“Live from Kumbo”, “back after three months of torture”, “Is this Facebook”, “I just successfully posted on twitter, can’t believe it…these are some of the first social media posts by English-speaking Cameroonians after 93 days of internet blackout.
Cameroon’s move to restore internet Thursday April 20 after three months blackout ignited feelings of excitement across the country. Cameroonians from the North West and South West region flooded social media with posts on the return of internet services; some users in the region told Journal du Cameroun their smart phones were freezing with WhatsApp messages.
However it wasn’t all excitement, others were angry with the 34-year old Biya regime. They questioned why he had to deprive them of their basic rights in the first place. “I hope they don’t expect us to thank them for giving our rights back” Cedric Che Azeh, a web developer posted on Facebook.
Even the mobile operator’s announcement to give out free internet data bundles to customers in Anglophone regions for 10 days couldn’t take their anger away. On twitter, messages directly attacking MTN, one of Cameroon’s major internet providers were trending. “MTN Cameroon you will have to work to get our loyalty again. People won’t forget that you stayed quiet for over 3 months while their rights were trampled upon” a furious Rebecca Enongchong, African tech entrepreneur wrote.
Another furious subscriber, Kindzeka told MTN Cameroon boss that “wounds can heal, but scars remain and each sight of them is a reminder of the oppressor. MTN is a symbol of that to many”.
Cameroon’s embattled government cut the internet in an attempt to douse protests against the predominantly French-speaking government of President Paul Biya. Despite pressures from rights groups and international organisations against the ban, government remained unperturbed.
Yesterday’s internet restoration according to Issa Tchiroma Bakary, government spokesman is due to the fact that the conditions that preceded the suspension of the internet in those regions, have much changed.
Government’s shutdown of internet in English speaking Cameroon made life extremely difficult for millions of people in the country.Citizens in dire need of internet connectivity were forced beyond endurance to hunt for the high-tech communication technology in neighbouring cities making them to be tagged as internet refugees. The Internet blackout did not only slow down businesses but shut them out with associated heavy financial losses
A coalition of rights groups monitoring internet outage recently disclosed that Cameroon has lost over $2.69 million as the internet shutdown in the country entered its third month.