As an outsider with strong ties to Cameroon and Africa in general I ask myself: Are there really so many differences between Anglophones and Francophones ? OK, when I’m in Cameroon I live in francophone Loum, only a couple of miles from Kumba, which is already in the Anglophone part of the country. I have noticed the first differences when going somewhere by public transport. Whereas in the francophone part you just jump in and pay, in the anglophone part you have to get a ticket first (as I had to in Limbé), and that process wasn’t really customer-friendly.
On the positive side I have the impression that Anglophones take work more seriously, and are more professional. Unfortunately I don’t understand Pidgin – that was one of the main reasons why I as a foreigner decided to live in the francophone part. Not that I like French as a language too much – my English is a lot better than my French, and my French doesn’t help me much in France, because I speak African French (I learnt it there)…..
But…these are minor differences. They’re all African first, and that has to be pronounced.
I know that Cameroun has lots of languages and ethnies – and I guess a common language is more than necessary for a country to function, given it wants to stay as it is. I have been following the Biafra trend, and I’m pretty sure that Southern Cameroon and Biafra, once it comes into existence (?), would like to unite. What would the French do about that ? Try Ruanda style or accept the wish of the population ? I mean, I have no right to judge as a foreigner, but to my understanding decisions ignoring the wish of the people never have a lasting chance.
But again…a common language removes barriers, doesn’t it ? Is the language REALLY the main criteria or not ? Aren’t there business (resources) considerations around ? You tell me.
Take Senegal. Almost everybody speaks Wolof. Or Mali, where the large majority speaks Bambara. Speaking the same language doesn’t mean losing identity. We Swiss speak French, German and Italian, and my mother tongue is German. But we all consider ourselves Swiss. Ok – it is a WANTED consensus, and has grown over centuries. Africa (not only Cameroon) didn’t have that chance yet due to unrightful colonization….but it can go the same way.
Unfortunately we live in a time where small entities can hardly survive. Globalization (USA and the West in fact) require strong economies outside of that circle to survive and assure the ability to say NO to the new economic colonization which replaced 19th century practices. We live in a time where Monsanto and the Pharma ruthlessly endanger human lives by their practices, they change Africa into monocultures for their own profit and destroy small farmers existences.
They test new drugs in remote areas of Africa where “accidents” never see the spotlight. The IMF/World Bank and other globalists have strangled Africa’s economies and put them in a spiral of credit, debt and paybacks, where the population does not profit at all. I could name a lot more of those negative aspects of globalization, but to get back to the main point:
Caesar said: Divide and rule. And when Africa lets itself divide, by countries, and by even splitting countries and creating new ones, FORCE is lost in the battle of independence and competition. In my view, only a united Africa which speaks with one voice, regardless of local idioms and languages (original ones or the remains of colonization), has a real chance to change from an exploited continent to one which can withstand the pressures of the West and the emerging Asian countries.
And for this to have a chance, people have to understand each other through a common language, whichever that may be. Otherwise a Batanga will never be able to understand a Bamiléké, a Peulh can’t speak to a Djoula, and a Malinké won’t understand a Wolof. Division might in the end just create that.