“When two brothers fight, an evil man can easily attack and rob their mother. Mankind should always stay united, standing shoulder to shoulder so evil can never cheat and divide them”
The words of Tibor Nagy, the US Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs hit the airwaves like a thunderstorm and cut through the heart of our people like a double-edged sword. Although not factual in his remarks, the diplomat was philosophically correct. As he said, “The last thing that Africa needs is another mini-state that will be full of suffering and poverty”, Tibor Nagy was diplomatically saying that “The last thing Africa needs is another South Sudan”. It is easy for us to get on Social Media and in our emotional state of mind, rain insults on the Diplomat as we always do, not minding that he has often been accused by Yaoundé for supporting us, thereby fueling instability in the Central African nation called Cameroun.
The words of Tibor Nagy should shine the light and ring a bell for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The facts for the independence of the former UN trust territory of Southern Cameroons are overwhelming. We have been overfed with these facts beginning from the Graeme-Marchand boundary treaty of 1922, the Trusteeship conditions as laid down by the Trusteeship Council in 1945, UNGA Resolution 1514 of December 14, 1960, UNGA Resolution 1608 of April 21, 1961, the Constitutive Act of the African Union of 2000 and so forth. These are indisputable facts and evidence needed by Southern Cameroons to claim it’s statehood. Apart from the internal squabbles and ranting amongst us as a people, we are still faced with capitalist vultures who are ready to devour us as was the case in 1961.
Is history about to repeat itself?
We are faced with the “Third Scramble for Africa”;
- The very first was when the European powers carved out the African continent more than 200 years ago without the consent of the inhabitants of the land.
- The second brought in the capitalist and communist superpowers to secure their spheres of influence.
- And now the tycoons and merchants are coming with their oil tankers in tow. Their eyes are set on the Gulf of Guinea which is the new middle East and Southern Cameroons (aka Ambazonia) is located at the heart of that Gulf. Imperialist interests and Geopolitics are now at the heart of the Cameroun/Southern Cameroons conflict.
Let me break it down a little
The Gulf of Guinea encompasses a large number of countries from West and Central Africa: Angola, Benin, Cameroun, (Southern Cameroons), Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. ( Hope you are not wondering why I put the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons in brackets)
The Gulf of Guinea is endowed with abundant natural resources which, if carefully managed, can contribute to global prosperity. The region has large reserves of mineral resources such as diamonds and gold. Countries from the Gulf of Guinea, including Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, (Southern Cameroons), Cameroun, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Chad are oil producers and are expected to become major suppliers of energy. The Gulf of Guinea cannot remain unnoticed in the global energy politics of the 21st century. The increasing importance of the region has attracted major actors in the energy sector. The competing interests of these actors are played out in various forms. This heightened interest in the region, especially with the discovery of oil in huge commercial quantities, has brought the importance of the area into focus in global oil politics. Given the current political climate in the Middle East, which has disruptive effects on oil prices and causes shifts in the structure of oil demand, coupled with robust economic growth in China and India, the Gulf of Guinea is expected to occupy a more important place in U.S., European and Asian energy strategy options. Russia too just joined the queue to harvest the abundant energy resources of the Gulf.
The United States and the European Union are paying increasing attention to the Gulf of Guinea. For instance, it is expected that the United States will invest more than $10 billion a year in the region over the next 10 years in oil activities; the restoration and preservation of the forests of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, DRC, Cameroun,(Southern Cameroons), and CAR; the implementation of a training framework for African peace-keeping forces; and discrete political interventions. This interest is driven by the United States’ and Europe’s desire to diversify their sources of energy supply so as to reduce the risks associated with high dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The production of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Guinea has the potential to meet the excess energy demands in the US and Europe.
The Gulf of Guinea bears numerous advantages for Western countries;
1- First, the crude oil from the region is of better quality than Latin American crude.
2- The region’s oil contains little sulfur by international standards, an appreciable characteristic for U.S. oil refineries.
3- Oil in the region is mostly extracted from offshore fields, far from ground political instability and wars, and as such, can be easily protected from turmoil.
4- The numerous transit chokepoints facing other world oil.
In addition to its strategic importance as an alternate supply of energy, many trade routes connecting Africa and the rest of the world pass through the Gulf of Guinea. In other words, maritime security is inextricably linked to the stability and security onshore.
This now brings me to the crux of my subject matter:
In July 9th, 2011, South Sudan in a UN organized Referendum voted to secede from Sudan. This ended decades of civil war between the Islamic North and the Christian and animist South. Less than two and a half years later, the world’s newest state was on the brink of collapse. Salva Kiir’s army, the only functional institution, is divided between his supporters and those of Vice-President Riek Machar, his Vice President. Fighting took on a dangerous ethnic turn. Thousands were killed, tens of thousands fled the country; hundreds of thousands more displaced within South Sudan’s borders and a massive hunger crisis claimed even more lives than the war. The UN is forced to dispatch a monitoring mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) to try and maintain peace and this has been very costly.
Here we are at the very centre of the Gulf of Guinea covering about 15 countries and many islands. The USA and the EU, who are the principal actors in maintaining peace on the Gulf of Guinea are confused in either standing by the side of legality or in pursuit of peace and stability along the Gulf of Guinea. America alone spends so much money per year to maintain peace and security in the Gulf which has equally become a hub for pirates. The effects of piracy could extend far beyond Africa with potential ramifications on the US economy. The stability and security of the Gulf is intrinsically linked to the stability of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia).
The world watches on Southern Cameroonian leaders tear each other apart over some delusional internet power. The yet to be nation has already experienced a coup d’etat while some other leaders from hearsay are gathering weapons in preparation for an eventual coup d’etat in Buea (whenever that will be). The signs are visible yet we pretend not to see them but the International Community sees them and is scared. Billionaires like George Soros who used to tweet about the human rights abuses on a people with well-defined borders long stopped tweeting. The question is posed by these geopolitical actors severally: “Is Southern Cameroons another South Sudan in the making?”
Note should be taken here that any future coup, disorder or a hunger crisis in the new Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) affects the stability of the more than 15 countries that make up the Gulf of Guinea. “Ambazonia” has not shown political maturity as she seeks her complete independence from the clutches of colonial Cameroun. Believe it or not there already exists four governments on the yet to be acquired land; IG Sisiku, IG Sako, AGovC and RoA with all claiming legitimacy and each having a president. Other political organizations or groups have banned others from existing, written different letters to the People who matter each claiming legitimacy, asked for the arrest and execution of people in the homeland who differ with them etc. The journey so far since the creation of the IG in Zaira has been one brother against the other, one detainee against the other and the emergence of tribal or ethnic tendencies. The world is certainly scared and the people of Southern Cameroons must look at this truth in the face.
One would have thought that the Ngarbuh Massacre of February 14, 2020 which is just one of many would have been the rallying point where all the divergent groups sit up and rally behind the blood of the people being spilt daily. But the same nasty scenario is being replayed all over. It is “Politics First, the People later” rather than “The People First and Politics Later”. It’s only in the Ambazonian War of independence that the innocent ones suffer while the guilty or enablers go free, the free leadership pray that the jailed leadership rots in jail, the poor bear the cost of the existentialist war, etc. The international community watches on while we continue in our buffoonery.
Tibor Nagy has openly said it for those who have ears to hear, “Africa does not need another South Sudan” because economic interests supersedes legality and political interests. Unite and face the enemy or perish. Same words of wisdom used by Dr. Martin Luther King in “We must learn to live together like brothers or perish like fools”. It is time for Southern Cameroon politicians to form a united front. A word to a wise is enough!
By Penn Terence Khan
Yaoundé Central Prison