His21


Disruption and continuity in Cameroon: the Anglophone crisis 
Convenorss:
Michaela Pelican (University of Cologne)
Ben Page (University College London)
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Stream:
History
Location:
David Hume, LG.08
Sessions:
Thursday 13 June, 8:45-10:15 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

The panel aims to analyse the history and complexity of the current situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. It also aims to discuss 'lessons learned' from academics working on similar conflicts in other parts of Africa, and how they may facilitate a process of dialogue.

Long Abstract

The Anglophone regions have been in a state of violent unrest since October 2015. This began with lawyers and teachers protesting against the erosion of the special status for law and education in the Anglophone regions. The national government responded high-handedly, arrested and jailed some of the protesters whom they accused of terrorism. This generated new protests and violence and enabled advocates of secession to move from the periphery to the centre of the debate both in the region and in the diaspora. Since then military force has met rebel force; violence and extortion have become commonplace. Tens of thousands of villagers have been internally displaced or have taken refuge in Nigeria. In October Paul Biya, who is 85 and who has been President since 1982, was re-elected, in an election marred by allegations of intimidation and fraud.

The panel aims to analyse the history and complexity of the current situation. It also aims to discuss how academics, local stakeholders, African neighbours and the international community might launch a process of dialogue, taking inspiration from similar conflicts in other parts of Africa.

Possible topics:

- Current position of the government

- Francophone perspectives on the crisis

- Motivations and profile of the rebel forces (Amba boys)

- Involvement of the diaspora

- Ethnicization of the conflict (with respect to the Mbororo)

- Internal displacement and humanitarian aid

-'Lessons learned' from academics working on similar conflicts (e.g. Eritrea, Somaliland or South Sudan)

Accepted papers:

Author:

René Lionel Brice Molo Zogo (Université de Yaoundé 1/GSPR-EHESS )

Paper short abstract:

Ce papier a pour but de mettre en exergue la notion de ''risque''comme une construction sociale qui s'appuie sur des ''biais et des filtres'' particuliers depuis l'époque coloniale.

Paper long abstract:

Après avoir hérité du Cameroun à l'issue de la Grande guerre, l'administration coloniale française décide de moderniser les transports en améliorant le chemin de fer et en construisant des pistes d'aviation dès 1937. Or, ce projet voit naître quelques oppositions locales qui voient en ce projet, le revers pernicieux de la modernité. Tandis qu'à l'opposé, il n'est nullement question d'abandonner ce projet, qui n'est guère perçu comme un risque. Ce dilemme qui révèle la divergence d'intérêts entre les deux parties, illustre assez bien le caractère ''asymétrique'' de la notion de risque. Et ces intérêts constituent des filtres qui influencent les perceptions des catastrophes par l'administration coloniale, pour qui elles sont des phénomènes normaux, et par les populations locales qui les conçoivent comme phénomènes relevant du paranormal.

Author:

Nixon Kahjum Takor (Faculty of Arts-University of Bamenda)

Paper short abstract:

The Anglophone problem in Cameroon emerged from different contentions. The paper examines the role of post-independence governmental educational actions in fashioning a malcontented social narrative which metamorphosed into a political discourse among origins of Anglophone of Cameroon.

Paper long abstract:

Among the domains most affected by the escalation of the current Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, the education sector is very outstanding given the lock-down of several schools since November 2016. This scenario developed after some teachers' trade unions in the two English speaking regions, North West and South West, of Cameroon called an indefinite sit-in strike action to protest against what they claimed was the systematic and sustained erosion and destruction of the English-sub system of education. This system loosely referred to as the Anglo-Saxon educational system was the legacy of formal British rule and educational policy in Cameroon between 1922 and 1961. Although a corporatist remonstration, the move by the teachers' trade unions carried ferments of broader dissenting voices challenging the substance of the political project that led to the reunification of hitherto British Southern Cameroons and (French) Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The paper examines the role of post-independence administrative educational policies and reforms in fashioning a malcontented social narrative in the British bestowed regions of Cameroon. It argues that the long association of the people with British educational philosophy created resistant cultural frontiers which made efforts at educational harmonisation a paranoid take for assimilation. It further contends that government responses to the grievances of the trade unions were cosmetic leaving Anglophones with the feeling that the institutional trappings of 'French-inclined national integration' could not be unfastened. The investigation makes appeal of primary and secondary data and draws conclusions based on qualitative historical analysis.

Author:

Manu Lekunze

Paper short abstract:

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has come to represent a series of crisis or protests which occur periodically in demonstration against the perceived marginalisation of former British Cameroonians in contemporary Cameroon.

Paper long abstract:

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has come to represent a series of crisis or protests which occur periodically in demonstration against the perceived marginalisation of former British Cameroonians in contemporary Cameroon. A number of incidents have occurred over the years including; in the 1970s against the abolition of the federal state, the change of the name of the republic reverting to the name originally used by Cameroun in 1983, the plight of Anglophone students in universities in Yaoundé in 1984, the pro-democracy and constitution change demands of the 1990s (mostly championed by anglophones) and the current crisis from 2016. The last few years have witnessed a proliferation of extremely romantic versions of Cameroon's history and in some cases suppression or fabrication of history, on popular and social media. The purpose of this articles is to articulate the historical, geostrategic and political dimension to the anglophone conflict. It investigates history in conjunction with contemporary events and geopolitics to illuminate the sources and nature of the conflict. It is argued that precedence, the nature of Cameroon's governance system and the prevailing international system predisposes the government to resist change.

Author:

Amber Murrey-Ndewa (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from on-going research on social media and repression in Cameroon's 'Anglophone crisis', I explore the roles of diaspora activists, contestations on social media and the use of state and infrastructural violence in setting the parameters of what has become a secessionist movement.

Paper long abstract:

The Internet operates as a critical mechanism of place-making, bound up with complex contestations of political meaning-making, stories and counter-stories; this includes how various groups frame and comment upon social and political struggle. In this, social media platforms provide spaces for the emergence and sustenance of 'shared vocabularies' (à la Paul Gilroy) for articulating grievances within virtual communities (Rao and Wasserman 2017). Internet users circulate and comment upon past and current visualisations of injustices, violence and marginalisation and articulate visions for the future—these representational strategies compete within public spaces in complex confrontations over what are and are not 'truthful' accounts of the social world. Yet, the suspension of the Internet, the blocking of social media networks and media websites, and the stoppage of mobile infrastructure have become normalized state responses across Africa, including in Cameroon.

In this presentation, I consider on how 'infrastructural violence' worked alongside other forms of repression to suppress and marginalise the re-emergence of the Anglophone resistance movement in October 2015. Drawing from on-going comparative research on social media and repression in Ethiopia and Cameroon, I use interview data and social media ethnography to explore the roles of diaspora activists, contestations on social media, as well as state violence in setting the parameters of what has become a secessionist movement.