21, February 2022
The 27th edition of Mount Cameroon Race, Africa’s oldest international athletic competition, kicked off early Saturday in Buea, chief town of Southwest, one of the two English-speaking regions of the country torn by an armed conflict.
Close to 500 athletes from 11 African and European countries and regions are taking part in the race.
The race is taking place under tight security amidst threats from armed separatists to disrupt the event.
Since November 2017, government forces have been clashing with armed separatist forces who want the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest to secede from the largely French-speaking nation and form a new country they called “Ambazonia”.
Officials said in spite of the prevailing situation, the race must take place to strengthen Cameroon’s unity and integrity.
“This year’s edition is particularly good. The turnout is impressive which is clear proof of our determination to live together in peace and unity,” Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education Narcisse Mouelle Kombi told reporters at the start of the competition.
All security measures have been put in place for the successful unfolding of the race, the region’s governor Bernard Okalia Bilai said.
The race, dubbed Race of Hope, is of a particularly difficult terrain with athletes going up and down the mountain which is over 4,100 meters above sea level.