Africa is home to 54 countries according to the United Nations, but in reality, there are a de facto number of 56 countries in the continent. The two unrecognized states are Somaliland and Western Sahara. However, in the deep south of Africa, there is another attempt at creating a country that most people are unaware of – the territory of Ambazonia.
What is Ambazonia?
The Federal Republic of Ambazonia, also known as South Cameroon, is an unrecognized breakaway state in West Africa. It claims the northwest region of Cameroon, although it currently controls almost none of the claimed territory. The latest Declaration of Independence was made in 2017, but so far, no country has formally recognized Ambazonia’s independence. The territory is currently the site of an armed conflict between Ambazonian separatist guerrillas and the Cameroonian military, known as the Anglophone crisis.
The Origin of the Anglophone Crisis
The source of the conflict and the desire for independence is directly related to the term “anglophone.” During colonial times and until 1961, the region that calls itself Ambazonia was a British colony called Southern Cameroon. When Europe began decolonizing Africa and it was time for independence, a referendum took place and voters in Southern Cameroon voted to join Cameroon as a constituent state of a federal republic.
However, over time, the power of the central government, dominated by francophones, expanded at the expense of the region’s autonomy. Many inhabitants of Ambazonia identify as anglophones and resent what they perceive as discrimination and efforts to eliminate anglophone legal, administrative, educational, and cultural institutions by the Cameroonian government.
The situation lasted for over 50 years until in 2016, a large-scale protest was met with a violent government response, escalating the situation. In 2017, a local group unilaterally declared independence as the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
The Flag of Ambazonia
The flag of Ambazonia was adopted as early as 1999 by the Cameroon National Council, an institution that has fought for the region’s independence since 1995. The flag is similar to that of nearby Liberia and takes direct inspiration from the flag of the United States. It presents nine horizontal stripes of alternating white and light blue with a dove surrounded by 13 gold stars on a blue field in the top left canton. There is no historical meaning or origin for the flag’s colors and symbols; they were chosen to represent unity and peace.
The Struggle for Recognition
Despite the latest Declaration of Independence being from 2017, the name Ambazonia is more usually associated with the separatists or independence-seeking faction, while the Cameroonian government and other official sources such as the United Nations continue to refer to it as the northwest region or Southern Cameroon.
The struggle for recognition and independence continues, with the ongoing armed conflict between Ambazonian separatist guerrillas and the Cameroonian military. The situation highlights the complexities and challenges of decolonization and the difficulties of creating a unified country from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
In conclusion, Ambazonia is an unrecognized breakaway state in West Africa that is currently the site of an armed conflict. The struggle for recognition and independence is directly related to the term “anglophone” and the historical discrimination and efforts to eliminate anglophone institutions by the Cameroonian government. The flag of Ambazonia represents unity and peace, and the struggle for recognition continues.