African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

The quest for autonomy: The case of Anglophone Cameroon

Tangie Fonchingong    
ASC Fellow, University of Cape Town, South Africa. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 08 April 2011
  •  Published: 31 August 2013


The former British Southern Cameroons opted in a UN organised plebiscite in 1961 to reunify with La Republique du Cameroun to form a federation of two states that were said to be on a footing of equality. But contrary to declarations and expectations, the federation was not one of equal states. It was instead a veiled preparatory stage for the total assimilation of the Southern Cameroons into the highly centralised La Republique du Cameroun francophone unitary state. Through a number of assimilation stages, the Southern Cameroons has lost its autonomy to La République du Cameroun, its people marginalised, institutions destroyed, and the territory neglected in terms of socio-economic development. This has given rise to agitations by Southern Cameroonians (Anglophones) seeking for a redress of the situation by re-establishing the federal system or, failing which, the autonomy of the Southern Cameroons in a separate state. The Anglophones have genuine grievances and solid legal arguments for their case, but they are faced with a number of obstacles in the struggle to liberate themselves and their territory from La Republique du Cameroun. The obstacles include, besides the resistance strategies of the regime, the lack of credible and committed leadership manifest in the existence of numerous uncoordinated groups with conflicting objectives, and an inappropriate strategy; lack of a uniting factor among Anglophones; intra-Anglophone rivalry, differences. These obstacles facilitate the use of various resistance strategies by the regime such as trivialisation, demonision, divide and rule and repression, together with which they stand firmly in the way of the Anglophone quest for identity. Consequently, unless a credible and committed leader emerges with an appropriate strategy that will convince Anglophones to sink their differences and unite for the struggle, the re-establishment of the autonomy of the Southern Cameroons remains a forlorn hope.


Key words: Assimilation process, leadership, divide and rule, Anglophone agitation.