When our friend Theo first met his Chinese wife, Libby, in Shandong Province, her parents, protective of their only daughter and wary of Africans, finally gave their blessing with the words, “at least he’s not a bad looking black.” Theo tells this story with wry amusement, as though he would parse it more if he were not already so burdened. He is a pleasant and gentle man, respectful, trustworthy, the kind of man who in West Africa would be said to have had “good home training.” But for the past year, a dark sighing heaviness has blanketed him.
He is an Anglophone Cameroonian, and his home is in peril. News reports, sparse as they are, refer to what is going on in the western region of Cameroon as the “Anglophone crisis,” and it gives a somewhat benign linguistic tint to what is in fact a blistering devastation. Hundreds have died. Villages emptied, homes and shops reduced to blackened debris.