Cameroon: Scores Die in Major Road Accident

An accident along the Bafoussam-Yaounde road in Cameroon has left scores of people dead.

State media reports that over 35 people died early Sunday December 27th, when a heavy-duty truck and a public transport bus collided.

A rescue operation is underway, as the death toll remains on the rise. Injured passengers have been rushed to hospital.

The country’s Ministers of Transport and the Interior are rushing to the scene, to take stock of the situation.

Another Sunday morning road accident

Meanwhile, in Buea, in Cameroon’s South West, a man has been arrested after he hit a family of three with a vehicle on Sunday morning.

He is said to have run away immediately after the incident, but was later caught by local police.

The three victims, a woman and her two children are feared dead.

The two accidents come barely two days after the celebration of Christmas.

Cameroon’s President Gives Aid to IDPs, Forgets Refugees in Nigeria

Ahead of the celebration of Christmas, Cameroon’s President has offered material aid to internally displaced persons who fled the armed conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions. However, nothing has been said about Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who escaped from the same conflict.

On Monday December 21, the country’s Interior Minister Paul Atanga Nji gave goods such as rice, soap, oil, mattresses and other items to some internally displaced families in the country’s capital Yaoundé. He announced that those in other regions will receive their share in the coming days.

President Paul Biya’s offer to the IDPs costs a little over $1 million. Of this amount, nothing has been programmed to provide aid for Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who have been living under horrendous conditions for about three years now.

The UN estimates that over half a million people are internally displaced in Cameroon, with about sixty thousand others living as refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

They were forced to flee their areas, because of continuous fighting between state soldiers and Anglophone separatist fighters in the North West and South West regions. Since they left home, life has not been easy for most of them.

Cameroonian refugees and the spate of exclusion

This is not the first time refugees in Nigeria are left out from receiving relief packages from the state. The government launched a humanitarian assistance plan in 2018, to help those displaced and affected by the armed conflict. However, Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria did not benefit from it, even though they were supposed to.

Cameroon’s Prime Minister at the time, Philemon Yang said in part: “this action will include assistance and visits to show compassion to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.”

Government, through the interior minister, rather paid more attention to internally displaced persons. The materials distributed under the humanitarian assistance plan were worth over $23 million.

So far, no government minister from Cameroon is known to have visited the refugees in Nigeria to assess their situation. The most recent visit by a Cameroonian official was in November this year, when the country’s Consul in Clabar, Nigeria, visited some refugees in Akwa-Ibom State.

The consul gave aid to 300 people in that state. Nigeria, however, hosts a total of about 60,000 Cameroonian refugees.

Mr. Onana Patrice “distributed humanitarian aid kits to 300 Cameroonian refugees in Akwa-Ibom State (Uyo, Eket, Oron, Ikot Ekpene, etc) as part of a special gift from the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya, to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria…” according to Cameroon’s Foreign Ministry.

The festive season is very well on course. While some internally displaced persons in Cameroon will celebrate Christmas and New Year with the gifts received from the state, the circumstances under which refugees in Nigeria will celebrate remain highly uncertain.

Cameroon’s First Regional Election Could Change its Governance System

Municipal councillors and traditional rulers in Cameroon, are voting regional councillors, in the country’s first ever regional election.

Voting is underway across the Central African nation, including in the two restive Anglophone regions, where an armed conflict has been raging for four years now.

However, the election in the Anglophone regions is being conducted under tight security, because of threats from separatist fighters.

Anglophone non-state actors had disapproved of Sunday’s election, and imposed a three-day ghost town. This has been observed partially in some parts of the North West and South West regions.

This election could end Cameroon’s centralized system of governance

The regional election is meant to give the ten regions greater autonomy. It will also facilitate local administration in a country where power is highly centralized.

For decades, citizens have had to grapple with the fact that most administrative functions rest in the nation’s political capital, Yaoundé.

The country’s 1996 amended constitution clearly stipulates decentralization as the form of governance. Decentralization prescribes that government devolves powers to local authorities in the different regions. For 24 years, this has not been the case.

Many see Sunday’s vote as a leeway to the decentralization process. Municipal councillors and chiefs will elect regional concillors and traditional rulers into the regional councils and House of Chiefs respectively. Those elected are expected to facilitate local governance, and supervise the decentralization process.

