My Visit To Mbengwi Road After Calamity Fell On The People
By Raymond Dingana
The news about hundreds of houses being burnt to ashes at Mbengwi Road in Bamenda and the carnage that has befallen the victims was enough reason for me to go see things for myself.
I started witnessing the pain the victims of the voilent arson attacks are going through when i arrived Hospital Round About.
I saw red eyes looking people with long faces all supporting their jaws with their hands.
They sat in front of the seven shops that were burnt by men in military uniforms at Hospital Roundabout.
Many other businesses around the area did not open their doors, some say it was in solidarity while others say they did not open their businesses because of fear.
From Hospital Round About, the evidence was clear that Mbengwi Road was not going to be easy.
The absence of the normal hustling and bustling that is typical of that vicinity was absent. It was as if they were mourning.
Going towards Azeri Old Church Junction, many shops were also locked.
As i approached Mbengwi Road, I started seeing signs of the burnings. I felt as if my head was growing bigger, I could not imagine it was a reality.
I even failed to convince myself that the few burnt houses i first saw were all as far as the burning spree was concerned..
The environment too was tensed. People were talking in low tunes, they were right to do so because no one could tell who was who around that neighborhood at that time.
That thing carry the motor for up like distance for electric pole,
a young man could be heard as he and some friends discussed the incident in pidgin.
As i proceeded, I was able to count more than forty buildings, metal workshops among others all burnt to ashes.
Close to eleven vihicles burnt and their carcasses doted almost every were, another sign of the gravity of the situation.
I also passed around the metal workshop were two young boys were shot and killed and part of their bodies consumed by fire given that their workshop was also razed.
"Na for here them shot that two pikin them,"
a woman said as she pointed at the place.
Some victims could be spotted around as they watched helplessly how their lives have been reduced to nothing.
I visited a home where a lady and her grand son of about 5 years of age narrowly escaped death. The child's father had died and was buried just some few weeks back.
"Mama,mama,mama, they have burnt our house,"
he said this repeatedly before moving to the grand father to say the same thing.
All their properties have been burnt down including a generator worth five million francs CFA.
"I heard a loud sound which was later followed by heavy gun fire at about quarter pass 3pm. All of a sudden, military men surrounded my house. Later i saw flames,"
She said and added that,
I could not go out because they were out speaking in French and shooting. When i noticed they had left, I went out only to see them coming back with two gallons of fuel. I ran away and when i turn back ,i saw the entire building on fire.
Not even fowls were spared. I also came across the hole created by the explosion that reportedly triggerred the arson attacks.There was also a burnt bike inside the hole.
However, what baffled me was why the burnings had to be extended tens of meters away from the explosion site as far as Hospital Round About.
This is because some espeacially regime loyalists have justified the burning of houses of civilians because to them, they saw something and said nothing.
So did those at Hospital Round About see something and said nothing? One must be a magician to see what is happening at Mbengwi Road from Hospital Round About.
One thing I observed was that many of the shops were looted before they were set ablaze.
24 hours after the incident, things have been hard on the people.
No humaniterian agency has been there to provide psychosocial support and other humanitarian aid badly needed by the victims, North West Regional authorities have behaved as if nothing ever happened.
It would appear the people are on their own and they seem to have understood this perfectly well,
"If we are alive, we will rebuild the burnt buildings, we only regret the innocent lives that have been lost,"
says a retired soldier whose son was a victim of the burnings.
The ongoing armed conflict is escalating yet calls for dialogue continue to fall on deaf ears.
Someone once said that, it is only a fool who will go to war when there are chances for peace.