Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

A man in Cameroon wears a shirt featuring President Paul Biya, taken March 20, 2008, via RNW media/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.

Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya, in an infrequent outing on Tuesday, September 10, announced talks to put to rest the crisis rocking the country’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions – an impasse elapsing for the fourth year.

The conflict broke out in late 2016 when English-speaking Cameroonians began to protest the ongoing marginalization from the Francophone majority, who say the French-speaking majority government has consistently oppressed their language, culture and economies.

The protest movement, led mostly by teachers and lawyers, evolved into a militant separatist movement calling for the secession of English-speaking Cameroon. The government clamped down on Anglophone separatists and the conflict led to close to 2,000 people killed and over 500,000 displaced, according to the United Nations.

President Biya, who has been in power for 37 years, said the discussion would pull together people from a vast array of the country and will be chaired by Anglophone Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.

“The dialogue in question will mainly concern the situation in the northwest and southwest regions. The dialogue will, therefore, rally all the sons and daughters of our beloved and beautiful country, Cameroon, to reflect on values that are dear to us, namely: peace, security, national unity and progress,” President Biya said on public television CRTV.

Gina Sondo 🇨🇲@GinaSondo

In view of the National Dialogue, ’s PM Dion Ngute will meet the following…

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However, there are concerns the dialogue may be limited and remote-controlled by the country’s leadership.

Agbor Nkongho, a human rights lawyer, who was part of the initial protests, wrote on Twitter on September 11, reacting to the President’s speech:

Agbor Nkongho@AgborNkonghoF

The call for an inclusive dialogue is very appreciated. I urge those who will be attending to call for the release of all those detained in connection with the crisis, the need for constitutional amendment and also to ensure that the form of the state is equally discussed.

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The Anglophone crisis in context 

After World War I, Britain and France shared control over Cameroon. France ruled French Cameroon and Britain administered a territory then-called British Southern Cameroons.

French Cameroon gained independence in 1961 as La Republique du Cameroun while British Southern Cameroons voted to join La Republique du Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, made up of two states: West Cameroon (English-speaking) and East Cameroon (French-speaking).

However, the first president of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, who held power from 1960-1982, abolished the federal system in 1972. Today, there are 10 regions in the United Republic of Cameroon, made of 8 French regions and 2 English regions.

Anglophone Cameroonians have long lamented suppression from Francophone Cameroonians, who have dominated the country’s leadership since inception.

In 1991, efforts made to incise the abscess of the Anglophone problem with a similar call for dialogue fell flat. The All Anglophone Conference in 1993 and 1994 also made no impact:

Dibussi Tande@dibussi

When Anglophone members of the Committee on Constitutional Reform, set up by @PR_Paul_BIYA in 1993, proposed an alternative Federal Constitution, the President instead convened a “Grand Debat National” to water down & sidestep Anglo demands

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Nonetheless, President Biya recently announced a national dialogue to take place at the end of September, and several groups have already submitted proposals on how to resolve the crisis.

In one of them, the opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, led by vice-president Joshua Osih called for a neutral personality to chair the talks. Several Anglophone separatists are calling for the release of their leaders from prison after receiving life sentences.

Doubt, hope, fear ahead of talks

Netizens took to Twitter to express hope as well as doubt about the impact of the national dialogue plan. Solomon Amabo called for the need for a third-party presence to ensure transparency and inclusivity:

Solomon Amabo@solomon_amabo

Dialogue:’Who will I dialogue with?asked Mr Biya?He turns around and calls for National Dialogue,to dialogue with who then?Dialogue with ready-made resolutions-One and indivisible Cameroon?Only negotiations with 3rd party presence(UN,USA,etc)can be binding.We are not in 1961!

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Peter Tah also worries about inclusivity and wonders how peace is possible without a clear ceasefire:

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

It’s increasing clear that the national dialogue will focus on issues like bilingualism, social cohesion, cultural diversity, return of refugees, reintegration of ex-combatants & rebuilding of affected areas in the Northwest & Southwest regions of .

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

Looking at how predialogue talks are unfolding, it’s evident that this will be far from being inclusive. The regime seems to be picking & choosing those who would attend. Plus if this is dialogue on a crisis involving two parties, how come one party gets to draw up the agenda?

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However, Biya clarified on Monday, September 16, that the national dialogues will focus on “bilingualism, cultural diversity and social cohesion, the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the education and judicial system, but also decentralization and local development,” according to Cameroon Online.

The United Nations says it has taken in the resolve by Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya to settle the armed conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.

The UN urged inclusive talks to end the conflict that has persisted for nearly four years:

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement made today by President Paul Biya on the launch of a national dialogue process in Cameroon. He encourages the government of Cameroon to ensure that the process is inclusive and addresses the challenges facing the country. He calls on all Cameroonian stakeholders, including the Diaspora, to participate in this effort.