People consulting the voting list in a local polling center (Picture: Municipal Updates)

The birth of a “Special Status” for the Anglophone regions

The government says this election will pave the way for the Anglophone regions to have a special status. This, according to government, will recognize the specificities of the Anglophone system in Cameroon, thereby leading to an end to the Anglophone crisis.

It remains unclear whether the special status can end the four-year-long conflict, especially as hardcore Anglophone separatists continue to oppose it.

Critics say the special status is vague, without any precision as to its content or how it will work. However, government supporters see the special status as a good offer, which could end the crisis.

Over three thousand people have died owing to the Anglophone armed conflict, with close to a million others displaced internally and externally. The hope of most of these displaced people is for the crisis to end, so they can finally return home.

Cameroon: Tha Sanctified announces Gospel Rap “Devil go tire” Song Release

Cameroonian born Christian rapper Tha Sanctified has announced the release of his song titled “Devil go tire”.

Tha Sanctified was born in Ekondo Titi in Ndian Division as Nyendi Yanick Esinoh.

However, both his parents Mr Motale David Nyendi and Mrs Motale Emilia Nyamah hail from Dikome Balue, in Ndian Division, Southwest region of Cameroon.

In an interview with Ebonigram, he explained “I have written many other songs which are yet to be released.

Currently working on the new projects which will be released before the end of this year 2020:-

  • Devil go tire
  • Pikin 4 God
  • I no go suffer

Tha Sanctified started rapping in 2014 but never considered it a career up until 2020 when he realized how much impact his songs were creating. “Then, I decided to go out there with my music to be a blessing to many others.”

His songs are very popular in Christ light assemblies where he is a pastor, especially because his christian family and his senior pastor Apostle Samuel E. Molombe have been passionate consumers of his songs.

“I am a Pastor. I consider music as a means of reaching out to God’s people out there, especially the youthful generation.” He said.

He added that “I want to reach out to the youths with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and I know they can relate more with hip-hop and rap.”

Sharing his thoughts concerning people who criticize gospel rap, he states “I think they just haven’t heard me.

Here are some of his songs available on YouTube, SoundCloud, Audiomack, spotify, iTunes, Tidal and Amazon music.

  • New Dawn
  • Live 4 Jehovah
  • I’m High
  • Big boys now
  • No concept
  • Sunny day.

Cameroon’s President Declares Day of Mourning for Victims of School Shooting

After the killing of seven school children by armed men in Cameroon, the entire country will observe a national day of mourning this Saturday.

The tragic episode on October 24 in Kumba, a locale in the restive South West region of Cameroon, remains fresh in the memories of Cameroonians.

Armed men stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, and opened fire on students in a classroom. Five died on the spot, while two others later died in hospital. Meanwhile, the attack left more than ten other students injured.

Since then, the nation has been in grief. However, amid the sorrow, citizens have staged emotional protests in some parts of the country. They have continued to denounce the act, and its perpetrators.

The President wants the victims remembered

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing of the school children. He, just like many people across the world, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms, this barbaric and cowardly crime against innocent children,” President Biya wrote on Twitter.

Moreover, he went further on Wednesday, to declare Saturday, 31 October 2020, “a day of national mourning in memory of the victims of the attack, on 24 October 2020.”

“The national flag shall be flown at half-mast all day long throughout the national territory,” Paul Biya declared.

Citizens hold memorials to honour deceased children

In some parts of the country, citizens have held memorial candle lighting ceremonies, to pray for the victims of the “Kumba massacre.”

Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)
Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)

Kreative Kwame recently lit a candle at a local memorial site in Buea, in memory of the deceased children. Thoughts of his loved ones compelled him to do so.

“I thought of my junior sister, little cousins, nieces…I thought about the children who had nothing to do with whatever is going on in the country,” he told EboniGram.

Kwame equally “prayed for a permanent end to all the suffering that we have seen for four years today: to the cries that our mothers have left; the families that have been scattered; the people who are nowhere to be found; the bodies which have been buried. I prayed for an end.”

As the country remains aggrieved by the frequent loss of lives in the restive Anglophone regions, the general cry is for the armed conflict there to end. But, at what cost?

Condemnation Rises over Cameroon School Shooting

Condemnation has heightened in Cameroon, over the brutal killing of at least seven school children, in one of the country’s restive Anglophone regions.

