Coventry University researchers receive funding to explore peaceful resolution of the Southern Cameroons crisis
Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) is part of a project exploring possible resolutions to a civil war that has displaced more than 750,000 people.
Professor Gordon Crawford from CTPSR has been awarded £150,000 in collaboration with Professor James Kiven from the African Leadership Centre, Nairobi, and colleagues from the University of Buea, Cameroon.
The roots of the so-called ‘Anglophone crisis’ go back to Cameroon’s colonial history, where the original German colony of Kamerun was divided between French and British administration after the First World War.
Today the country is 80% French speaking (Francophone) and 20% English speaking (Anglophone). Since independence in 1960, the minority English-speaking population has feared loss of identity as a result of the increasing dominance of the majority francophone government.
What started in October 2016 as peaceful protests to protect the English legal and education systems has since turned into a civil war, following government repression of the mass protests. In 2017, separatist groups emerged calling for an independent state in the two English speaking regions of South-West and North-West Cameroon.
However, it is the civilian population in the Anglophone regions that has borne the brunt of the conflict. Reports indicate that up to 12,000 people have been killed, over 750,000 displaced, and hundreds of villages have been destroyed. Moreover, 700,000 children are out of school, with 80% of schools closed.
Professor Gordon Crawford, CTPSR says: This is a much-neglected conflict internationally. Our project aims to explore possible means of resolution, particularly by highlighting the perspectives and experiences of civilian populations in the conflict zones.
“The project will explore methods of ending the violence. By giving a voice to the civilians – and in particular, displaced persons forced to flee their homes and those who remain in the conflict zones, known locally as ‘ground zero’ – the project aims to include their experiences in official dialogue.
“Through participatory arts based methods such as collage-making, as well as historical and sociolinguistic analysis, the research will document and report on the diverse experiences and perspectives of civilians, highlighting in particular those of women and young people.
“The project will also collaborate with key humanitarian NGOs that operate at ‘ground zero’ to provide a further platform for the voices of those within affected communities.”
Source: Coventry Observer