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2 Dead, Many Injured As Protesters Rule Kumba 

By Maxcel Fokwen

img_2840At least two persons died and several others are still nursing injuries following a curfew imposed on Kumba on Friday December 9.

Hundreds of protesters comprising commercial bike riders and students descended to the streets in protest of Government’s silence over Anglophone Teachers and Common Law lawyers’ strikes.

Protesters stormed every busy hub of the metropolis forcing parks, markets, beer parlours and service providers to shut down.

Within a couple of minutes, Kumba was transformed into a ghost town. Commercial bike riders, who virtually hijacked the city, were in control of every move.

The riders mounted barricades on every access road to Kumba and rode their bikes from one end of the town to another monitoring the course of events.

Two Dead

The two deaths recorded following last Friday’s protest are both results of separate bike accidents.

The first of the victims is said to be a driver who parked his car around the Kumba Amusement Park and boarded a bike to the Fiango neighbourhood. On returning to get his vehicle, the bike the driver boarded reportedly slipped on palm oil on the tarmac.

The driver is said to have hit his head on the ground and went unconscious before being confirmed dead at the Kumba District Hospital.

The second case is that of a teenager who joined the heat of the demonstration and was stretching his legs while on a speeding bike.

The youngster is said to have fallen off the bike and went unconscious before giving up the ghost at the hospital a few minutes later.

At around 12 noon, police watched from the comfort of their office a woman knocked down by a bike

The rider, who was one of the protesters, was on top speed. The bike hit the woman and she went unconscious.

Relatives of the victim only spotted her from a bike as she was being rushed to the hospital.

Tension At Night Fall

Though the protest had gone void of skirmishes with the security forces during the day, things turned ugly as night approached.

The forces reinforced with extra contingents from Limbe and Buea and they had a standoff with protesters at the Kumba Water Bridge leading to Fiango.

The security forces attempted removing the barricades while the protesters resisted. In the face of the showdown, protesters hurled stones at the security forces.

At exactly 3:14pm, the first tear gas canister exploded and the situation turned ugly. It became a game of tear gas against stones.

Following resistance from the protesters, the police retreated but protesters pursued them towards Buea Road. In the process, some police officers retaliated with bullets which injured some of the protesters.

Boys could be seen picking up tear gas canisters that failed to explode and hurling them back at the security forces. Some of the forces in the process suffered injuries.

Earlier, police forces resident in Kumba had vowed not to touch any of the protesters, provided they did not destroy any property. Some officers even declared that the protesters will run out of steam as they went round town.

Protesters Identify With Federalism, Secession

Placards in the morning of the protest carried messages denouncing the marginalisation of Anglophones. The placards called on President Biya to return Cameroon to a Federal System of Government.

Other placards condemned what they termed the Francophonisation of teacher training colleges created in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

Others messages indicated that, if the Government fails to respond, Anglophones would seek a separate State.

Solutions Not Found On The Streets

Addressing hundreds of protesters at the Kumba Amusement Park Round about, the Secretary General at the Southwest Governor’s Office, Clement Fon Ndikum, advised the protesters to return home and wait on Government to solve the problems raised.

Ndikum said the solutions to the issues raised are not found on the streets. He said the competent authorities have been informed of the problems and Government has already started solving the problems.

The former Divisional Officer for Kumba I would unsuccessfully try to get the protesters re-open the roads. Sooner than later, he would concert with the Company Commander for Meme, the Commissioner of the Central Police Station and the Second Assistant Prefect for Meme.

Minutes later, police returned clearing the barricades at the entrance into Kumba II.

Listen To Teachers, Lawyers

In a brief exchange, the protesters told the Buea envoy to ask Government to listen to the Common Law lawyers and teachers.

Some accused the Government of pretending not to know what the population wants, whereas, teachers and lawyers have elaborated on all their demands.

To some, their pain is that they have paid fees, yet, their children are at home doing nothing.
Some youngsters told the administrators that their anger is the murder of their brothers in Bamenda. To them, if such could happen in Bamenda and Government keeps quiet, then, the population has to take to the streets.

Market Women Chased Into Cemetery

At the Fiango Market, scores of traders, mostly women running away from the protest, ended up at the cemetery. Some said, considering the atmosphere, they did know where they were heading to, except to seek refuge. It was only few minutes after the boys stormed the market that, some women found their way home.

At the market, the protesters mixed up items on sale. Rice was mixed with salt and groundnuts inducing the traders to run home.

Difficult Day For Travellers, Burials

As the unofficial curfew became evident, things became difficult to travellers and burials due on that day.

The protesters forced even travel agencies heading to Bamenda to offload; passengers alighted from vehicles at the fringes of Kumba and trekked home.

Corpses from the mortuary heading, either to the cemetery or church, spent hours on the road, due to the tension that enveloped the town.

However, as at Saturday, December 10, relative calm had returned to Kumba. Business places were open and life returned to normal.

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