As Cameroon prepares for a presidential election on 7 October, violence continues in the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions. In a prophetic article in 1999, Professor Francis Nyamnjoh described how the state system of divide and rule makes Cameroon’s regional and ethnic groups turn against each other. “Regrettably, this is what we are seeing today”, he tells The Nordic Africa Institute.
The brewing conflict erupted into violence after security forces in October 2017 cracked down on protests calling for English to be used in classrooms and courtrooms in Cameroon’s anglophone regions. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International estimates that 400 citizens have been killed in the past year and 160 members of the security forces since late 2016.
According to Nyamnjoh, the anglophone movement is not only a protest against the marginalisation of the English-speaking population in the former French colony, but also a protest against President Paul Biya, who has held a firm grip on Cameroonian politics for 36 years.
“The fact that anglophones oppose the government doesn’t make it an anglophone problem necessarily. In fact, it is a very Cameroonian problem: of a state that doesn’t deliver, a state that has no business being there because there are no results.”