The town of Mamfe in southwest Cameroon has once again witnessed the horrors of violence, as suspected separatists launched a deadly attack, leaving at least 20 people dead and numerous others injured. This tragic incident, which occurred on November 6, 2023, serves as a painful reminder of the long-standing Anglophone crisis that has been plaguing the South-West and North-West regions of Cameroon for several years.
In the early hours of November 6, 2023, the peaceful residents of Mamfe were shaken from their sleep by the terrifying sounds of gunfire and the sight of their homes engulfed in flames. The attack took place in the Egbekaw district, one of Mamfe’s oldest neighborhoods, leaving behind a devastating scene. Local authorities, including Prefect Viang Mekala, reported the discovery of 20 charred bodies and confirmed the deaths of at least 20 people. However, some sources suggest a higher death toll, with a resident of Mamfe claiming that 52 people lost their lives in the attack.
Among the victims, the Mamfe hospital received around 10 individuals in intensive care, with children and pregnant women counted among the casualties. The attack has left many residents traumatized, unsure of where to spend the night as they fear further violence. This horrific incident occurred on the 41st anniversary of President Paul Biya’s rise to power, a day marked by military presence in the city. It is a grim reminder of the separatists’ strategy to take advantage of major national events to assert their presence and target the local population.
Roots of the Anglophone Crisis
The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has its origins in the deep-seated grievances of the English-speaking minority in this bilingual nation. The Anglophone population, predominantly concentrated in the South-West and North-West regions, has long felt marginalized by the dominant French-speaking majority. The crisis, which started in late October 2016, has resulted in widespread violence, displacement, and loss of life.
Addressing the Crisis
Local authorities and traditional leaders are determined to find a resolution to this ongoing crisis. Nfor Tabe, a prominent traditional authority in Cameroon, has expressed the need for the community to leverage their traditions openly to bring about an end to the violence. Such efforts from local leaders, combined with the commitment of the government and international community, are essential in finding a lasting solution.
The international community, including organizations like the International Crisis Group (ICG), has taken note of the devastating toll of the Anglophone crisis. According to the ICG, this conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and forced over a million people to flee their homes. The urgency of resolving this crisis and addressing the root causes cannot be overstated.
The recent attack on Mamfe serves as a reminder of the ongoing Anglophone crisis that has been engulfing the South-West and North-West regions of Cameroon. As the local population faces the devastating consequences of violence, it is crucial for local authorities, traditional leaders, the government, and the international community to come together to find a peaceful and lasting solution. The Anglophone crisis has taken far too many lives and displaced countless individuals, emphasizing the urgent need to address the grievances of the English-speaking minority and work towards a more inclusive and peaceful Cameroon.