A joint French-Cameroonian commission started Friday (Mar. 3rd) work on delving into France's role in the nation's colonial past and post-independence years.
It is jointly headed by a Cameroonian artist Blick Bassy and a French historian Karine Ramondy.
The composition of the team tasked with digging into a chapter of the central African country's history clouded by bloodshed and silence has stirred controversy.
"We only have 14 seats, or 14 selected if I may borrow football's metaphor. Some people were lucky enough to be able to work on this commission, but instead they chose to criticize it, even though they had agreed to join it in principle. Well, It’s their choice, I can only regret it," Ramondy said.
Ramondy will spearhead a team of 15 historians from both countries, while artist Bassy will oversee collection of oral testimony in Cameroon. Where some are still haunted by the past according to a university professor.
"You can imagine, there are deep wounds that have never healed. this commission is supposed to, not to creating resentment, not demands, no, there are no claims, there is the recognition of historical facts. I’m waiting for France to say 'we’re sorry'," Soh Charles explained.
France ruled a part of Cameroon first under a League of Nations mandate from 1919 to 1960, brutally repressing independence fighters.
The French president promised during is visit to Cameroon last year that historians will be given access to state archives to investigate the past and establish "responsibilities".
The commission is due to submit its findings by the end of 2024.
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