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News Analysis: Walking The Streets Of Ndumu’s Bamenda 

By Peterkins Manyong

When a man is alive we rate him by his worst performance and when he is dead, by his best. The same applies to administration. While a man is in power the tendency is to highlight his fault. It is only when he is out of it that people begin to count his achievements and multiply his blessings. Most of those canonising late President Ahmadou Ahidjo today diabolised him while he reigned. So, what Ahidjo is today shall Biya be tomorrow.

Vincent Nji Ndumu is the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council. He took over from Abel Tadzong Ndeh who made the omelet Bamenda is today by breaking several archaic architectural eggs. Ndumu has been in office for close to half a year. His achievements and underachievement can best be seen through the eyes of a traveler sojourning through the streets of Bamenda.

Walking The Streets By Day

At a glance, the traveler who has never visited Bamenda is filled with the same sweet sensation Milton’s Satan had when he first viewed the Garden of Paradise from a hole in Trophet. As he descends Station Hill, this sensation diminishes, especially when he reaches Ngen Junction where various engineering rogues have, within the past few years, tried to outdo each other in the game of duplicity, beginning the work today and abandoning it the next day. Among other sad tales occasioned by these misdemeanors is the story of a pregnant woman said to have been delivered of her baby on this spot. One of these villains had to scale the borders of Cameroon on learning that a consumer protection company was on his trail.

The movement of the traveler towards City Chemist Roundabout (Liberty Square) is slowed by the sudden emergence of a 70-seater bus of the Vatican transport agency. It is one of the transport services that rebelled against Abel Ndeh after relocating Up Station on his instructions.  At Liberty Square, his attention is sure to be attracted not by the Commercial Avenue because of its magnificent and towering structures, but, as he begins his journey his soul is soon dampened by the killjoy presence of an eyesore. This is the stonewalled structure with a rusted roof that harbours what should have been one of the best cyber cafés in Town. It is situated between AGIP Petrol Station and Highland Bar.

But that is just the beginning of his misadventures. As he continues, the traveler suddenly sees to his right a line of iron containers with the letter X marked on them indicating that they should be removed. The Government Delegate has prohibited their use as business premises, in preference to more magnificent structures, much to the displeasure of petty business men who think Ndumu is bent on rendering them jobless and poor. About 300 metres ahead (if only he cares to look right) our visitor’s eyes  are bound to see civil servants queued like common labourers at BICEC, either for their monthly stipends or over draught.

If he detests rough surfaces, the traveler should not take the stretch to the Bamenda Congress Hall where political zealots teach their disciples to love only their CPDM neighbours as themselves. Neither should he stop at the Grandstand to watch eloquent witchdoctors gesticulate or demonstrate how a concoction in a tiny bottle could cure 200 diseases. If he does, he would discover only when he sits at experimental or Eldorado Bar, T-Junction, for a chilled beer that some nimble quicksilver had dipped his hand too deep or rendered his pockets too light for his liking. The reader is surely bored by now, so let us cut the analysis in two.

Walking The Streets By Night

Walking the streets of Bamenda by night is a less entertaining exercise than doing so in broad daylight; reason being that Bamenda’s inhabitants have since, in their vast majority, surrendered their nocturnal birthrights to armed robbers, choosing the safety of their homes as early as twilight. The hoodlums have therefore, for the purpose of their own survival, chosen to pursue the "refugees" to their homes. And before a concerned neighbour alerts the Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR) one of the armed robbers had already done so, directing them to another quarter several kilometers from the scene of operation. If our traveler comes across such a scene, it is safer for him to call BIR using the public "hide- and speak".

If the traveler is unfortunately accompanied by a pretty damsel, he should not begin his night walk at the entrance to the Bamenda City Council. Ndumu’s night watchmen are not a guarantee for travelers. On Sunday, August 30, when the town’s populace, as usual, "groped in the darkness of AES-SONEL", dozens of handbags and phones were seized from as many women pedestrians by bike riding scoundrels. If our traveler is taking a walk on a moonlit night (some of Ndumu’s street lights are dimmer than that of the moon) he should be careful not to mistake the pools of water on Ntarinkon road and in the newly dug trench, for patches of dry land. As our traveler would encounter far less obstacles (traffic jam, reckless commercial motorcycle riders et all), than by day.

He is sure to reach Hospital Roundabout in a far shorter time where the imposing statue of a full grown lion would remind him and Ni John Fru Ndi that Cameroon is a gigantic forest where only one creature has the right to roar – Paul Biya. Our traveler should avoid Meta Quarters where a bridge Ndumu began constructing more than three months ago risks lasting for eternity.

Passing by Simon Chambu’s Liverpool Bar, he could reach Nkwen on time to see "the fishers of men" in their short DVDs (Dos et Ventre Dehors) the common dressing style of prostitutes which exposes the back and the belly. Bamenda under Ndumu is a cleaner city than it was in the days of Abel Ndeh. The town would be an earthly paradise if the Government Delegate improved on the security system. Any Northwesterner who is tired of Bamenda is unarguably tired of life.

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