Origins of former British Southern Cameroons as well as those who now gun for the territory’s independence (some under the name Ambazonia) today commemorate their independence anniversary from the colonial master.
Ironically, the day has remained haunted, often marked by violence orchestrated by security forces to suppress the movement.
For the past four years today, separatist fighters have been trying to change the narrative, carrying out similar attacks in an ongoing war that has now left thousands dead. This year, the separatists say they are upping the ante, and have promised to make life harder than ever for the Biya regime.
Talking to MMI, Emmanuel Ndong alias Capo Daniel, Deputy Defense Chief of the Ambazonia Governing Council, a prominent separatist faction, he says their goal had always been to make Yaounde uncomfortable so it can heed to their demands.
“Making the Southern Cameroons territory ungovernable for the republic of Cameroon and the Biya regime is very crucial for two reasons; It delegitimizes Cameroon’s authority over our territory. The most important part is the economic sabotage”, explained, the leader, commonly referred to as Capo Daniel.
Asserting that the two English-speaking regions concerned account for over 60% of the GDP of the republic of Cameroon, he said attempts to sabotage Yaounde’s efforts to govern, have largely been successful so far.
Yaoundé, he said, “is definitely feeling the pinch as the economy of Cameroon has been downgraded and major international partners… have stopped providing aid to the Cameroon government in many areas as a result of our resistance.”
“Our firepower on the ground has grown exponentially. Our soldiers on the ground have become more experienced and lethal on the battlefield. We have also now been deploying locally made IEDs to target Cameroon military convoys,” he boasted.
This increase in fire power, he admitted, can partly be attributed to links with Nigeria’s Biafran separatist movement of Nnamdi Kanu.
His words: “The alliance between the Ambazonian people and Biafran people led by Dr. Cho Ayaba and Nnamdi Kanu is very crucial for our people… We seek to destabilize the gulf of Guinea and make sure the exploitation of resources in this area is stopped until the international community comes to the recognition that the only people that can guarantee peace and stability … is no longer Cameroon and Nigeria but Biafra and Ambazonia.”
Ambazonian fighters’ areas of physical strength, Capo Daniel told MMI, “have almost more than doubled during the first quarter of this year. We hope to display to the public on the first of October the mobilisation of our people under our physical control in areas we have liberated from Cameroon control.”
To him, it will serve the purpose of showing the international community who now runs the territory.
Education: the sacrificial lamb?
Since the armed conflict erupted, hundreds of thousands of students have been unable to go to school. Some of the few that dared paid the price with their lives, as seen in last year’s Kumba school massacre and countless other instances.
The Ambazonia Governing Council, Capo explained, has since changed its stance, permitting kids to go to school unlike before. These schools however, he went on, must stick to their rules and not those of the Cameroon government.
“… Right now since we are pursuing the path of independence and separation we have opened up community schools within the areas we have liberated and permitted private and mission schools to open under certain conditions as community schools,” the separatist leader stated.
He also acknowledged the fact that a lot remains missing in the lives of not only students but residents of the Anglophone regions as a whole, a sacrifice which to him, they must make for a better future.
To Capo, “most prosperous nations in the world today have also gone through the sacrifice of resisting foreign and alien rule over their land and we hope we are going to come out of the other side a better Southern Cameroon than we could be in a union with La Republic du Cameroun which is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
Lockdowns are counterproductive
Since the arrest, detention, trial and eventual sentencing of Ayuk Julius Tabe, the main separatist leader by the Biya regime, Cameroon’s Anglophone separatist movements have remained divided than ever, with opposing factions. One of the latest points of disagreement for these groups, was the two-week long lockdown initiated by the Interim Government, another faction led by Samuel Ikome Sako.
The Ambazonia Governing Council, Capo told MMI, was opposed to the lockdown, “…primarily because the reasons they provided were invalid. We think it is counterproductive to declare a two-week lockdown of the territory. That is going to impose additional hardship to our people that are already bearing the brunt of this war.”
“Even though our policy is to make the territory ungovernable, lockdowns are not part of that strategy,” he stated.
The separatist leader was also categorical in expressing his though about the thousands of lives lost and millions displaced, due to the ongoing violence. He said “There is much hope for our people who suffer today fighting knowing there can be a brighter future tomorrow… For us this is a fight for the wellbeing of our people in the long-term.”