Most National Days originate from the country’s Independence Day; America’s 4th July, Ghana’s sixth of March, Namibia’s 21st of March and so on. In Cameroon, this is not the case. We rather celebrate a “National Unity Day”. The question on everyone lips, however is “Are we really united?”
So let’s take a look at what we’re celebrating. Cameroon doesn’t have a single independence day, because of the division in colonialism, the French three-fifths of the country gained independence (January 1st 1960) a year before the English two-fifth (1st October 1961). However considering that the English two-fifth voted in a Plebiscite to join their French brothers on 11th of February 1961 and that the country finally divided by a picot line became one on the 1st of October 1961 you would think that either of those dates would be the National Day right? Wrong.
On the 20th of May 1972 a referendum held out of fear that ideas of secession may spread from Nigeria down to Cameroon tricked the Anglophones out of the federal republic they initially signed up for. It has been recorded that some voting polls had this question similar to:
Would you want a build a strong indivisible nation or not?
And Yes or Oui as alternative answers.
Of course there was a “landslide victory” for “unification”, and decades later we celebrate this day by marching across fields and not going to work/school etc.
However, while all areas of our country has issues of insufficiency, poor governance and generally stagnant development, it is an indisputable fact that the Anglophone areas and the Anglophone minority have it harder than their counterparts. No matter what side of the invisible Picot line we are on the police man addressing you does so in French, the National social welfare intuitions (CNPS) to where the majority regular stipends and from where they will eventually receive pensions is so French even the announcements are in French, and this is the English-speaking region.
You see we may want to celebrate our unity rather than our independence, but we’re going about it wrong. We have to first acknowledge the disunity. Acknowledge how different we are because of our colonial history, different cultures, language. After acknowledging this we can find out how to complement each other. Only then can we truly celebrate unity.
As youth of a Better Breed, do you recognize inequality between the regions, what do you think of it and how do you feel we should strive after unity. Do not celebrate another 20th May without thinking on what it would take for us to be truly united as Cameroonians. We need to undo the mistakes in the tapestry of our past before we can truly move forward.