It is surreal that only a few months ago we were talking about the monumental challenges those clamoring for a free Ambazonia state faced to now discussing the real prospect of Ambazonia becoming the newest nation on the bloc in Africa.
So much blood, pain and anguish have come to define the last several months that Ambazonians are in the course of writing their own history. The undercurrents of deep emotions transforming the region routinely go unnoticed. Ambazonia when it finally happens, will be a real shocker to the many watching now, but paying little attention to the moral forces driving events in the Cameroons.
When hundreds of thousands of Ambazonians marched in the streets of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017, declaring their independence from La Republic du Cameroun, everyone was quick to dismiss their quest as just another disgruntled expression for freedom. Then, thousands of people still advocated for decentralization with the more moderate advocates for a federal Cameroon considered pragmatists.
Today, even the concept of a federation would cause some to instantly throw up. In the span of only 3 years, the Northern and Southern regions of Anglophone Cameroon slipped through the fingers of Mr. Biya ever so slowly into what is now Ambazonia.
It is now impracticable to reverse the quest of a free Ambazonia state. It would require an enormous moral will and strength to reverse the freedom Ambazonians now seek. This is an impossible task for the Biya regime to muster. The regime has no political capital and no moral compass to rely on.
Bribery, once a reliable tool to bring even political enemies to the table, is regularly shunned at. The sheer amount of bloodshed and carnage makes even the most corrupt search for their conscience.
Forcing Ambazonians to become part of Cameroun is also unconscionable and not only that. It also goes against every democratic principle of governance. And at its basic level, that government should be of the people, by the people and for the people.
Ambazonians have clearly rejected every form of government that they do not choose and with good reasons. Thousands of Ambazonians have died fighting for their God given inalienable right to be free and free from oppression. They unmistakably demonstrate that by giving their lives for the cause.
A few weeks ago, the UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet visited Cameroon and said Cameroon has a clear window of opportunity to solve the crisis rooted in violence.
She said “I believe there is a clear - if possibly short - window of opportunity to arrest the crises that have led to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, as well as the killings and brutal human rights violations and abuses that have affected the northern and western areas of the country”.
That was clearly an understatement of the crisis that has gripped the Anglophone regions for 3 years and counting. There is no window of opportunity left for the government.
A couple of weeks later, the UN Security Council after years of slow walking, held an informal session to talk about the situation in Cameroon. The Security Council after its deliberations issued a recommendation to look at the root causes and encouraged dialogue. What was even the point of the discussions if it were not to look at the root causes and create binding solutions?
With thousands of civilians killed and hundreds of thousands as refugees, the actions of the UN Security Council are nothing short of dereliction of duty.
The UN Security Council effectively kicked the ball back to where it has always belonged, in the field of Cameroun and Ambazonia. These are not parties that plan to sit at a table anytime soon. These gestures from the UN only go to show that freedom for Ambazonians won’t come from international organizations.
Why has Mr. Biya Been Unable to Solve the Anglophone Crisis?
The answer is really simple. Solving the Anglophone crisis, even offering any kind of federalism would be fatal to the regime. Addressing the crisis would mean giving up power and control. For a regime that thrives on power and control, that is just too much to ask. No doubt the regime has steadfastly pushed for decentralization as a solution even as soldiers pillage and burn down entire villages, killing anything in sight that moves.
Dictatorships run on power and control. Losing that control would instantly bring an end to Mr. Biya and his regime. A federation would raise rival leaders and institutions that may not see the need to be answerable to an unpopular president or corrupt regime.
That leaves the country with the inevitable outcome, Ambazonia. With or without external support, Ambazonia is real. It is no longer a Facebook Republic as many thought. It is a real phenomenon. While the government of Cameroon has often referred to Ambazonia as a Facebook revolution, the regime has now gone all out on social media as Ambazonians take their fight to the ground.
Releasing political prisoners like Maurice Kamto or Sisiku Ayuk Tabe will only go to precipitate the fall of the regime. The regime has nowhere to go other than to wait and see what happens with the fight for Ambazonia. This is where Cameroon finds itself and it is very humbling for a regime that has often snuffed out dissent within a few days.
Today, the government of Cameroon has effectively lost control of the Northern and Southern zones of Ambazonia. In the Ambazonian regions, the regime only controls the few square meters around military posts and barracks. Attempts to venture out of these regions must be accompanied by heavily armed military personnel. Even these continue to face an ever stronger resistance movement excited to test out their newly acquired military wares.
With their new found strength in military hardware and the throngs of people joining their fold daily, the Ambazonia liberation movement is slowly and heavily muscling out competing factions by the strength of their message and the ability to bring that into reality.
They bring an unrivaled tenacity and moral purpose to their struggle that few groups can hardly match.
The federalists in Cameroon now have very little sway over the local population. The people who have suffered the severe military crackdown, those with the guns and the will to fight have no interest in a united Cameroon. Ambazonia has truly broken away from the rest of Cameroon.
Cameroonians are now at a crossroads, actively searching for what it means to be a Cameroonian, what it means to belong. With the Anglophone regions having gone for 3 years now without school, no discussion of the Anglophone crisis in the rubber-stamp parliament, the government’s severe crackdown on Anglophone dissenters, the burning down of entire villages, the daily random military killings, the minimal show of support from the Francophone majority, the decades of marginalization of Anglophones in a country they once called home, it is no surprise Ambazonians say they belong in Ambazonia.