WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just five days after the Kurdistan Region held its independence referendum on September 25, 2017, Cameroon’s southern Anglophone region, the southern Ambazonia Consortium United Front, declared its own independence. Nearly a year on with much bloodshed and displacement, the diaspora is calling on the West and United Nations to intervene.
The move was not recognized by the federal government in Yaounde, or by the international community. What turned into a day of celebration in the capital of Buea resulted in hundreds killed and injured by federal forces.
Other Ambazonians were displaced to the safety of nearby jungles. Its then president, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, was arrested in Nigeria, and then deported to Cameroon.
Also known as Amba Land, its interim president, Samuel Sako Ikome, has concentrated his efforts in Washington, D.C.
"We have had talks with our neighbors and in Sub-Sahara Africa. We've made some inroads. And in the rest, we have some other inroads beyond Africa, but it is not convenient for us to talk about them," he said at a recent event at the National Press Club.
The area was formerly the Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons under United Kingdom administration from 1922-1961, following the League of Nations mandate in 1919. The anglophone and francophone territories have been engaged in disagreements ever since.
Demonstrators have gathered around the White House to say they like any other sovereign nation have the right to self-determination.
Ambazonians who were able to escape the slaughter fled. Some have come to the United States for safety.
"Most people here cannot go back to Ambazonia. But we are a people totally free. We have won our case before international courts, including the international court of the African Union, and before he United Nations. And that is why we want the world to welcome us as the newest country in Africa," said protestor Boh Herbert.
Others said they will not stop in Washington and will plead their case to the UN Secretary-General.
"To Antonio Guterres ... he will never sleep in peace. We are going to chase him to the gates of Hell. We the Ambazonians," said Vitalis Mbotiji.
The uprising in Ambazonia, which comes from the local name for the bay at the mouth of the Wouri/Doula River, continues with casualties and alleged war crimes on both sides.