Bible translator killed in his home in Cameroon

Published 25 October 2019  |  
(Photo: Aghem Bible Translation Project)
Bible translator Benjamin Tem was killed in October 2019 in his home in the Wum area of Cameroon.

A second Bible translator has been killed by suspected Fulani extremists in the civil war-ridden Anglophone region in southern Cameroon this week, a ministry source has confirmed.

Bible translator Benjamin Tem was murdered in his home in the Wum region Sunday night, reports Efi Tembon, a Cameroonian activist who heads a ministry called Oasis Network for Community Transformation.

According to Tembon, who met the victim while working on a translation project in 2013, Tem served as a Scripture engagement facilitator for the Aghem Bible Translation Project, which completed a New Testament translation in the Aghem language in 2016.

Tem, 48, was also a promoter of Bible listening groups in the Wum area. He was buried on Monday and leaves behind five children.

No one has claimed responsibility Tem's murder. However, Tembon told The Christian Post that locals have blamed Fulani radicals, saying they have been encouraged by government actors to carry out attacks against separatist-supporting farming communities in southern Cameroon.

Fulani herders in Africa have long butted heads with farmers over land rights to graze cattle.

"He was attacked last night by people suspected to be pro-government Fulani herdsmen," Tembon told friends on Facebook. "They butchered him and cut his throat."

Tem's death comes two months after fellow translator Angus Fung, who also served in the Aghem Bible Translation Project in Wum, was killed in a similar fashion in his home.

According to Tembon, Fulani attackers have killed at least two dozen people and burned several houses in the Wum area alone.

"I think our authorities have actually been working with the Fulanis," said Tembon, who regularly travels to world capitals to urge the international community to push for an end to the bloodshed and human rights abuses in Cameroon.

"There is a war of independence going on in the area and so the local population supports independence for southern Cameroon. And these attacks toward the local population is not just by Fulanis, the military is also attacking and burning homes. So the military is working hand-in-hand with the Fulanis. They have actually armed some Fulanis to help them fight the local population."

Tembon accused the government of trying to "inject a religious aspect to the conflict."

"[T]hey know that the Fulanis are Muslim and the local population tends to be Christians," he said. "And so trying to create a conflict will create chaos in the area."

According to the Joshua Project, the Aghem community in Wum is 75 percent Christian.

Since Tem's death, residents have fled the area, much like other local populations that have come under attack. Tembon assured that "attacks are taking place far and wide" in Southern Cameroon.

"All the areas where attacks have been carried out have been deserted," Tembon stressed. "Now the Fulanis will graze and try to take advantage of the chaos and take over the land."

According to the United Nations, at least 700,000 people have been internally displaced in Cameroon amid the violence over the past two years.

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