Celebrations to mark Cameroon’s National Day on May 20 took place in Bali Nyonga at an unusual spot.
Unlike before the start of armed conflict in the English-speaking Regions, when the day was commemorated at the Bali Nyonga grand stand, this year’s march-past was done at the Gendarmerie Research Brigade at Njenka Haussa in Bali.
The celebration was attended by a handful of militants of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party, who accompanied the Mayor, Divisional Officer for Bali and military officers in the commemoration.
Not a single school, civil society group or other political party was present at the ceremony, which looked more like a regular CPDM rally.
The Mayor of Bali, Wandum Ernest, as well as the heads of the police and gendarmerie in Bali welcomed the Divisional Officer when he was driven into the unusual ceremonial ground that morning.
Around them stood combat-ready officers – their colleagues obviously keeping watch around the ceremonial ground to counter any separatist attack.
For six years now, soldiers have been battling with Ambazonia separatist fighters over control of Bali, one of the seven Subdivisions that make up Mezam Division in the North-west.
Separatist fighters have made the town ungovernable with frequent attacks on Government institutions and soldiers.
To stop Government officials from organising national celebrations, as well as chase off soldiers who were camping in it, the Amba boys burned down the Bali grandstand and have rendered it unusable till date.
Despite being located just few kilometres from North-west Regional capital Bamenda, normal life in Bali has remained a nightmare.
By Soulemanu Buba