquity of soldiers and the imperious administrators of Cameroun Republic, all speaking and operating in French; the pervasiveness of Cameroun Republic’s symbols of statehood (flag, anthem, currency, name); and Cameroun Republic’s ruthless attack on the English language and administrative system, and the onslaught on the values, and the legal and educational systems of the Southern Cameroons. This is not only armed occupation and political domination. It is also economic, social and cultural imperialism.

What is going on in the Southern Cameroons is a grave attack on the humanity, the human dignity, the worth, the identity, the existence and the survival of the people of that country. The (O)AU has repeatedly reaffirmed the solemn pledge to “eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa”. It has undertaken “to eliminate colonialism, neo-colonialism … and all forms of discrimination” from Africa. Colonialism is a practice of domination which involves the subjugation of one people by another and the political and economic control of a dependent territory through various techniques. Colonialism is moreover an appalling human tragedy because of its abhorrent brutality, its magnitude, its organized nature and its negation of the existence of the colonized people. It has therefore earned universal opprobrium.

Cameroun Republic cannot set up the principle of territorial integrity against the legitimate entitlement of the people of the Southern Cameroons to self-determination. The principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between states and cannot be implicated especially in a case of the exercise of the right of self-determination against colonial rule, oppression, or expansionism. The only amount of territory, the integrity of which Republic of Cameroun can legitimately claim to be entitled to protect is the territorial framework that devolved upon it as state successor to French Cameroun on the basis of the pre-existing boundaries as established by treaties and which it inherited on achievement of independence from France on 1 January 1960. That spatial configuration of Cameroun Republic does not, has never included and will never include the territory of the Southern Cameroons. The self-determination claim of the people of the Southern Cameroons does not impinge in any way whatsoever on the territorial integrity of Cameroun Republic. The borders of that State, as they stood on the date of its independence, are in no way impaired. The self-determination claim of the people of the Southern Cameroons does not entail a change or an alteration of the well delimited and demarcated frontier between the Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic as established by the Anglo-French boundary treaties, a frontier Cameroun Republic succeeded to on the date of its independence. Legal title to the Southern Cameroons vests in the people of the territory and prevails over effective colonial occupation of the territory by Cameroun Republic. It is not possible for Cameroun Republic to have acquired legal title to the Southern Cameroons whether by cession, annexation or conquest. These are no longer valid modes of territorial acquisition in international law.

Cameroun Republic, a former UN trust territory under French

administration, emerged from colonial status into sovereign statehood and succeeded to title over French Cameroun by virtue of the principle of self-determination. There is no principle of law or morality on which Cameroun Republic can base its bigotry that the Southern Cameroons, which was also a UN trust territory, is inhabited by people of a lesser order and therefore not similarly entitled to emerge from colonial status into sovereign statehood by virtue of the selfsame principle of self-determination.

According to Cameroun Republic the plebiscite vote automatically made the Southern Cameroons a part of Cameroun Republic. This interpretation is erroneous. The plebiscite vote was additionally a vote to “join” (understood by both countries to mean to “federate”), not a vote to be annexed. There was nothing the people of the Southern Cameroons could possibly have stood to gain by nonsensically voting to be annexed or absorbed by the French-speaking tyrannical, despotic and illiberal state of Cameroun Republic. The Southern Cameroons could not by any stretch of the imagination have voted for a detrimental change in its political status. It could not possibly have voted against its political, economic, social and cultural well-being. That would have been totally against human nature and the human instinct for dignity, self-preservation and self-development.

While the Southern Cameroons voted to achieve independence it also expressed its willingness to enter into a limited form of federal political association with Cameroun Republic. Federation involves a dovetailing rather than a supersession of legal orders; a cohabitation under the same roof but in different households. A vote to join is not the same thing as an act of joining. An expression of an intention to join does not mean actual joining. A promise or even an agreement to marry is not the marriage itself. Both parties must fulfill all the conditions for a valid marriage and go through the ceremony of marriage, which ends with the signing by both parties and their witnesses of the marriage certificate. The Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic never went through any ceremony of “joining” attested by a treaty of union duly signed by the parties and deposited with the Secretariat of the UN as required by Article 102 of the UN Charter.

The grabbing of the Southern Cameroons by Cameroun Republic following Britain’s hurried departure is annexation and colonial occupation, not “joining’. It may be likened to kidnapping and rape combined since it involved the forcible assumption of authority over the territory and the violation of its territorial integrity. Even if the contemplated “joining” had taken place, the people of the Southern Cameroons would still be entitled to exercise the right to self-determination in the face of overwhelming evidence of on-going domination, oppression, persecution, massive and unremitting human rights abuse, and denial of self-government and of the right to exist as a people. Besides, on general principles, a right to contract in implies a right to contract out; a power of entry implies a power of exit; a power to opt in implies a power to opt out. Apologists of colonial occupation are sometimes heard to ‘argue’ that the political leaders of the Southern Cameroons were naïve and got us into this tragedy. This is a case of blaming the victim rather than the victimizer. In any event, if my parents sold me into slavery I have no business accepting my status and condition of a slave. I have every right in the world to free myself from slavery.

Slaves have been doing that from the time of Spartacus down to this day! The annexation of the Southern Cameroons by Republic of Cameroun is expansionism. It is territorial change brought about in breach of international law. In other words, it is territorial change in violation of (i) the territorial integrity of the Southern Cameroons, (ii) the principle of uti possidetis juris, and (iii) the Constitutive Act of the African Union which, in Article 4 b, imposes on AU Member States, as did the 1964 OAU binding Resolution on Border Disputes, the legal obligation to respect the borders existing on the date each State achieved independence.

