A video supposedly showing cannibalism taking place in the English-speaking region of Cameroon was posted online in late June. Since late 2017, this region – located in the west of the country – has been shaken by clashes between separatist groups and the country’s security forces. Since the beginning of the conflict, videos showing the violence have been circulated online. However, in this case, the gruesome scene isn’t what it seems.
The video shows a man squatting next to a cooking pot, containing what looks like a leg, two hands and a human head, all simmering over the fire.
"If you’ve eaten meat but you’ve never eaten this, then you’ve never eaten meat," he says in local pidgin.
There are other people gathered around. One man helps him build up the fire.
Screengrab of the video. WARNING: Readers may find these images shocking, even though they do not actually show cannibalism.
This video was first shared on Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp on June 20. Several of the original posts have since been deleted.
Our team got this video on WhatsApp on June 25.
Those who shared this video claimed that it was recorded in "one of the English-speaking regions in Cameroon", which would be either the northwest or southwest parts of the country. For the past few months, these regions have been shaken by violence, mostly clashes between Anglophone separatist groups and Cameroonian security forces. Other social media users said that the footage was filmed in "Ambazonie", the name used by separatists in the English-speaking regions.
There were several articles published in Cameroonian news outlets about this video, including one called "Cameroon: scenes of cannibalism in the secessionist regions".
Screengrab of the article published on the Koaci website on June 20.
A minister duped by the video
On June 25, the Cameroonian minister for Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, referenced this video in an interview on the show "Présidence Actu" on the public television channel CRTV.
"Cameroon’s own terrorists have done worse than Boko Haram (…) because I’ve never seen Boko Haram cook human beings in cooking pots,, he said.
Cameroonian officials regularly use the term "terrorists" to refer to the separatist groups in English-speaking regions.
A Cameroonian minister referenced this video apparently showing an act of cannibalism in a televised interview broadcast on June 25 (starting at 50’35)
A video from a movie
However, this video was not actually filmed in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
To figure out where the video is actually from, start with a simple Google search using the keywords “cannibalism”, “Cameroon” and “Ambazonie”.
One of the results is an article from the website StopBlaBlaCam, which specialises in debunking fake news circulating in Cameroon. The article explains that this video was actually made on the set of a Nigerian movie called "Omambala", which was confirmed by part of the film crew in an Instagram post that included a video.
According to this Instagram post, the man accused of cannibalism is, in reality, a man called Uche Mbachu, who was part of the film crew and was just posing on set. You can see him in the video shared with this post.
On his own Instagram account, Mbachu says that he is a specialist in sets, props and special effects make-up. He also tried to clear up the situation in a short video, where he explained that the videos with the cooking pot were “not true” and that they had been created by the artist Hakeem Effect, "just for a film".
The FRANCE 24 Observers team reached out to Mbachu, who explained a bit more:
We are in the process of filming our movie in Obudu. [Editor’s note: a zone in Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria.] This film is about slavery in Igbo Landing [Editor’s note: a town in Georgia, in the American Deep South], in 1803. The contents of the pot are just plastic!
On Mbachu’s Instagram account, there is also a photo of him posing next to the cooking pot in question that was posted on June 18.
This article was written by Chloé Lauvergnier (@clauvergnier).