Recent events in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon have had ripple effects across the country. Public debates, the social media and hearsay channels have doubled and at times dwarfed everyone else in spreading information on the situation making, it look frightening to even voice a contrary view to the maze of extremist literature on English-speaking Cameroonians or what is today qualified as the Anglophone problem by some and rejected by others.
It all started with Common Law lawyers asking to exercise their profession according to the Anglo-Saxon tradition and in the language they master best, the English Language. The protracted nature of their problem apparently reminded teachers of their own predicaments and they brought their difficult working environment to the table such as children being taught in Pidgin English in some key subjects by French-speaking teachers. Some even spoke of adulteration of the English sub-system of education in the country. These and other legitimate claims have unfortunately opened the floodgates to extremism, leading to views that completely deviate public attention from the initial complaints tabled by teachers and lawyers.
Yet, it must be said that Prime Minister, Philemon Yang made public key decisions taken by the Head of State as contingency solutions to the issues raised and the creation of an Ad hoc committee under the leadership of the Director of Cabinet in the Prime Minister’s Office, himself an informed Cameroonian, to handle the Anglophone problem. Given that camps have been formed in the process of presenting the various claims, it appeared obvious that there could be people with some misgivings across the table.
But anyone objecting to the possibility of dialogue to articulate the issues and seek rational solutions to them must be acting under a hidden agenda. How else could people settle differences without having to communicate? Committing the same errors like those in the past or letting extremists to hijack any a cause, no matter how genuine, might betray a myopic vision of the issues at stake.
War rhetoric, extremist views and populist movements that only add venom to an already dicey situation have hardly gotten anywhere! They simply help to sell the illusions of a chaotic society that benefits no one. People often forget that problems are easier to begin than to solve. Rationality seems to have been thrown to the dogs and only those appealing to emotions seem to want to take the day. Fortunately, in spite of all else, Anglophones who matter have also publicly opted to take up issues with the powers that be.
Negating them and their efforts while counting on instincts, anger and pent-up emotions could seriously jeopardize a noble cause. The gamble that seems to be with the education of the youth in the North West and South West Regions can only produce unfortunate results by further compromising the future of a generation.
In addition, the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province who last week added their voice to the situation carried some salient facts notably that; “It is important to respect the conventions that bind us together as a people.
The bicultural nature of our country, which enriches our diversity, should be a treasured commodity that guides our interaction with each other as children of the same fatherland.” Actors in the current situation who stick to their views might doubt this theory from the men of God, but that will for long remain a truism in Cameroon. Lest we forget, the Bishops are equally key actors in the educational system in Cameroon.
Consequently, they also stand a better chance not only to voice their opinion, but equally to indicate how best to get out of a stalemate as far as the future of the people, young or old, is concerned.