7, December 2017
Cameroonian author Patrice Nganang was arrested at the airport as he tried to fly to Zimbabwe a day after publishing an opinion piece sharply critical of Cameroon’s president, a source said Thursday. Nganang, who teaches literature at New York University, “was taken into custody yesterday (Wednesday) at Douala (airport),” a source close to the police disclosed. “He drew attention to himself in recent days with several acts of provocation,” the source said, also mentioning Nganang’s Facebook posts.
Agents were waiting for him at the airport in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, and he has since been taken to the capital Yaoundé for detention. The writer had been en route to Harare after wrapping up a stay in mainly French-speaking Cameroon, during which he visited the restive Anglophone regions that have been hit by an anti-secession government crackdown.
On Tuesday, Nganang published a French opinion piece on the Jeune Afrique news site that was critical of Cameroonian President Paul Biya’s handling of the Anglophone crisis. “It will probably take another political regime to make the state understand that the machine gun cannot stem a movement,” wrote Nganang. “Only change at the head of the state can settle the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon,” he said.
Calls for greater autonomy in Cameroon’s two English-speaking areas, the Northwest and Southwest Regions, have been rejected by Biya whose government has led a crackdown on the separatist drive. Anglophones make up about a fifth of the country’s 22 million people, and often say they suffer from economic inequality and discrimination, especially in education and the legal system.