The Crisis In Cameroon Is The Lesson We Didn’t Learn From History

How many more Rwanda's are we going to have to witness?

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In the humanitarian world, we are constantly warned of signs that signify an impending crisis or war. We are told of what happened in Rwanda over and over again, because if we know about history, then we can prevent another Rwanda from happening. But evidently, that is not always the case. Cameroon- the country I lived in for four years, and the country I often call my second home- is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, and no one is talking about it.

While I was living there, Cameroonians constantly prided themselves on being one of the few peaceful nations in the region. Bordered by Nigeria, which has become infiltrated by Boko Haram terrorists, and the Central African Republic, which has remained plagued by civil war, Cameroon has miraculously managed to avoid conflict.  

But not anymore. Although Cameroon prides itself on being a bilingual nation- the only nation on the continent that has both English and French as the official languages- anglophone speakers have long remained ostracized and marginalized. The minority English speaking population has always expressed desire to separate into its own nation, and separatists have since begun putting pressure on the government to address the discrimination faced by the country’s anglophones.

But the Biya administration has responded by ‘cracking down’ on separatists by using violence and intimidation. Peaceful protests calling for the law system to be practiced in Anglophone courts as opposed to the French-speaking system turned violent as military officials attacked protesters with tear gas and murdered them with guns. Villages are being burned, thousands of people have become displaced, and separatist leaders are being beaten, tortured, and murdered. The disturbing part is that most of the people who have been affected by the conflict are not even anglophone. Elders who do not speak a lick of English are the ones losing their ancestral homes- homes and villages that have been around for centuries. HISTORY is being destroyed.

The media has dubbed it “the Anglophone crisis”, but at this point, it is no longer a crisis. Cameroon is on the brink of a civil war, and the world is silently watching as a potential genocide begins to unfold. Although I now live an ocean away from Cameroon, I am still going to try and use my platform to educate my peers and spread awareness of the conflict. How many Rwanda’s do we have to witness before we actually do something and prevent another genocide from happening?

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