By Bakah Derick
Never has school resumption been so timid in the predominantly English speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. It is not only the absence of school buses, assorted uniforms on overcrowded streets and taxis but also the near complete absence of overloaded yellow taxis and high speeding commercial motorbikes better known as okada this September 4, 2017 from the street of Bamenda. Shops are also locked along the streets with major markets shops closed. Inhabitants call it “kontri Sunday”! It’s a ghost town on school reopening.

The Minister of Basic Education is in town, Alim Adjidja née Youssouf and the Secretary General in the Ministry of Secondary Education are in town to launch the school year. The streets are empty so they will have a good ride across the city through near empty streets. It’s a similar picture reports from most parts of the North West and the South West region where the Minister of Secondary Education Jean Ernest Ngalle Bibehe Masséna is performing a similar ritual.
Their presence only adds to the many trips made by top ranking state functionaries including the Prime Minister Philemon Yang demanding parents to send their children to school.
On more than one event where parents or the population is allowed to ask questions, the request or condition for school resumption is release of those arrested within the period October 11, 2016 to date a period that has given rise to what is now known as the Anglophone crisis. The crisis is born from the boycott of courts by common law lawyers from October 11, 2016 followed by Anglophone teachers strike and the coffin revolution on November 21, 2016. The issue here is the over bearing use of French language and French systems in courts and schools.
As dialogue crumbled in December 2016 after several unproductive meetings between leaders of the Anglophone teachers trade unions and the lawyers representatives with government in special ad-hoc committees created to handle the pre-occupations tabled by teachers and lawyers, massive arrests will ensue from an unpopular ruling party (The Cameroon’s People Democratic Movement, CPDM) march in Bamenda December 8 after confrontations between government forces and the population that rejected the march. Not fewer than three people will die this day.
The Anglophone Civil Society Consortium has been born just a few days back as dialogue showed signs of no progress.
By January 17, 2017 internet services are disconnected from across the concern regions. The consortium will be declared illegal by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization and the leaders President Barister Agbor Balla, Secretary Dr Fotem Neba, Mancho Bibixy leader of the coffin revolution and Ayah Paul Abineh an Anglophone political leader amongst others will be arrested. They will each spend not fewer than seven months in detention centers in Cameroon’s Capital Yaounde hundreds of kilometers from their places of arrest. Other members of the consortium, teacher’s associations, Common law lawyers and other trade unions will also go on self-exile from where they have continued to issue decisions leading to civil disobedience in the NW/SW regions. Shops, markets, schools, cars and even private homes have been reduced to ashes for refusing to respect some of these decisions which include Ghost towns.
The Teacher’s trade union called off the strike in February of 2017 yet schools did not reopening effectively but the 2017 examination sessions will be written and the concern regions will end with very poor results amidst claims by activists that the school year will be declared blank! That did not happen.
August 30, 2017! Eve of school resumption for 2017/2018 academic, the President of the Republic Paul Biya orders the discontinuance of the case against Barister Agbor Balla, Dr Fotem Neba and Ayah Paul Abineh and others at the Yaounde Military Court but this will not include Mancho Bibixy and 20 others. In a release August 31, The United Nation Secretary General praised the move.
Ghost towns and school boycott has continued with massive movement of children from the English speaking regions to other French speaking regions in the country. Though those who give instructions in the two regions have not made a statement to this effect, many say should the remaining detainees be released things will return to normal.
As at now, schools have far less than expected pupils and students with many showing up without school uniforms and being accompanied by family; a rare phenomenon in regions where education has been a way of life. 
The future seems bilk with issues now moving from the core issues of language use to the Form of State. While government maintains stands on decentralized unitary state, opinions around the NW/SW regions talk of Federalism and outright independence. This according to many has complicated the dialogue process as a way to ending the crisis. 
Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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