15, May 2021
Cameroon’s Paul Ayah Abine, a former member of President Paul Biya’s CPDM, has experienced political pressure and prison. Officially retired from politics, he remains convinced that Anglophones and Francophones can live together peacefully in Cameroon.
In early May, at the foothills surrounding Mount Cameroon, Buea seems to have almost forgotten the four years of violence that pitted Anglophone separatist groups against Cameroon’s defence forces. In the capital of the south-west region, the shops of Great Soppo have reopened and are blasting Nigerian music to attract customers. Traffic jams are also once again clogging the Malingo Junction in the city centre.
71-year-old Paul Ayah Abine has been living within this secure enclave, in the heart of a region in crisis, since his release from prison on 30 August 2017.
He spent nearly eight months behind bars in Yaoundé for advocating federalism, before being released by a presidential decree. Glasses perched on a face marked by the weight of age and hardship, the former magistrate received us at the headquarters of Justice for All, a legal aid firm he opened in the Bomaka district, which is located in the eastern part of the city.
Paul Ayah Abine “will never leave”
While some of the leaders of the Anglophone movement preferred to go into exile amidst increasing pressure from Yaoundé, like politician Joseph Wirba and barrister John Fru Nsoh, Abine assured us that he “will never leave.”
Despite a stint in prison, which resulted in him going deaf in his right ear, he wants to continue to make the voice of this marginalised linguistic community heard, as it persists in denouncing the central government’s actions.
Culled from The Africa Report