On Saturday October 24, gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, South West region, and opened fire on students in a classroom.

Five students are said to have died on the spot, with over ten others injured. Two students later died in hospital.

The perpetrators of Saturday’s act are not yet known, but both government and Anglophone separatist groups have traded the blame. This is not the first time both actors in the Anglophone armed conflict are blaming each other for atrocities committed in the crisis-hit English-speaking regions.

What has the reaction been like?

Since the act against school children on Saturday, there has been a wave of mass criticism from within and out of Cameroon. The condemnation keeps rising by the day.

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing in a tweet, calling it “barbaric” and “cowardly.”

Barrister Akere Muna, a Cameroonian politician and international human rights lawyer, was appalled by the news. He tagged the killing as “savagery” and “mayhem.”

Meanwhile, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla could not hold back his indignation. He is a human rights lawyer, and founder of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, which has documented numerous atrocities committed in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

“It is unacceptable for anyone or groups of persons to harass, attack, and or kill children. It is a fundamental right for children to be educated. Hence, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be held accountable. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families,” he tweeted.

Moreover, the event on Saturday equally triggered grave international response. In fact, the reactions have been massive and global. The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat was among those who denounced the attack.

Cameroonian athletes, artists, civil society actors and ordinary Cameroonians have also expressed their anger. On Sunday, Cameroonians in Kumba — where the shooting took place — and in other Francophone regions staged protests, denouncing the killing of the students. They equally demanded an end to the four-year-long armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.

Cameroonian women mourn dead school children in street protest (Picture: 237 Info Mill/Facebook).

International organizations such as the UN, have also condemned it. Many other individuals and groups abroad have added their voices to denounce what is now known in Cameroon as the “Kumba massacre.”

What next?

Amid the blame game, the Cameroonian public is now confused about who the actual killers of the school children are. However, they are unanimous that the perpetrators of the act need to face the law.

The government has announced an investigation, but it remains largely unclear whether the findings will be made public.

Saturday’s killings might just be an indication that the situation in Anglophone Cameroon remains dire, and needs an urgent solution.

Deported Immigrants from USA Arrive Cameroon

81 Cameroonian immigrants who were deported from the United States of America, are back in their home country.

The US government says they — together with millions of other immigrants — entered US soil illegally.

Prior to their deportation on Tuesday, US Members of Congress, Amnesty International, and individuals appealed to the Trump administration not to let the asylum-seekers return to Cameroon.

They argued that most of the immigrants who entered the US fled violence, occasioned by the armed conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, among other reasons.

Cameroon is struggling with three concurrent crises:  the widening conflict between the anglophone and the francophone regions; clashes between the government and armed separatists who are demanding greater autonomy; and a culture of impunity to human rights violations that has been created by the 37-year administration of President Paul Biya.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, USA

Cameroon’s state media reported that the Cameroonian government collaborated with the United States, to repatriate the asylum-seekers.

Meanwhile, some have accused the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of coercing Cameroonian asylum seekers into unwillingly signing their deportation documents. Reports say they used force, and in some cases, torture, to compel them to sign.

As the immigrants arrived Cameroon on Wednesday, they underwent COVID-19 tests. They will be under observation for some days.

The immigrants might have risked their lives for greener pastures abroad, but the grim reality of what they fled from now faces them back home, once again.

Cameroon’s Gov’t in Court for Placing Opposition Leader under “House Arrest”

The Cameroonian government has been taken to court, to answer why security forces continue restricting the freedom of the country’s leading opposition figure.

For close to one month now, security agents have surrounded the residence of Professor Maurice Kamto in the capital, Yaounde. The leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) party and his supporters believe he is under house arrest.

State forces barred Mr. Kamto and his family from leaving their compound. For this reason, Kamto’s lawyers filed a complaint in court, against key state officials whom they accused of being behind their client’s situation.

According to the group of lawyers, the case will be heard on Thursday October 15th, at the Yaounde Court of First Instance. 

Why is Maurice Kamto under “house arrest”?

The CRM party of Professor Maurice Kamto opposed President Paul Biya’s decision to schedule regional elections in December.

The party warned against holding elections without resolving the Anglophone crisis in the country’s two English speaking regions. It also urged government to reform the electoral laws — which it said were faulty — before any elections could take place.

