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Godfather of Pan-Africanism (Part 3 of 3) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Justice Muluh Mbuh   
Monday, 21 July 2003 00:00

DEFINITION: We would define Pan-Camerounism as the process whereby many elite of both French Cameroun (Cameroun Proper) and British Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) spends their entire political careers determined to undermine the sovereignty of Ambazonia (former British Southern Cameroons) for some other nation called Cameroun -as if there is some "Camerounianess" by which every former German Kamerun territory ought to belong. Such persons are known as Pan-Kamerunians or Pan-Camerounians. The most glaring characteristic of any Pan-Camerounian (Pan-Camerounism) is their inability to initiate anything for the good of either the nation, which serves them best, that is their domain or host, and would serve the occupying power without hesitation or any other secondary thought. Their thought process has been ruined by colonialism so much that all they do is continue to promote colonialism even from within the African continent.

Nothing could be more truthful and supportive of this statement and definition of Pan-Camerounism, than that when we examine each Pan-Camerounian, we would definitely see clearly how they hardly have an opinion of their own, how they flirt with ideas and so are caught forever crossing carpets, politically and die without any concrete position on anything. Even more, Pan-Camerounism when put under scrutiny becomes questionable, especially since its focus has been more on amalgamating the Ambazonia into mainframe Cameroun nationality, and less so with other former German Kamerun territories. Thus the theory becomes suspect and is rendered impotent as a formula for nation building, since the best of the Ambazonia would rather be submerged for the worst of policy and traditions of governance in French Cameroun and in disregard of sovereign rights of the state of Ambazonia. That is the core of any socio-cultural, political and economic decay and disputes in Cameroun of contemporary parlance.



Notable among the leading Pan-Camerounians is Hon. John Ngu Foncha. He, like most other Pan-Camerounians is a lot more controversial because from origin to when he crossed over, we would hardly understand him, until several biographies are written about him. Hon. John Ngu Foncha is controversial not just because he took contradicting positions that were inconsistent with the best interest of the British Southern Cameroons masses, but because his origin is even under question as well as scrutiny. Information now being uncovered indicates that Pa Foncha was born as "Forchap" in D'tchang, Western Province, where his father migrated from, to settle in Nkwen, Bamenda, where Pa Foncha schooled in his youth. Thus reports that he was born on June 26, 1916, in Bamenda are as controversial as everything Pa Foncha did as a politician for the interest of his family or for the best interest of British Southern Cameroons.

Pa Foncha attended primary school in Bamenda, and secondary school in Onitcha, Nigeria, specializing in primary education administration policy. Upon returning to the British Southern Cameroons, he was made Head Master of many Catholic Primary Schools. Even before becoming Head Master, Pa Foncha was concerned about the politics of decolonization of both French Cameroun and British Southern Cameroons.

For instance, he too was a founding father of the Cameroons Youth League (CYL) to which organization; he served as Secretary of the Bamenda from 1942-1945. Pa Foncha was also a founding father of the Cameroons National Federation (CNF), and the Kamerun National Congress (KNC) (once again, and as was the case with Debongue and Um Nyobe, we see "K" nationalism creeping in to derail and/or truncate British Southern Cameroons' nationalism and self-determination.


Definitively, Pa Foncha who posed as an Anglophile, converted from French Cameroun enslavement to embrace and defend British Southern Cameroons liberal democracy and Common Law system, unfortunately also stands out as one who failed grossly to understand the fundamental principles and rights that made British Southern Cameroons the darling of many who fled oppression from near and afar. The strength of Pan-Camerounism was so strong; it blinded the British Southern Cameroons political activists and made them to fall short, terribly short of understanding the basic concepts of nationalism, sovereignty and union of all sort.

Pa Foncha became a Pan-Kamerunist when he worked against E.M.L. Endeley, who stood for union of the British Southern Cameroons with Nigeria in favor of union with Cameroun. Nothing was more revealing than when Pa. Foncha absented himself from United Nations oral sessions, and instead instructed a Cameroun/UPC elite financed Um Nyobe to represent both British Southern Cameroons and French Cameroon in disregard of the glaring fact that Um was a die-hard Pan-Kamerunist promoting and sponsoring the "K" factor (all political parties in the Southern Cameroons were named beginning with "K" for Kamerun, an indication of the dream that the future Kamerun Federation would restore all previously held German Kamerun territories -a good dream turned sore?) which destroyed British Southern Cameroons nationalism, or better still badly polluted it.

