I live in Cameroon. I am also very angry about the last bombing atacks by Isis. I was in Beirut out to dinner with friends when we received sms alerts to stay put because of the bombings. We saw the horror of it on the local news. Next day, Paris, a city I love and where we had spent a week this year and I reconnected with the place…Somehow these things made the last events very personal to me.
Angry as I am I try to understand what can motivate these people and what is their support. Are they just a limited group, lonely crazy extremists? Are they a materialization of a social cleavage, of a deep and wide hate and anger at other religions, other ways of life? Are we facing a deep social division or is it just a temporary aberation? Where are we headed? I need to find answers and just reading the comments of melodramatic journalists about it just doesn’t answer my needs.
And I start asking people. Ordinary people here on the street. What do ordinary cameroonians believe?
For one thing they are glad about happened in Paris. Their attitude is: “ Well, now you see how it feels! You French killed lots of us, you exploited us, now you are still arrogant and control our economy and politics ! You got what you deserve! “. They point out that France is helping to keep in power the corrupt leaders that serve Cameroon on a plate to a France that is greedy and arrogant while the people keep getting poorer. They point out to monopolistic French companies that provide expensive and low quality services, they point out that the managers of public corporations, nearly all operating at a loss, exporting the goods to France, are all French nationals….and they are frustrated. Well, this bombings helped a bit to compensate their frustration.
I am naturally shocked and I ask how can this be when at the same time they all want to go and emigrate in France. Well, they see no contradiction about this. They want to be over there to live better, but that doesn’t mean they need to love the place. It’s fine to suck the place dry…they owe us!!
But how can this attitude be reconciled with what goes on here in Cameroon, with Boko haram killing all this people in the North of the country. They should be against Boko haram and all islamic extremists! Well, the answer is even more amazing. In their view Bokoharam is about Cameroon’s internal politics. The bitter truth is that in the South, where are the large cities and the country’s leaders, people don’t care about the “ trash in the North” . They don’t know what Boko haram actually wants to achieve. They never heard of the global califate and what Sharia means and in the abscence of that information they bring the situation down to their level of debate, that this insurgency must be an instrument of political pressure. They point out that once the chief of the Army was changed there were no more Bokoharam attacks and they interpret this as a new understanding and negotiation between the terrorists and the new army chief, not about better defense systems.