When news of the annual cultural jamboree in the oil rich city of Limbe started making waves on social media, many cultural lovers were anxious to be part of yet another cultural jamboree
But for those who have been following events of the country especially in the restive Anglophone regions of North West and South West, nothing was certain yet until it was certain.
Security frailties and constant attack from armed civilians fighting for the restoration of their statehood of Ambazonia have been given Yaoundé sleepless nights in the affected regions and major national and regional events have been reduced to laughing stock with embarrassing attendance due to threats or calls for boycott
When the astute politician, business mogul cum government delegate of the Limbe City council Mr. Andrew Motanga Mojimba took the courage to announce yet another edition of Lime Festival of Arts and Culture FESTAC 2019, many saw it as another failed and desperate move by another regional official desperate to pleased Yaoundé and international community that everything is fine.
With less than three days to the official start of the event, Ambazonian ground fighters backed by some activists declared a 10 days lockdown in Fako, one of the six divisions which make up the South West region and Limbe is the division’s headquarters
There another 10 days lockdown which comes barely two month since the February lockdown has sparked massive backlash from the population and rights activists
There was division even among activists of the struggle as to whether the 10 days lockdown which might affect the whole region was necessary for an event taking place just in one city
But as the criticism fueled on social media, the people on the ground filled their houses with food stuff while thousands simply left the division to safer cities across the Mungo
Memories of the February lockdown which left many who attempted to defy death are still fresh in the mind of many
Fako was on the edge and FESTAC increasingly looked destined to crumble
The city council ignored the calls, refuse to embark with a social media fight with the authors of the struggle, something they knew they would have lost but rather focus on planning for their events with a deja vus attitude
But two days to the start of the event, the lockdown crumbled Buea, South West regional capital while Limbe strives in normalcy
Gun shots rattled traditional hospots like Muea. Mile 16 and even Molyko in mainland Buea as business and taxi drivers abandoned the streets.
The debate over the sense of the lockdown continued on social media and while Ekema wonders why his city will suffer for sins committed by Limbe
The defiant mayor took the bull by the horn, hurriedly issued a communiqué of his own, warning businesses owners that should they respect the lockdown, their businesses will be shut down for another 30days
The threat from the landlord of Buea did little to change the course of events in his town as Limbe gradually but steadily prepares for their cultural showpiece which is fast becoming a an international event
But as Buea struggles with lockdown and shutdowns, Limbe opened FESTAC on the 6th of April with massive and defiant crowd in attendance.
Eye witness reports say more than three thousands people participated in the opening FESTAC walk under heavy security.
Limbe refused to bow to threats and remain defiant to separatist’s calls
The seas side city answered the popular call of their beloved government delegate and gave the event a resounding success from the early stages
But that was not all, what followed after that was indeed the news about the event.
The turnout was massive, outnumbering previous years as runaway Buea based artists drove into the city to a raucous crowd of FESTACians
State broadcaster aired the opening ceremony live. Giving the event a priceless airtime on national television, after all, it is a win for both Yaoundé and Limbe
Governor Okalia says Limbe deserves the respect of the nation after his expectations were beaten like everyone else.
Even critics of the government delegate admit it was an event like no other an score Motanga and his team an A grade in all facets of ratings
Limbe is in FESTAC fever and doesn’t seem to be getting healed soon. Limbe has shown the world that despite all, they are on their own lane as far as the Anglophone crisis is concerned
If Limbe deserves the respect of the nation, then certainly its government delegate deserves the politician of the decade.