Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Northwest South West Divide: Myth or Reality?

The Northwest and Southwest are neighbors. They speak English as a common official language and were colonized by the British. They are even interrelated in such a way that you have families merely divided by territorial lines. Yet, when dealing with each other, they eat with long spoons. Some have said there is no such thing like NorthWest Vs SouthWest Divide, but others have said the division is real.

Most South Westerners who dwell in the past do not seem to have gotten over the fact that Foncha and Muna played over Endeley to promote the reunification of West Cameroon with East Cameroon. It was not like the treatment that the West Cameroonians received from eastern Nigeria was better but just that it is better to deal with the devil you know than the angel you do not know. That fear made mostly the coastal western Cameroonians to fight against reuniting with East Cameroon. East Cameroon and West Cameron were one country colonized by the Germans, but after Germany lost the war, the country was given to Britain and France as Mandated Territories and after the Second World War as Trust Territories.

Now, the main suspicion is based on the languages and methods of governance. The Southern Cameroonians believed that they were more democratic than their East Cameroonian counterparts that they did not see how and why they should join them. But then it happened with the plebiscite of 1960. With the reorganization of the country into provinces, the country was divided into ten provinces; creating two English provinces of Southwest and Northwest.

Thenceforth, the suspicion has been serious in such a way that both groups in their search to dominate each other are turncoats to their brothers or whoever is in power so at least they become number 2. Indeed, the south westerners distrust the north westerners that they call them Cam No Go because most North westerners were brought to work in the plantations in the Southwest and since they came, they have not gone back.

It should be noted that the North West and south west divide is not really between the Northwest against the whole of Southwest but the Northwest against a division (Manyu) in the South West. I have never understood why a province will be fighting against a mere division, but the distrust is so deep that it will depend on the young generation to resolve the distrust.

In the Social Democratic Front (SDF) especially, the exclusion of Mr. Tabeyang in Fru Ndi’s government was an example of that distrust. Hitherto, South Westerners feel that the North Westerners cannot be trusted. Some times I argue that we cannot hold the future hostage for the mistakes of the past, yet when one sees that the same behavior perpetuating itself over and over, it is left to wonder if the Northwest and Southwest will ever join forces.

Indeed if anyone says there is no such divide, they deceive themselves for there is a serious divide. That is why the Anglophones have not been able to muscle up with the challenge of their marginalization by East Cameroon despite their marginalization because it suffices either president Ahidjo or Biya to set them at loggerheads and they tear each other like crabs.

If there must be unity, then we must acknowledge that there is division and then try to mend those fences. The North Westerners; especially must abandon their herd’s mentality where they think an attack on one of them by a Southwesterner is an attack on every Northwesterner. There are times when someone is wrong and should be scolded. You can take a Manyu name as you like and write all the rubbish as you like, but the Southwesterner knows that it is a Northwesterner and that increases the divide the more.

The tendency of the Northwest to always seek to be the leader of or always fighting especially the Manyu man has perpetuated this divide. The Manyu people are the majority in the Southwest Province and perhaps most savvy in politics. Trying to ignore or sideline them is merely inviting trouble because they will not be pushed around. Furthermore, people must understand that the traditional system of government: Fondoms in the Northwest Province is contrary to the chieftaincy in the Southwest Province. This is a great contrast that makes them behave differently. Nonetheless though, humanity has attained a level where people must be pushed by reason rather than mere custom and traditions.
Until then, Northwest and Southwest must heal their divide for an inroad.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“No matter how a rat becomes the house pet, if it is sleeping beside the bag of groundnuts the owner may not have much sleep. ” (Hamilton Ayuk)."If a goat runs from the owner’s leash it will be tied by the council in a market square" Hamilton Ayuk).

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