Southern Cameroon: Another Biafra Story

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The 6th of July, 1967 marked the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War which is popularly known as the Biafran War. The struggle lasted for 2 years, 6 months, 1 week and 2 days. The gruesome war started on the basis of a sect in the nation- the Eastern region of Nigeria, requesting to secede from Nigeria. Biafra. With failed attempts at a peaceful resolution- the most notable being the Aburi Accord of 1967- The Federal Republic of Nigeria went to war with the Independent Republic of Biafra. The war left many displaced and most importantly, left many dead.

According to statistics, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation. The region has not regained its balance since then.

Biafra Flag

However, it seems as though Africa has not learned her lesson- Cameroon to be precise.

Cameroon- a neighbouring country of Nigeria- has been in the limelight for about two years but for the worm reasons. About two years ago, a protest was spearheaded by the Anglophone citizens of Cameroon and its aftermath has been devastating.

At the end of the first World War, the League of Nations divided the imperial possessions of Germany in Africa to France and Britain- the allied victors. Most of Cameroon were given to France while Britain was given a small portion. There was therfore a division of language.  By 1960, the anglophone sect were given the choice to either stay with Cameroon or join Nigeria. They however chose to remain with Cameroon but felt a marginalisation by the Francophone sect of Cameroon. It therefore became a great source of worry for anglophone citizens.

They argued that the language being used in schools is French which in its own way, excludes them from educational processes. The region received little or no support for development from the government. All these, including the fact that the best jobs are given to French speakers, are factors which led to the demand for an independent state although they initially wanted the government to address their grievances.

In 2016, following a protest by teachers and lawyers in the English- speaking region, about 6 protesters were killed while about a hundred were arrested and some were put on trial for charges which attracted either long sentences or a death sentence. On the evening of 17th January 2017, the Cameroonian government cut off internet access for 93 days in the English – speaking territory.

Now, in the year 2018, sporadic activities from the government involving the killings of fellow Cameroonians has been reported. The violent repression by the government is said to be for the “better good of the country”. However, this is just another excuse for a predetermined genocide. How else do you explain a government fighting against its own people in its bid to supposedly restore balance?

Based on humanism, humanitarianism and history (the 3 H’s), there is no justification for the oppression and killing of individuals who have committed no crime against the country. Activism has never been a crime especially peaceful ones. What started as a peaceful quest for independence has turned out to be a repeat of history.

It seems as though many countries of the world are sitting back on the issue, watching as though it were a theatrical performance. The fight for a new state of Ambazonia is one which is likely going to end up in a loss for both parties. A major intervention is therefore needed to gradually reduce the casualty rate and eventually end the conflict before it breaks out as a war. May history never repeat itself.

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