Cameroon: Take us back to Egypt; Over 40,000 North West Anglophones prefer the “oppressor”
Since the announcement of presidential elections for October 7, 2018 in Cameroon, tensions in the North West have been rising and clashes between military and armed separatists fighters have also increased. This is because the month of October is a very crucial month in the lives of Southern Cameroons History.
It was on October 1, 2017 that millions of Southern Cameroonians took to the streets with peace plants to demand for their freedom in a peaceful protest that turned deadly as they met with ruthless resistance from government military forces leading to the death of countless civilians whose real number has been estimated in many varying and yet convincing figures.
With another October 1 fast approaching as well as presidential elections just a week after October 1, many North West dwellers have been worried to the bone on their safety during such a highly unpredictable period that is sure to be characterized by raining bullets and rockets.
Due to the looming doom around many Anglophone lives during this period and coupled with threats from separatists to ground economic activities and movement for three weeks, as a means to hinder any presidential campaigns in Anglophone Cameroon and to completely disrupt presidential elections in this part of the country, Many people smell total economic hardship and real danger to their lives thus the best option for them has been to move out of the region to safer Francophone regions.
The West region has received about the highest number of IDPs from the North West, Followed by Yaounde and Douala.
Travel agencies like Amour Mezam Company Limited, Moghamo Express and Vatican Company Limited send out over 1300 travellers on daily basis beginning from Tuesday 11th September, 2018. Most travel agencies in Bamenda have been extremely flooded that people have had to book travel tickets a day or two before to have space in a bus for Yaounde or Douala. Unlike before, many long cues are formed and people stand for hours to pay a single ticket.
Transport fare from Bamenda to Yaounde as well Douala has witnessed a very sharp increase though not double as many people claimed within the week. However, the fare from Bamenda to the West Region actually was doubled as it moved from FCFA 2000 to FCFA 4500.
Watching the inhabitants flee, one finds them carrying gas bottles, boxes of clothes, mattresses, beds and even cupboards such that it is easy to guess that many will not return to Bamenda even after this period.
So many business places have closed down and some relocated to the West, Centre and Litoral regions. A walk along the commercial avenue in Bamenda makes you wonder why some shops are still locked at 12 noon and you only guess the answer when you pass by the next day even later just to find that they are still locked and even dusty.
So desperate to leave the war torn North West region, more than 40,000 inhabitants have fled into the very arms of those believed to be oppressing them and branding them second class citizens or “les Bamenda” which is very often intended to be insultive. They however think that it is safer to be oppressed or to suffer in the French speaking side of the country than to die from a stray bullet or be economically squeezed to death without even as basic as education for their children. It is estimated that close to 50,000 anglophone children now study in Francophone educational institutions because they won’t be allowed to go to school in their English speaking part of the country in peace.
The inhabitants who are courageous enough to stay and watch October 1 and October 7, 2018 unfold are however not totally unworried about the outcomes of the days. They are making sure to store enough provisions in the house so as not to die of starvation instead of a stray bullet during this unpredictable period.
Houses have emptied and now more than ever before, there are so many apartments and houses to let in Bamenda Town thus making this period an ideal one to search for houses.
The governor of the region has however issued a strong statement in which he assures the population of the region of their safety and calls on them to stay calm and encourage their children and relatives in the bushes to come out and vote in order to decide the future of the country. In his statement he warns that those who will constitute a nuisance in the name of Ambazonia or will be suspected to be involved with Ambazonia activists will be sincerely dealt with.
He is making this strong note at a time when the Ambazonian fighters especially in Bafut, and Chomba have suffered very serious losses from the hands of the government forces within the week.