It is Saturday, October 30 in Bamenda, Cameroon’s North West Regional Capital. The environment looks unusual because some people are walking in groups across some neighbourhoods in town.
Each time people are seen in such groups in the town, it is either they want to start a strike or they are marching to denounce insecurity.
And in some cases, such group walks usually end with tear gas, shooting and arresting either by the soldiers or separatist fighters in the region.
However, the walk that was taken on October 30 was quite different from what used to obtain. They were persons with visual impairment.
These are people, because of the Anglophone armed conflict have suffered a lot.
Their walk across the areas in Bamenda was to celebrate the international day of the white cane.
White Cane Safety Day takes place around the world on October 15 every year. The day raises awareness about how blind people travel and celebrates how they contribute to their communities.
But persons with visual impairment in Bamenda could not observe at the same time with others. That was because of the lockdown that characterised the region at that period. Lockdowns have become very common to the people of English Cameroon. Lockdowns mean circulations of persons, cars and the opening of shops have been restricted. In most cases, lockdowns are imposed by Separatist fighters.
Owing to that, persons with visual impairment were able to defy them and still observe the day despite the delay.
Converging at the Special Needs Entrepreneur Group hall Fish Pond Hill, one could hear them chant songs praising the white cane.
White Cane Safety Day is named after the white cane, a tool many blind and visually impaired people use to travel. While they walk, they move the cane from side to side in front of them.
The celebration in Bamenda witnessed a show of solidarity amongst persons with disabilities as those with mobility impairment answered present.
The altruism of some persons with a mobility impairment was felt as they generously donated some of the White Canes that were then handed over to persons with visual impairment who were in need.
This kindness could not go unnoticed.
Ngong Peter Tonain, President of HSUVI as well as madam Armelle, President of the coordinating unit of associations of persons with disabilities among other dignitaries described the White Canes offered as friends to persons with visual impairment.
They elucidated on the functions of the White Cane and cautioned recipients to jealously preserve and make use of them.
Some recipients of the white cane could not hide their feelings of joy
“I am so grateful to the donors of this white cane in my possession and promise to do are in my power to jealously preserve and make proper use of the white cane,” Said Njomo one of the recipients.