Activities have been paralysed in Bamenda and the streets are deserted on this October 1, 2023, a day that is historically, the Independence Day of the Southern Cameroons and the day the now-defunct Two-State Federation came into existence in 1961.
Many have stayed home with very few people seen on the streets for fear of the unknown.
Heavy gunshots were heard on the night of Saturday, September 30th, into the morning of Sunday, October 1st, in some neighbourhoods in Nkwen and others.
Township taxis, motorbikes, and private cars have deserted the scary and empty streets of Bamenda.
Shops have also remained closed, as many say, “It’s better to be safe than open our shops and end up losing everything, including our lives. The danger is real,” Thierry, a trader in Bamenda, told MMI.
Security forces have also been massively deployed in Bamenda and its environs, and they have been parading the streets in both military and civilian attire.
Some are on the rooftops of buildings around major streets.
On October 1, 1961, the former British territory of Southern Cameroons gained its independence and reunited with East Cameroon, French Cameroon, on the basis of a federal system of government.
The foundation of the country started shaking when then-President Ahmadou Ahidjo dismantled the federal structure at the time, and all attempts to persuade both the old and new regimes to go back to the federal constitution have yielded no fruit.
It should be noted that on October 1, 1961, in a United Nations-supervised plebiscite, the then-British Southern Cameroons voted to achieve their independence by joining East Cameroon with Buea as its capital.
During celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Cameroon, an event took place in Buea on February 28, 2014. President Paul Biya reminded Cameroonians that “history has not forgotten that Buea was the headquarters of West Cameroon and that history has not forgotten that Buea was the capital of Southern Cameroons.”
The Cameroon of the Anglophone Crisis saw celebrations take on another dimension.
Ambazonia separatists and their followers co-opted this day in 2017 when their leader, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, unilaterally declared independence. They have since then marked the 1st of October in most remote areas, despite military crackdown.