Ghost on the streets, parties in the quarters
By Kiven Brenda in Bamenda
It is Monday in Bamenda, the usual effervescence we gather from the streets is limited as few cars, motorbikes as well as people are spotted. On these Mondays, shops are closed even along the major Nkwen, Food and Bamenda Main markets. It has become consistent since the phenomenon of ghost towns was adopted by the aggrieved population through its leaders of the now banned Anglophone Civil Society Consortium in January 2017, following an ongoing crisis in the North West and South West regions.
These ghost days were observed twice a week and on special occasions in defiance to government attempt at school resumption. It was reduced to a single day which is Monday and known by many as “country Sunday”. However, whoever calls for the ghost days had made it obligatory for people to observe special ghost days within the week in honour of the judgment of victims of the ongoing crisis in the Anglophone part of Cameroon. How ghostly are these ghost days? This question perturbed this reporter who went underground to find out how people spend these ghost town days.
A quarter-bar in Travelers Bamenda, locked up to from the sight of everyone surprisingly hosts many within who spend the ghost day quaffing alcohol to the joy of the bar-owner who happens to be one of the few who operates a “black-market”, on a ghost town day. Never will anyone suspect he earns a lot behind these shut doors. Another shop in Travellers Bamenda which seems closed, has someone sitting and waiting for a chance to serve a customer who wants to buy fresh tomatoes or rice.
These are amongst hundreds of businesses which operate behind closed doors on ghost town days. Mr Andrew Taku owns a provision store in the Travellers neighborhood. On ghost town days, he diverts to a bar and restaurant at his house. Youths from all parts of Bamenda trek or take a motorbike to his place. They drink from morning till midnight. Mr Andrew in an interview with this reporter said he wasn’t happy with the numerous ghost towns and government’s approach at handling the ensuing Anglophone crisis but he wouldn’t reject the fact that it was a win-win situation for him. He buys over 30 crates of Beer on Saturdays and stocks these drinks till ghost town days.
He confirms he usually runs out of drinks on ghost town days. His opinion was shared by some business operators this reporter talked to who operate during these ghost town days. Looking at images on social media, standing around Ntarinkon to Meta quarter, one would think there’s indeed a ghost on the streets of Bamenda, yet the city booms in the quarters. Most of these quarters in Bamenda, have at least a single bar or provision store at the mercy of the population. With this in mind, many have started questioning the necessity of these ghost towns.