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Pavel Joeblack

Studied B.Sc Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Buea

Website URL: http://www.cameroon-concord.com Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With the complete shutdown of the internet in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon and the inability of the populace of these two regions to access the social media to get “breaking news”, the old glorious days of the traditional media is beginning to gain stem in the above mentions regions.

Unlike in the past when the social media used to occupy almost 80% of the news market with denizens relaying predominantly on it for daily information, the shutting down of the internet in Anglophone Cameroon is not just playing positive for owners of traditional media especially the private media, but is equally bringing back the old glorious days of the traditional media.

Newspaper sales are at its best as vendors who spoke to Cameroon Concord affirm that their kiosk recently receive unprecedented numbers of buyers daily who come to update themselves with recent happenings and latest information as regard the ongoing strike action in Cameroon. With the sales hitting the ceilings, it is now a common practice to pass and see a group of youths in their twenties reading a newspaper and debating on a topic. The immediacy of radio and its ability to break and report on events as they occur place it at the top of preferred media in the Anglophone Cameroon these days.

In Buea for example, rather than seeing youths walking with their heads down, tweeting and commenting on post on one of the social media networks, almost everyone has an ear bug connected to their phones.

But just that this time they are not listening to the latest hit they just downloaded but to various radio stations be them local, national or international. Marvelous Ngale, manager at a Buea-based radio station who spoke to Cameroon Concord avowed that the number of calls he get for his call-in programs has tripled since the shutdown of the internet. His words “…it is actually unbelievable; sometimes we receive calls such that the presenter and panelist have no time to chip in their own contributions.” As regard the audiovisual media, the story is almost the same with a constant increase in viewership and contributions per-program.

A Buea-based TV anchor boasted to Cameroon Concord how her program recently signs two partnership agreements because of the audience it pulls. While confirming that the program which is a morning show sometimes hardly read all its contributions sent via Short Message service, SMS, the anchor sound optimistic that even when internet will be reconnected to the North West and South West Regions, traditional media despite what some critics say will hardly be exterminated.

55 years after West Cameroon decided to gain independence by reuniting with the already independent republic du Cameroun, Biya thinks it’s now time to promote the Bilingual and Bi-cultural values of the nation. But the big question Cameroon Concord could not get an answer to is why now? Why wait for 55 years before you decide to put into effect a commission to promote the values that bind Cameroon together?

While others have been quick to embrace the head of states decision to create the commission which will be placed under his supervision and have a total of 15 members, political pundits have simply described the move as a desperate attempt by the president to put an end to the current political atmosphere in the English speaking regions of Cameroon. The announcement that was first aired over the state broadcaster states that the members of the committee will equally be charged with examining complains tabled to them by citizens who are victims to violators of the bi-lingual and bi-cultural nature of the state.

However, President Paul Biya who has being in power since 1982 either deliberately or unknowingly left out the bi-jurial nature of the country which opinion leaders say should have been included in the commission. As if to say the legal department was completely void of any problems it will be good to remind the head of state that the current strike action that has since last year grounded activities in the North West and South West Regions started first with the lawyers strike. It should be noted that this is not the first commission the head of state is creating since the commencement of the Anglophone strike.

The first was an adhoc committee headed by Paul Gogohmo charged with finding a solution to the teacher’s problems. After holding several unfruitful meetings with teacher’s representatives and trade union, Paul Gogohmo dissolved the committee and forwarded an “empty and unsigned” report to through the Prime Minister to the Head of State.

Equally, Garga Harman, national president of Alliance for Democracy and Development, ADD, one of Cameroon’s numerous opposition political parties was charged by the head of state to hold talks with aggrieved Anglophone. But as a newspaper in Cameroon reports, “he went to the dialogue hall empty handed and came back empty handed.”

While it is the hope of many that this commission will not fail like many other that have been put in place by the government, all eyes are now focused to Yaounde where the headquarters of the commission will be based on their first plan of action. Afaire a suivre…

As the consortium president, Barrister Agbor Balla Felix and its Secretary General, Dr. Fontem Neba dragged forcefully to court without their defence team today January 25, 2017, fears are rife that the arrested intellects together with some detained and yet to be arrested Anglophones might be charged with the newly promulgated and highly criticized 2014 anti-terrorism law.

The law which received both national and international condemnation was described by the government as a tool to crack down on the dreaded Islamic terror group, Boko Haram. But political commentators believe in a bid to install fear and frustrated by its inability to exalt control over the North West and South West Regions, the government will charge the arrested Anglophones who have been out spoken or play figure head role in the current political stair with the law on the suppression of acts of terrorism.

