Cameroon – Anglophone Crisis: Coffins, charms on streets usher in separatist-imposed lockdown

Par Atia T. AZOHNWI | Cameroon-Info.Net
Bamenda - 16-Sep-2021 - 13h32   6702                      
Locals fleeing Bamenda Tuesday night Atia Azohnwi
Separatists in some parts of Cameroon’s North West and South West regions are enforcing a lockdown said to last from September 15 to October 2, 2021.

Although some separatist factions have described the lockdown as evil, others have gone ahead to support it, damning the consequences on the local population.

From his comfort in Houston Texas, Christopher Anu, who refers to himself as Secretary for Communication and IT of a faction of the Ambazonia Interim Government led by Samuel Ikome Sako, ordered armed militiamen to hard those who will be seen out of their homes within the lockdown period.

Ahead of the lockdown that began on Wednesday, city dwellers in Bamenda, North West region was engulfed in an atmosphere of uncertainty.

The atmosphere was powered by the placing of coffins and charms in clay pots on major streets and road junctions in the regional capital.

The development prompted a mass exodus of people from the town. It is a city still battling to recover from the macabre scene of the corpses of four youngsters placed at Finance Junction on Monday morning. The sight of coffins and charms, as the city entered Tuesday, left many with a feeling of bad omen in the offing.

Coffins were spotted at Mulang, Rendezvous, Old Simplicity Ntarinkon, and City Chemist Roundabout at sunrise Tuesday.

Added to this, fetish objects and charms stuffed in clay vessels further painted the picture of a city under siege from evil. As people remained confused with authorities maintaining sealed lips, Bamenda leaped into a situation of survival for the fittest.

Even separatist fighters, known to have the tradition of always making repeated incursions into the city, have not claimed responsibility for the action pictured through a prism of mysticism.

Throughout Tuesday, nobody had the gumption to verify what was in the coffins or the content of the clay pots. Those who mustered the courage to step out of the homes did so with uneasiness. Vehicles and other locomotives circulated with everyone maintaining a distance from where the objects are placed.

Already, there are unconfirmed narratives that separatist fighters, who are not new to charms and frightening concoctions, may have placed the objects, in the cover of darkness, to pass a message across. Some believe it could be in retaliation of the four youngsters suspected to have been separatist fighters killed and their corpses displayed at Finance Junction Monday.

The unpredictable turn of events in the town had, as at nightfall of Tuesday, started having an effect. While most families rushed to the market to buy foodstuff in preparation for the unknown, hundreds of others were spotted scrambling to buy tickets at major bus stations to get out of Bamenda, The Guardian Post reported.

The situation reached extremes with rumors that separatists were planning a lockdown on the restive North West and South West regions.

Many struggled to leave the North West on Tuesday, regretting that the region was further sinking into difficult days after a period of calm.

“I can’t allow my family in a town wherein within days we have seen corpses of youth displayed on the road like people slaughtered for sacrifice and while we are still mourning that, coffins and charms are now flooding the entire town… since no one is saying anything, it is time to escape,” a family head told The Guardian Post.

Another traveler linked the sudden decision to park out of town to threats from faceless individuals about a lockdown.

“I heard during this period, there shall be absolutely no movement of persons, cars, motorbikes except ambulances for emergency health purpose,” he said.

The scary atmosphere in the city has dampened the resilience and impressive turnout registered in several colleges across Bamenda. The attendance, which has surpassed others recorded since the conflict broke out in 2016, had seen parents and authorities urging those feet-dragging to send their kids to school. More families had even brought their children, who were elsewhere, back to Bamenda.

Most parents who had relocated their children were spotted lamenting at bus stations that what they feared most had befallen them.

The fear brought about by the coffins and charms triggered a hike in transport fare within hours. As of Tuesday, the fare from Bamenda to Douala had increased from 5,000 FCFA to 6,000FCFA.


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