Cameroon town observes ghost town despite mayor's threat of punitive measures

Streets of Buea were largely deserted as at the morning of July 23 and businesses refused to open as ordered by the Lord Mayor.- africanews
Streets of Buea were largely deserted as at the morning of July 23 and businesses refused to open as ordered by the Lord Mayor.- africanews

BUEA (Cameroon): Capital of Cameroon restive South West region, Buea, was deserted by residents in observing an unofficial ghost town ritual that has been in place for over a year.

Streets of Buea were largely deserted as at the morning of July 23 and businesses refused to open as ordered by the Lord Mayor. 

In photos sent exclusively to Africanews showed that Buea was observing a ghost town.

Residents had virtually abandoned the streets and all social and economic activities had come to a halt.

Late last week, Mayor of the Buea Council Ekema Patrick Esunge, warned that the authorities will take punitive measures against economic operators especially those who respect the most recent call for a ghost town.

In a press release, he said Monday remained a normal working day, a word of caution to persons who planned to respect a call to stay away by suspected separatists.

His release read in part: “He further informs them (businesses) to stop respecting the so-called ghost town from unknown individuals.

“Defaulters of the above Municipal Order will have their businesses sealed till further notice considering that several communiques and press conferences have been held with them to desist from this phenomenon.”

According to info gathered from the towns of Buea & Kumba, Ghost town operations or "country Sunday" declared by Anglophone nationalists is registering resounding success as there are no vehicular movements & all economic activities grounded.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports by people on social media disclosed that the Mayor was sealing off shops that did not operate.

Authorities are said to be doubling locks of shops that refused to open.

Ekema having discovered that orders from Anglo nationalists for ghost town are respected, he decided to with the cover of Cameroonian security forces to broke into stores at Bongo Square.

He once again said: "There will be no ghost town in Buea".

‘Operation Ghost Town’ is an initiative taken by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium as part of their long-term protest against a government they deem biased towards French-speakers. 

French and English are both official languages in the central African country, but English-speakers feel that the government and its policies are discriminatory to English-speakers, particularly in the education and judicial systems. 

Operation Ghost Town was the latest measure implemented by the Consortium as part of a wider protest against authorities.

The Consortium is an organisation made up of civil society organisations, professionals and trade unions to advocate for the rights of English-speakers in Cameroon.

It was founded in December 2016 after Cameroonian authorities denied the existence of an “Anglophone problem”. 

On Monday, the Consortium asked adults to stay at home, children to continue to stay home from school, and for shops and businesses not to open.

Normally bustling towns such as Bamenda, Yuku, Nkambe, and Buea came to a standstill, and jubilatory Cameroonians posted photos and videos online of the success of the operation. 

Protests erupted in the primarily English-speaking western part of the country in November 2016, leading to violent police reprisals and several deaths.- Bernama