The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon might be another brewing event for a yet another possible civil war in Africa. The declaration of independence of Ambazonia by the English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest in Cameroon generally the Southern Cameroon triggered a critical counter-attack by the Cameroonian national government which is dominated by the French-speaking regions. More also, the killings and violence executed by both parties; the Cameroonian military and the separatist group Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF) has cost the lives of about 120 military personnel and over 250 civilians. The reports may be higher since most attacks are under-reported.
A closer cause of the crisis
Though several circumstances are noted to be the causes of the rift between the Anglophone and the French-speaking dominated government. In October 2016, peaceful protest was carried out by lawyers and teachers from the English-speaking regions of the country. They protested against the compulsory use of the French language in classrooms, government offices and legal documents. In order to protect the English culture, they opposed the use of French as the primary language in the Anglophone regions. Marginalisation also contributed to the anglophone crisis; the majority French-speaking group run the bigger and most government offices, ministries while the minority English-speaking region is left to occupy smaller and lesser roles. Instead of dialogues and further planning/negotiations, Cameroon’s longtime president Paul Biya sent the military who violently attacked the protesters, arrested many activists and killed a number of civilians. This act on its own catalysed a heavy combat between the English-speaking group and the Cameroonian army.
Is colonialism the major cause of Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis?
Since it’s a battle of two languages inherited from their colonial masters (French and English), there should be a concern on the impact of colonialism and its post-colonial heritage, especially in Africa and Asia. Notable civil wars and tribal clashes in Africa can always be traced to colonialism. The compelled amalgamation of regions with diverse cultures, languages, religions by the colonial masters has brought more divisions amongst the joined groups. Nevertheless, there is unity in diversity only if marginalisation and ethnic bigotry are ignored. Again, poor and autocratic leadership which has crippled not just the English-speaking regions but the country itself. Incompetent government and dictatorship is the worst evil any African country could possess.
Is the international community quiet over this crisis?
Charity begins at home they say but yet African Union has pretended not to notice the heaviness of the crisis going on the Southern region of Cameroon. No intervention, warnings or negotiation on dialogues by the AU. Meanwhile, Economic Community of Central African States though seem ineffective but could have a tangible say on the unrest.
UN has claimed to be closely watching the Anglophone crisis. How long will they watch? About 160,000 Cameroonians are internally displaced while 30,000 has fled to Nigeria as refugees. Report on death casualties seems to be manipulated by the government; to make it more hidden Biya’s government blocked internet access in the Southwestern and Northwestern region of Cameroon. Witnesses have spoken loudly of human rights abuse and killings by the national army. Nevertheless, the separatist group also involved in violating human rights.
The best way to solve the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon
Dialogue. If Biya’s government should pay more attention to dialogue than counter-attacking the separatists, there will be a sizeable outlook of peace. Although, Biya has noted that his “government is open to dialogue only as far as the unity and diversity of our country are not questioned.” This is where the African Union and UN should come in. The lack of interest on the Anglophone crisis by the African Union and United Nations are unwelcome. Sanctions or sending UN mediator should be better tools to darkle the smouldering crisis which may erupt to civil war. Former colonists like Britain and France must be part of the solution process – starring from a distance or just condemning the war crimes in the Anglophone crisis is likely to yield a passive performance.