News Brief

English-Speaking Cameroonians Have Been Blocked from the Internet for Nearly a Month

People in Cameroons predominantly English-speaking regions are being blocked from using the Internet by the country's government.

For almost a month now, areas in Cameroon's South Western and North Western regions have been without Internet. Sure, not being able to check Facebook, Instagram or Twitter on the regular sounds annoying, but it is beyond that when you're trying to use these platforms to organize, but can't due to government interference.


In Cameroon, mounting tension between the country's Anglophone population—who make up 20 percent of the population—and its French-speaking majority have led to government protests, as English-speakers feel that they are being discriminated against due to partial government practices in favor of the Francophone population.

Last month, lawyers and teachers went on strike to protest the use of French in courts and schools, many were arrested. Last November, several activists were arrested during a demonstration and one activist was killed, reports BBC News.

Just days before the Internet shut down, the government released a statement threatening jail time for anyone spreading "false news" via social media. Most see this as the government's way of stifling  political dissent. After all,  if opposing voices are silenced, then the government can carry own as it has been.

It is a major hindrance for activists, but it has not stopped some Cameroonians, with access to Twitter, from tweeting in opposition to the shut-down using the hashtag #BringBackOurInternet.

Many are also calling out telecommunications companies for their compliance with the government in not speaking out against the outage.

Cameroon isn't the only African country where government-initiated Internet shutdowns have occurred recently. Last year Ethiopian officials halted access during nation-wide exams, and they did so again last December after protests erupted in the country's disenfranchised Oromia and Amhara regions.

Whether it's to creep into someone's DMs or to rally and express social and political discontent, the people of Cameroon have a right to utilize the Internet, and they want it back.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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