Together with some other opposition parties and civil society leaders, the CRM promised to organize peaceful protests. The aim was to demand President Paul Biya to step down, if the government did contrary to their proposal.

So, government banned the opposition’s protest scheduled for September 22, calling it illegal and “insurrectional.” It promised to crackdown on anyone who would defy the ban.

On the eve of the planned protest, security forces surrounded the premises of the CRM leader, barring him from leaving his home. Since then, he says he has not left his compound.

Any hopes for Mr. Kamto after the court hearing?

Party members and supporters of Mr. Kamto see the restriction on his freedom as against the law. Thursday’s hearing might give them a chance to hope.

However, it is not clear whether or not the court will rule in their favor. One thing is clear, though: Mr. Kamto cannot wait to live as a free man again.

New School Year Begins in Cameroon amid COVID-19

Students in Cameroon have started classes for the new academic year, seven months after COVID-19 forced the government to partially shut down schools.

Lessons effectively took off in some schools on October 5, with some students wearing face masks. Prior to reopening schools, the government had urged that all institutions observe barrier measures against the Coronavirus.

In some schools, officials checked students’ temperatures as they entered their different campuses. They also set up wash-hand points for learners to wash their hands before going to class.

School resumption in the conflict-hit Anglophone regions

For four years now, close to a million children in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions have been out of school. Anglophone separatists seeking to form a break-away state imposed a boycott on schools in the North West and South West regions of the Central African country.

Government made several efforts to ensure that students returned to school in these areas, which host frequent gun battles between state troops and separatist fighters. The efforts yielded very little success over the years.

So many students stayed home, for fear that they might be victimized by separatist fighters if they defied the ban on schools.

Now, even some Anglophone separatists and activists have reversed their initial stance on school boycott. Some of them have urged children in Anglophone Cameroon to resume school.

This has been seen as a big step on the part of the secessionists, even though some rival separatist groups have opposed it.

When schools reopened on Monday, the Anglophone regions recorded a timid start. This was primarily because the two regions observe a separatist-imposed ghost town every Monday. However, some schools in these regions began classes, despite the ghost town order.

A true picture of back-to-school will only be felt in Anglophone Cameroon beginning Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether children here will be able to go to school hitch-free, without attacks from those separatists who still oppose school-going.

Learning amid COVID-19

When COVID-19 hit Cameroon in March, the government placed a number of restrictions — among them the closure of schools. But, the shutting down of schools was only partial.

Students who had to sit in for certificate examinations resumed in-person lectures in June. University students resumed as well, while those in kindergarten, junior primary and secondary were not allowed to have in-person classes.

Meanwhile, Cameroon’s Basic and Secondary Education Ministries organized digital learning for students at home, through the state broadcaster. This, they said, was meant to keep the students in touch with their curricula.

For the students who resumed in June, they had to learn under strict conditions, in compliance with Coronavirus barrier measures.

Now, the experience might be new for those resuming for the first time in seven months, since the pandemic forced the closure of schools in March. The number of students per class has been reduced; social distancing enforced, among other gestures.

Cameroon now has 20,924 confirmed cases, with 420 deaths. With these figures, the government has assured that learners will be safe, as they resume in-person classes.

Cameroon to Tackle Japan in October 9 Friendly

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will take on Japan in a friendly match on October 9, 2020. This friendly encounter part of the team’s preparation for the third round of group matches in the 2021 Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers scheduled for November.

Cameroon will take advantage of the next FIFA international friendly window as African squads prepare for their first matches since the COVID-19 pandemic stopped sporting events in the world in March.

The encounter between the Lions and the Blue Samurai is scheduled for the Stadion Galgenwaard, home of FC Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Cameroon’s Portuguese manager Toni Conceicao has already announced the list of players who are expected to be present for a week-long training camp scheduled for October 5-13.

The tactician has omitted some popular names from the squad including the likes of Christian Bassogog and Stéphane Bahoken. Meanwhile, Clinton Njie has made a comeback.

The two national teams meet for the first time in 10 years. They last met at the group stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where Japan won 1-0 courtesy of a Keisuke Honda goal.

Among the squad listed for next month’s friendly encounter, only Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Nicolas Nkoulou were part of the 2010 World Cup squad that clashed against japan.