Thus it was not surprising that Pa Foncha, like Endeley and his KNC equally founded the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) in 1955. Notes Professor Julius Victor Ngoh (1990, p. 33) "The UPC also flirted with the KNDP which accepted its reunification theme but advocated evolutionary reunification. After the expulsion of the UPC from the British Southern Cameroons in 1957, the One Kamerun (OK) Party took over its platform in the territory." Tell us that Pan-Kamerunism was never at work and that the sons of the soils of the so-called British Southern Cameroons did understand nationalism and we would say you are wrong.

Pan-Kamerunism also led Pa Foncha to fail protecting democratic West Cameroon when overzealous and despotic Cameroun President Ahmadou Ahidjo abolished multi-party democracy in favor of the One Party Soviet styled dictatorship centralized under one party, the Cameroun National Union (CNU) in 1966 -Just five years after the Cameroon Federation was supposed to have taken off on good footing! Pa Foncha supported the decision for a centralized one-party state stating, "it was never his understanding or the understanding of any of the participants that this union was meant to exclude the possibility of the formation of any other party."

Now lets get this straight: does not the formation of another party complement democracy and enhance competitiveness in explaining and actually implementing government policy as opposed to abolishing all parties and creating just one? Does the formation of other parties mean, "only when others are abolished"? This suggests to us that Pa. Foncha, like most others who represented the State of West Cameroon, or now Ambazonia Republic never understood democracy, nationalism, sovereignty and even independence or they out-rightly pretended they did not understand these so as to keep the masses blinded as Bismarck would recommend -"The less the masses know about how government policy is made, the better they sleep at night"?

Pa. Foncha became British Southern Cameroons second Prime Minister after Endeley who had served as Head of government of the British Southern Cameroons since the declaration of "The Doctrine of Benevolent Neutrality," (the beginning and the end of genuine British Southern Cameroons nationalism until Ambazonia Republic was born in 1985!) redefining and defending British Southern Cameroons nationalism of 1954. As Prime Minister of British Southern Cameroons and one who fell prey to the "K" factor, Pa Foncha could be seen as placing personal interest over national, especially when we see glaringly that he never stood for an independent British Southern Cameroons, nor did he care to understand and defend the grounds upon which Reunification and Unification were based, until he disgruntled and grudgingly resigned from the Cameroun government in 1970. Nothing could be more explicit than the fact that he held the dual position of Prime Minister of West Cameroon (Southern Cameroons after reunification in 1961) until 1965, and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon until his replacement with Hon. Solomon Tandeng Muna (another West Cameroonians who lacked a mind of his own and cared less for his peoples), in 1970.

Foncha was however called back to active politics by Presidential Decree as Grand Chancellor of National Orders, in the lines of Napoleon Bonaparte's Legion of Honor, fluid-spiced by the adage: "Men are led by Toys"!

In 1985, the CNU held a national congress in Bamenda, the largest city in Ambazonia (former British Southern Cameroons), a few days after the birth of Ambazonia Republic with the issue of The New Social Order by Fon Gorji-Dinka, then Bar Association President of the United Republic of Cameroon. CNU was again abolished and a new Party took over matters of politics in Cameroun -La Rensemblement Democratic du Peoples Camerouniase (?) --The Cameroun Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM). CPDM, like CNU was simply a window dressing name-changing plot -a syndrome, or a kind of fever which has been the illness embedded in Neo-Camerounization (given that Camerounization metamorphosed from Kamerunization) -for the leaders of the Party and of the nation were still the very old crooks, dictators who were anti-democracy and all sorts of freedoms, sponsors of bribery and corruption, and big thieves of the Ambazonia sovereignty.

