I have been wondering to myself if it is still necessary to write an article as part of the Campaign to Commemorate the World Day of Peace that was Celebrated on the 21st of September 2018 in Cameroon and across the world. Due to the exigences of work, I was unable to reflect better and contribute to the celebrations of this day in my own little way. However, I have this very strong conviction that it is still absolutely necessary to continue with the peace campaign even after the 21st of September. Its relevance for me is supported by the fact that many young people in my community have been radicalized as a result of the sociopolitical conflict in the restive northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon. Several people have been displaced both internally and externally with killings looting, and destruction of property increasing at an alarming rate.
Despite all that has been said and done as a means of resolving the anglophone crisis, things are not getting better because today and tomorrow for example, (30th of September and 1st of October 2018), there is an order by the Governor of my region restricting movements from one sub division to another. Public gatherings and assembly of more than 4 persons have been prohibited. No off licenses, snack bars, and night clubs shall operate. Furthermore, the movement of vehicles and motor bikes have also been prohibited. The reason advance is to ensure that peace reigns. In this press release, there are a few exceptions on who should move for example administrative authorities, ambulances and other persons in possession of special authorization.
Cameroon is a state of law and the freedom of movement is guaranteed in its Constitution and in other international Conventions that it has signed and ratified. What ever reasons may be advanced for the restriction of movement, my worry has been the consequences of this restriction on the population, especially on the venerable- the poor, pregnant women, children sick people amongst others. The state may take the responsibility to restrict movement for the benefit of the people but how it is done remains important. A plan on how to manage emergencies in the case of a curfew has to be well elaborated and communicated so as to help those in need. Despite the importance of an emergency plan in such situations, we have none.
My governor’s press release was signed on the 28th of September to take effect from the 30th of September. Personally, I was out of the region and only arrived late on friday the 29th of September to get wind of the restriction of movement. Thus, I had only a few hours to ensure that I get some basic needs and food stock at home to stop my family from staving. Fortunately, I had ready cash to shop. Now what of those who did not get this news on time to prepare. What of those who were out of town and could only return on sunday. What about those who have appointments at the hospital or those who are sick and would need emergency medical attention. Worst of all what about my sisters who will get into labour and would not know how to get themselves to the hospital because the hospital is far away, and there is no vehicle or motor bike to facilitate transportation. The list may go on and on.
I would not want to revere the governor for constraining the movement of persons or to acclaim him for pursuing peace by limiting movements. My concern is about the measures put in place to assist those who would need emergency assistance; especially those in need of medical attention that can not wait. I know my country too well and I know what those who claim to be security officers are capable of doing. It is no longer news that several people have died simply because they could not access a health facility within curfew time.
I understand there is an emergency number to call when in trouble. My worry is how many people have phones let alone the number to call. Even for those with telephones, the persistent power cuts render the phones unusable. The excesses of the security forces have turn them into foes rather than true agents of security and peace that the community can trust. We have been reassured on several occasions that the security forces are there to restore peace and order but the reality we live on a daily basis is different.
This obviously justify my reasons for talking about peace and to talk peace every other day. We need peace now more than ever before. Peace is more precious than gold and sliver. I am shouting at the top of my voice for peace to reign; so that the senseless killings can stop. I pray for peace so that my kids can go back to school. I pray for peace so that I can go home for there is no place like home. I pray for peace to be able to do the things I use to do without being afraid of the bullet. It’s all about peace. I am longing for that harmonious state of wellbeing with myself and others and to see it reflect same in my region and in my country Cameroon. There are no short courses to it. I know for sure this can only happen when there is mutual respect for each other’s rights. When the authorities that be are ready to listen to the demands of the people. For peace to reign we must be able to break those barriers of status, colour, language, religion, race, sexual orientation and what have you. The long and short of it is that we should build bridges that connect us on the principles of equity, equality, and nondiscrimination. We are all human beings and should be able to treat each other with love and respect.