An assessment of the impacts of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon
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Background of the Study
The roots of the Anglophone problem can be traced back to World War I, when Cameroon was known as German Kamerun. Germans first gained influence in Cameroon in 1845 when Alfred Saker of the Baptist Missionary Society introduced a mission station. In 1860, German merchants established a factory: the Woermann Company. On 5 July 1884 local tribes provided the Woermann Company with rights to control the Kamerun River, consequently setting the foundation for the later German colonization of Kamerun. (What was called the Kamerun River is now the delta of what is called the Wouri River.). In 1916, during World War I, France and Britain joined forces to conquer the colony. Later, the Treaty of Versailles would award France and Britain mandates over Cameroon as punishment of the Germans who lost the war. Most of German Kamerun was given to the French, while British were given Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. Each colonizer would later influence the colonies with their European languages and cultures, thus rendering them as Anglophones and Francophones. The large difference in awarded territory has resulted in present-day Cameroon having a huge majority Francophone population and a very small minority Anglophone population.
On the 11October 2016, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and organization made up of teachers and lawyers of the two English regions of the country, NW and SW, took to the streets in a peaceful protest, because the English language which is the language of the Anglophones, have been trampled upon (Aljazeera, 2016). A high number of monolingual French administrators have infested the Anglophone system. French-speaking lawyers were posted into the NW and SW making the French language the language used in courts in court proceedings. Most administrative documents were all in French creating a complete francophone Union. Also, Francophone teachers were posted into the Anglophone region. Most of these teachers could not speak English nor could the students understand French, creating a non-learning atmosphere. The teachers and lawyers were rough-handled on the Streets by members of the government military. Taxi drivers, local moto-taxi commonly called “Okada”, university students all turn out against the government. The streets of Bamenda and Limbe were full of demonstrators. President Paul Biya gave orders, for the military to use live ammunition to the demonstrators. “The crisis in Cameroon’s English speaking region has turned violent” (Quartz, 20117). The lawyers called on the government to redress the situation of the lawyers and teachers, in the two English regions of Cameroon.
As things continue to fall apart, and as the military continues to use force to calm down the tension, southern Cameroonians under the leadership of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, with the already formed interim government. On the 1st of October 2017, Ayuk Tabe and the team declared the independence of Ambazonia. Even though on Exile Sisiku Tabe had a large army the Ambazonia Defense Force (ADF) with manpower of over 1500 militia. On the 30th of December, the president of the Republic Paul Biya declared war on the Anglophone separatist. This was the beginning of the Anglophone war. The war started in Manyu which is ADF-based, and like wildfire, it has taken over counties like lebielem, Fako, Momo Bui, and Nkoketungia. Also, several arm groups have emerged, such as the Red Dragon, Tigers, ARA, and seven Kata, amongst others. Hundreds of homes and property have been destroyed in villages like Kwa-Kwa, Nso, Tadu, Kembong, and Muyenge.
The sociopolitical tension continues to rock the Northwest and Southwest regions, which has resulted in thousands of internally displaced people (IDP). Some fled their homes and abandoned their source of livelihood. Many businesses have moved out of these regions because of the frequent power shortages that occur because of militants cutting power supply or the numerous ghost towns (where people are asked to stay indoors) with zero commercial activity taking place till the ghost towns are lifted. The excessive burning down of business premises, commercial buildings and the blocking of roads stop transportation in those areas, prompting many businesses to experience untold hardship and a great decline in sales making them less profitable.
- Statement of the Problem
The organisation of a referendum in 1972 was considered as a French affair, this was in total violation of the federal constitution, and this and more has led to Anglophone agitation. Several attempts by Anglophone jurist to have judicial independence and ensure the respect of the 1996 constitution as amended in 2008 have failed. The 1996 constitution in its article 1(3) stipulates that The Official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The State shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. It shall endeavour to protect and promote national languages. There is a gross disrespect of the aforementioned article, this is because official documents are most often than not published in French and presidential speeches are always in French. The so called bilingualism and multiculturalism commission does not have powers to sanction.
The current economic impact of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon brings back painful memories to the people of Northwest and southwest of Cameroon. It was only in early 1990s that an economic crisis swept the whole world, reversing years of economic and social development. While there are significant differences between the Anglophone crisis and the 1990 economic crisis, in terms of causes, geographic spread, and chronology, both have had grave economic and social consequences. The lessons of the earlier crisis can and should serve as a framework for addressing the economic impact of the crisis in Buea municipality. However, the problem identified in this research paper is the failure of the various stakeholders, institutions and the government to combat the Anglophone crisis in order to reduce its negative impact on Buea municipality
The Anglophone crisis came with a lot of insecurity and general socioeconomic and political instability. Ghost towns (everyone is expected to stay indoors with zero commercial activity) have been enforced every Monday. In addition to other unforeseen ghost days or shut down weeks which are often announced spontaneously. When this occurs, business comes to a standstill in the NW and SW of Southern Cameroon. Dealers in perishable goods like tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, and bananas suffer a lot as their goods get bad leading to an increase in their variable cost and consequently a drop in profitability.
In addition, the non-state armed men called Amba Boys have sometimes intentionally captured and kidnapped people for ransom, burn down business premises, commercial and noncommercial buildings, commercial cars, and bikes. With the above mentioned, some small and medium-sized enterprises have relocated to a less strategic site and some have limited their scale of production and invested for fear of being kidnapped for a huge ransom. This has made business owners live in fear and the majority have left the NW and SW to a more stable economic environment while others remain and are barely breaking even or low profitability.
The frequent outage of power supply and internet connection is frequently interrupted and internet bandwidth has been on the decline ever since the crisis started. This has greatly affected small businesses which deal with power supply and internet connections like microfinance institutions and snacks.
This study aims to examine the effects of Anglophone crises on the profitability of small and medium-sized enterprises in the NW and SW of Cameroon
1.3 Research Questions
1.3.2 Main Research Question
Based on the problems identified above a number of critical questions can be posed:
- What are the causes of the Anglophone Crisis?
- What are the economic impacts of the Anglophone crisis in Buea Municipality?
- What are the possible recommendations to be made in order to address the negative economic impact of the Anglophone Crisis?
1.4 Aims and objectives
The objective of this research shall be divided into two, Specific and general objectives. The general objective will be to examine the impact of the Anglophone crisis in Buea municipality
The specific research questions that this work intends to clarify are shortlisted below
- To establish and identify the causes of the Anglophone crisis
- To explore the economic impact of the Anglophone crisis in Buea Municipality
- To propose solutions and recommendations to solve the Anglophone crisis