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Anglophones Should Always Sleep With One Eye Open – Azong Wara 

Interviewed by Bouddih Adams — Atinjong Azong-Wara, one time Secretary General of the Sothern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, has said the situation as at now calls for another All Anglophone Conference, AAC, which first held in Buea in 1993 and Bamenda in 1994.  In this interview, he also advises Anglophones to always sleep with their one eye open in the present dispensation. Read on:

What would say has changed 20 years after AAC?

When Paul Biya announced the holding of Tripartite Talks to examine and resolve the problems confronting our nation, pressure groups like the Esingan and others began holding meetings to consider their positions. A few Anglophone elites were inspired to convene an AAC to brainstorm and come up with an Anglophone response. If there has been any change, it has, more or less, been negative.

Anglophones no longer have inspired leadership. There has not been any proper transition from the EMA (Elad, Munzu, Anyangwe) leadership. Too many voices have risen to speak for the Anglophones and I think this has been caused by abandonment by the chosen leadership of AAC1. It is therefore difficult to measure change today, 20 years after.

What with the Zero Option that was adopted at the AAC II?

AAC was a noble idea and it took far-reaching decisions among which was the formation of the SCNC if the Tripartite Talks and other dialogue did not satisfactorily address the Anglophone problem. The SCNC would then proceed to seek a status of an independent state for Southern Cameroons.

This was what we referred to as the ‘Zero Option’, which we directed that should be resorted to after ‘a reasonable time’. To make a definite statement about the status of Zero Option is not possible because I don’t think that ‘reasonable time’ has expired. After all it is said that Rome was not built in a day.

Is there a place for an AAC in today’s Cameroon?

As sure as night follows day! As long as our country remains a bicultural nation, there will always be a place in Cameroon for an AAC and why not an AFC (All Francophone Conference).

How would you describe the apparent lethargy towards the cause today and what accounts for this apathy?

Confusion, disillusionment and intolerance. These are the causes of the lethargy. The Anglophone problem in Cameroon has not and will not simply walk away. Some of the leaders that have emerged after the apparent abandonment by the founding leaders either have not understood the raison d’être of AAC or have sought personal aggrandisement in vain.

What is the way forward in this Anglophone debacle?

Simply another AAC to refocus.

At one moment you created the Southern Cameroons Front for Action, SOCAFA, how far have you gone with the struggle?

SOCAFA was formed out of frustration with the pace of the revolution. We the founders of the movement wanted to move the revolution into higher gear. But we had to drop the idea soon after because we were getting into the way of the SCNC leaders at the time and we seemed to be putting wedges in the paths of some Anglophones in Government who believed that they were also in a position to move the cause forward from within.

You once had a meeting with the then Minister of Territorial Administration; what was the meeting about and what did you discuss?

A very long story… When I left the GCE Board as Pioneer Registrar I joined the SCNC, not because I believed in the secessionist opinions of some of its members but more because I believed that God had endowed me with some talents to serve humanity. Let me make this point clear that I have never subscribed to secession but to independence. I very quickly rose to the rank of Secretary General.

The Executive Committee of the SCNC met in Buea on July 28, 2000 and directed me to forward to the Head of State a reminder of the fact that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Kofi Annan, during his visit to Unity Palace on May 1, 2000, had prescribed dialogue as a means of addressing the pinching Anglophone problem in Cameroon. In that letter of reminder I made it clear to the Head of State that we were ready for such dialogue which had always been the guiding principle of the ‘The Force of Argument, Not The Argument of Force’ which the SCNC stood for.

Perhaps, in response to this, the Head of State travelled to the UN later that year taking along two prominent Anglophone leaders, Hon. Simon Achidi Achu and Chief Justice S. M. L. Endeley.  On his departure, he directed the Minister of Territorial Administration at the time, Koungou Edima, to invite me to discuss the possibility of constituting an Anglophone Delegation for dialogue on his return from the UN.

I used this meeting to ask for the release of Justice Ebong who was being held in prison for daring to take up the National Radio in Buea to proclaim the restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons. I pointed out that he was better placed to compose the delegation. The Minister assured me that it would be done as I had requested and it was done. Needless to tell you of the idiotic response I got from the so-called leaders of the SCNC of the time. That is a story for another day.

What soothing words would you have for Anglophones or Southern Cameroonians?

Thank you for the opportunity to express myself on Anglophone problems in this country. It is my firm belief that there is an Anglophone Problem in Cameroon very different in nature and extent from ordinary ethnic minority problems.

When I led the Teacher’s Association of Cameroon and the Anglophone parents and sympathisers, in our demand for the creation of the GCE and BACC Boards, it was my hope that the problem could be addressed through sustaining and promoting Bi-culturalism in a one and undivided Cameroon. It is undeniable that some progress has been made towards its resolution but a lot still has to be done.

Anglophones must continue to consider themselves as the lamb in bed with the lion. They must therefore never sleep with both eyes closed. If you cannot sleep thus, then pray that when the lion decides to eat you, it should swallow you without breaking your bones in the hope that,  if it changes its mind someday and vomits you out as the whale did for Jonah, your skeleton should be intact for a new you to grow on.

First published in The Post print edition no 01422

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