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What is in a name? Historicizing and beyond the identity discourses on Cameroonianness and Anglophoneness in bilingual Cameroon

NF Awasom


There is a heated controversy among scholars and Anglophone activists today as to who an Anglophone or better still an ‘authentic' Anglophone is or should be in bilingual Cameroon. It is demonstrated in this paper that the assertion of Cameroonianness during the British colonial period and Anglophoneness in multiple forms in the postcolonial period is nothing short of identity nomenclatures and nationalism of a people intended to serve as a distinct label to escape or protest marginalisation in larger polities in which they were or are minorities. The adoption of different names by Anglophones as a manifestation of their Anglophoneness in the post colony is therefore essentially political. One's Anglophoneité as opposed to one's Francophoneité1 is centred on the question of the recognition, identity, citizenship and statehood of a people that developed over generations. The Anglophone minority in Cameroon do not want every Cameroonian who speaks English or has Anglophone upbringing to pass for an Anglophone because of the fear of losing their identity and claims. This restrictive form of Anglophone nationalism challenges the ideals of the African Union.

Lagos Historical Review Vol. 6, 2006: 61-90