“Driving through Southern Cameroons towns and villages you will see satellite dishes, sprouting mushroom-like from roofs, gardens and balconies. Southern Cameroonians have roofs to repair, but they are buying satellite dishes instead. Wherever you go now in Southern Cameroons, it is the satellite dish that comes first.” This is an extract from an intelligence report sent to the presidency of La Republique du Cameroun stating that the Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation or Ambazonia TV is threatening state control of West Cameroonians.
The report also noted that despite the arrest of several cable companies, the chain’s interest has increased tenfold. Several households have installed private satellite dishes to watch Ambazonia TV whose broadcast center remains unknown to the Francophone regime. The proliferation of these dishes in Southern Cameroons symbolizes the frustration that Southern Cameroonian citizens feel with the Francophone dominated state-owned Cameroon Radio and Television. But after years of hankering for a choice in what they can watch, Southern Cameroonians are fast becoming spoilt for one.
Ambazonia TV has been broadcasting for three months and is essentially engaged in helping Southern Cameroonians to understand the urgent need for secession. The Francophone regime in Yaoundé earlier announced that the chain had its technical facilities at Ngoketunjia in the Bamenda province. Yaounde ordered the arrest of some innocent Southern Cameroonians in the Ngoketunjia County and charged them for distributing the channel.
According to the Francophone regional delegate of communications for the defunct North-West region, Louis Marie Beignet, a cable company registered in Bamenda took responsibility for introducing into its package images that were animated by the Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation. Francophone political elites have opined that Ambazonia TV is hostile to the regime in Yaoundé and has no place in their so-called one and indivisible Cameroon.
Southern Cameroonians have long been denied vibrant local media. Internet penetration in the territory is among the lowest on the African continent, and since the Biya Francophone government declared a state of war against Southern Cameroonians, following civil unrest orchestrated by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, mobile internet services were stopped throughout all the Southern Cameroons counties.
The Biya Francophone regime also has a fearsome reputation for jailing Anglophone journalists. There are a handful of independent Southern Cameroons newspapers, which can on occasion be critical of the Francophone colonial government, but they are few in number. Ever since the Southern Cameroons revolution started, many English newspaper tabloids have announced they were suspending print operations, citing censorship.
Until three months ago, switching on the TV in Cameroon meant watching President Biya and wife on the state-owned channel or a chartered member of the ruling CPDM crime syndicate passing for a cabinet minister on a meet-the-people tour. There is a recognition inside the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM that squeezing Southern Cameroonians was a costly mistake. “Opening up should have happened earlier,” a baron of the regime admits. The lack of credible independent news source in West Cameroon has now been filled by the Ambazonia TV.
Producing alternative news will be difficult inside the territory since CRTV enjoys a near-monopoly on information and access to ministers and prominent political figures in La Republique du Cameroun. But the signs are positive for Southern Cameroonians in that so long as West Cameroonians stock up on satellite dishes and mobile internet facilities, controlling what they watch will be harder by the evil forces in Yaoundé.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai
Cameroon Concord News Group