Anglophone crisis: One crisis, Two Tales

Entrance to the University of Buea

The two English-speaking regions of Cameroon have been engulfed by an armed conflict with no fewer than 4000 lives lost according to Human rights Watch. 

The crisis moving into its sixth year has come with varied degrees in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.

At the start of the crisis, the then Mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema put up a stiff fight against separatist incursions and against the ghost town phenomenon which has been observed every Monday since February 2017.

The actions of the late Mayor of Buea have paid off today. With the ghost towns still observed in other parts of the North West and South West regions, Buea is shaking the scales of it. Cars can easily ply the Douala-Tiko-Mutenegene-Buea road on Mondays. 

Today, Businesses operate freely into the night even in places like Muea that used to be deadly.

On a 48-hour trip to Buea, this reporter could spot uniform officers freely moving without wearing heavy protective gears or moving in armored vehicles.

Taxis and other personal vehicles ply the streets of Buea with CEMAC number plates. Something which is a rare commodity to find in Bamenda, Capital of the North West Region of Cameroon.

Black number plates used in Bamenda, CEMAC number plates used in Buea

Since June 15th 2022, CEMAC number plates have been disappearing from the streets of Bamenda. Vehicles ply the roads either with black number plates or manufacturing numbers ascribed to vehicles.

In an effort to bring the situation under control, North West Governor, Adolphe Lele LAfrique requested all Senior Divisional officers to ensure that only CEMAC number plates are in circulation.

"To put an end to this type of imbroglio and anarchy which has lasted for too long, all vehicles both administrative and private
circulating within the North West Region are recommended to imperatively have their respective and prescribed CEMAC plates.
Administrative Authorities in the strict and uncomplaisant implementation of these prescriptions should instruct Defense and Security Forces of their respective command units to carry out permanent control on all road axis upon reception of this circular letter to which I attach a lot of importance." The letter orders.

This has been disregarded ever since with taxi drivers and car owners claiming it is better to 'settle' (bribe) the military than been shot by amba fighters.

One of the casualties of the separatist imposed banned on number plates is a lady popular known as Mami Jana Supermarket. She was brutally killed in the night of Friday 5th August 2022 at Mile 3 Nkwen.

Area View of Bamenda 

So while Buea breathes to wave of development, Bamenda buries its own because of number plates.

The story in Bamenda is even more aching because night businesses which used to characterize the town is today dead. As early as 7pm, the town is deserted with few drinking spots on.

Irregular call for ghost town like the most recent, calling on people to stay at home as French President, Emmanuel Macron touched down on Yaounde was largely ignored in Buea, South West Region but honoured with fidelity in the North West.

The crisis has born other crises in the region as Fulanis and indigenes of Menchum have come under severe clashes and more than a score of people killed.

Unlike Buea, Security elements in Bamenda move with bullet proof, helmets and mask. Combat ready to deal with anyone with tries to intercept their job. 

        Bamenda, Wise Up

The people of Bamenda and the North West Region must heed to the general call for peace and Killings to stop. Like before 2016, the residents of the North West Region must look at each other like brothers and stop the unnecessary wasting of people's lives in the name of a struggle. 

Raping, maiming, killing and a total disregard of the human race has become the order of day. People's personal belonging have been seized. Cattles killed and many to forced to pay a ransome by the same people who posed as liberators. 

Villages are almost empty with many visitors afraid to go pass Bamenda, a town known for its hospitality, friendliness and beautiful food and locally brewed drinks. That Bamenda has got to come back. 

Businesses have folded up with most persons promising never to return. This has left a large part of skilled labour unemployed and at a time when food prices are surging, many have been left in the mercy of God for survival.

As other parts of the South West Region keeps growing in business and open to welcoming new people, the North West must know that the story of pushing Cameroon forward must not be written with their blood.

The North West has to know that no nation has achieved independence through ghost towns or through kidnapping their own for ransom or stopping children from going to school.

As individuals spread rumours of ghost town from ear-to-ear, they must adopt this approach of preaching peace from ear-to-ear.

It begins with me.

Ndi Tsembom Elvis 

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