The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon has dragged on for yours. The delay in finding solutions makes the events more and more imprinted in the minds of adults and especially children. And if nothing changes quickly, an ideology is being birthed that will grow and will be around for a long while.
The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines an ideology (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ideology) as a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture.
Whether at group, cultural or individual level, formation of ideologies has similar motivations. The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (https://crestresearch.ac.uk/resources/how-and-why-ideologies-are-shared-and-learned/) lists some of these to include: the need to share an ideology or worldview; a commitment to sustaining the traditions of the group; the requirement to recruit and train individuals able to transmit these traditions; the need to respond to innovation and change.
When the Common Law lawyers in Cameroon cried foul and called for a strike in 2016, it was clear it wasn’t the first time they were raising these concerns. When the Union of Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions followed suit, it was also certain that it wasn’t a commencement. If there was prompt action, things would have been different.
Needless to say, that the Government would have listened instead of retaliating. Unfortunately, after some members of government had blatantly denied the existence of any such problem, others began admitting it in various ways, but baptized it with different names.
This made the government not to be a protagonist in the solution to the Crisis. What followed was some catch-up work, which largely had every semblance of cosmetics. In the meantime, things had evolved very fast.
Scepticism about Solutions
Why the Common Law lawyers and Union of Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions were unyielding and sceptical of governments suggested solutions? Because many thought it was deja-vu! Let’s look at it.
There has been a cycle in Cameroon as far as such problems as tabled by these unions are concerned: the people complain – government stays quiet – the complaints heighten – government makes a promise – the people wait for realisation – a period elapses – the people complain. It has been a vicious cycle, and it does not seem farfetched to suppose that these unions were bent on breaking the cycle.
Furthermore, the duplication of roles by those who could handle the matter was problematic to any sane mind. If you have a problem, and someone who is involved in the problem comes as an arbiter, that would naturally bring up suspicion. How exactly could anyone who publicly said there was no problem be sent to solve it?
In the meantime, the masses waded in, both within the country and abroad. It became obvious for anyone who cares to see, that the previous issues raised by the aforementioned unions were merely symptoms of a bigger problem. Some have called it marginalisation. Others say it is the Anglophone Problem, a phrase many officials initially refrained from using.
Whatever anyone chose to call it, it simply meant, as the Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal put it, the failure of successive governments of Cameroon since 1961, to integrate the French Sub-system and English Sub-System in Cameroon, without ruining any. And as it is claimed, the victim has been the latter. This has shown itself in various aspects, such as the legal system, education, language, employment, development, and so on.
Schools stopped functioning; common law lawyers stopped appearing in courts; heavy military presence kept increasing in some towns of the English-speaking parts of the country. Reports of brutality became daily news. Some people with their own grudges seemingly took advantage of the situation.
The younger generations, now open to social media at an early age, have known so much from it. Many things are out of the normal, and they see it. There is a growing consciousness. The attempt to isolate and propose solutions to the specific grievances of the lawyers and teachers failed, and in the meantime, the populace had become more conscious of the bigger picture now called the Anglophone Crisis.
Refusal or failure to deal with the real and root issue is giving birth to an ideology. The children are probably drinking it faster than we know.
What answers are little children given as to why there is no school? As to why movement is not normal? As to why people are sometimes afraid to talk on issues in gatherings where they had experienced the same people freer? As to why there are more uniformed men around? As to why there is an atmosphere of uneasiness? As to why their parents, family members, neighbours are being taken away at gun point and held hostage sometimes for long periods? As to many other things? What answers are they given?
For as long as the situation is not redressed properly, for as long as it is postponed, more and more people will become increasingly conscious of the problem(s). Children will be suckled with it, and grow in it. What’s that but an ideology? And check it out: no arms ever kill ideologies. Never! Pressure has always made ideologies stronger.
(This was first published on Facebook on 27 December 2016)
Category: Opinion Piece