By Njukang Princeley in Buea
It remains a puzzle that after protesting blind and visually impaired graduates who yenned for employment, the goverment of Cameroon now watches from a distance the illegal occupation of land belonging to the rehabilitation institute for the blind in Buea, South West.
For thousands of Cameroonians with visual impairments, the recent invasion of the land of the rehabilitation institute for the blind (RIB) does not only pose a grand limitation to the restitution of our personal autonomy and socioeconomic reinsertion, but rightly, as well a deliberate attempt to completely keep us dependent.
I thought that, now that many of us increasingly hunger meaningful inclusion and full participation in mainstream activities President Biya’s government would rather have renovated an equipped the rehabilitation institute for the blind which he inherited from his predecessor to meet demands of the twenty first centaury than auction our land to uncivil individuals without consciences.
Since November 2021, the Chief of Bomaka, a neighboring village to Bulu has being forcefully seizing and selling the institution’s land with the aid of some robbers of law and order, state officials continue to play the devil behind and play God in front as we watch the tragic drama of our land disappearing before our own eyes. For instance, on February 22, 2022, after a series of communications engineered by the director of RIB, the Divisional Officer of Buea issued a firm order suspending all works on the Bulu Blind center land.
But a few days later, construction works continued on the site as normal. On February 25, 2022, when the institution’s director informed the DO of the failure to comply with his order, silence responded. To me, if there is only one thing that the silence of the Divisional Officer helped to clarify, it is that he and other administrative authorities in the region and in the country are masterminding the land theft for their pocket’s sake.
It is, without doubt, the awareness of the complicity of these government officials that pushed some visually impaired citizens, united under the Movement of Former Trainees committed to the protection of the land of RIB to jump in.
The Bulu Land Defenders, as the movement is also known, organized their first protest on May 4, 2022, paralyzing traffic in Buea for nearly two hours. The divisional officer, D.O of Buea, informed of the protest, immediately visited the scene to calm the protesters. When he arrived the scene that he played the shift blame game asking the institution’s director to perform hid duty, as if to say the D.O has hand in the matter.
But was the director’s letter of May 2, 2022 to inform the DO for the second time of the continuous disregard of his order not part of his responsibility? The DO assured the protesters that police of the Muea Station had been instructed to watch over the land, that all they simply needed to do was to call the police station whenever they noticed anyone around in the area.
Although the DO might have successfully quelled the riot, one did not need two days to conclude that the words were merely political.
Only a day after, the people came to continue construction works on the site as usual and when they tried to reach a near by Police Station for intervention, the calls were quietly rejected.
I encountered an honest police officer who alleged that, even senior staff of the Muea Police Station were reaping huge gains from the illegal occupation or our land.
Though the truth of his claim, just like the claims of many others including my own cannot be exonerated from all doubts, there is one thing that is clear: The government is very reluctant to act, and its reluctance is fueling the continuous erection of buildings on the Bulu blind center land. It is the awareness of this that has kept the Bulu Land Defenders on ceaseless action.
If we keep quiet and wait, our land will soon all disappear and the rehabilitation institute for the blind would equally cease to be.
A big slap on our face as blind and visually impaired Cameroonians it would be to sit and watch the bulu blind legacy breakdown in ruins.