In my exclusive journey to six villages of South West regions over the week end to talk to the people heads of the planned peace meeting by government deployed elites, the experience was so wonderful, the stories so touching and tearful but the vision strikingly similar for a people in different areas, involve in different economic activities but fueled by same goal.
The 1st October 2017 no doubt will go down in history as one of the most significant day. It marked one of the bloodiest day in 21st century Anglophone Cameroon as the reunification of the two Cameroons in 1961 was celebrated in Yaoundé by lawmakers after an urgent and quick invitation by Marcel and Cavaye in a unprecedented show of unity and celebration of an undenied history
After witnessing and hearing the stories of the people of major towns in the regions, I took to Ekona, Mbanga, Konye, Ikiliwindi passing through Ediki to talk and listen to the ordinary farmers, hear from victims and hear the way forward from the ordinary man whose opinion most at times is neglected
Apart of the people who regrettably lost their lives during the protests in these villages, the population still remains defiant, vowing to move all the way as everyone seem to have an idea of the problem and an overwhelming knowledge of the way forward
As I talked to ordinary people, many decry what they called government massive crackdown, many of them told me they were brutalized by the police forces despite carrying peace plants and some said their relatives were removed from their homes and taken and are yet to be found
I ask one person why gout when the governor has issued a banned on public meetings and the whole region militarize, he told me” we were told that UN is in Buea and we all wanted to be part of the history to have our independence” as he demonstrates being immersed in a massive propaganda campaign on social media, fuelled by secessionist lies which has pushed so many to lost their lives
One woman in Kumba told me “my husband was arrested by gendarmes after they entered our house, shot him and the bullet did not kill him, they accuse him (a traditional doctor) of making bullet proof charms to Kumba boys and he was whisked away”
“I have visited the waiting trial several times with food, each time they ask me to taste the food and I did and then they ask me to go that they will give him the food but I am yet to see him, I don’t know if he is alive” she told me as she moves to tears in a torching and heartbroken story as their kids stir at me as watch their mother heart broken
The lady’s story is similar to many other women who have lost love ones during the protests either through bullet wounds or through imprisonment
And as I drove down to the other villages, the stories were similar, that of horror, arbitrary arrests and detention of civilian as government struggles to contained an increasingly radicalized people of Anglophones
Never before in the history of Cameroon has so many been so (mis)informed about their history or about their future
As I take with one Mr Clement in Ikiliwindi village, an uneducated cocoa farmer of about 55 years old, he told me” We must separate from this government as he watches over his cocoa beans in an oven then I painfully ask why, he told me that “ imagine Dangote wanted to buy our cocao for 2500 frs and the government refused to buy it for 1000frs so we remain poor while they uy those of French regions more” as I tried to tell him that story is so untrue and that cocoa prices same all over the country and those are propaganda of distractors. Adding that the Nigeria Billionaire never attempted such venture
I was however quickly reminded by a 3O year old looking lady by the name Carine that they now takes instructions from the UN and only UN as she vow that the blood of those killed cannot be in vain. Lambasting at me for supporting the government what she calls “la republic” as many now refers to the other eight regions of a country only 11 months ago was so fondly and proudly called home by these same people.
Even as I tried to convince the group of four that there are problems and the government is now ready to talk and have deployed elites to come and hear from them, they quickly rubbished the idea as another failed venture and reminded me that no one will attend the supposed meeting I they do come
As I drove across the different villages, the tone was same, people were singing the 1961 plebiscite like never before, and the district and most importantly the huge amount of wrong information for propaganda motives circulated out there by extremists have caused untold psychological damage in the minds of many both old and young. Presenting a dark reminder of how far government inaction has pushed the people in the hands of “bad guys
One Villager in ikiliwindi testified to me that, “villgagers attacked the gendarme commander in their village because he was so corrupt, usually comes to town, arrests people and jailed them so he can be bribed into removing them hence, the people attacked him, burnt and killed all his pigs, his cars and property to revenge “as I watched the officers car in ruins an ashes, another glimpse reminder of a village in crisis.
…..To be continued