The Interreligious situation of Cameroon

How inter faiths peace relates to migration

Essay, 2016

8 Pages, Grade: 2.0



a) Muslims to Muslims
b) Christians to Christians
c) Christian/Muslim to Traditionalist
d) Christian to Muslim





Cameroon is a bilingual country located in the central region of Africa commonly referred to as the ECCAS.[1] French and English are the two public languages while Duala, Mungaka, Fulfulde, Beti and Oroko[2] are the most popular dialects since the colonial days. There are three main religions namely: Christianity 63%, Islam 22% and Traditional religions 14%. It is not very clear where the remaining 1% is attributed to though scholars often attach it to Gnosticism[3] in general. The interreligious situation of this country can be classified as not very clear and yet ambiguous. It seems to be a “boiling pot” or a time bomb. This paper is a summary examination of this situation in the Cameroonian context. Even though it seems unclear, yet there are ongoing activities which suggest that the various faiths in Cameroon are struggling for a peaceful dialogue in the midst of rising tension.

This paper is based on document analysis of former, current reports and news items all listed in the reference and the personal experience of the writer who had served for three years among the Muslims in the north of Cameroon. This work is written without in-text citations for the reason that it is a summary understanding of other works and also to allow the references appear at the end. The following outline will be the guide for this work:

a) Muslims to Muslims

To properly understand the interreligious situation of Cameroon, it would be proper to understand the inner relationships between the various denominations and sects of the faiths. There are suspicions and distrust within the same faiths before extending to other faiths. Among the Muslims there are divisions between the traditional Sufism dominated by the Fulani, the Sunni, the Shia, the Takfir and the Wahhabis[4] which is more Arabic inclined. The formers are older and more open while the last one is radical, vigorous and strongly opposed to Sufism’s openness to other faiths. This tension within them determine how they view other faiths.

b) Christians to Christians

There are tensions between the mainline churches (especially the Catholics and the Protestant) versus the new emerging Pentecostal churches.[5] This group is very vulgar against other faiths and are thus often marginalized or not included in any dialogues or national affairs because of their view of things. Other faiths for them are simply demonic and they see the Catholic Pope and Protestant Bishops or Moderators as groups of evil church leaders. They often launch “crusade” against them.

c) Christian/Muslim to Traditionalist

In general, the Christians view the traditional religions as fetish, animistic and evil. But the Catholics and the Protestants adopt some parts of the tradition that can help improve upon the worship life of the church through the process of inculturation. They however do not see the traditional priest or doctors as servants of God. They may allow the Christians to go for traditional healing only on the condition that it is the last option. But the Pentecostals and the new tele-evangelical churches declare traditional religions as devilish and bad.

However, it seems traditional religion is a part of the Sufis Islam. It’s easy to hear of the “Maraboo”[6] or the witch doctor officially being talked about on matters of healing and divination. Islam in Cameroon embraces the traditional religions but only as a part of Islam.

d) Christian to Muslim

This is the focal point of interfaith discussions in Cameroon. The Catholic and the main Protestant churches are the champions of the interfaith dialogue which is easily done with the Sufis Muslim but hardly with other Islamic sects. Sunni Muslims to a certain extent may agree to a peaceful dialogue with the Christians but these are mostly done in the urban areas where there are more flexible. There are evidences to show that there are great forums for dialogue between the Muslims and the Christians in Cameroon. This is seen in the existence of the following organizations; the ACADIR, the World Conference of Religion for Peace, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC), the Council of Protestant Churches in Cameroon (CEPCA), the Orthodox Archdiocese of Yaoundé, the Higher Islamic Council of Cameroon (CSIC) and the Islamic Cultural Association of Cameroon (ACIC) etc. Christianity has joined forces with the Sufi and Sunni Muslims and the Ahmadiyya brotherhood to pray against the Boko Haram insurgency in the country mostly propagated by Wahhabism. This writer personally attended the Jan 26th interfaith conference in Mora tagged; “Living in peace in the sight of God”. There are clergymen who jointly celebrate Ramadan and Christmas together with the Muslims as seen in the photos below.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The first picture shows the Revs Numfor and Ajime[7] during the last Ramadan in the Sufi Mosque in Buea town of the Southwest Region of Cameroon and the second shows Rev Bah Pius with the Imams of cite de la paix in Douala after celebrating the feast of Ramadan. Today, there exist a peaceful co-existence between the Christians and the Muslims who share the same hospital and cultural dresses.

