Houses have been burned down, villages erased by bullets and bombs, children killed by the military in their numbers, girls are been raped as we speak, mothers are on the streets crying, no, no, wailing!. Sons have been butchered! Mothers weep for a father that will never carry their child again. Cameroon is at war with itself.
The two English part of Cameroon for close to two years now have been undergoing tremendous violent changes, the emergence of Ambazonian Liberation force that has seen young people taken up arms to defend themselves and their community. The military who are constantly praised by the regime as a well disciplined and professional army yet we see thousands of people dying every day and thousands more are displaced.
The government is insisting it is there to protect the populations whereas the people run each time they hear of the government. The Amba defend forces are also saying they are there to protect the people, but we also hear of girls being raped by Amba forces, those who don't believe in their secessionist ideology are killed. The two English speaking Cameroon regions are going through hell. But where did it all start?
The root of the 'anglophone problem' in Cameroon may be traced back to 1961 when the political elites of the two territories with different colonial legacies - one French and the other British - agreed on the formation of a federal State. Contrary to expectations, this did not provide for the equal partnership of both parties, let alone for the preservation of the cultural heritage and identity of each, but turned out to be merely a transitory phase to the total integration of the anglophone region into a strongly centralized, unitary State.
Gradually, this created an anglophone consciousness: the feeling of being marginalized by the Francophone-dominated State. In the wake of political liberalization in the early 1990s, anglophone interests came to be represented first and foremost by various associations and pressure groups that initially demanded a return to the federal State. It was only after the persistent refusal of the Biya government to discuss this scenario that secession became an overt option with mounting popularity. The government's determination to defend the unitary State by all available means, including repression, has to lead us to this escalation of anglophone demands past a point of no return. Though longstanding, the conflict between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians took a lethal turn in 2016 when widespread, peaceful protests and strikes emerged. Media reports focused on the role of Common Law lawyers advocating to abandon the Cameroonian Bar Association. Other groups, including the country’s teachers, then joined the protests. After weeks of strikes, gendarmes used tear gas against protesters. Shortly thereafter, four people were killed in clashes with security forces during a protest in Bamenda that arose after the Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union called for a strike. Reports also emerged in late November of sexual violence against students at the University of Buea by Cameroonian security forces. Yes, we must demand, but is violence the answer?
There is a sense of frustration among the Anglophone community. If there is to be any chance at peace, both sides must stop targeting civilians and the government must end the BIR's operations in the area. Torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians must end. Biya should offer meaningful dialogue towards the moderates, and radicals must be willing to work with their moderate counterparts. Inequalities must be addressed and if Cameroon is to remain whole, resources must be divided fairly. International pressure towards mediation led by the UN or U.S. may be the only way to pressure Biya to come to the table. The government should also allow outside observers and other aid organization to begin relief operations in the Anglophone region and the enforced boycott of schools should be lifted to allow children to obtain an education. The longer the crisis continues, the more irreparable damages will occur, and the bleaker Cameroon's future will become.
Beware the Ides of October!!!
In October, Cameroon will hold elections, which could result in increased tensions inter alia: the Amba increases their violent tactics to protest while SDF is taking part in the elections and to drive out according to the repressive government of La Republique du Cameroon. Anglophone territories have previously thrown their support behind the Social Democratic Front (SDF), which currently controls 18 of the 180 seats in parliament. If any perception of illegitimacy in the electoral process takes hold, the current level of violence could take an even deadlier turn. Avoiding an escalation of this kind, and ultimately changing the tone of the current situation, requires dialogue between prominent moderate, non-violent Anglophone activists like Kah Wallah, Agbor Balla also His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tume and the government.
Is it impossible to protect our nature in the war time?
We should actually put even more effort towards the conservation action if we want to be sure about brighter future when the war ends. Forests are the main water catchment areas in most part of Anglophone part of Cameroon. If the places are getting even drier than now it could speed up the conflict even faster. It is very difficult nearly impossible to depend on assistant of Government. People obviously do not think about the nature if their life is in big danger. No one can even blame them for that. That is why we are not giving up and still focus on our goal - to save the Abongphen Highland Forest in Kedjom-Keku.
Find more about the war in Cameroon HERE!