Divided Cameroon celebrates National Unity Day

4 months ago 3117

Cameroon has been celebrating 51 years as unified nation with a military and civilian parade on National Unity Day in its capital Yaounde.

For all but 10 of those years it has been ruled by just one man, President Paul Biya.

And at 91 years old he is now the oldest head of state in the world.

The country is now less united than ever: Thousands of people have been killed since 2016 and over a million people displaced after a group of Anglophone Cameroonians began to fight Biya's Francophone government.

Some of those who watched the parade sounded optimistic about their country's future and welcomed the day.

"It is to remind that we are one people, it's to remind that it's together that we can build and develop, it's to remind that it's together that we can be happy, it's together that we can live in peace," said Therese Temgoua, a Francophone Cameroonian who is a bank executive.

"I think it's a happy day, and what I've seen today shows that Cameroon's democracy is actually in the right direction," Enobi Akepe, an anglophone Cameroonian who is a university lecturer, said.

But one francophone journalist described the unity of the country as a "facade."

"Today, Cameroonians agree that we are living in a certain facade of unity. First, because in the North-West and South-West, you know that there are secessionists who do not let us breathe. On the other hand, we see the rise of hatred in the country," said Pierre Youte, a journalist and the director of Soleil d'Afrique newspaper.

This rainy season Cameroon is also facing a cholera epidemic which has spread to all of its regions and is know to have infected around 20,000 people.

The figure is likely to be higher as only those infected people who manage to reach hospital are counted.

On Friday, on the eve of National Unity Day, the authorities closed down some of Yaounde's food markets to prevent the spread of the deadly bacterial disease.

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