The anti-terrorism law No.2014/028 of 23 December 2014 on the suppression of acts of terrorism in Cameroon states partially that “whoever, acting alone as an accomplice or accessory, commits or threatens to commit an act likely to cause death, endanger physical integrity, cause body injury or material damage, destroy natural resource, the environment or cultural heritage with intent to…intimidate the public, provoke a situation of terror…disrupt the national functioning of public services…create widespread insecurity in the country, shall be punished with a death penalty…” .

While the number of arrested Anglophone youths in prison is yet to be established, it should equally be noted that the Advocate General at the Supreme Court, Justice Ayah Paul Abine together with the initiator of the Bamenda coffin revolution which turned violent, Mancho BBC were equally arrested and are been healed in Yaounde.

It should be recalled that on January 20, 2017 after appearing before the military tribunal in Yaounde, the banned consortium president was charged with terrorism, rebellion against the state, incitement of civil unrest and breach of the constitution. As for his Secretary General, Dr. Fontem Neba, he was charged with conspiracy to terrorism, rebellion against the state, incitement of civil unrest and breach of the constitution.

From all fairness and cross examining the charges levied on them, Agbor Balla and Fontem Neba together with all arrested Anglophones might have a death penalty hanging on their necks. The law which received a lot of criticism since its promulgation had been passed only on suspected Boko Haram terrorist. If all goes as political watchdogs anticipate, the above mentioned personalities might be the first to have a feel of the dreaded law.

 

The economic lost estimated to have been inquired due to the complete shutdown of internet connection in the North West and South West Regions since Tuesday January 17, 2017 is now estimated at Billions of FCFA economic analyst report.
This is due to the fact that not only have all banks and money transfer establishments been shut down in the above mention regions, but equally all business and companies that function primarily with the used of internet connection is completely out of business.
While the government continue to be silent as to the reason behind the shutting down of internet connection in the Anglophone Regions, the blackout which came barely two hours after the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium was banned is seen by political observers as a move by the government to prevent the sharing and receiving of any information concerning the current political atmosphere in the two English speaking regions.



These days in the South West and North West Regions, all financial transactions are now carried out in the neighboring French speaking regions of the country while reporters of both the broadcast and print media faced an almost impossible situation filling in reports from these regions.

MTN, Orange, Nexttel and Camtel, the main mobile telephone and internet service providers in Cameroon are reported to be acting on instruction of the government as explained by a senior official of one of the leading communication company in the country. The official who pleaded for anonymity told this reporter that it is within the governments’ rights to come in and regulates the sector from time to time. Backed by the license they issued to the mobile/internet service providers.
 
It should be recalled that last Tuesday’s internet blackout came after the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication headed by Minister Minette Libom Liken send messages using the various mobile telephone companies to mobile users urging them to refrain from spreading false information through the social media. Adding that it is punishable by the Cameroon penal code with defaulters risk paying close to five million or years of imprisonment.
At the time of this report, internet connection was yet to be reestablished in the North West and South West Regions as business activity and livelihood of the populace of these two regions continue to drop as the days go by. As regard the distribution of information concerning the current political situation in the country which happened to be the main reason behind the shutting down of the internet, Cameroonians residing in the two English speaking regions have resorted to the use of short message service, SMS.
 


As the ghost town declared by the Anglophone Cameroon Civil Society Consortium enters day two today, rubrics of yesterday’s operation is still pretty fresh in the minds of denizens of the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon who are ready to give up just anything for a brighter future for their children.

While at the time of this report, the ghost town operation is recording a resounding success in the North West and South West and taking place with a lot of calm and serenity, that of yesterday did produce a lot of fireworks in some major towns of the Anglophone region. Not only did it go violent but dozens were arrested and the angry youths took to the streets.



Revisiting Ghost Town Operation Day one

In the North West Region regional capital of Bamenda which has been championing this fight from day one, business activities where all grounded as the ghost town recorded a resounding success. All the markets, banks, fueling stations, commercial centers, travel agencies among others remained closed while the streets completely deserted with very few people and private cars rushing to their various destinations.
In Ndop, angry youths who were aggrieved by the fact that some business premises were opened, decided to match shutting down business premises and government offices but they were later disperse by arm to the teeth riot police officers whose brutality cannot be over emphasized.

The Divisional Officer for Fundong, this reporter gathered was blocked by irate youths from going to work. They questioned if he was not current with the political atmosphere in the country to know that there was a ghost town.

Cruising West of the Mungo to the South West Regions, which until yesterday exercise relatively calm was the epitome of unrest as the ghost town took a different dimension in the sea-side city of Limbe formerly called Victoria.

