Discrimination and treatment of members of the Bamileke tribe [CMR34023.E]

According to Garth Olsece, in an article on the Minorities at Risk Website,

The Bamileke is a collective term referring to a loose agglomeration of tribal groups populating the western part of the country. Their social organization centers on over 100 autonomous chiefdoms and more than 17 languages and dialects are spoken by them. Hundreds of thousands of Bamileke have emigrated to towns (including Douala) due to the overcrowding of their traditional highlands and because of expanding economic opportunities of the urban centers.

Here, the Bamileke (who speak French and English and have aggressive commercial skills) managed to dominate local retailing and transport. The Bamileke are dominant in professional fields and the merchant class (Olsece G June 1999).

Assessing the risk for members of the Bamileke tribe in Cameroon, Olsece indicates that:

The condition of the Bamileke has not improved under President Biya, despite Bamileke support for Biya against Ahidjo in the early 1980's. Being communal contenders with Biya's Bulu and Beti tribes, the Bamileke continue to face discrimination and harassment largely due to competition within their merchant and trading niche (ibid.).

The Bamileke have allied themselves with the opposition Anglophones against Biya, and are actively seeking to better their situation by altering the political lineup of Cameroon. Besides attempting to replace Paul Biya with John Fru Ndi, the group has pushed for a federal system with regional autonomy. However, it is unclear how a federal system would benefit them since they live dispersed within the southern Francophone society. Tension continues to rise within the Bamileke community due to economic competition, a positive but shaky association with the Anglophones, and continued splintering of the main opposition group SDF. Despite this, the Bamileke are likely to continue to use nonviolent methods of protest, and seek international assistance when necessary to better their situation (ibid.).

Country Reports 1999 says that:

During the 1990's, local-language broadcasts by government-controlled regional radio stations in the south Cameroon, as well as private French-language newspapers with close ties to leading government and CPDM [ruling party] figures, repeatedly have incited ethnic animosity against Bamilekes and Anglophones. During the year, anti-Bamileke and anti-Anglophone commentaries continued unabated in the radio broadcasts, but were less conspicuous in the pro-CPDM print media than they were earlier in some prior years (Feb. 2000, sect. 5)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. February 2000. http://www.state.gov/www/global/hu...ights/1999_hrp_report/congodr.html. [Accessed date: 24 Mar. 2000].

Minorities at Risk. June 1999. Garth Olsece. "Bamilele in Cameroon." http://www.bsos.umd.edu/cidcm/mar/cambamil.html. [Accessed date: 2 Mar. 2000].

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential 1999-February 2000.

Africa Research Bulletin January-February 2000.

L'Autre Afrique 1999-February 2000.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. February 2000. Electronic version.

IRB databases.

Resource Centre country File. Cameroon. 1999 to present.

Jeune Afrique 1999-March 2000.

La Lettre hebdomadaire de la FIDH 1999 to present.


West Africa 1999.

World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International Online.

Human rights Watch Online.

FIDH Online.

International Crisis Group (ICG).

Minorities at Risk Projects.

Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA).

Panafrican News Agency (PANAM).


Search engines including: