November 2016. Lawyers and teachers took to the streets of Bamenda and Buea to protest against the assimilation of the justice and educational systems in the country among other things.
What followed was a bloody crackdown from a government which detest any kind of protest, angering tired and aggrieved Anglophone population who would join the teachers and lawyers to denounce government’s arrogance in the face of historic marginalization
What trailed was a series of failed discussions between government and consortium of Anglophone leaders led by barrister Agbor Felix N. and Tassang Wilfred in Bamenda, leading to the arrests and incarceration of then consortium leaders in 2017 which sparked the Anglophone crisis.
The Anglophone crisis united the Anglophones like never before, rallying them behind virtual diaspora leadership, and many ignored calls of ‘Vivre ensemble’ coming from Yaoundé.
Social media celebrities like Mark Bareta, Eric Tataw, and Tapang Ivo, Capo Daniel, and many others were born, amassing millions of followers within no time and basically calling the shots from their abbots in foreign lands.
Their social media dominance makes a mockery of all communication strategies put in place by Yaoundé, giving them access to the hearts of the people.
Weeks after weeks, Ambazonian social media generals drummed messages of patriotism to “homeland”, projected their hurriedly installed leaders, and made promises of imminent independence to a land filled with milk and honey.
The narrative quickly changed on the ground, the majority changed their focus, began taking instructions from the diaspora and ignoring instructions from Yaoundé
Ghost towns and counter ghost towns were announced, some for a day and others for a month, effectively locking down 1/5th of the country each time they feel as to send a message of control, telling the world and all those who care to listen that they are in charge.
But as social media generals became household names and on the wanted list of government, so too were ground troops ‘generals’
‘General Ivo’, ‘Field Marshal’, ‘general Epa’, ‘General Nambere’, ‘General Elvis’, ‘General No Pity’, ‘General one last man’ and all kind of Ambazonian generals emerged, all competing for social media space to share their propaganda videos and show the people they are in charge
Consequently, young people were lured into the bushes, picking Dane guns, and started imposing their laws.
Social media propaganda about a ruthless “Amba army” impenetrable by bullets swirled, enticing more youths to the bushes with hopes of pushing the “colonial occupier” away from their ‘homeland’.
Countless GoFundme campaigns were launched in the name of the struggle, tens of millions of dollars were collected from Anglophone diaspora and businesses elites-some at gunpoint or risked having their empires erased back home.
Few tried to raise a red flag about the financial lavishness displayed by some leaders but the population ignored
Separatist leaders were jetting from one country to another, sleeping in five-star hotels and amassing wealth and properties for their children abroad while the common man continues to die
What ensued was a bloody conflict with security forces, killing thousands and displacing about a million more. Schools were shut down, villages razed and towns emptied.
Thriving Anglophone towns and cities like Buea, Bamenda, Kumba were a shadow of themselves while villages simply responded to the rhythms of separatist fighters who were mostly in charge.
The Diaspora leadership was in control and Yaoundé was in a silent panic as the international community watches from afar and cautions once in a while about human right abuses by both sides
The government increased military bases in regions and new army generals appointed, the crisis had grown to a full-blown war and there was a need for international mediation to help stop the guns from blazing.
Cameroon, a one-time paradise of peace in a turbulent sub-region is now in chaos.
Fast-track to today July 28th, 2020, the power tussle between different factions of the diaspora based separatist movement has shocked many
Accusations of theft, power grab, abuse of confidence, and acting in illegality all sandwiched with vulgar and insulting languages thrown at each other in the public square has all but poured cold water on any hopes of an independent Southern Cameroons in the foreseeable future.
For a movement which was so united, supportive of one another and focus on bleeding Yaoundé to submission, money, and power has derailed the Ambazonian ‘dream’ and its leaders are in a war of their own-one which has nothing to do with the people on ground zero
Everyone now agrees that there is no single faction of the Ambazonian leadership many can look up to. While Sessikou Ayuk Tabe still enjoys majority support-probably because he is in prison, the Ikome Sako’s faction is also claiming sovereignty and authority, saying they remain the only legitimate “government” of the Ambazonian people while Ayaba Cho is paving his own path, in his own terms.
The Southern Cameroons struggle is now a joke, a money-making venture, diaspora is divided on the way forward as many of their foot soldiers now battling to stay alive amidst a shrinking territory while Yaoundé is marching on with its carrot and stick diplomacy, gambling its chances and hoping time will solve the complex equation in two of its region.
After four years of a bloody war which has killed more than 3000 persons most of them civilians, the population of the Anglophone regions are tired of the crisis, many simply want a way out and believe they have been betrayed by those who came to them as saviors
Reports of financial scandal worth millions of dollars, betrayal, and power grab and many more, all reminiscent of the kind of news headlines emanating from Yaoundé has discouraged the people who now think it’s better to forge ahead in national unity than continue with a war many fear its final outcome
That rebel leaders who are perching in their comfort zones in some of the most advanced countries in the world, sending their kids to best schools don’t care about the suffering of the ordinary Anglophones many now say, power and ego-greasing now dominate their agenda with a shameless public display of cancerous factions attempting to ‘govern’ a united a suffering masses.
Anglophones had raised genuine concerns of marginalization by their Francophone brothers, concerns which were ignored by Yaoundé, and would be weaponized by opportunists abroad to enrich themselves in the name of war of independence.
Government has made a lot of concessions already and many are now thinking its high time we start rebuilding and flourishing again
Four years after the war, the time has revealed the true identity of those piloting the Ambazonian plane.