Anglophone Lawyers recently gave an ultimatum to the Cameroonian dictator President Paul Biya to decree a new rebirth of bilingualism in the country. The Anglophone legal brains stated inter alia that "what is at stake is our Anglophone dignity". Although the Republic of Cameroon has an official policy of bilingualism, it is in reality very much a Francophone country. We of this publication believe this is not just because more than three-quarters of its population belong to the French-speaking regions but especially because English is neither protected nor encouraged officially. Evidently, Anglophones must learn French to survive in Cameroon while Francophones feel very much at home and have no need to learn English because public affairs are conducted in French.
Ever since reunification, Anglophones have struggled with this discrimination but Francophone rulers backed by France have blatantly refused to make any concession. With the apparent failure of the All Anglophone Conference, the Southern Cameroons National Council including the Southern Cameroons Youth League to champion the secession of Southern Cameroons territory from La Republique du Cameroun, the Cameroon Anglophone Lawyers who seek both to maintain and promote the Anglophoneness of Southern Cameroons took yet another decisive step in the direction of forcing the 82 years old head of state into enacting legislation that would make it possible for Anglophone Cameroonians to smile again in the United Republic of Cameroon. To the lawyers, Biya must solve the Anglophone problem!
In a strongly worded document sent to the presidency of the republic, the Cameroon Anglophone Lawyers revealed that English and French were official languages of equal value. To be sure, the Anglophone Lawyers petition called for special responsibility for the promotion of bilingualism in every sector of the country. However, anyone who knows how Anglophones conduct themselves in Cameroon finds the Cameroon Anglophone Lawyers action as yet another loud sounding nothing threat coming from a desperate group of people described by our chief political reporter as merely “seeking for notice”.
Who are these lawyers? Who are their leaders? Who do they represent and what do they stand for? How could Anglophone Lawyers be addressing a petition or better still, an ultimatum to a monstrous liability of a head of state who himself has little regard for English because he has never addressed the nation in this other official language? Can Biya be trusted to deliver faced with the lawyer’s ultimatum or is it just the normal hot air tactics inherited from the SCNC? Anglophones have been eagerly looking forward to what the lawyer’s statement will amount to in practice. We of Cameroon Concord do not want Southern Cameroonians particularly those in the Diaspora to build up false hopes.
From Bamenda to Buea, our cream of intelligence officers have revealed that contrary to what the lawyers told the world, the delay in getting a leader for the Cameroon Anglophone Lawyers is centred on the North West/South West divide politics. In similar obedience to conscience, we questioned Barristers Agbor Balla and Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy at OIC in Buea last month and both men shied away from the issue of leadership. If Cameroon Anglophone Lawyers have so belatedly decided to revamp the Anglophone struggle, they should better do so with the necessary boldness and far-sightedness that a new beginning deserves.