Leur Meilleur Vie: “Hoping we are not the next target.”

Fog over mountains

Written by
Dorala Berinyuy Asesi
Ph.D. Student, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Health Promotion)


Content Warning: the blog contains descriptions of violence and injury to persons which some readers may find disturbing.


It was February 2021 when I arrived in Cameroon. Different from most times when I returned home, there was a scarcity of youths on the streets on a public holiday. Most would claim it was due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, but many of us knew otherwise.

For the past six years, Cameroon has been going through what is known as the “Anglophone crisis.” For six years, people have been displaced from their homes and squat on land in other towns or wherever they can find space. Gunshots are heard almost every day as the military battle the separatists. Like with any war zones, there are casualties. You never know what will greet you when you wake up the following day: bullets; a body on the roads; or words from neighbours, friends saying everyone should stay home. By the way, Mondays in the North and Southwest Regions of Cameroon are called “Country Sunday,” meaning you stay home and do not venture into town. Businesses and schools are closed. This law was put in place by the separatist, and anyone seen doing otherwise would be considered as being against the separatists or the cause. Country Sunday usually refers to a traditional day when we are not allowed to work on the farm. But regarding the struggle, it refers to the first day of the work week and the point is to show that we are different from French-speaking Cameroon. In addition to “country Mondays,” public holidays are not respected, and everyone is meant to stay indoors. remember arriving on a Monday but not being able to get home till the following day because cars were not allowed in or out of anglophone Cameroon on Mondays.

Let me give you a more specific picture of the situation. On June 1, 2022, four soldiers opened fire in Missong, a village in the Northwest region of Cameroon on unarmed civilians. The victims included four men, four women, and a one-year-old baby girl. Another one-year-old child was injured and rushed to the hospital. We would later hear from the person in charge of the military that the soldiers were arrested; however, there is no way to confirm or contradict this information. And like many things in Cameroon, we never heard anything more about it. The separatists have equally contributed to the woes of the people through kidnapping and acts of violence (Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon,2022) Many people feel there are “copycat” separatists who use their names to achieve their agenda. Finding out who is responsible for what and why is not worth the risk in the estimation of many, so people live with the situation as best they can.

I can still remember one Sunday afternoon relaxing with my parents when, out of nowhere, we heard gunshots. Since we were indoors, it was safe enough, but I noticed my parents had fallen to the ground and were yelling that I should do the same. In my mind, they were overreacting because there was no way the bullets could reach us from the road. It was the look of fear on their faces that told me they were not overreacting. It was then I realized why, when I had first arrived home that year, my mum had insisted I not go out. She feared someone would find out I was somewhat new in town, and you never know what could happen. She wanted to create the notion that I had been around all along and was just a homebody.


I have the luxury of leaving after my vacation, but most of them, my parents included, must live this reality every day.


The surprising thing was that not five minutes after the barrage of gunshots had ended, people went about their normal activities with children outside playing and adults running errands.  At first, I was shocked at how quickly people returned to their activities. Later, I was also shocked at how naturally a hairdresser would talk about a young man whose corpse had been abandoned on the streets and how he was good-looking. The fact was that no one was comfortable with moving the body because they did not know who killed him, and none wanted to implicate themselves in an ugly situation. The biggest question was who killed him. Was it the separatists or the military? Either one could cause trouble if you tried to do the humane thing and move him to the mortuary.

Once I got over my shock, the next feeling was understanding and empathy. Honestly, what did I expect them to do? After seeing my elderly parents fall to the floor as a means of safety for people accustomed to gunshots and dead bodies, I thought, “this is their reality.” I have the luxury of leaving after my vacation, but most of them, my parents included, must live this reality every day. The truth is that you see your neighbour today, and tomorrow they could be one of the dead. The fact that everyone lives feeling that tomorrow could be their turn is no life, but it is their life. In the words of my mum, “Everyone keeps hoping that they will not be the next target.”


Where this is going, no one really knows, but the people are making the best of the worst situation because that has become normal.


I lived this life for six months, and it was hard, but how about those people who have been living it for six years and are still going through it? My mum told me three people were murdered recently, one at his place of business and one in front of his wife. Where this is going, no one really knows, but the people are making the best of the worst situation because that has become normal. Many have been killed, many homeless and villages burnt. Gunshots now and then, bodies on the road in the morning, kidnappings for ransom, irregular school sessions, and more, all of these have become their every day.

The Global health equity @ Western blog is a space to reflect on health and well-being worldwide, in my understanding. It is important to remember that the very guarantee of life is precarious for so many living conflicts daily around the world. My research intends to explore the impact of this crisis on the health of Cameroonians, especially the youths. And the challenges of life for those living as IDPs.




  Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon: A Report on Recent Incidents Of violence Committed by Elements of the Defence and Security Forces and Non-State Armed Groups – Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://www.chrda.org/anglophone-crisis-in-cameroon-a-report-on-recent-incidents-of-violence-committed-by-elements-of-the-defence-and-security-forces-and-non-state-armed-groups/




Photo by Edouard TAMBA on Unsplash