By Ndi Fungwe
The mood at Ni John Fru Ndi’s residence is buoyant as last-minute preparation to greet the corpse intensifies just a day before the D-day of July 27th, 2023.
The chairman of the biggest opposition party in Cameroon, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), died on June 12, 2023, at the age of 81.
The Cameroonian military’s construction division (GENI MILITERE) has been restoring the entrance road to the chairman’s residence at Ntarikon Bamenda II, while inside the compound, civilians are performing general cleaning and fixing the houses’ deteriorated roofs.
MMI’s reporter entered the compound and observed numerous individuals, including SDF militants and other family members engaged in a wide range of activities.
The road to Ni John Fru Ndi’s compound being repaird.
The walls of the chairman’s inner parlor are being painted and decorated.
Other people could be seen cleaning the compound’s surroundings. Everyone is focused on completing their individual tasks.
“All these days, we have been working day and night to ensure we meet the deal day,” the civilian guard at the chairman’s property said in conversation with MMI’s reporter.
Soldiers join the community in the last-minute preparations
“So far all renovations are almost completed and what is remaining is the tarring of the roads into and out of the compound,” they narrated.
Prior to Thursday, July 27, 2023—the day the corpse is anticipated in Bamenda—the security surrounding the later chairman’s compound has been stepped up with a significant increase in government troop presence.
This came as a result of a recent detonation of an explosive device planted at the chairman’s compound by separatist fighters who were opposed to the chairman’s burial in the North West Region. The large number of military personnel stationed in Fru Ndi’s compound is aimed to give people the reassurance that the ‘father of Cameroon democracy’ will be buried in his homeland without any challenge from separatists.
Ni John Fru Ndi’s Bamenda residence being prepped to welcome his corpse.
The chairman is accused by some secessionists of being against their struggle for independence, as he did not subscribe to violence and continued to stand for a Federal solution to the Anglophone Problem. Both Ni John Fru Ndi and his party the SDF, believe that violence is not the solution to the problem and that a return to a Federation remains the most viable option, something that some factions of separatists are unhappy with.
Numerous party militants are already making their way, as early as they can into Bamenda.
“I had to travel to Bamenda on Tuesday in order to prepare for the burial on Thursday. It wasn’t simple coming from Fundong in the Boyo division. I had to spend ten thousand (10,000fr) to go by bike and foot to get to Bamenda. Separatist fighters had for months blocked the route from Bamenda to Boyo division. I, therefore, arrived early in order to arrive at Bamenda prior to Thursday’s shutdown. Because of the deserted town and prohibitive traveling costs from Fundong to Bamenda, many of our district’s militants would be unable to attend,” one told MMI.
The reason is that a tiny minority of extremist separatists have declared a ghost town from Thursday, July 27, until Saturday, July 29, 2023. While many others believe that this is uncalled for and have distanced themselves from the calls, the few who are advocating a lockdown claim that the move is intended to thwart the plans to give the SDF chairman a dignified funeral.
Many SDF militants from different divisions were unable to travel to Bamenda to pay their final respects to the Chairman. For nearly three months, it has been impossible to travel to the North West region’s Boyo, Ngokejunja, Dongamantung, and Momo divisions because of separatist-imposed road blockades which have been impacting on the populations.