The All-Anglophone General Conference 2018 – Why?

The 2018 incarnation of the All-Anglopone General Conference in Southern Cameroons is slated to take place in November 2018. Spearheaded by Cardinal Tumi and other religious leaders, it is meant to contribute to the solution of “The Anglophone Crisis”.

The organizers have stated they re seeking ideas from participants on how to improve the lot of the Anglophone in the country now called La Republic du Cameroun – The Republic of Cameroon.

The lot of the Anglophone is dominated by what has been termed the “Anglophone Crisis”. This phrase refers to the adverse experience, namely belittling, ridiculing discriminating, violence and other treatments meted on Anglophones in the Republic. These experiences are widespread and long standing, having persisted almost since “independence” and been reinforced by policy and practice changes.

On the first of October 1961 when Southern Cameroons officially formed a Federal Republic with the already independent La Republic du Cameroon, it was “agreed” that the federation would maintain two systems of government as it was acknowledged that there would be difficulties integrating the two different systems. For one thing the language was highlighted as an issue. In the run up, it was pointed out in the British parliament that the Southern Cameroons were being left to their own devices with the police force and civil servants allowed to withdraw even though there were no ready replacements to run the system. The attitude of Her Majesty’s Government was that “Mr Ahidjo might notice ideas suggested” and act to mitigate them. HMG did not think the tripartite talks between LRC, Southern Cameroons and the UK merited the attention of a minister and left it to civil servants to attend. [Hansard].

By 1972, the Federal Republic had become a centralized “United Republic of Cameroon” and then “The Republic of Cameroon” – the name of the then East Cameroon at the time of the Federation.  Since then a sequence of changes has been put in place to suppress the heritage of the Southern Cameroons state.  These legal changes and physical nudges all created  a hostile system and experience which the anglophone community came to describe as marginalization. It is also this that the current LRC, first dismissed and then described as “The anglophone Crisis”.

Within the Anglophone community, there are those who think that returning to a federal system would solve the “Crisis”.  In recent times the anglophone experience has been extensively articulated ranging from those who think that Decentralization suffices through federalists to separatists.  It is these three strands that would be expected to distill a position in the conference.  A few questions remain. Since the government of LRC has stuck to a position “against a change to the form of the state” what do the organizers expect to gain even if the manage to agree? How will they cater for separatists? Will the latter be able to attend a conference under LRC control when LRC is still actively prosecuting a war against them? If they cannot attend, what will the resolutions be worth?

The bigger question is the role of the French and the Francophone system which has recently proved unsatisfactory when it comes to organizing elections. Is it not the Francophones who should hold a General Conference. If the francophone political elite were happy to participate under the system what do they really think?

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