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Why are African Immigrants Turning to Republicans?

On October 30, 2018 in Northwest region of Cameroon, a fellow American from Indiana, was allegedly targeted and executed by the Cameroon military during a crossfire of a developing civil war and electoral/voter recount war.

On October 31, 2018 the Senator Menedez of New Jersey puts out a statement on Rev. Wesco of Indiana and essentially calls him a ‘white savior’ of Cameroon

How in the world can a man who was in Cameroon for two weeks as a missionary “working to improve the lives of the people of Cameroon.”

That same day, the Cameroon American Council requested an emergency meeting with Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey to discuss his recent public statement on the U.S. Missionary, Rev. Wesco, killed in Cameroon during the country’s civil unrest. 

We pointed to the strong ties between Cameroon and New Jersey, including tje decades old sister-city relationship between the City Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the City of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey. As as the significant Cameroonian diaspora of Cameroonians in New Jersey, including Cameroonians who are recent immigrants to New Jersey and those who traced their DNA to Cameroon, such as Presidential aspirant and its junior Senator, Cory Booker.

Senator Menendez’s statement, in our opinion, was hyperbole, weak, incomplete and borderline racist. We indicated such on our email exchanges to the Senator and shared our views on social media. 

On November 1, 2018, Senator Menendez’s office agreed to meet at 3:30 p.m. at his Washington, DC office. Their only requirement was that we provide the names of all those who will attend the meeting. We complied and provided the names of those in our party. 

At the meeting, we were reprimanded for essentially calling out Senator Menendez on his inactions on the Cameroon crisis, yet, when an American was targeted by the Cameroon government and shot, Menendez put out a statement which essentially called the American missionary a ‘White savior’. 

The Menendez team abruptly ended the meeting and asked for our phones. We asked them why they needed our phones. We were told that the Senate building is ‘phone-free’ and they proceeded to confiscate our phone and to call the police on us. Our team included: Black, African, Immigrants, and young people. This is the very demography that Democrats claim to court. The Menendez team has never returned our phones nor explained why they called the police on Black immigrants performing their civic duty.

We have heard nothing back from them about our property. We reached out to Senator Booker of New Jersey (who traced his DNA to Cameroon and is a former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey) and got no response. 

Since the onset of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis, the Cameroon American Council has asked Senator Menendez to take a series of public/visible actions on Cameroon, and he consistently refused, failed to respond or follow-up. He literally pushed us to Republicans. So, being desperate as Cameroon Dictator Biya burns hundreds of villages, rapes, detains and kills thousands of people, suppresses freedoms of press and protesters, the Cameroon American Council resorted to traveling across the USA to mobilize our community and allies to engage Republicans on Cameroon. 

So, why is an organization, led by a Black, African, Immigrant, Young Woman, relying on mainly Republicans to push our advocacy agenda on Cameroon? Well, the Republicans, surprisingly have been more accommodating to Cameroon crisis advocacy tools.

Below are the 5 requests we made to Senator Menendez, which he refused to do and instead called the police and confiscated (and failed to return) our property.

  1. Culturally appropriate Congressional statement on Cameroon’s civil unrest and references to diaspora. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do this, yet Republican Congresswoman Walorski of Indiana did.

    2. Congressional letter to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley requesting a Diaspora Briefing on Cameroon at the United Nations. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do this, yet Republican Congressman Dan Donovan of New York did.

    3. Congressional delegation of Congress members (not merely staff) travel to Cameroon to observe first-hand how our diaspora tax dollars are being used to support the Dictatorship of President Paul Biya. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do, yet Republican Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma did. (Rep. Russell is founding co-chair of the Congressional Cameroon Caucus).

    4. Congressional Resolution on Cameroon and on New Jersey’s Cameroonian-American (and Professor at New York’s Stony Brook University), Dr. Patrice Nganang, who was abducted and detained during the Cameroon Crisis: Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do, yet Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin did.

    5. Congressional Hearing on Cameroon crisis. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do, yet Republican Congressman Smith did.

In addition to asking for the return our phone which was confiscated by Senator Menendez’s office, we still need the Senate Democrats to use our tax dollars to process our 5 requests listed above. So,  on Nov. 29, 2018, we had the Senate’s briefing on Cameroon, hosted by, you guessed it, a Republican, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. (Please see agenda below). 

Senate Briefing on Cameroon: Crises, Coalition, Congressional Actions.
In partnership with:
Cameroon Diaspora of Oklahoma, Cameroon Diaspora of Nevada, Cameroon Diaspora of Indiana & Cameroon Diaspora of Maryland
Cameroon American Council

Host: Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma

LOCATION: Senate Russell Room 485
DATE: Thursday 11/29/2018
TIME: 01:30 PM to 3:00 PM

1. November 2018 makes exactly two years since the Mancho Coffin revolution which led to the worsening of the Anglophone Crisis. Today, hundreds of thousands Cameroonians are dead, seeking refuge in Nigeria, and internally displaced.
2. November 2018 makes one month since the Presidential elections, which African Union, U.S. Department of State, and other reputable sources, have requested polling site by poll site election results for transparency and to prevent further uprising.
3. November 30th 2018, makes exactly one month since a fellow American, Rev. Charles Wesco was brutally executed in Cameroon. Also, several missionaries and faith leaders such as Kenyan Priest Cosma, killed in mid November 2018 by Cameroonian military.


Ms. Micheline Ewang, Anglophone Activist/Artist

Ms. Adelaide Madiesse Nguela, Francophone Activist/Educator

Mr. Nathan Bennett, Legislative Director, Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana (Founding Chair, Congressional Cameroon Caucus)

Sylvie Qwasinwi Ngassa Bello, Cameroon American Council

More info: @CamAmerCouncil #CameroonCrisis 

Email: [email protected]

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Sylvie Qwasinwi Ngassa Bello is the passionate founder of the Cameroon American Council, the leading African Immigrant advocacy organization. Based in Washington, DC, with affiliates in 30 states; its mission is to build Capacity, Relevance, Visibility for Cameroonians/Africans at home and abroad. The Washington Post describes the Cameroon American Council as 'The First Program of its Kind'.

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