September 17, 2014 (BBC News) — Many African countries have secessionist movements, partly because their borders were drawn up by colonial powers in the 19th Century. Will the Scottish referendum lead to a greater push for independence on the continent?In one of the few referendums on sovereignty to be held in Africa, in 1961, the people of the British colony of Southern Cameroon voted to join the French territory of Cameroun, while the separate territory of Northern Cameroon opted to join Nigeria.
More than half a century later, some English-speaking Cameroonians want independence, saying they face discrimination by the French-speaking majority.
“The conspiracy between the UK and France denied us the option of independence. Now, the British are being haunted here,” independence campaigner Ebenezer Akwanga told the BBC.
‘Enemy of your enemy’
“They are all Anglo-Saxon, but the Scottish are having their own referendum with an in/out option. Why can’t we?”
But analysts say there is unlikely to be a “domino effect” of independence referendums across Africa.
“The international community has no appetite to rearrange boundaries. It will be an endless process,” says Paulo Gorjao, director of the Portuguese Institute for International Relations and Security.
Mr Gorjao argues that Africa’s myriad secessionist movements are weaker now then during the Cold War, when they relied heavily on the support of either Western powers or the former Soviet bloc.
“Now, none of the major players support a faction against the government,” Mr Gorjao told the BBC.
Expressing a similar view, Berny Sebe, a lecturer in colonial and post-colonial studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK, says the Polisario Front (PF) is a good example of a movement which has suffered as a result of the new international dynamics.