For the people of the Southern Cameroons the francophonity imposed upon them and the ubiquity, brutality and rapacity of Cameroun Republic civil and armed functionaries in their territory are living symbols of alien domination and the daily reminders of their shameful status as a colonized and oppressed people. These functionaries are seen and experienced as living symbols in who are combined tyranny and colonialism, wickedness and iniquity.

Abakwatimes: In a paper you submitted as a contribution to a book project, you argued that the principle of Uti possidetis applies to all peoples. Can you explain this principle with respect to the Southern Cameroons struggle?

Answer: This is in fact what I say in that publication: Successful self-determination claims since the end of European colonization constitute evidence of state practice borne out of the conviction that contemporary human rights law recognizes self-determination as a continuing right that is not necessarily inconsistent with the principles of uti possidetis and respect for territorial integrity. The right to self-determination, which now has the character of jus cogens, is not only a procedural right available in the process of decolonization and by which the inhabitants of a colonial territory freely decide their political status. It is also a substantive human right, the right of all peoples to self-rule or sovereign statehood and, like all human rights it is inherent, continuing, unquestionable and inalienable. It may be invoked by a people subjected to circumstances such as domination, oppression, genocide, colonization, and other gross human rights abuses, and is available even in the context of a decolonized country.

The well-established principle of territorial integrity protects the geographical space that legally belongs to a state and is secured by a series of consequential rules, namely, rules prohibiting interference within the domestic jurisdiction of a state, rules forbidding the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of states, rules imposing respect for borders as they were on the date of independence, and the rule of obligatory non-recognition of territorial changes brought about in breach of international law. The principle serves two basic purposes. It gives legal protection to the legitimate territorial configuration of a state, and so necessarily frowns on secession and annexation/occupation. It confines the exercise of territorial sovereignty to the spatial area that lawfully belongs to the state and, by necessary implication, forbids territorial expansion or other forms of imperialism.

The principle of uti possidetis (literally translated to: ‘as you possess, you shall continue to possess’) ordains that a state shall continue to possess the same amount of territory it possessed as of a particular critical date which, for de-colonized states, is the date of independence. This principle sanctifies succession to colonial boundaries as they stood on the date of independence by the successor state. Frontiers do not disappear when decolonization or state succession takes place. Nascent states may not therefore change the colonially-inherited territorial status quo by extending their boundaries.

In 1964, African leaders adopted a resolution on Border Disputes among African States by which they pledged “to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.” This principle is reiterated in Article 4 b of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and also in the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. Arguably, the principle has now crystallized into, and acquired the status of, a rule of African regional customary international law and is therefore binding on African states. Like the principle of territorial integrity, uti possidetis is meant to prevent irredentist claims and expansionism.

Abakwatimes: You have been at the forefront of the Southern Cameroons struggle for more than 20 years. During this time you have convened conferences, undertaken diplomatic initiatives and challenged the legality of the Cameroun’s rule in an international jurisdiction. Can you be very precise where the struggle stands at the moment and what options are left for the people of Southern Cameroons?

Answer: I see our people absolutely ready to break tomorrow the chains of bondage with which we have been shackled for more than fifty long years. No people ever remained chained forever. The Day of Liberation inexorably comes. Sometimes it can be seen coming. Sometimes it happens unexpectedly. It shall be the case here. God has spoken. His ways are mysterious. The rain is gone and we can see more clearly now. I see the generality of our people resolutely committed to take their destiny into their own hands, as they should. I see them ready to free themselves from one of the vilest and most rapacious forms of colonialism that surpasses apartheid in its cunning, deception, duplicity and make-belief.

Every colonized people are confronted with two choices, fight or surrender. No colonized people have ever surrendered to the colonial authority. The reason is simple. To surrender would mean to renounce one’s humanity and to cease to be a human being. Any people that surrender to colonial occupation and rule sink to the level of a mere commodity. They become, together with their property and their natural environment, commodified.

In the contemporary period the colonized people of the Southern Cameroons have available to them the following three legal and legitimate pathways to liberation: litigation, diplomatic initiative, armed struggle, or a combination of any of these. Historically, the litmus test of a dependent people’s readiness and ability to take full control of their land and to assert and defend its territorial integrity is of course continuing revolt and armed struggle or consensual decolonization. Litigation and diplomatic activism have severe limitations though it is often the case that they are critical in giving added teeth to armed struggle. For all the noise one hears about peace and the peaceful resolution of disputes, preventive diplomatic intervention is often rare. Which option is taken might well depend on a number of salient factors and strategic considerations.

We do have our fair share of the Judases, Pétains and Quislings of this world. For every twelve there is likely to be a Judas; for every Samson there is likely to be a Delilah; and for every occupied country there are bound to be renegades and those willing and ready to sell for eight or twelve pieces of silver. For every action taken to leave the Egyptian house of bondage there are bound to be those who think their lot as slaves is better than their lot as free people. These are people who have ended up selling their lives, their spouses, their children, and their personhood and peace of mind for the position of a slave. For every platoon of scouts sent to reconnoiter the Promised Land there will be those among them who will give scare-mongering reports proclaiming that the illegal occupants of the Homeland are a great multitude of unconquerable giants. They look at all the ‘big people’ in the colonizing power and say they are too strong.

Naaman too was a ‘big man’ and strong. He was a mighty and brave general. But he had leprosy! Many are unable to see that “the army that fights for us is larger than the one against us”, an invisible heavenly army of fire all around our Homeland poised to do battle at His appointed hour. So let us not be troubled by the seeming invincibility of the other side. Let us not be troubled by collaborationists and the faint-hearted. They serve a certain purpose in God’s mysterious scheme of things. And God said to Pharaoh, let my people go. And Pharaoh hardened his heart. And the Lord afflicted his household and his land. And Pharaoh drowned in the Red Sea! It shall be like that. Before the festive season the Lord shall speak.