Friday, September 13, 2019

Five things to know about the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon

Cameroon experiences almost daily violence between soldiers and separatists in its two English-speaking regions, a legacy of the turbulent history of this former German colony, shared after the First World War between France and the United Kingdom.

Legacy of 14-18 

After the defeat of Germany in 1918, the League of Nations (SDN, ancestor of the UN), placed four fifths of the German Kamerun under French trusteeship, and the western part bordering Nigeria under British trusteeship .

The French side becomes independent in 1960. A year later, a part of Cameroon under British tutelage (the northern predominantly Muslim) opts for its attachment to Nigeria and the other part for its attachment to the French-speaking Cameroon, to form a Federal Republic to from 1 October 1961

English minority

Cameroon is largely francophone and comprises ten regions, two of which are predominantly English-speaking, the North-West (capital: Bamenda) and the South-West (capital: Buea). Anglophones represent about 14% of the country's 23 million inhabitants.

The authorities extol the reality of bilingualism. The country is a member of La Francophonie and the Commonwealth.Nevertheless, many Anglophones consider themselves marginalized, even victims of discrimination, and denounce an inequitable sharing of wealth.

Contested "unity" 

In the 1990s, English-speaking demands multiplied in favor of an independence referendum. In 2001, protests banned on the 40th anniversary of unification degenerated, with several dead and arrested separatist leaders.

The current tensions emerged in November 2016, with teachers lamenting the appointment of French speakers in English-speaking regions, or lawyers rejecting the supremacy of Roman law at the expense of the Anglo-Saxon "Common Law".

Most of the protest leaders demand a return to federalism and, for a minority, the creation of an independent state, the "Ambazonia".