Cameroon-born American Political Economist Details France’s Proxy Economic Genocide in English-Speaking Cameroon
Cameroon’s foremost political economist, Immanuel Tatah Mentan has revealed disturbing facts about what he considers to have been a long-established plan by the Francophone-dominated government “to dislocate the economic might of West Cameroon.”
The professor also talks about what he describes as the “targeted crippling” of businessmen from West Cameroon. “The Menyolis, the Nangas, the Ches, the Nebas, the Kilos and you name them-they were systematically crushed. No dime was paid to any of these contractors who borrowed money from banks and used to execute government contracts”.
In a wide-ranging interview with a US-based radio station, Prof. Mentan goes down memory lane to illustrate how the economy of West Cameroon (better known as the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons) was systematically damaged.
He claims that at independence, French President at the time, Charles De Gaulle told Cameroon’s first President, Ahmadou Ahidjo to make sure that he does away with the federal structure of government and to destroy the economy of what was renamed under the federal system, West Cameroon. Ahidjo obliged.
“Following the so-called independence by joining, Ahidjo seized all money-making departments like customs, finance etc. from the state of West Cameroon and closed down the Tiko International Airport and Victoria seaport,” Prof. Mentan says.
“The 185 million CFA F in the hands of the Marketing Board was seized by Ahidjo and he used that to balloon his budget. Then he put the West Cameroon government on drips or financial subventions from the federal government.”
The Tiko International Airport in the late 1960s saw several international airliners serving there until its deliberate closure by the French Cameroun Administration in Yaounde (C) Stock pictures from the West Cameroon Archives
Prof. Mentan said Ahidjo went on to create “fake commissions of inquiry” to demonstrate that the West Cameroon government was “a bastion of corruption.” With accusations of corruption, Ahidjo, according to Prof. Mentan found easy justification to seize the West Cameroon Development Agency; the electricity development outfit, POWERCAM, the Wum Area Development Agency (WARDA), the Santa Coffee Estate, etc.
In addition, Cameroon Bank which happened to be the most capitalized bank in West Africa at the time was crushed. “That was a bank that could grant loans of up to 1 million CFA F,” Prof. Mentan says; and adds that “If you wanted a loan only of 500,000 CFA F from any of the French banks in East Cameroon, it had to be authorized by Paris.”
According to Prof. Mentan, to circumvent Paris, many top officials from East Cameroon “Fell over each other for loans in CamBank,” but never paid back the borrowed money, thereby collapsing the bank.
“The last straw was when the West Cameroon State Lottery was taken over to Yaounde. The resources were looted by members of La République du Cameroun’s national stealing league and collapsed the West Cameroon state lottery.” And the “Systematic economic genocide” in Prof. Mentan’s words continued into the 1990s.
He cites the case of one Lawrence Tasha who “Meticulously nursed Amity Bank using his résumé as a renowned mathematician and business banker. The bank attracted such robust financial resources that the French banks were threatened and ordered their errand boys to sink Amity Bank. They did and got Tasha into New Bell Prison (a prison in Douala- Cameroon) to offer them time to use state resources to come up with Banque Atlantique-a shadow of Amity Bank.”
Prof. Mentan does not end only with the hard-economic realities. He says there had also been a diabolic plan to destroy the Anglophone Educational System in what the Professor calls “menticide or the destruction of people’s brainpower.”
He says this started with the government’s refusal to give subventions to mission schools in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons-a move that led to drops in the quality of education at primary and secondary school levels.
Then, there was a deliberate attempt to crush former Prime Minister, John Ngu Foncha’s dream of “an American-type college of Arts, Science and Technology.” CCAST-Bambili at the time was producing folks who shot to American Universities upon graduation.
To stop the trend, Prof. Mentan says the then Principal of CAST, Sylvester Dioh was sacked and replaced with what government hoped was going to be a more complacent Omar Yembe. Then CCAST was renamed Lyceé de Bambili, the spirit did not die with the change in name. But the school’s authorities who continued sending brilliant students abroad were transferred, and that is how according to Prof. Mentan, the African Scholarship Program for American Universities as well as the British Scholarship Programs were all killed.
“These demonic ruses to execute ‘menticide’ follow the reality that the ‘insignificant minority’ (meaning English speakers in the Cameroons) was becoming intellectually and professionally very powerful and had to be stopped,” Prof. Mentan asserts.
It is an assertion that was recently taken over by teachers who took to the streets in October 2016 to protest what they perceived was the intentional plan to do away with the Anglo-Saxon educational system inherited from the British colonialists. The government responded with lethal force, and what was initially, a peaceful strike morphed into political violence. A pro-independence group developed and started asking for outright independence. More military force followed, and the fighting, now in its fourth year has left 3000 people dead according to the UN, and over 2,000 according to multiple rights groups, but the figures are definitely much higher.
A Shipyard Breakwater project in Victoria (also known as Limbe), Southern Cameroons started by Zaccheus Fornjindam as a first step towards reviving the forever dreams of a Victoria deep seaport project, but he was thrown in jail by Yaounde authorities in efforts to kill the dream (C) Delta Marine Consultants
Desperate for solutions, the government responded by taking a raft of measures, including the recruitment of a thousand bilingual teachers, the creation of an Anglo-Saxon Technical Teachers Training College in Kumba, as well as the deliberate transfer of Anglophone teachers to Anglophone schools.
Prof. Mentan says such measures are just couched in deceit and argues that “The Devil can never show you the way to Heaven for salvation,” and the only way to Paradise for Southern Cameroonians, he says, is separation.
It is a call that will come by only through battle and sustained international diplomatic outreach. The President of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya has said, without regard to historical facts, that Cameroon is, and will remain “one and indivisible.” Mr. Biya says he understands the many problems and frustrations Cameroonians are going through but has insisted that those problems will be resolved if Cameroonians come together to tackle them.