Still, the September talks are announced amidst ongoing violence and a new surge of refugees fleeing insecure situations — including lockdowns and school closures for the last three years — in the northwest and southwest regions.

4 Extinct Languages That Used to Be Widely Spoken

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Extinct Languages That Used to Be Widely Spoken

Countless factors facilitate the extinction of a language. A language becomes extinct when the members of the community who speak it are forced to integrate with larger populations. Through assimilation and the loss of cultural norms, these four languages fell out of the mouths of speakers, despite once being commonly heard around the world.

Coptic

Credit: Ram Kay / Shutterstock.com

An extinct language that consisted of ancient Egyptian, Demotic, and Hieratic origins, Coptic was widely used in ancient Egypt after the spread of Greek culture to the region. This extinct language is considered the first language of Christianity, and scholars who specialize in theology often study it. Linguists agree that Coptic is similar to Late Egyptian, which was written with Egyptian hieroglyphs.

This ancient language existed as a literary-based language, so even in its most popular time, it was only written. The Coptic alphabet looks like a combination of hieroglyphs and Greek, probably because it borrowed letters from the Meroitic letters of the Demotic origin. Like most languages, Coptic is an example of the ever-evolving nuance of language. Though it is unspoken, the use of Coptic in liturgical practices, especially within the Greek Orthodox Church, is still going strong.

Biblical Hebrew

Credit: Fat Jackey / Shutterstock.com

An extinct language that laid the foundation for modern spoken Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew is no longer used in conversation. This ancient way of writing in Hebrew grew from the literary and biblical scholars at the height of its popularity – around 200 CE. Most ancient Israeli people spoke biblical Hebrew in daily conversation. However, the language is considered extinct because it is only taught within the construct of the Jewish faith as a way to understand the Jewish bible, the Torah.

The main difference between Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew is the use of verb tenses. As Hebrew evolved from an ancient language to one in modern use, the need for the past, present, and future tenses arose. Earlier versions of ancient Hebrew had only two tenses – perfect and imperfect.

Sumerian

Credit: Aleksandr Stezhkin / Shutterstock.com

A true ancient language, Sumerian was spoken in southern Mesopotamia long before the Greeks and Romans were jostling. As a culture, the Sumerians’ most widely accepted accolade is that they invented a system of writing. In fact, the first recorded example of written language comes from a group of texts dating from 3200 BCE written in ancient Sumerian.

Many linguists agree that the ancient language was an amalgamation of many different languages of the world, but the path of origin is not clear. What’s more, most archaeologists are not sure how or when the Sumerian-speaking people arrived in Mesopotamia, but one thing is for sure. The region served as a multicultural hub for a long time. However, there have not been any native Sumerian speakers in generations. This might be because of the decline of the Sumerian empire. As the people migrated north in search of lands for farming and lost their language to that of their new home, this made it one of the most famous extinct languages.

Akkadian

Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock.com

Linguists assume that Akkadian developed out of Sumerian, since there are some linguistic connections in this extinct language. At its height, Akkadian was the language to speak in the entire world. Speakers ranged from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. It has only been in the last century that scholars have revitalized the language while uncovering ancient ruins.

Language extinction is both gradual and sudden. If a community is forced to forfeit its language due to political pressure or because there is not enough interest in it, it is going to become extinct. Many believe it is vital that the current languages spoken do not disappear entirely and that records are maintained for posterity.

Countries without national languages

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Countries without national languages

What’s your mother tongue? Maybe you speak English or Spanish or French. Do you speak the language that matches your nationality? Most likely, you do. However, you might be surprised to find that some countries don’t have an official language. Find out if your home is one of the few countries that fall within this category.

Which countries don’t have an official language?

●        United Kingdom

●        United States

●        Mexico

●        Ethiopia

●        Costa Rica

●        Eritrea

●        Somalia

●        Australia

●        Pakistan

3 Most Useful Second Languages

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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3 Most Useful Second Languages

If you’re reading this, you have quite a powerful language. There are 1.5 billion global English speakers – the most spoken language in the world. Why not make your linguistic skills even more powerful by learning other strategic languages? It’s always useful to learn aspects of a language while traveling – phrases in German, French, Italian, Greek and Romanian for your trip across Europe, perhaps. But there are a handful of languages that would be wise to learn, especially as a frequent traveler. Here are the three most useful second languages.

Arabic

Credit: Juan Ci/Shutterstock

There are at least 315 million native and non-native speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. With it, traveling to the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia is so much simpler (especially since the written language is so different from English lettering). Arabic is the official language of Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and a few dozen other countries. It’s also the liturgical language of the Muslim population (around 1.5 billion people), making it highly important to religious scholars and those with an interest in the topic.

