Sunday, January 5, 2020

Independence of Cameroon has never really been Achieved - ALICE NKOM

MaƮtre Alice Nkom is a Cameroonian lawyer who fights for human rights in her country. According to her, the independence of Cameroon proclaimed on January 1, 1960 has in fact never really been achieved.

What memory do you keep of January 1, 1960?

Great memories.  I was 15 years old, because it was a big party, because the parents who had experienced something else, the native population in particular, told us that it was a liberation.  And the president [Prime Minister until January 1, 1960] Ahmadou Ahidjo had spoken on TV, no we had no TV, on the radio, the address to the nation, that he was hopeful and  full of promise for the future.

For the nationalists of the UPC, 1960 was only a formal independence, because the French did everything to remove from power those who had fought for this independence ...
That’s for sure. And that obviously played a huge role in the behavior of General de Gaulle in particular.  He gave us the goat, but he kept the rope tight in his hand.

Did you live in Douala, an Upciste neighborhood perhaps?

Yes. I lived in Douala in the Nkongmondo district and that was the headquarters of the UPC. We were the target of the maquisards (laughs) who thought that to pronounce in this way was to collaborate with the colonist, with the governor, it was to sell the country. And at home, we were victims of several night fires that caused my parents to move and we fled the neighborhood to avoid being burned alive by those who did not share this vision of independence.

With 60 years of hindsight, has Cameroon fulfilled the promises of its independence?

Unfortunately, this independence was never really acquired, because when we give this independence, we sign someone who is in a weak situation, we deliver the goat, but never the rope. We keep the rope in his hand. Today, we are paying the price. It's that it lasts, the currency carries the stigmata of that time, the strategy was: OK, we give you independence, we will dress including your chimpanzees in suits and ties, etc., you will strut around and you're going to make some nice speeches. But in reality, the real power, we hold it since it is we who are going to allow you to be president, that is to say that you will never be the defender of your people, but our obligated.

But didn't the French soldiers leave?  Is the CFA franc not in full transformation?

You say "in full transformation".  But 60 years later!  You can see that even President Biya manages Cameroon according to this principle, namely a colonial system which unfortunately continues to produce extremely harmful effects today. And it is quite the opposite of a democratic construction that we see.

Many speak of a blocked country, but is it only the fault of the French?

But, the original fault, it is French.  She keeps.  Look at what the President is doing: he has been invited by his Russian counterpart for months.  He says yes, and when the French minister declares that he wants to come to Cameroon, he abandons a presidential project, a project with power to receive a French minister as a head of state.

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian [visiting October 23 and 24, 2019]?

Yes, this is Le Drian, of course.  It shocked everyone. But it's like that. And in Ivory Coast, it's the same thing. That is to say, this system consists of solving the country's problems in relation to their personal interests, in order to stay in power since that is the problem of the heads of state. Their program is how to stay in power for a long time. I found France, she is there, she will protect me. I'm going to give him everything I need to take from my people, that's what's bad. And that’s what people are starting to see very clearly.  And this is what they will accept less and less.

In 1960, there was a great dream of reunification between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon.  Why did this big dream fail?

This dream failed because President Biya just kept the whole system from before. A colonial system that starts from the fact that it wants to control at all times, as France does. If today, President Biya suddenly decides to destroy what makes him the absolute king that he is, that is to say, to give power to English speakers, he feels threatened. He can see how [federal] Canada works. He can see how [federal] Germany works. But all these operations go against the project of the President of the Republic which is a single party project inherited from colonization with as vision, perpetual power: to die in power. And that gives rise to enormous slippages over his duty, enshrined in the Constitution and under his oath, to protect human rights.  It's over.  Human rights came out the window because blood and guns came in through the door.