Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Cameroon

The protests in Cameroon kicked off on February 23, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
Cameroon is definitely one of those countries that I haven't heard much about. All I know about Cameroon is what I researched for a paper in 7th grade. I'm looking forward to learning more.

Basic History
Cameroon's official name is the Republic of Cameroon. Geographically, it is located in central and west Africa. Important bordering countries include: Gabon and Nigeria. The capital is Yaoundé. The population is estimated at 19.1 million people. The official languages are French and English.

Cameroon's most recent leader is President Paul Biya. He has been President since 1982. The country had a two term limit, but President Biya had that changed in 2008 so that he could run again later this year for his third term. The President in Cameroon is up for election every four years. He is head of state and head of government, and he appoints all the major governmental offices, including Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is Philémon Yang.

In terms of independence, Cameroon gained independence from France and the UK in 1960 and 1961, respectively. Northern Cameroonians were under control of the French. Southern Cameroonians were under the control of the UK. After their individual Independence gains, they decided to join together into one country. Paul Biya is only the second president of Cameroon in its current form. Both presidents have a history of centralizing power in their office to avoid coups by those not on their side.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: corruption, wanting to end the rule of President Biya, and the vast gulf between the affluent and the poor.

The protests in Cameroon are hard to put a timeline to because nothing I've found on the internet has set up the information where multiple day events are available all in one source. But I think I've done a good job with Google and so I've put together what I can for your reading pleasure.

February 23rd is the day considered the start of the Cameroonian protests. The protests were mainly against President Biya. They wanted him to make changes in the way he governs. February 23rd is an important day for Cameroonians. Since 2008, it's been the day they take to the streets in protest. The protest organizers were hoping to get the people out in large numbers, but reports emerged saying the protests were pretty much the same meager numbers from years prior.

The Cameroonian riot police were prepared for protests and possible riots on that day. They were in large numbers in major cities and effectively shut down a couple of protests. Perhaps that is the reason the protests never got going that first day.

A big part of the calls for protest and the voice of unrest come from Diaspora Cameroonians. That term refers to Cameroon nationals who live elsewhere because they are in exile, or have fled the country, or left for better opportunities. Their blogs are the main voices of unrest because local journalists cannot speak out because their voices are controlled (somewhat) by the government. President Biya issued a warning in late February against the interference of Cameroonians who weren't living in the country.

Journalists did manage to get some photos and videos out to the world through youtube and twitter. Starting March 7th, the government had Twitter service blocked. Someone set it up so that by sending a code on their cell phone, Cameroonians would still gain access to tweets. Although most in Cameroon don't have internet access at home, the population uses a lot of internet cafes and they gain access that isn't represented by statistics. The citizens may not have a lot of internet access, but the prevalence of cell phones is growing. They are spreading messages that way.

I haven't been able to find any recent information about ongoing unrest in Cameroon, but I will keep my ear to the ground. And if anything comes up, I'll be sharing it on this blog in a future post.

More information can be found at,, and

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