Violence Riggs Through Some Anglophone Towns In Cameroon

 

In the past few days, there has been an upsurge of violent confrontations in some major English-speaking towns of Cameroon, which has led to the death of many persons. These confrontations are mostly staged by the military and groups of youth, who are fighting against, what they call the marginalization of the Anglophone minority in Cameroon. Despite the government’s called for calm, it has not taken any responsible move towards the management of the situation, except for the heavy deployment of combat-ready troops in these towns.

Meanwhile, members of Anglophone civil society groups have called for constructive dialogue with the government, but it has been to no avail. Presently, the message from the protesters is for federalism or total independence of the two Anglophone regions and the creation of the State of Southern Cameroons.

Protesters parade the streets of Bamenda, NW Cameroon with the corpse of one of theirs.

Last Thursday, demonstrators tried to block the holding of a meeting in the North West chief town of Bamenda. The rally, aimed at calling for an end to the strike was to be chaired by the Prime Minister and the Scribe of the ruling party. To protesting youths, the ruling party is the root cause of their hardships. This led to a bloody confrontation between protesting youths and security officers who were using tear gas and live bullets, and at the end of the day no less than 4 persons were killed and about 15 were seriously wounded, while many others were arrested and taken to unknown destinations. The PM and his delegation were locked in their hotel and the meeting was canceled. The following day, in Kumba, one of the major towns of the South West region, demonstrators came out for a peaceful march, but they were met by the military that had been ferried from other towns. The same brute force was used, which led to the death of 4 persons and scores of others were wounded. Before these two episodes, protesting students of the University of Buea were also molested, some were raped and their properties were destroyed.

For about two months now, courts in the two Anglophone regions of the North West and South West have been grounded because of the lawyers’ strike. The men in black are protesting against, what they call a systematic attempt by the government to annihilate the Common Law system, which is the legal practice of Anglophones. On November 21, the Teachers’ trade unions also joined the indefinite strike action, as they are accusing the government of trying to erode the Anglo-Saxon subsystem of education. Members of these two professions believe that the best way to protect the Anglophone and Francophone cultures in Cameroon is to return to Federalism, as decided in 1961. The government has refused to accept there is a problem and has not initiated any constructive dialogue scheme, nor has the President offered a word.

On October 1, 1961, Former British Southern Cameroons attained independence by joining La Republique du Cameroun in a Federal government, which was abolished by the then President, Ahmadou Ahidjo, in 1972. Since then, the Anglophone minority, which forms about 20% (South West and North West regions) of the population has been complaining of systematic marginalization and the erosion of their culture by successive Francophone regimes. For example, there has never been a President of Anglophone extraction, teachers of French expression are sent to teach in English schools, and magistrates of civil law (French law) are sent to preside over cases in English speaking parts of the country. All major positions in the country are held by Francophones and the oil-rich area of Ndian, South West region, does not have a single kilometer of tarred road. As well, whenever Anglophones complain, they are either brutalized, killed or forced into exile. Presently, Anglophone civil society groups are calling for the intervention of the international community as their human rights are systematically being abused.

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