But Pa Foncha did attempt staging a boycott, perhaps just to try looking as saintly and as the pacifist he's always been -for that is something we can never ever take away from him. He loved peace and would rather craw on the ground than submit to any form of violence in demanding his voice be heard on former British Southern Cameroons matters. According to our observing eyes, and as part of the lot, which boycotted the Bamenda Congress in 1985, we watched as tensions mounted as Pa Foncha was reported to have refused participation in the afternoon session of the Congress deliberations. According to personal reports from him when this author contacted him in 1989, he had expected that the West Cameroons elites who were backing Fon Fongum Gorji-Dinka's New Social Order were to raise the issue much more strongly but was disappointed that Professor Bernard Nsukika Fonlon who was appointed by the Ambazonia Restoration Council (ARC) to read the document (New Social Order) to the audience instead decided to speak by punctuating his speech with Latin, to the extent hardly anyone understood why he was saying, perhaps President Paul Biya of Cameroun-himself a Monastery drop-out like Fonlon. To Pa Foncha, if Fonlon had set the pace, that is when older folks like himself and S. T. Muna would have come in with emphasis to educate the delegates attending the said Congress on what was Cameroun's number one sin -the non-implementation of the February 11, 1961 Plebiscite results as per the international treaty the Plebiscite Pact.

With the misfortune of the 1985 Bamenda Congress having just gone by, Pa Foncha was yet to be witness to many more abuses on the West Cameroonians, himself included and could not stomach them anymore. So he did the most honorable thing and resigned from the CPDM as Vice President of the party on June 9, 1990. Pa Foncha noted in his resignation speech that the leaders of Cameroun "ignored" him; to the extent he even felt "ridiculed," "an irrelevant nuisance," only good to be "used," as "a window dressing" (Foncha, 1990) But he did however pledge to continue working for the good of the country if he was consulted.

What finally provoked Foncha's resignation from having to do anything with Cameroun politics directly was the shooting dead of five men and a young girl in Bamenda during the forceful launching of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) Party on May 26, 1990 (Foncha, 1990b).


After resignation from the CPDM and resignation as Grand Chancellor of National Orders, Pa Foncha attempted supporting the Southern Cameroons nationalist cause. But evidence does suggest he was never truthful or fully committed to the outcome. For instance, in 1995 he and other “Southern Cameroons” elites led a powerful delegation to the United Nations claiming to have presented a petition demanding total independence for the “Southern Cameroons” after such glaring misadventure with Cameroun union as part of the Cameroon Federation. The delegation did make an imperative stopover in London to discuss modalities of the future republic with the leader of Ambazonia Republic, Fon Fongum Gorji-Dinka. No meaningful truth came out of the talks and from every indication, it is amply clear that the delegation never meant business as they were more bent on absorbing Ambazonia Republic than serving the cause for restoration. Supportive evidence for this conclusion could be found, firstly, in the fact that they disappeared from London after promising to meet the following day with Ambazonia's leader to sign a treaty of union of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) and Ambazonia Republic. Secondly, no such petition demanding total independence was ever deposited at the United Nations! The petition deposited was full of lamentations of marginalization and a call that the UN should intervene to stop Cameroun oppression of Southern Cameroonians, whatever that meant!

Furthermore, when the SCNC was going through leadership crisis, Foncha behaved as if he was the leader of the Organization or of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia). He did sign a document endorsing Ambassador Henry Fossung as the legitimate leader of the SCNC -claiming that upon their death (and that of Hon S.T. Muna and Ambassador Epie), they were handing over power to Him (Fossung). But such a move sued more seed of discord than resolve or further the cause for total independence. This was against the wishes of most other elite of the SCNC, such as Dr. Arnold Yongbang and Prince Ndoki Mukete, whom according to the letter, were expelled from the SCNC.

In addition, we can see how Pan-Camerounism destroys the struggle for the former British Southern Cameroons’ independence in that Foncha and his contemporaries could not have suddenly forgotten that they were but Patrons to the SCNC and not leaders of Southern Cameroons in any form. How then could they have been handing over power to Fossung, if their real intent was not to weaken the struggle and promote Cameroun's illegal occupation of the territory? The SCNC continues to be plagued with leadership disputes and primary in igniting them was the Foncha letter recognizing Ambassador Fossung.


