Saturday, 26 November 2016


Nov 25
It’s back to normal here, honking taxis, the flash of reflected light down in the market, crowds of shoppers, children playing nearby and a couple of falcons wheeling and soaring above.
I spent part of the morning walking through town past the piles of charcoaled coils of wire pushed off the road, blackened pavement where the fires had been. Most of the evidence cast aside and contributing to the general debris at the side of the roads. In a few places piles of garbage mounting, smelling of course.
At the main intersections, police pick-ups, some with bored soldiers sitting in the shade under the vinyl covers, cradling their rifles. I had occasional glimpses of camouflage dressed militia here and there, walking the streets in pairs. In front of every cash machine a long line-up of people.
The vendors are busy, stores open for business, crowds around the women hawking fruit and vegetables beside the market. Young boys and older men trundling loads of firewood in their two wheeled carts.
We hear from locals that there will be a protest march on Monday. The last one here in Bamenda was “moved” to Buea so not much happened while we were gone to the farm. Some cleanup I imagine. Removing the piles of burnt tires, broken up phone kiosks and the hulk of a car off the road.
The protesters needing an outlet for their frustrations, piled tires and whatever else they could find, onto the roads across the city, setting them on fire to limit the mobility of the military.
 The response was, in my mind both pathetic and provocative. Various extensions of the military (so many  to account for and all their signs in French) racing up and down the roads randomly firing either tear gas or smoke bombs (I didn’t see anyone in tears or suffering) into the neighbourhoods, whether there were people assembled or not…! Like boys with big toys, showing off their firepower.
The helicopter surveillance (they seem to have only one) filled the air the day before we escaped with it’s noxious noise, circling the town wending it’s way across the landscape monitoring whatever.
After 50+ years of inaction and stonewalling the Anglophones are fed up. The president in power for more than 30 years appears to spend more time in luxury hotels outside the country than in. Sounds like the definition of absentee landlord living off the avails. He’s worth a fair chunk of change from funnelling monies received for the country into various offshore accounts. It helps support his playboy son heir-apparent in this fiasco. At least according to what I’ve heard.
There is talk of secession. When the British gave up their rule here, there were two Cameroons and most of the country determined that unity was the best option. That sentiment remains only on the French side now. There has been a constant erosion of rights and privileges, installations of government officials who don’t speak English and general ignoring of the desire for dialogue.
For us temporary residents, it was disturbing, anxiety raising and unpleasant; breathing in the smoke from burning tires (our  floors were covered in the dust, and this is with all windows and doors closed) random gunshots and people scattering whenever a military vehicle approached. Their laughter,  seen from my perspective, either nervous or disdainful.

 I had no desire to be stuck in civil war or any kind of violent  confrontation. That night the streets were uncharacteristically silent.
 Our driver had been unable to get past a barrier the day before so when we heard that something might happen we arranged for a quick getaway early in the morning.
Out at the farm it was quite peaceful, only a few passes overhead from the helicopter, birds singing and a beautiful star filled sky. We spent a couple of nights there, did some work on the stoves, some cultivation, chopped firewood and talked with the neighbours. Their perspective was we should not worry, nothing would come from it and everything soon back to normal, so we returned. It was ironic to be happy to hear the sounds of a busy city as we drifted off to sleep.
Monday? maybe back to the farm. And if things really get nasty? Already making plans to leave the country. But only if necessay.

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