Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Jeffrey Paller

Second Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe


This study examines the dynamics of the anglophone separatist claims in Cameroon, the so-called “Anglophone Crisis”. I focus on explaining why the separatist claims reemerged in 2016 after being shut down for about 20 years. It explains how the Anglophone separatist revendications have sustained over time despite the extremely centralized power of the Paul Biya government.This paper first argues that the Anglophone Crisis is more than an identity struggle between Anglophone/Francophone Cameroonians, but rather a conflict about historical and institutional grievances, political competition, and regional politics involving the neighboring state of Nigeria.

Second, it verifies the hypothesis that the sustainability of the Anglophone separatist claims relies on the important support of Cameroonians from the diaspora with the contribution of social media. According to this hypothesis, over the years, this diaspora has contributed to strengthen the Anglophone identity and to maintain a mobilization of Anglophone Cameroonians on the ground around the idea of an independent republic, the republic of Ambazonia. This mobilization has been mainly led through the internet space, especially on social media.

Finally, I explain the dynamics of the online mobilization of the separatist Anglophone movements. I argue that this mobilization is achieved through the spreading of hate speech and disinformation on social media platform such as Facebook. I also argue that despite this important virtual mobilization, the Anglophone separatist movements reemerged as unstructured entities, composed of multiple armed groups that don’t necessarily cooperate. Indeed, despite the apparent consensual mobilization around an independent republic of Ambazonia, it is still hard to perceive any homogeneity in the political and military structure of this separatist movement. This fragmentation among the anglophone people make the political negotiation with the Cameroonian government more difficult to achieve. In addition, I analyze the perception of this mobilization by international media, by doing a content analysis of the coverage BBC and Jeune Afrique.

Existing literature on secession in Africa analyzes secession as identity, religious or ethnic struggles. My study aims to analyze the Anglophone Crisis with a different approach which considers the role of the diaspora and the mobilization on internet. It also captures the regional dynamic of the conflict involving the key role of Nigeria.

My research suggests that secession must be examined differently than the way it has been studied by previous scholars. Indeed, previous studies focused on the local and national dynamic of this phenomena, limiting it to the borders of states. My study challenges this approach by showing secession as a struggle that transcends borders, by considering the diasporas and the internet as important actors in the struggle. I suggest embedding separatist movements in the globalized and digitized world in which we live today.

In the final chapter, my study also explores potential measures that have to be taken to handle the crisis. First, it suggests a strengthening of the decentralization guaranteed by the Cameroonian constitution. Second, it encourages the humanitarian cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria to keep the stability of their common border. Finally, it explains that the Anglophone crisis should also raise the awareness of the international community about the issue of disinformation and propaganda on the internet during conflict, which is one of our modern days challenge.