Spanish

Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Every traveler likely knows a tiny bit of Spanish, but with so many Spanish-speaking countries, it’s a no-brainer to learn in an effort to make your trips easier and more rewarding. There are about 400 million nature speakers in countries around the globe: Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and, of course, Spain, just to name a few. It’s universally recognized as useful, as it’s the third most studied language in the world behind English and French.

Mandarin Chinese

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If you want to interact with 1.1 billion or so people, you’re going to have to do so in Mandarin Chinese, nearly a billion of which are native speakers. China is expected to become the world’s leading economy by 2050. If you’re in business, it’s a must-know language. It would at least be extremely useful as the country’s worldwide influence increases.

10 Facts about the English Language That Will Surprise You

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF WORD GENIUS)

 

10 Facts about the English Language That Will Surprise You

Do you think you’re an expert on the English language? You might not need to use spell check, but we bet we can surprise you with some details about the English language. It’s confusing and complicated, but it’s ours. We’ve put together some interesting facts you can use to pull out at cocktail parties and trivia nights. Read on for more fun facts about the English language.

Keep it Short and Sweet

A complete sentence contains a subject and a verb. If you have these two parts of speech, you have a complete thought. Therefore, the shortest sentence you can create in English is the short and sweet, “I am.” How very philosophical of you.

Building Blocks

Lots of words are borrowed from other languages, but even the building blocks have to come from somewhere. The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta.

We Steal from Entertainment

Language is always evolving and growing and technology words are no exception. The “spam” in your junk email folder comes from a Monty Python skit. A couple asks a waitress what’s being served and she replies, “Well we have eggs and Spam, eggs, bacon, and Spam, eggs, sausage, bacon, and Spam, eggs, Spam, sausage, Spam, Spam, bacon, Spam, eggs and Spam, Spam, spinach and Spam.” A computer programmer thought the flood of emails reminded him of this skit, and the spam in your inbox was born.

Don’t Leave Any Out

You’ve probably seen the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog” before, but did you know why this sentence is so special? It uses every single letter of the alphabet! For this reason, it’s popularly used to test different fonts or when testing keyboards, because you will hit every key at least once. This sentence is also known as a pangram.

Forget Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

The ACTUAL longest word in the English language is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, and it refers to a type of lung disease caused by inhaling ash and dust. Try to sing that one, Mary Poppins.

Blame the Printer

Even dictionaries need copy editors. Sometimes a word makes it into the dictionary for one reason or another, but it doesn’t actually mean anything. These words are called ghost words.The nonexistent word “dord” appeared in the dictionary for eight years in the mid-20th century.

It’s Not for a Broken Leg

But it can help you out anyway. Crutch words are words that we use frequently, but give no added value to your sentence. They include words such as like, honestly, basically and literally.

Turn Your Head Upside Down

Here’s a fun trick: look at the word SWIMS. Turn your head upside down. It still spells SWIMS! Impress the little kid in your life by teaching them about these words called ambigrams.

Ask Your Pilot

English is the language of the skies. That means all pilots have to identify themselves and speak in English while talking to air traffic control, no matter what their country of origin.

It’s a Girl Thing

Remember that language evolves. In this case, girl used to be genderless. It simply meant child, regardless of gender. At some point boys got tired of being lumped in with girls and we got the separation of boys and girls.

Estimated 70% Of China’s Population Can Now Speak National Language: Mandarin

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

More Chinese able to speak the national language

CHINA has managed to raise the proportion of the population able to speak the national language, Mandarin, but still faces difficulty in remote areas and places where ethnic minorities live, China News Service said yesterday.

As of the end of last year, more than 70 percent of the population could speak Mandarin, compared with 53 percent at the end of the last century, the agency said, citing the education ministry.

The ministry believes that with greater urbanization and more young people moving into cities, areas that are weak in Mandarin abilities, mostly remote places and areas with lots of ethnic minorities, the level will continue to rise, the news agency said.

It hopes to have “basic” national coverage for the language by 2020, it added.

Some officials have previously said that the country was too large and had too few resources to get all of its 1.3 billion people to speak Mandarin.

China has been promoting Mandarin for decades to ensure national cohesion in a country where there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dialects, as well as ethnic minority languages like Tibetan and Uygur.

But some dialects, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, enjoy strong regional support even if there is little official backing for their use.

Lack of money also means that some schools in poorer, more remote areas have to use teachers whose own Mandarin skills may not be up to par.

In the Chinese mainland Mandarin is referred to as Putonghua or “common speech,” while in Taiwan it is called Guoyu, or “nation”.

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