The current phase of the Ambazonian struggle started in earnest in October 2016 when the security forces of the Republic of Cameroon followed routine to “resolve” a protest by lawyers and teachers in the Anglophone regions of the country.
The routine was that the protesters would receive broken bones at the hands of the forces and return to their place in the pyramid. Occasionally this would be followed by one or two of the leaders of such protests being brought in through the benevolent and magnanimous patronage of the Head of State, or one of his ministers, on his “high instructions”. Yes, they do like to use this phrase to cover their actions! More often, there would be lessons, in the form of long stints in squalid detention conditions with few rights or any recourse to the law. This routine ensure an island of peace in the troubled region.
This time the routine did not work. Broken bones were less obvious than humiliation, but the widespread distribution of the images of the belittlement meted out to these two groups unexpectedly drew support and courage from the wider anglophone community. Clearly fed up with the routine ritual humiliation that had come to be expected towards anglophones from the francophone system and increasing from francophone functionaries, the population en masse rose to say “enough is enough”.
Big marches took place where the pent up resentment was vented openly. The resentment itself was no surprise, having been barely concealed over the years. The surprise was the scale and courage shown. Few would back down even after live rounds from the security forces resulted in several deaths in Bamenda. Even the brutalisation and humiliation of students in Buea and Bamenda did not quell the protests. Incredible anecdotes of the humiliation of anglophones at the hands of the francophone hierarchy began to emerge and what may individually have seemed like the discrimination of individuals was revealed to be a systematic scheme. Images of the forces only galvanized the diaspora to denounce the injustice.
The government would not revise its routines, which had always worked.