Calls from separatist activists for residents in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon to observe ghost towns on Thursday, January 10, 2019 were met with violent incidents across the two regions as Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius and 9 other Ambazonia leaders appeared before the Yaoundé military tribunal.
In Muyuka subdivision, in the South West Region of Cameroon, reports say there was a massive back up of troops following violent clashes early Thursday morning between security forces and separatist fighters.
Sources say there was heavy fighting around the Makanga and Stone quarters neighbourhoods right up to Munyenge forcing residents to flee into the bushes for their safety.
“There is a heavy military presence in the town and the streets are empty,” a source in Muyuka said.
Down in Muea, Buea subdivision, the atmosphere was relatively calm but streets were deserted. Locals said armed men chased away farmers from their farms forcing them to respect the ghost towns.
Up in Buea, the town was relatively calm with activities timidly going on as residents tried to beat fear.
However, ghost towns swept across Mile 14, Mutengene and Tiko as residents are all indoors, we learnt.
“Just a few bikes are plying the streets but there is no taxi on the streets and businesses remain closed,” a Mutengene local said.
In the North West, ghost towns were effective in some parts of the regions with residents staying home as most fear of reprisals from armed men believed to be loyal to the separatist movement.
Sources say activities were timid in Bambili which has witnessed a series of sporadic clashes in the past days with students braving the odds to go to school.
The war in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon referred to by activists as Southern Cameroons or “Ambazonia” is in its third year with no end in sight. The number of shootings, abductions, and arrests keep soaring.
Youths dying, fleeing as blood flows unabated
With the military finding it difficult to differentiate between innocent civilians and separatist fighters, many young people have been caught in the web. They have either been taken by stray bullets or mistaken for members of the gun-carrying militia and killed in cold blood.
Life for many living in the restive regions is a miracle given that each new day comes with its own.
Calls by President Biya for separatists to lay down their arms have met a stone wall. As a result, there has been a surge in military activities in the two regions. In fact President Biya had in his end of year address to the nation on December 31, 2018 warned that he’ll instruct the military to “neutralize” the separatists should they not drop their arms.
His words: “If my appeal to warmongers to lay down their weapons remains unheeded, the Defence and Security Forces will be instructed to neutralise them. I am well aware of the distress these rebels are causing the populations of these regions. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
Today, many homes in the two restive regions have been broken with women left to drown in their tears. They have been looking for their husbands and sons who are either missing or dead.
The outskirts of towns like Buea have been hardest hit by the crisis. From Mile 14 to Mile 16 to Mile 17 to Muea, many have fled in order to provide a level field for the smoking guns to rattle.
The tale of two Anglophones – Enow Daniel Dane and Tanjong Valentine Jingwa – caught our attention as we seek to document the ordeals of youth caught in a war for no fault of theirs. This is after we looked at the story of Ngomeioh Fotabong Anche in The SUN no. 0512 of Tuesday, October 16, 2018.
Enow Daniel Dane, son of a deceased SCNC diehard seems to be among those who have been hardest hit by the crisis. Initiated into activism within the ranks of the SCNC at a very tender age by his father, late Awa David Enow, onetime public relations officer of the SCNC, Enow Daniel was quick to follow in his father’s footsteps after high school.
He has certainly had his own fair share of the troubles that go with militating or sympathizing with the SCNC. Enow was arbitrarily arrested and detained in Buea for the most part of November 2014 before falling into a security dragnet in Muyuka in March 2015. His SCNC popularization campaign in 2014 had earned his time in detention, while he received snake beatings from the hands of security operatives in Muyuka in March 2015. He was taken to the Muyuka District Hospital by a Good Samaritan.
Very little was heard of him until January 17, 2017 when the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium were arrested. He is among those who came out that night to protest the arrest of Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Neba. When the security forces responded, he only narrowly escaped arrest.
Enow’s outings during the September 22 and October 1, 2017 mass peaceful demonstrations earned him an arrest warrant. It is on record that he held closed door meetings with top shots of the SCNC in Fako ahead of the demonstrations. Though many of those arrested have now been released, Enow’s warrant is pending execution with his whereabouts now in doubts.
Tanjong Valentine Jingwa, one time assistant Youth-wing coordinator of the SCNC in Buea got his baptism of fire on October 1, 2015 and later in December same year. They were rounded up during traditional October 1 independence day celebrations by anti-riot forces. While some fled arrest, many of them spent about a week in custody before being released. Some say they were tortured while in detention, which claims we are yet to independently verify.
After apparently going underground, his SCNC sixth sense was reignited by the October 2016 strike called by Common Law Lawyers that was later joined on November 21, 2016 by Anglophone teachers.
Tanjong has since been on the wanted list, especially following reports of his apparent involvement in the September 22 and October 1, 2017 street demonstrations.
With government tightening the noose on separatists and their sympathizers, the future promises to be pregnant.