Article: Living Beyond the Drag or Sting of a Racial Divide

A few days ago I received a very shocking and heart breaking photo of a childhood friend brutally murdered in Njinikom, the village of my birth, in Cameroon. His brother, who even happens to be a family friend, forwarded the photo to me and confirmed that the butchering of his brother was related to the current crisis in Cameroon; between the Anglophones and the Franco-phones. English-speaking or Southern Cameroons unified with French Cameroon on May 20, 1972, and detached from Nigeria. But today, Anglophone Cameroon wants to go their separate ways.

Growing up in English-speaking Cameroon, it felt like living in two different countries. I remember developing a deep hatred for Franco-phones; one easily likened to that which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, in Biblical times. My dream was to leave Cameroon for England after my A Levels, and if I had my way, I would have loved to fly out from somewhere else, rather than from the Francophone International Airport, in Douala . I remember fleeing from my first year of university in Yaounde to look for a school in Uyo, close to my mother’s village in Eket, Akwa-Ibom State (Nigeria).

I couldn’t stand the fact that over 80-90% of the employees at the Limbe Oil Refinery (in English territory) were Franco-phones. Even though my father worked there as a nurse, I had little or no hope of finding a job in the refinery, after university.

Fast-forward some close to 30 years later, and I seem to be unmoved racially by the picture of a childhood friend, bathed in his blood.  What a testimony to the deep work of the Gospel in changing my thought process. The language I grew up hating (French) has almost become a competing language to English and I sometimes seem to express myself better in French than in English. My mother has even nicknamed me – “the French man.”

May we find in Jesus’ death, enough power to free us from the oppressing effects of racial division, on our hearts and our freedom in Christ! (Ephesians 2:11-22).

May the Gospel bring healing to the lost and hurting souls in Cameroon and way beyond!

Gilbert Kimeng

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