The Principal Reasons why Osende Afana was defeated

Castor Osende Afana
Castor Osende Afana

Castor Osendé Afana‘s maquis suffered a major defeat, and a final blow with the murder and decapitation of its leader on 15 March 1966.  Here are some of the principal reasons of the defeat of the Boumba-Ngoko maquis in the south east corner of Cameroon.  These reasons had been identified by Osendé Afana himself before his death, and by his some of his followers later on.

1 – The Boumba-Ngoko region (or Moloundou region) had not been exposed to any revolutionary movement, or any influx of political ideas about the liberation of Cameroon since the end of the second world war, like the populations of the West, Littoral, Center or Southern provinces.  The populations there being mostly Bakas pygmies and poor Bantous peasants and illiterate had almost never led major economic or political struggles against the exploitation and domination of the colonial and neocolonial forces.  Their political awareness was quite low, and they had very little experience fighting.

2 – The region was sparsely populated, which forced the guerilleros, who were supposed to move around the people as fish in the sea, to fight practically in the open against a very powerful enemy.

Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red)
Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red)

3 – The low number in Afana’s group which kept decreasing due to several desertions.  It was also very difficult to recruit among the local people.

4 – No members of the initial group were originally from that region, and thus had little knowledge of the field, the language, and customs of the local populations.

5 – The maquis’ entrance from Congo-Brazzaville had happened without much discretion, and all their subsequent movements in the region did not go unnoticed.  This made it easy for the colonial forces to trace them.

6 – No prior ground study had been done.

7 – The government of Congo, while giving their support to Afana, were opposed to any military action on their borders.

8 – Several tactical differences persisted within the group, with Osendé Afana, being more political and anxious of respecting the Congolese wishes, and with Fosso Francois, who was more military-centered.

9 – No prior contact/communication had been established with the Western maquis led by Ernest Ouandié.  This could have ensure some help.

10 – An incorrect assessment of the colonial forces, their tactics, their capacity of enrolment, and the political activity of the masses on the national scale.

11 – Lastly, too big a reliance on external help.

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