Cameroon (National Times)-Civil administrators across Anglophone Cameroon are in for a difficult day in their carrier to ensure the success of manifestations marking the 53rd edition of the nation’s National Youth Day in the face of a separatists-enforced lockdown that has grounded life in their areas of command.
This Monday February 1th presents two different atmospheres across the same nation. While the manifestations are greeted with colourful expressions and a huge turnouts in French-speaking parts of the country, the story in the North West and South West is different.
Scanty ceremonial grounds, absence of pupils and students, heavy military presence are some of the early reports emanating from the restive regions.
It is a day that began with sporadic gunshots in cities such as Buea and Kumba all through the night. Relative calm had returned to most of the hotspots at dawn.
A few minutes to midday, the event had rounded off at the Bamenda Grand Stand in the North West region. Students from the University of Bamenda are known to have helped to give ceremony extra colour.
As at the time of this piece, officials at this year’s celebration were already at a banquet staged in a popular hotel in the city of Bamenda for reception.
The fear of many is that, the students who participated in March pass do not become targets of gunmen paying allegiance to separatists.
Over in Buea in the South West Region, the same ritual of march pass was underway under tight security. The grand stand this year did not attain the attendance rates of last year.
In Limbe headquarters of Fako Division known to be the most relatively peaceful city across English speaking Cameroon, the exercise is reported to have lasted for just 30 minutes.
Across the board for areas that dared the separatists’ lockdown, there was a routine smart rebroadcast of president Biya’s speech after which the march pass was performed without delay.
In Bamenda Governor Adolphe Lele answered present alongside a plethora of service heads just like his counterpart of the South West Region Bernard Okalia Bilai. Both had appealed days to the celebrations for massive turn outs from youths.
In the hinterland wherein entire communities are deserted, not much has been heard of the exercise. Local administrators are in a tight corner to stage anything symbolic of the national day despite the separatists’ show of force.
According to one of the local administrators who asked not to be named, the issue in such crisis period is the demonstration of resilience of the state. Our interviewee said no matter how limited the attendance rates are , symbolic occasions must be staged.