Cameroon: Bamenda Business Community Defies Gov’t Threats, Vow to Respect Ghost Towns Ad Infinitum
Traders at the Bamenda main market in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons have told the ‘City Mayor’ and Mayor of Bamenda II to their faces that they will not open shops on Mondays as demanded these authorities. The traders on Wednesday, January 20, in an uncommon but strategic outing made their position clear concerning the pressure being brought on them to operate on a day they have set aside to protest what they consider to be colonial rule from the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon. The traders said they would prefer to have all their shops sealed than open on Mondays.
The Spokespersons for the traders did not only mock the authorities’ approach to fighting the ghost towns for their own political glory but said they would not be listening to a city mayor who was not elected following the law, claiming he was appointed by the government to serve his masters in Yaounde. This meeting, convened by traders themselves in front of the Bamenda main market according to a bookseller, was to openly tell the mayors that if they who have all security at their disposal are presently internally displaced from their homes and cannot open the doors to their own offices on Mondays what more of common traders.
According to a cloth merchant on Commercial Avenue in Bamenda, he said the authorities should be using civilians like shields to fight their political battles. “…Keeping aside ghost towns, who is the city mayor to give us orders, who voted him to talk on our behalf? Let the person who appointed him to come and open our shops on Mondays... What chased the city mayor from his home at Abangoh quarter to up station is the same thing that has the power for us to open our shops,” he said.
Women once abandoned by City Mayor at Bamenda Main Market in multiple efforts to kill ghost towns
Marcel Nyoh, a shoe trader at the main market told Timescape Magazine that it would be useless risking life on Mondays to come open a shop when no customer would show up. “It is too risky and foolish to come out on Mondays....you can be caught in a crossfire and end up losing your life. To me it is better to be alive than take such a risk,” he said.
Wednesday’s meeting by the traders came at a time Territorial Administration Minister, Paul Atanga Nji was still in town. It led observers to see it as a direct response to a declaration by the Minister in Bamenda on Monday, January 18 that Paul Biya had already won the ongoing armed conflict in the Southern Cameroons against pro-independence armed groups.
The unrest in Southern Cameroons has been raging on for at least four years (C) The Conversation
The traders wondered aloud why the Mayor of Bamenda II moved his Council office from its permanent structure at Mbingfibie to a temporary structure at the Delegation of Agriculture up station where it is safe. In response, the first deputy Mayor, Louis Tse Angwafor, said contrary to what is perceived, the Council did not belong to the Mayor, noting that it was the property of the population of Bamenda who the end-users are.
Mr. Angwafor claimed that although Mbingfibie presented some security challenges, the main reason for moving the Council was to come closer to the people. The traders would not have any of this, they booed at him saying if they who had several security layers around them cannot operate in their premises at all, then why should traders be persecuted for staying home on Mondays which is just one day in a week.
The business community in Bamenda and now Ndu have been under pressure from the City Mayor and local administrative authorities of the Yaounde regime for them to open their shops on Mondays, a day set aside in the entire Southern Cameroons territory to observe a ghost town to denounce the ‘colonial’ government of Yaounde to stay off their territory.
In Ndu, the District Officer, Adamu Shuaibu, has instructed that all shops in the district that did not open shops on Monday be sealed and that he will not hesitate to seal any other shops that respect ghost towns. This order was also extended to commercial bike riders and passenger vehicles, ordering that their vehicles be impoundment.