By Colbert Gwain, in Bamenda
The six-year-prolonged deadly conflict in Cameroon has seen Cameroonians who inherited language and culture from their former colonial master, Britain, fighting to liberate themselves from the domination of other Cameroonians who inherited different culture and language from their own former colonial master, France.
This therefore means activists fighting to create the so-called Anglo-Saxon nation are ‘enablers’ of the British colonial heritage, while those fighting to maintain the status quo are ‘enablers’ of the French colonial heritage. Both sides are therefore, ‘blacklegs’, helping to perpetuate a shameful and disgusting colonial past, at the expense of the once rich and flourishing values of African Kingdoms.
It is intriguing to realise that the same people who ferociously resisted European dominance, exploitation and imperialism that robbed Africa of its natural wealth, are today fighting and killing each other to protect and preserve the same colonial heritage.
After being brainwashed and enmeshed in western values, belief systems, language and education at the expense of theirs through generations of colonial rule, Africans today seem to lack the wherewithal to reimagining and recreating their own indigenous identity, culture, technology, education, religion, economy, craft, and so on; which, if interwoven with good governance, could compete favourably with the western world, in same manner like China, Asia and you name them.
For, scientific research has proven that mother tongue-based multilingual education is key to enabling people attain self-fulfilment, become critical citizens and drivers of economic competitiveness.
Western diplomats and leaders won’t care if we fight and kill each other, so long as the western military industrial complex flourishes, and so long as we continue to defend and protect their western values, belief systems, education and languages, at the expense of what is purely African.
None of the equipment used in staging the deadly conflict in the two English-Speaking Regions is produced anywhere around the African continent. We are mere consumers.
The UN quickly bought Woodrow Wilson’s idea of self-determination but fell short of laying down any ground rules on how a people can self-determine.
Apart from their English language, the Common Law System and the culture of human rights, Britain as former colonial master never left anything tangible in West Cameroon. They hated the people to an extent that they were ruled from Eastern Nigeria. Seeing in Africans only slaves, monkeys and labourers, they didn’t deem it necessary practicing direct rule on them. They despised the people to a level that when time came, they only had to hand them over to France as a gift from the Queen.
Today, instead of asking why, since 60 years after the departure of the colonial masters, we are unable to disentangle ourselves from their language and culture to embrace ours, we are rather fighting to defend and protect them with the blind vow to fight “till the last man standing”.
Although the genesis of the current conflict can be traced to economic inequalities and struggle over power, linguistic and cultural identities played a significant role in fuelling it.
Truth be told, and linguists and anthropologists agree, that language is about the culture and way of life of a people; would that language not be our mother tongue, rather than English and French imposed on us after conquest?
Why should we fight and die to protect the white man’s culture and way of life when they cannot accept even one bit of ours, not even polygamy?
Our colonial masters imposed English and French as official languages in their territories in order to facilitate the exploitation of our rich natural resources.
That is why their colonial system of education in Africa lacked a technological base as their education was essentially aimed at training clerks, interpreters, artisans and produce inspectors who would help them in the exploitation of our rich natural resources.
More proof that we are fighting a proxy war for our former colonial masters in the North West and South West Regions, is the fact that it was colonialism itself that encouraged and intensified class struggle, tribalism and ethnicity within the African colonies. Ills which never existed prior to their arrival. These were strategies introduced by the colonialists to perpetuate their rule and dominion over African territories. Have we forgotten about the British colonial policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ in Nigeria just so soon?
Since the Whiteman has continued to hide their political motives of domination and hegemony over Africa by using the smokescreen of international languages of wider communication like English, French, Portuguese, and Arabic as the only means of upward economic morbidity, Africans have, unfortunately, continued to consume this information gullibly, to the extent that it remains the only continent on earth where children start school using a foreign language.
And that’s why people can afford to fight and kill each other in the North West and South West of Cameroon over the dominance of French over English language in schools and in the courts.
It was Kwesi Prah, in his acclaimed work: ‘Going Native: Language of Instruction, Development and African Emancipation’, who argued that Africa continues to be under-developed because she continues to hang unto colonial values and language, at the expense of her rich culture and languages. To him, forgetting too soon that colonialism and the imposition of foreign languages over mother-tongue under-developed Africa, was a ‘creeping amnesia of collective memories’.
*Colbert Gwain is digital rights activist, author, radio host and content creator @TheColbertFactor
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