By Hans Ngala, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – Schools in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon (also formerly West Cameroon) remained shut down on the opening day of the 2017/18 academic year in protest to government’s policies of marginalization and assimilation.
Hopes were rife that schools will resume in the two regions today September 4 but shops and schools remained closed, with one observer remarking that “today’s ghost towns are the worst I have ever seen. The town was just quiet…”
The Ministers of Basic Education and Secondary Education were in Buea and Bamenda respectively to launch the new academic year. While CRTV reported that the school resumption was in top gear and successful, reports on social media contradicted it with images of vacant streets and schools.
“Amour Mezam,” a well-known public transport company was seen transporting a few students (believed to have been Francophones brought in from Bafoussam) to gov’t-run schools for CRTV cameras.
The main bone of contention now is the decision to release just 55 of the over 100 persons arrested in connection with the on-going crisis. Key among those retained in jail is Mancho Bibixy, a household name in radio broadcast who staged the famous “Coffin Revolution”.
A Presidential decree of August 30 said ALL those arrested in connection with the Anglophone crisis would be freed but minds have still not grasped the motive behind keeping Mancho in prison still. With him and others still behind bars, schools may remain closed for the entire year again.
Calls have been made to gov’t to release EVERYONE and go back to the negotiation table with the aggrieved leaders. Gov’t remains intransigent.
The impasse started in October 2016 with a strike by lawyers protesting the imposition of French judges to rule in Anglophone courtrooms. This was followed a month later by another strike by teachers protesting the imposition of French-speaking teachers in Anglophone classrooms.
The protest has since taken a different dimension, with Anglophones demanding outright separation from Francophone Cameroun. Activists have vowed not to see schools resume until the Paul Biya regime summons a roundtable over the crisis and organize a referendum that determines the form of state Anglophones want.