One city for Cameroon wey dey bubble before before, Bamenda don dey cry for help sake of di war wey dey happun dia for five-years.
Di war na between English-speaking pipo and di mainly French-speaking govment.
Bamenda now na place of death. Di only business wey dey move for dia na di sell of coffin (Casket).
Dem dey troway deadibodi evritime all over di city.
For mortuaries, streets and rivers. Council workers go pick up di deadibodi dem and give dem poor man burial.
One Cemetery worker wey come buy ten cheap coffins say “Na blessing if dem bury you at all, tok less of to call family and friends”
Di demand to buy coffins wey dey expensive wit beta designs like bibles, cars and beer bottles to show di kain life wey di pesin live, im interests and last wishes don reduce.
One Coffin seller tok say “Coffins wey dem bin dey sell for one million CFA francs [about $1,500, £1,270] don comot from market sake of say pipo no fit afford dem again.
Di regular burial of young men and boys na bitter reminder of di katakata for Cameroon English-speaking regions of North-West and South-West.
Inside five years, tens of thousands of pipo don die sake of di war, more dan one million pipo don run comot by force to di French-speaking areas.
Anoda 80,000 dey take refuge for neighbouring Nigeria.
Di war start from grievances wey date back to di end of colonialism, wen British-controlled territory bin dey agree wit French areas to create Cameroon.
Many English-speaking Cameroonians dey feel say dem don marginalise since ever since and dem don oppose wetin dem see as attempts by di govment – wey get majority as French-speaking – to force dem to give up dia way of life.
Dis include dia language, history, education and legal systems.
Tensions bin increase well well for 2016 wen tens of thousands of pipo for Bamenda and oda English-speaking areas begin series of protests against di use of French for dia schools and courts.
Di failure to publish govment documents for English, even though na official language, also cause di tensions.
Even as di govment dey order security forces to crackdown on di protests rather dan entering into talks to resolve dia grievances, young men dey cari arms di following year.
Dat time dem demand di independent state of Ambazonia, di name for di two English-speaking regions.
Now, military vehicles – including those wey get mounted machine-guns – dey drive pass Bamenda evritime.
Residents say sojas raid dia homes, arrest pipo, burn markets and even display di deadibodies of dia victims, including commanders of militias, for major intersections to warn residents against joining di separatist fighters.
Goment forces don also suffer heavy losses for di conflict, wit di deadibodies of fallen sojas removed from di military’s mortuary for di capital, Yaoundé, every Thursday and Friday.
Widows dey cry in front of long lines of coffins wit di Cameroonian flag, ontop, bifor dem bury di sojas for big ceremony wey dey mark military funerals.
“Di only problem be say di gunshots always spoil our nights.”
Separatist fighters don also become notorious for atrocities against civilians.
Separatist fighters don gain fame for atrocities against civilians, including beheadings and di torturing of women wey dem reject for “betraying di struggle”, calling dem “black legs” – a term regularly bandied about now.
Dem circulate videos of these atrocities to warn pipo of di punishment dem face if dem dey suspect of combining wit di security forces.
On Mondays, Bamenda dey turn a “ghost town” wit di roads empty and markets dey closed – part of one civil economic disobedience campaign wey don dey since before di armed struggle.
These days, residents wey dare ignore di lockdown order go either dey shot dead or see dia shops go up in smoke.
Di military and police also disappear from di streets, so dem no go become soft targets for separatists fighters who have a strong presence in the city.
Di separatists even order di closure of all schools four years ago as part of dia campaign. A few don bravely remain open, but make children no dare wear uniforms.
Di military dey enforce a curfew virtually every night for di city, resulting in many of dia restaurants, bars and clubs – wey bin once dey know to be di best in Cameroon – going out of business, wey no dey helped by di now-erratic electricity supply.
“Di constant frying of popcorn don drive evribodi away,” na wetin one waitress tok as she dey use metaphor to describe di never-ending sound of gunfire.
She say e don also prevent those wey dey live abroad from coming home. Known as “bushfallers” – one Cameroonian Pidgin term for hunters (inside dis case seeking greener pastures) –
Those wey dey diaspora bin dey responsible for Bamenda economic heartbeat, sending back money to invest in di once-mushrooming building trade and coming back during Christmas to share dia largesse.
But di authorities accuse dem of bankrolling di Anglophone rebellion. Visiting returnees soon find demsefs arrested.
Some dey now for di maximum security prisons of Yaoundé or Douala – while odas simply disappear. Bushfallers’ money don dry up and none of dem now visit.
Long-time resident Peter Shang, wey once love life inside di city, say pipo now dey take one day at a time: “Life na a lottery. Too many tins remind you about untimely death. You tok to someone today and tomorrow dem don go.”
For Marie Clair Bisu, e get one silver lining – she see more of her husband, unto he gets home before curfew.
“He don now discover im children. Dis na man wey bin dey come back late sometimes drunk and go just head to bed.
“Now im fit play wit di kids and check dia books. Dis conflict don reunite us,” she tok.
“Di only problem be say di gunshots always spoil our nights.”
Cameroon – still dey divided along colonial lines:
- Colonised by Germany in 1884
- British and French troops force Germans to leave in 1916
- Cameroon dey split three years later – 80% goes to the French and 20% to the British
- French-run Cameroon become independent in 1960
- Following a referendum, di (British) Southern Cameroons join Cameroon, while Northern Cameroons join English-speaking Nigeria