A few days ago I had the privilege of leading a global phone call of prayer for the growing genocide occurring in the nation of Cameroon. I had begun to follow the horrors occurring in that African country, but only as I prepared for the prayer time did the realities penetrate my mind—and my heart. Here is a brief summary and description of the current situation.
How did this happen?
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a Central African nation of approximately 24.68 million people (according to worldpopulationreview.com), divided into 10 regions for governance purposes. Eight of these regions have French as their national language, and two (the Southern Cameroons) have English. The central government of Cameroon is located in the Francophone part of the country.
The crisis in Cameroon is rooted in the way Cameroon became independent. Both Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroon were UN Trust territories. These territories were handed to the British and the French to administer and guide towards independence. French Cameroon became independent on January 1, 1960 and became known as the Republic of Cameroon (La Republique du Cameroun).
On the other hand, British Southern Cameroons was given only two options at the UN for independence. They had to choose to become independent by joining the already independent Nigeria or the independent Republic of Cameroon. Even though there was a push for a third option for this territory to become independent and be a country on its own, this option was turned down because the population was only 750,000 people and was too poor to stand on its own.
Military persecution of the largely unarmed population of the Southern Cameroons has been increasing from 2016 to the present in response to peaceful protests and requests for dialogue. Several small self-defense groups have formed and are fighting back against the government soldiers.
All attempts at dialogue between the Cameroon government and separatists have failed so far. Hundreds of people are being held in prisons, and many have been killed. Tens of thousands are refugees, and many more are internally displaced. It seems we are on the road to genocide.
Meet Efi: A Courageous Voice
The above description of the roots of the current situation was written by Efi Tembon, Executive Director, Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Facilitator Platform for Impact. Efi, who is my friend, wrote this as part of his presentation to the U.S. Congressional subcommittee on Africa requesting American help bringing the crisis to a halt.
He has spent weeks in Washington, D. C., testifying and meeting with Senators and others who could influence the situation. Just yesterday he received word that the horrors have touched him and his family:
“Just got news that our family houses in Kake have all been burnt by soldiers along with many other houses this morning. Eight people were killed in Diffa. The people of Kake, Diffa, and the surrounding areas have all escaped into the bushes.”
Is it really so bad?
“Four were killed in Bamenda, 1 in Sabongida, many in the Oku area, More than 9 in Buea, 1 in Mbengwi, 8 in a refugee camp. Patients burnt to death in a hospital in Mbonge. Probably with some wounded local fighters. And in many other areas that I do not know. The evil killing machine is growing in intensity! My heart really breaks for all these people running for their lives!” Efi reports.,” Efi writes.
“There have been many killings in communities in the Anglophone regions, including children, women, and the elderly. Homes have been completely burned down. Some people are hiding in the forest including babies, expectant mothers, and the elderly. They live there, exposed to rain, snakes and danger from government soldiers, without food or medicine.
“The devastation and pain the soldiers have caused is unbelievable. The trauma, fear and hopelessness of the local population facing such atrocities is beyond description. These atrocities constitute crimes against humanity and need to be investigated. As a result of these actions, the military has caused mass displacement of people and refugees. Thousands of people have been rendered homeless, entire life investments destroyed, family members killed and others sent into hiding in the bushes for their dear lives.
“The Cameroon military has carried out mass killings in the Anglophone territories. The most recent was the killing of 27 youths in Menka-Pinyin.…One of the boys who was shot was taken to a health center in Santa by his two brothers. Soldiers came to the health center, took the three back to the village, and shot and killed them. Within a period of 48 hours between May 23 to 25, over 40 youths were killed in Menk Pinyin and Bali. The military went to Kwakwa and carried out mass killings of unarmed civilians and farmers.”
In another situation in May soldiers invaded a village, shooting while people ran into the bushes. The soldiers killed four men there including the husband of a Bible translation project worker, Mr. Anka Terence.
It is alleged that the soldiers took his phone and his money and burned his bike. His widow, age 22 with young twins and a baby, gathered her children and fled to the bushes. She spent some time in the bushes before they were located and helped by colleagues. You can see her testimony here. Warning: graphic violence at the end.
Another Bible translator’s business and two houses were burned. Mrs. Anyi Theodora was shot by the military but survived. Another Bible translator fled when soldiers came to his house shooting; he credits God for his safety. The soldiers entered his home, destroyed the doors and windows and set fire to the house. He had to take refuge in the bushes with his elderly mother, wife and children. They spent many days in the bushes before they were rescued.
You can see pictures of some of the destruction here.
What can you and I do?
We can call or write to our representatives and senators to urge them to learn about this horrific situation and vote for effective efforts by the nation to take actions to help stop the bloodshed. People in Canada are also urging that country to step in as well.
But of course our main way to make a difference is to pray.
Efi has given these prayer points to guide us:
- Thankful for God’s abundant blessings and goodness to Cameroon over the years
- Thankful that even in these challenging times, the Lord is in control
- Thankful that the church can worship and carry out its mission freely
- Thankful for the peace we enjoyed over many years
2 Chronicles 7:14
- Forgiveness of the sins of the body of Christ in Cameroon, and for a repentant spirit
- Heal the land starting with His church
- For the Lord to pour out a spirit of prayer on the church. For the church to cry out to the Lord
- That the people would be one who call on the name of the Lord!
For the Lord’s mercy and prevention of genocide in Cameroon
14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
- Ask the Lord for mercy and for His hand to stop these killings and prevent genocide
- For a solution to the root cause to be found and for a sustainable solution
- Even though the enemy wants to use this crisis for evil and to destroy lives, that the Lord will use this storm to clear the path for His Word to spread, for many to turn to Him and for His name to be glorified.
- For the Lord to raise godly and righteous leaders
- Pray for those who have lost relatives, their homes and all their lives investment
- Many have physical and emotional wounds, Ask the Lord for healing
- For those who are refugees in foreign land as a result of this crisis
- For those displaced and hiding in the bushes. Many have nowhere to go to no home to go back to. For the Lord to intervene in their case
- That the church will grow through this crisis
- For the Lord to bring the warring parties to find a solution on the same table.
- Good counsel on both sides to move the leaders to discuss and find solution through a peaceful means instead of using guns
We live in troubled times. Other places and peoples around our globe are experiencing similar and even worse traumatic conditions. We can be assured that our God knows, He cares and He is able.
May He give us hearts and hands to bring help and healing and faithfulness to be on our knees on behalf of those who are suffering.
What about you? What will you do?
c2018 Judy Douglass