By Willibroad Buma
AmbaNews24 Correspondent, Bamenda
The call for the total boycott of the May 20th National Day celebrations in Ambazonia as a protest to the occupation of the country by Cameroun was largely adhered to by the Ambazonian people. The regime of Cameroun had hoped to use the occasion to project to the international community that a vast majority of Ambazonians are interested in remaining a part of Cameroun Republique.
Reports coming in from all over the 13 states of Ambazonia indicate that there was a complete lockdown of the territory, with iconic pictures showing Ambazonian fighters manning most of the streets and keeping the peace
In the city of Buea,- Fako State, the chiefs who had been threatened by the governor in Buea to march with their subjects behind them or be dethroned largely boycotted the entire event to the dismay and shock of the governor. It is the first time that the chiefs of the area who are under the payroll of the government in Yaoundé are boycotting the event.
In the town of Muyuka still in Fako state, the grandstand was a scanty scene with the events lasting for less than thirty minutes as the Divisional Administrator, Thomas Tambe Tabot, feared for a possible attack by the Ambazonia Defense Forces that control most of the area.
In Bamenda, the few people who turned up at the grandstand where the occasion usually takes place presented a show that has never been witnessed in such a hitherto popular public event. Participants conspicuously covered their faces with mask for fear of being identified and blacklisted by the local population that has overwhelmingly rejected Cameroun’s rule. The governor in Bamenda added drama to the public spectacle by spending the day inside an armor car in fear of pro-independence fighters. As has become the norm now in Bamenda, heavy gun sounds took over the City especially in the evening and night hours. In Bali Nyonga, Ambazonian fighters took over the streets and mounted checkpoints that remained in place throughout the day. A few individuals braved the odds in Ndu and matched before a near empty grandstand. In Kumbo, the military was abandoned to itself in the parade field with no civilians to cheer them on.
In Nkambe, pro-Cameroun government advocates filled the grandstand. The scene in Mamfe was like that in Nkambe. If pro-independence fighters are to expand their current territorial control, then the towns of Nkambe and Mamfe are likely to become battlegrounds.
Satisfied with the overall spirit of adherence to the resistance against Cameroun as demonstrated in Ambazonia on this day, the leader of the Ambazonia liberation struggle, Dr. Cho Ayaba wrote on his Facebook timeline: “Thank you GZ [Ground Zero]!” in reference to the Ambazonia homeland. He added, “You disgraced enablers, humbled the butchers and gave back hope to us all.”
Speaking to AmbaNews24 at the end of the day, the Vice President of the Ambazonia Governing Council, Dr. Julius Nyih, stated confidently, “The overwhelming abandonment of the boulevards by the Ambazonian people in rejection of Cameroun’s rule puts to question and dismisses the Toby Nagy hypothesis that there exist a solid sense of “Camerouness” in Ambazonians. Anyone who still doubts should put it to a free and fair referendum wherein only the Ambazonian people will vote to determine their future. But we do not even need that; Cameroun simply needs to end its illegal occupation of Ambazonia and get the hell out of our homeland for the reign of global peace, stability and prosperity.”
20th celebrations have remained a very controversial National day for the Ambazonian people who see this day as the day when the last element of the federal structure between the state of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) and the state of La Republique du Cameroun was dissolved through a referendum, thereby turning their once autonomous state into a colony of French La Republique du Cameroun. Whereas, most countries celebrate the day of their independence as their national day, 20th May National day celebration is mostly considered by Ambazonians as a day of humiliation and enslavement.
On May 20th, 1972, Ahmadou Ahidjo, then president of La Republique du Cameroun called for a referendum asking both the majority French speaking Cameroun population and the minority English speaking Ambazonian population to vote to scrap the federal constitution and transform the country into a unitary and centralized state.
Upon occupation of Ambazonia on September 30, 1961, a federal system of two states came into existence – the Republic of Cameroun became East Cameroun and the occupied Ambazonia territory became West Cameroon. However, following the discovery of oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Coast of Ambazonia, the President of the country, Ahmadou Ahidjo willed at the behest of France to have extractive access to the resources without impediment from the state laws of the State of West Cameroun. Thus, he announced in the parliament in Yaoundé that he was abolishing the federation and will then after proceed to seek the will of Ambazonians whether the federal system should be terminated. In one of the greatest miscarriages of justice, Ahidjo put the subject to a referendum in which the entire population of the country participated instead of only the citizens of Ambazonia who had voted to “unite” with Cameroun in 1961. Furthermore, the ballot papers had one option disguised as two: voters had to vote either “Yes” or “Oui”. “Yes” is the English word for the French “Oui”, and “Oui” is obviously the English word for the French “Yes”. So, through this act of political manipulation and crookery, Cameroun created in actuality a 100% vote in favor of abandoning the federal system on May 20, 1972, and establishing the “United Republic of Cameroun,” a name that Paul Biya eventually changed by Presidential degree in 1984 to “Republic of Cameroun.” Most Ambazonians have rejected this referendum as dubious, undemocratic and an injustice that was intended to effectively colonize and assimilate the Ambazonian people.