On the eve of the 1961 Plebiscite, EML Endeley‘s Cameroon Peoples National Convention (CPNC) released a lengthy pamphlet warning Southern Cameroonians of the dangers that lurked ahead in case they voted for unification with the French Cameroons. The message was described as “eternal evidence of the full note of WARNING that is being sounded in good time to all Cameroon people before they make their historic choice of February 11.”
The CPNC considered the document of such critical importance to the region that it appealed to the people of Southern Cameroons to “read it in your quiet moments. If you can’t read, get a school boy or some other person to read and explain to you. Then sleep over the arguments raised in the pamphlet and wake up with a new resolution…” Below are ten key points extracted from the lengthy pamphlet released in February 1961. Let the reader judge if these points have stood the test of time…
1. Nearly everyone in Southern Cameroons has heard the word FREEDOM. Our association with Nigeria for nearly half a century has made us realize what it means to move about freely; to speak in public freely; to worship freely; to speak our minds without fear of molestation. These freedoms and many more will continue to be ours if we vote for union with Nigeria.
But if you vote for Cameroun Republic, you will invite a new system under which everyone lives in fear of the Police and the Army. You will not be free to move about; you cannot lecture freely or discuss your political views in public; you must carry your tax receipt around your neck like a dog; and you can be arrested and flogged by the Police and even imprisoned without a fair trial.
The CPNC believes that all decent people in the Southern Cameroons who have tasted of freedom will be sensible enough to vote for union with Nigeria. Freedom is too sweet to be thrown away to the dogs.
2. …Under the French system, you cannot have a fair trial. Anyone accused of an offence in the Cameroun Republic is manhandled and flogged and is generally treated as a guilty criminal. Even the most junior policeman there seems to have the power of “life and death” over the common people! This is a bad system and must be rejected by the voters.
3. If you vote for Cameroun Republic, you will for ever fail to secure independence for the Southern Cameroons because Cameroun Republic is still a COLONY of France. French troops are still stationed in Douala and Yaounde…The CPNC maintains that it is no use for the Southern Cameroons to move from the British COLONY system. We must move into true INDEPENDENCE with Nigeria.
4. If you vote for union with Nigeria, we shall continue to enjoy the excellent land tenure which protects the natives from becoming tenants on the farms of white settlers. We shall preserve our land for our own farms, and we shall be free to plant our own cocoa, bananas or coffee.
If you vote for Cameroun Republic, your little farmland will be at the mercy of white French men. These Frenchmen are reliably understood to be planning to take over the CDC plantations in Victoria and Kumba Divisions…
5. Who amongst you would like to live in a country where your life and property are constantly in danger? Who amongst you peaceful citizens of the Southern Cameroons will like to live in a country where you may be shot at as you move along the street, or your wife killed as she toils the farm?
6. Who amongst you would like to live in French Cameroons, a country red with the blood of thousands of innocent victims killed by terrorists and the Ahidjo regime?
7. Who amongst you, good citizens of Southern Cameroons, will like to live in a land where people’s houses and shops are burnt everyday and looted; where you can be arrested without a fair trial?
8. Who amongst you will like to live in a country which lacks complete respect for human dignity and where you cannot speak out your mind freely or pursue your business in peace? Surely none of you. Who amongst you will like your children to grow up in servitude? Surely none of you.
9. That will be our lot if we join French Cameroun. If you wish to save yourself from the aforementioned indignities, make sure you vote for the Southern Cameroons to remain as it has been in the past forty years.
10. If you want to avert the impending confusion that will befall the Southern Cameroons, and if you want the territory to develop into a county where all will be fairly treated and adequately catered for; where there will be equal opportunities for everyone, irrespective of tribe, creed, race or political association, then cast your vote in the GREEN BOX during the Plebiscite on February 11.
Courtesy Tande Dibussi (Scribbles From The Den)|Friday, October 01, 2010
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