Cameroon's Separatist War: Anglophone Grievances and its Diaspora

The population of the two English-speaking regions (formerly British Southern Cameroons) makes up about one-fifth of the total population of Cameroon, constituting a sizeable minority in the country’s estimated 28.5 million people. The rest of the population are from the francophone regions. The politicisation of the minority status of the two English-speaking North-West and South-West regions and their repeated complaints of discrimination and exclusion since 1961 have taken a deadly turn in recent years. A year-long protest in Cameroon’s anglophone regions in 2016, following incessant complaints about their neglect and marginalisation at the hands of a brutally repressive government led by francophone elites for more than 60 years, descended into a civil war in 2017. The national ‘grand dialogue’ staged by the authorities in September 2019 failed to engage the leaders of the separatist movements on a clear, negotiated path towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Almost four years later, the conflict continues to rage on, with Cameroon’s anglophone diaspora playing an important role in this regard. Following several protests by anglophone Cameroonian communities across many countries, the government’s initial attempts to court and cajole this anglophone diaspora have failed. The government now looks set to extend its repressive tactics to anglophone Cameroonians abroad. This policy insight explores the complex background to this conflict and discusses the role of the increasingly activist anglophone Cameroonian diaspora in the conflict and the prospects for peace.