January 3, 1999, I turned down an invitation from Pa Foncha to go attend a meeting of the Bamenda University to which he was a founding member. I told him I was there to find out why he has never been as concerned as he ought to be concerning the annexation of our country, and that if founding a University in Bamenda was a forty-two year accomplishment; then I was never going to see it as anything. I asked whether it would only make sense when the situation becomes one of arms talking and not voices that people would take us seriously? It was then that Pa Foncha's wife intervened and said we can do anything but we should never think of bringing war to Cameroun. I asked why not, without expecting an answer, which would have come in the usual routine of peace being very precious than riches! And of course, talking about riches, they were the ones who have made it and led a great life at the expense of our ignored and badly betrayed downtrodden masses: who talks peace or war would be a determinant of the contemporary wishes and aspirations of our masses, not the terrible, greedy and selfish fraud-prone elite.


Summarily, it is one thing to see Pa Foncha as a political failure, when it came to defending the values that Ambazonia (former British Southern Cameroons) represented, but it is totally another when he is viewed from reunification and unificationist (annexationist) politics. He definitely passes as a Pan-Camerounian and as a well-intentioned father of whatever unity Cameroun may possess today or in the future. As a God Fearing person, family oriented and even more, a great liberal, one may conclude that the lack of foresight and also the lack of combative ability in confronting Cameroun expansionist policies is probably a determinative factor in stating that the likes of Foncha should never have held political power in the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) or even in Cameroun, whether as a federation of Two Equal States or not, if posterity and nationhood had to be the pride of the future generations, instead of retrogression.

Lastly, Pan-Africanist, like Pan-Camerounians ought to take studies of such leadership threads from the Cameroun /Ambazonia unification process seriously if the face of the African Union will make a difference of any sort for the masses of that continent, or even microscopically speaking, if Ambazonians have to become part of that Union and or support their efforts. It is said: "Once beaten, twice shy!"

Justice M. Mbuh

Lanham, MD, USA

For the Liberation of Ambazonia Republic (Former British Southern Cameroons)



For More details on Foncha and other Pan-Camerounists, search articles on "The UPC Rebellion";

-Willard Johnson's "Cameroon Federation," (1970)

-Ndiva Kofele-Kale, "Class, Status, and Power in Postreunification Cameroun: The Rise of an Anglophone Bourgeoisie, 1961-1980," in I. L. Markovitz, ed, Studies in Power and Class in Africa, NY:OUP, 1987;

---"Reconciling the Dual Heritage: Reflections on the "Kamerun Idea," in Ndiva Kofele-Kale, ed, An African Experiment in Nation Building (1980);

Le Vine, Victor T. "The New Cameroon Federation," Africa Reports 6, 2:7, 8, 10, (1961);

---"Unifying the Cameroons," West Africa, (July 15): p. 774-775, (1961); 

-Rubin, Neville N. "Cameroun: An African Federation," New York: Praeger, (1971);

-See also, "The Two Alternatives," in Southern Ccameroons Gazette, Government Press, Buea, 27th January 1961;

-Victor J. Ngoh, Constitutional Developments in the Southern Cameroons, 1946-1961, Pioneer Publishers, Yaounde, Cameroun, (1990);

-Richard A. Joseph, "National Politics in Postwar Cameroun: The Difficult Birth of the UPC," in Journal of African Studies, 2, 2, p. 201-230 (1975);

-John Ngu Foncha, "Resignation From the CPDM," Mankon, Bamenda, 4th June 1990a (Mimeograph);

---"A Brief Account of the Events which took place in the Bamenda Township on Saturday 26th May, 1990 culminating in the Shooting and killing of five innocent young men and one girl," Mankon, Bamenda, 1990b (Mimeograph).


Famous Quotes

“I President Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroun do hereby, in a bid to provide lasting peace to the Bakassi conflict, commit myself and my government to respect the territorial boundaries of my country as obtained at independence.”
- Annan-Bakassi Peace Accord

I can state here and now that the People of southern Cameroons (Ambazonians) would never have voted in favour of unification with French Cameroun if it had not been for the assurances given that the resulting union would take the form of a federation...
- John Ngu Foncha

International Law does not regard you (Ambazonians) as people of Cameroonian Nationality; this must be shocking to you.
- Fongum Gorji-Dinka
Read More Fongum Gorji-Dinka