NW Armed-Conflict: Person with Disability Moves from Chomba to Bamenda

If someone with both feets could complain of so much tiredness, loosing energy after trekking from Bamenda to Bali or Vice Versa, then a man with disability, making efforts to sustain his family given the restrictions on circulation, will tell his listener a more painful story.

"As you see me like this, I am suffering alot, living in a threshold where things are tensed between the armed groups and I have to leave and go through all this distance just to get needs for the family, isn't an easy thing for me".
He explained in pidgin English.

Meeting this man arround Nsongwa on his way to Bamenda, told a bitter experience he lived given the difficulty in mobility. His priority is his family's upkeep and says his wife is barely managing to keep the family in one piece.

This man demanded for anonimity on his dentity, which was inline with the security threats faced where he lives, being a stronghold of seperatists activities. He was kind enough to caution us about the dangers of the trip we were embarking on.

We travelled to Bali as a group, as we moved, we had so much anxiety to get views of pedestrians, sharing in their experiences. Unfortunately we met very few persons on the road. The road was empty and one could barely hear the chirping of the birds at some point.

At the sound of anything or site of anyone, we became very suspicious. Someone seem to be in the tall grass that grew by the side of the road watching us move or someone looking from the old or uncompleted buildings few meters from the road. Yet all of these was in the subconscious mind.

We arrived Naaka bridge, then entered Bali. Immediately we heard a few sounds of gunshots yet we insisted we must complete our trip in order to get enough elements for the stories that haven't been told yet.

The gunshots became heavy and immediately we ran off to a near by house when it became more serious. The man living there told us, " I haven't opened that front door for over 3years today, stay away from the windows, the doors and even the corridoors. The gunshots have been on since 5.30am this morning".

As we decided to set out for our return to town, one could still hear spontaneous gunshots. It was as though a part of these armed group was in the bush watching us take steps. The man just like a woman working in a nearby farm, smiled at us each time we panicked at the heavy sounds. They said, " we are already so use to the situation", but to us we felt like the gunshots was at close range.

It is not clear if those trekking to Bamenda or to Bali are being protected from such tension and immediately I thought of the man with disability I met on my way to Bali, who was moving at a very slow pace given the difficulty in mobility.

The trip was deadly, we almost got caught in the dragnet of armed groups, yet it was an amazing experience. It is passion to share in the stories of those living in Bali or in other hard hit areas. We moved on narrow footpaths through thick bushes, coupled with the fear of getting a stray bullet.

The ban on the circulation of bikes will last for over 3 months according to the communique signed by the SDO for Mezam, Simon Emile Mooh and as for the decision taken by Seperatists fighters to stop the movement of vehicles simultaneously, no one can tell when the dual ban affecting circulation will end.

By Ndefru Melanie


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