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.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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