Even though the consortium had earlier called for no violence during the ghost town, Limbe, which harbors the lone oil refinery in Cameroon took everyone by surprise. Not only were roads within the town barricaded by angry youths, but equally any commercial bike rider or taxi driver caught working had to face the angry youths.
 
Matters reach climax when hundreds of angry Limbe youths stormed French schools in Limbe which had classes going on unperturbed. Hundreds of Francophone students and pupils were forced out of their various school premises by angry youths as police fired tear gas and gun shots in an attempt to disperse the ramping crowd.

While it is reported that over twenty were arrested ,a resident of Limbe who spoke to Cameroon Concord narrated that they had to go out to ensure that the ghost town was respected by all especially those French schools who have since the strike remained indifferent.

Today’s Ghost Town Operation

Today January 17, 2017 is the second and last day of the tow day ghost town operation as declared by the consortium headed by barrister Agbor Felix Balla, who spent a greater part of his career working as a legal adviser to the United Nation.
 
At the time of this report, day two of the ghost town is relatively effective and no violent has been reported as at now. From Buea, Limbe, Mutengene and Kumba in the South West Region to Bamenda, Nkwen, Nitop, Commercial Avenue, Small Mankon et al in the North West, one can conclude that the ghost town operation is 100% effective. Now the question Cameroon Concord could not answer is what happens after the ghost town?

While we all wait on the Consortium leaders on what next, time is fast running out as this academic year risk being declared as null by UNESCO. Affair a suvire…


As the ghost town declared by the Anglophone Cameroon Civil Society Consortium enters day two today, rubrics of yesterday’s operation is still pretty fresh in the minds of denizens of the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon who are ready to give up just anything for a brighter future for their children.

While at the time of this report, the ghost town operation is recording a resounding success in the North West and South West and taking place with a lot of calm and serenity, that of yesterday did produce a lot of fireworks in some major towns of the Anglophone region. Not only did it go violent but dozens were arrested and the angry youths took to the streets.



Revisiting Ghost Town Operation Day one

In the North West Region regional capital of Bamenda which has been championing this fight from day one, business activities where all grounded as the ghost town recorded a resounding success. All the markets, banks, fueling stations, commercial centers, travel agencies among others remained closed while the streets completely deserted with very few people and private cars rushing to their various destinations.
In Ndop, angry youths who were aggrieved by the fact that some business premises were opened, decided to match shutting down business premises and government offices but they were later disperse by arm to the teeth riot police officers whose brutality cannot be over emphasized.

The Divisional Officer for Fundong, this reporter gathered was blocked by irate youths from going to work. They questioned if he was not current with the political atmosphere in the country to know that there was a ghost town.

Cruising West of the Mungo to the South West Regions, which until yesterday exercise relatively calm was the epitome of unrest as the ghost town took a different dimension in the sea-side city of Limbe formerly called Victoria.

Even though the consortium had earlier called for no violence during the ghost town, Limbe, which harbors the lone oil refinery in Cameroon took everyone by surprise. Not only were roads within the town barricaded by angry youths, but equally any commercial bike rider or taxi driver caught working had to face the angry youths.
 
Matters reach climax when hundreds of angry Limbe youths stormed French schools in Limbe which had classes going on unperturbed. Hundreds of Francophone students and pupils were forced out of their various school premises by angry youths as police fired tear gas and gun shots in an attempt to disperse the ramping crowd.

While it is reported that over twenty were arrested ,a resident of Limbe who spoke to Cameroon Concord narrated that they had to go out to ensure that the ghost town was respected by all especially those French schools who have since the strike remained indifferent.

Today’s Ghost Town Operation

Today January 17, 2017 is the second and last day of the tow day ghost town operation as declared by the consortium headed by barrister Agbor Felix Balla, who spent a greater part of his career working as a legal adviser to the United Nation.
 
At the time of this report, day two of the ghost town is relatively effective and no violent has been reported as at now. From Buea, Limbe, Mutengene and Kumba in the South West Region to Bamenda, Nkwen, Nitop, Commercial Avenue, Small Mankon et al in the North West, one can conclude that the ghost town operation is 100% effective. Now the question this reporter could not answer is what happens after the ghost town?

While we all wait on the Consortium leaders on what next, time is fast running out as this academic year risk being declared as null by UNESCO. Affair a suvire…

Page 14 of 15

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Cameroon Concord  is an online publication covering and reporting on  local and world news, sports, entertainment, politics, business, and religious news. Serving Cameroonians .

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