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In Which Reunification Saga Don Come 

By Azore Opio — Easily one of the most unpopular unconsummated affairs in the last five years or so has been the thing they now call the 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Cameroon. None now knows the fate of the Reunification anniversary and how many more times it is going to be postponed.

At first the Buea population and the contractors shun the Governor for his “unreasonable” threats against “recalcitrant” contractors. They hang another albatross about the Governor’s neck. But then, as the good breeze and good weather set in, the people decide to ignore the Governor and the contractors and their frolics.

Then the trouble really begins; inadequate water supply after two years of rehabilitating the water works; electricity relapses into its time-honoured epileptic fits, and one by two, pedestrians are run down by vehicles along the wide open boulevard. For several months the bodies keep on piling and staring at the poor Reunification, which, though in agony from anxiety itself, to party, can’t die.

The 50th Reunification anniversary has become a sort of political football that is being played on a rugged, slimy pitch without referees. And while historical and cultural wistfulness can make some of the anniversary seem credible, and, therefore, worth celebrating, the unexplained protracted delay in celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Reunification of Cameroon is truly bizarre, to say the least.

Again and again, the overwhelming feeling of depression imposed by the impending visit of the guest of honour at the ceremony, none other than the Head of State himself,  move the people around like zombies waiting for a morbid corpse of a long-dead comrade. Needless to say that “rickety” houses have been obliterated from the boulevard along which the chief priest’s motorcade would proceed.

Along with the wreckage went business persons and their merchandise to the back streets, so that the Big Man’s eyes may not become sore at their miserable sights. Great expense has been lavished on Reunification projects and public monuments; many of which have only a fleeting life span. There is, nonetheless, a shaggy glimpse of sour splendour and cheap elegance in Buea.

The Reunification anniversary has become little more than a money-spinning yarn. The monthly “Keep Buea Clean” campaign was ratcheted up to a weekly affair, to keep the town spic and span when the President comes calling. If the head prefect was collecting FCFA 100,000 from the taxi drivers’ union for “passes” that he signs to “permit” taxi drivers to work on Wednesdays when the town of Buea is shut down for the so-called clean-up campaign, he has been chilling with a cool circa FCFA 400,000 a month.

He must be praying hard for the Reunification to delay longer so that the equation remains as sweet as ever; the further the Reunification anniversary delays the longer the stream of “pass” money will flow. But one might want to ask; what is the point in paying HYSACAM hugely and at the same time shutting down business premises four times a month in the name of cleaning up the town?

Just days away from the last deadline for the Reunification projects to be completed, work continued on some projects. The Bokwai-Muea road, which received a loose dressing of gravel, has its gutters gaping like old wounds. They are still to be completed, while parts of the gutters already covered with flat blocks of rock are rapidly crumbling.

Lest, I forget, the Tole-Bonadikombo road will be a rutted track by the time the Head of State gets to Buea. Before Reunification anniversary was mooted, Buea had had its own share of the national grief; No water, epileptic electricity, much suffering, until the inhabitants became immune to the agonies. Things look bleak until announcement is made that Reunification would be celebrated in Buea.

The people feed it with nostalgia and euphoria and sit back to wait. The good feeling stays a while and things seem to be working well, when, for no good reason, or for some good reason, the contractors for the Reunification projects begin to be beaten by deadlines. The Governor of the Southwest Region now has an albatross around his neck by dint of being the Head of State’s representative in the Region.

Administration laced with lies comes into play; President Biya is told variously that the venue for partying is ready and only waiting for him. You know how sweet it is to lie when you are loaded with free money. Which is why the guys organising the party play for time to pocket more money, and a miracle to blind Biya but the old fox discovers the black lies.

The poor organisers wish he could just come and go, but he doesn’t. Now they are wondering if he could come to Buea any moment. To say that the Reunification anniversary is a strange case is a vast understatement: it is just dreadful. And funny. The one element that all seem to share is restless sleep. And the unanswered question; when will it take place?

It’s like sitting at the lobby of the mortuary waiting for the funeral undertaker to call out your name that your corpse is ready for evacuation. The Cameroon’s Reunification is more than just a political conflict; it is the collision of two nations marked by an intolerant rapacious system of exploitation. And today, Cameroonians are heirs, for better or for worse, to the cultural and spiritual bankruptcy that bedevils the union. In the long run, Reunification is dead.

First published in The Post print edition no 01503

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