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Mass boycotts ruin Youth Day celebrations in Southern Cameroon

Bara, Tassang, Tapang, Consortium leaders who masterminded February 11 celebration boycott ©Cameroon Concord

Ahead of the Youth Day festivities, CACSC had urged all West Cameroonians to mark 11 February as a national day of mourning to highlight the grievances of people living in English areas.

Celebrations marking the 51st National Youth Day in the English speaking regions of Cameroon Saturday, February 11, 2017 witnessed a very low turnout as compared to previous years following a call for a boycott from the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, CACSC. Ahead of the Youth Day festivities, CACSC had urged all West Cameroonians to mark 11 February as a national day of mourning to highlight the grievances of people living in English areas.

In a message, Tassang Wilfred, the executive secretary of the Cameroon Teachers Trade union (CATTU), one of the leaders of Consortium affirmed that the Youth Day will be boycotted in Anglophone Cameroon. He alleged the government was “ferrying in Francophone children from other regions and young police recruits to come and celebrate in Anglophone regions.”

In Buea, capital of the South West Region, very few participated in the march-past which is said to lasted well below 30 minutes.

According to reports, students from CEFAM, the police school in Mutengene, Francophone students from some colleges and from HTTTC Kumba, newly recruited military cadets are said to have disguised as students and marched as many times as possible.

In Ndop, Ngoketunjia Division which witnessed scenes and violence and protests, reports indicated that it took just 3 minutes for the exercise which usually takes two to three hours as only teachers and soldiers took part.

At the Kumbo municipal stadium, only a handful of fearful teachers and about 14 students standing with their parents reported for the Youth Day. In Wum, Menchum Division, only the SDO and his Etat Major took part at the celebrations marking the 51st Youth Day.

In Ndu, Donga Mantung Division, only traditional rulers were reported at the Grand Stand. Five policemen, four gendarmes, no councillor, no pupils, no political party yet!  In Nkambe, only soldiers could be seen at Grand Stand.

The South West and North West Cameroon’s only English-speaking regions have been rocked by anti-government protests for months. Lawyers, teachers and students have been striking and protesting since October 2016 against perceived marginalisation and the use of French in courts and schools in the regions.

As the Youth Day gradually drew to an end, a message from another leader from of the Consortium, Mark Barata read: “When we are united, we beat them. For the first time in history since our parents voted in good faith to join an independent country called La Republique du Cameroun based on some terms which were never materialised as I write, we have succeeded in puncturing the 11th February plebiscite day. History will record this generation as those who sever the links with 11th February bad taste. Our parents gone before us marked with the sign of faith shall be happy with us.

Reports from Southern Cameroons say from the Northern to the Southern zones in Southern Cameroons, all communities and cities are dead. No activity is taking place. Our people are indoors. No celebration of whatsoever. However, we could only see floods of military parading our empty and dead streets with some colonial administrators and some Southern Cameroons slave elite who have hired some Francophones trying to march past in few areas so as to sabotage our struggle. All Southern Cameroonians are home praying and chatting the way forward.

The civil resistance is real. Meanwhile in Pamol Lobe, our correspondence says three vehicles stationed in front of the mill to transport workers have been there since morning empty. All workers are home. Reports just got to us that Akwaya grandstand has been burnt down because the D O paid some illiterates who attempted to march but it failed. We condemn the DO for provoking our people and we also call our people everywhere to not destroy our institutions and infrastructures. We need these buildings. Our people should please show maximum restraint.

The Government is facing worldwide condemnation for the way it is handling protests especially as authorities have been criticised for their decision to shut down the internet in the English speaking areas. The block, implemented earlier in January, is forcing Anglophones to travel to French speaking regions where they can use the internet.

Some analysts have claimed authorities are failing to address people’s long-standing grievances that go beyond the use of French in courts and schools. The internet shutdown has now intensified grievances; with claims it was now affecting local businesses.

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