However, there are existing tensions and some difficulties in the process of the whole dialogue. The first of these difficulties is that the associations that promote interreligious dialogue are weak and dispersed. Their activities are sometimes restricted to the organization of meetings and workshops for church and mosque leaders and have little impact on the general public. Again, they also suffer from a lack of government support, because they are funded by foreign donors, mainly German in the case of Christian churches and Arab in the case of Muslims

It must be noted here that these dialogues have increased today as a result of the threats of the Boko Haram. There is need to make the public aware of the fact that it not just about Muslim violence but of a group of Muslims perpetrating violence in the name of Islam. The south was already becoming violent to the Muslims because of the stories of burnt churches, raped Christians and those killed in the North. The good news for now is that it has not yet become a religious war but there is the fear that it may result to that if care is not taken.


All the above discussed points relate to the issue of migration in Cameroon. First of all the migration profile of Cameroon shows that many emigrated into, as well as there are many immigrants in Cameroon. Migration begins from rural to the urban areas. In Cameroon are more than 81.000 refugees running away from religious war in CAR or Chad and other parts. There has been the influx of different groups of Islam from Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and even Morocco. They bring with them different doctrinal views that begins tension from within Islam. The result is trouble for the nation. In the same way other Christian groups have immigrated in to Cameroon from Nigeria and Congo. It must be noted that in the North of Nigeria, the tension between Christians and Muslim is no longer news. In central Africa, there is an open religious conflict between the Muslim and the Christians. These tendencies are being nursed in Cameroon now through the weapons brought in by migrants from these places. In past years migration was caused by poverty, climate change or inter-tribal wars etc. but today, the fear of war from the Boko Haram has caused many people around the Mokolo and Mayo Tsanaga areas to migrate to other areas. Boko Haram was brought into Cameroon by immigrants from Nigeria after the government there dealt with the same group in the north of Nigeria. They took refuge in Cameroon and then later began to promote religious hatred among the people. It should be noted that Wahhabism burns down both churches and Mosques in Cameroon making it more complex to determine whether it is Muslim-Christian or Muslim-Muslim conflict.

Sometimes, the affected people of these areas run to the south or outside the country. As another local example, in Bafut sub-division, a Pentecostal war against tradition let to the exile of many natives who were involved in the act of cutting down an ancestral tree. A Muslim community in Bambili in the Northwest Region is against the Catholic Church for land allocated for a Catholic university. This has often led to conflict and the people of that locality have moved for safety, some to the towns and others to different villages.


The interreligious situation in Cameroon relates to the problem of migration in that religious tension have caused people to move away from their homes in search for habitations elsewhere. The focus in this context is that of terrorism disguised into a religious movement that could have caused an uprising from the other faiths. It is contained by the government in that the other religions have been sensitized to understand that it is not about Islam as a whole but of some fanatic group who are blood thirsty and war loving. Relatively, Cameroon is at peace and this also explains why many victims of religious war and other forces have often run into Cameroon for refuge. Thus, there has also been the new problem of the refugee.


1) ACADIR (2006)
2) Interreligious Dialogue and Peaceful coexistence in the north of Cameroon. (2007) by UNESCO
3) Janelle, P (2016) Christian and Muslim leaders call for peace in Cameroon. [Online]
4) Migration profile of Cameroon (2009) by IOM Dakar Regional Office Report. [Online]
5) Moki, Edwin K. (2014). Cameroon Preaches Interreligious Tolerance. VOA News, Africa.
6) Muslims and Christians unite against Wahhabism in Cameroon (2016) [Online]
7) Pelican, M et al. Local perspectives on transnational relations of Cameroonian migrants.
8) The threat of Religious Radicalism. International Crisis group report No229 (2005 )


[1] The Economic Community of Central African States Known in French as CEMAC

[2] These languages are classified according to the various Regions they cover within the country. As much as there are over 250 native tongues in Cameroon, most of them fall under one of these larger groups.

[3] The infiltration of Gnosticism into Cameroon is yet doubted and if there are any signs of it at all, then there often considered as coming from outside and brought in by migrants from other countries

[4] Wahhabism is considered in Cameroon as the fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam that causes terror around the country. It is believed to have come from a mixture of the immigrants from Nigeria, Sudan and Egypt. They are violent and also opposed even to other forms of Islam.

[5] Most of them are the birth children of immigrants from Nigeria who promote a radical Christianity that opposes anything orthodox or mainline and especially tradition.

[6] Often referred to as charlatans and preached against even by national media

[7] Full flesh involvement of the PCC in the peace process in Cameroon as she allows her pastors to get connected with other faiths around their parishes and to improve upon the dialogue process.

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The Interreligious situation of Cameroon
How inter faiths peace relates to migration
inter-faith dialogue and Migration
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ISBN (eBook)
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interfaith, faith, religion, Cameroon, individual faiths, inter religious dialogue
Quote paper
Emmanuel Wayi (Mico) (Author), 2016, The Interreligious situation of Cameroon, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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