One of the most crucial hurdles which today’s African nations have faced since the attainment of political independence is the consolidation of national unity, and sustenance of political stability.
This regrettably has been triggered by the fact that these nations, in fact, colonial creations here effected by European Colonists who after their struggle for the continent went ahead to partition it without considerations for linguistic or ethnic links. This, in the post-colonial era has been aggravated by Africans kingship ties and narrow patriotism, practiced at the expense of national objectives.
In the case of Cameroon whose indigenes can be found in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and even Chad, the colonial inconsiderate partition of the country was worsened by the fact that, the exit of its colonial master, Germany, after the World War, placed it under the trusteeship administration of Britain and France. Worse, the territory West of the Mungo, found itself divided into British Southern, and Northern Cameroons administered by Britain as part of its Nigerian colony.
This was the beginning of delicate geopolitical divides that would require prudent politicking, and post-independence dynamism. Fortunately, when Cameroon East of the Mungo, which was administered by France as a U.N trusteeship attained its independence on 1st January 1960 and Nigeria became got its own freedom from Britain on 1st October the same year, it became necessary for the fate of the former British Northern and Southern Cameroon to be decided, immediately.
The date of 11 February 1961 ushered in a decisive step when the British Southern Cameroonians in an U.N organized plebiscite overwhelmingly opted for reunification with their brothers East of the Mungo, instead of integration with the independent federation of Nigeria. Regrettably, for Cameroon, and fortunately for Nigeria, British Northern Cameroon in that referendum opted for integration with Nigeria and is today Gongola State.
This again was another separation to which Cameroon succumbed in respect of powers of the ballot box and need for peaceful co-existence. That despite the differences ushered in by these geopolitical developments, we are forging ahead with the challenges of the times, is a virtue that ought to be maintained in our honour, and that of our fore fathers. For, this makes us deserve the titles, “laboratory of African unity”, icon of peace, and Africa in miniature.
Furthermore, the bicultural nature of our country with its location at the hinge of our continent, making the country “Africa in miniature, constitutes virtues which ought to be protected and preserved. Yet, all this can be destroyed, if we fail to understand the realities of all human Unions, and the demands of protection and preservation, through tolerance dialogue and genuine patriotism.
For, who doubts that all unions, matrimonial, political or economic, have their problems, but the right approach toward solution is understanding, and dialogue. Divorce or separation only comes when no room has been given dialogue and fraternal talks. The honour to right the colonial wrong of “Divide and Rule” has been successfully effected by peace –loving Cameroon which brought pride to Africa. Consequently, all must be done to sustain the elements which made this possible.
Such sustenance demands selfless Commitment to all that which makes no one consider oneself a stranger in his own country. It also entails true love of the country and its people, without which it is difficult to enjoy the pride of nationhood. What is precious to all of us must be protected and preserved. The movement of members of Government, party officials and our political elite to Bamenda and Buea where the unfortunate developments demand attention shows this concern for virtues that we are bound to protect and preserve if we truly love our country.
Harold Laski in his book, “A Grammar of Politics,” harps on this virtue when he states, “The only source of comfort, we possess is recognition that warfare or violence against each other is literally a form of suicide.” Cameroon is too politically mature and civilized to opt for the negative.