restricted access 5. More enlightenment
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74 5.more enlightenment hen registration was complete and we Plebiscite Officers had gone through all the hand-written lists and corrected any obvious errors, we all had to take ourselves back down to Buea, where a team of secretaries, freshly recruited for the purpose, were waiting to type up the lists. While these poor women painfully deciphered the handwritten forms, we were able to take a few hours off, exploring the forest on the foothills of Mount Cameroon and even spending an afternoon on the beach. I remember that there was also a reception at the old German schloss, where the Commissioner presided, and several less formal gatherings in the bar of the Mountain Hotel. Nigel and I also took the opportunity to invite all our fellow officers working in our division to come up to Wum for Christmas. As soon as we had corrected the typescripts, we took the finished forms back to our own districts and had them posted where they would be available to everyone in each village. This was to give an opportunity for people to point out omissions on the list, or to make objections against the inclusion of anyone they believed to be unqualified as a voter. The timetable allowed for these objections to be heard later on at specially convened magistrate’s courts. Once the lists had been posted, we all set off to tour our districts on the Second Public Enlightenment campaign. This time we had the help, if you can call it that, of a booklet specially prepared for the purpose, called The Two Alternatives. The title alone provoked a scornfully pedantic reaction from some of us. Why two alternatives, we wanted to know, when the word ‘alternatives’ is sufficient in itself? Beneath the title were the words ‘Printed by Authority’, without specifying whose authority it was—The United Nations? The British Government? The Southern Cameroons administration? The authors obviously wished to remain anonymous, but the plodding legalistic language had all the hallmarks of the British civil service and it appeared to be strongly in favour of Nigeria, though this bias, as things turned out, was not entirely the fault of the authors. On the opening page of the document, which I have in front of me now, there is a preamble, giving a summary of the origins of the plebiscite and the implications of making one choice or the other. The consequences of joining Nigeria, the pamphlet says, “have been made clear in undertakings given by Nigerian Ministers”. The implications of joining the République du Cameroun, on the other hand, are not at all clear, either in the preamble or in the text that follows. In fact, on the second page (given as Page 4, for some reason) the authors administer a schoolmasterly ticking off to the Southern Cameroons Prime Minister, John Foncha, and the President of the République du Cameroun, M. Ahidjo. The pamphlet states that the two leaders had held several W 75 meetings to decide the terms on which union between the two countries might take place. Then it continues “Her Majesty’s Government, as Administering Authority, have on several occasions enjoined upon those concerned the need for clarification of these terms.” The only result at the time of publication (date not given, but probably some time in November 1960) were “two joint communiqués which are reproduced in full on pages 13 to 15.” In contrast to the arrangements for Cameroun, the terms for union with Nigeria described in The Two Alternatives are spelled out in detail; they allow the Southern Cameroons regional status within the federation, with its own parliament, on an equal footing with the other vast regions, and powers to decide on its own affairs, apart from certain federal Government matters such as fiscal and defence policy, that are enumerated one by one. There is provision for two Houses of Parliament, both at federal and regional level—one for elected representatives, the other for a 'House of Chiefs' and the document goes on to underline the powers of traditional rulers in another paragraph. It allows for a separate regional civil service, consisting only of Southern Cameroonians, and a separate legal system, including a High Court “with full jurisdiction in Civil and Criminal matters.” It also makes clear that the new region, in common with the rest of Nigeria, would be part of the Commonwealth. Significantly, it also says that “if the Federal Government and the Southern Cameroons Government were both...