I visited Ediki, one of the most dangerous villages in the south West region greatly affected by the crisis. I spent 40 hours there with other IDPs I met. Find out my experience.
I hit the bushy road at about 5 O’ clock in the evening with my ‘Baby‘, our small Benji. Everyone in the bus was worried if we would be safe while in the famous Ediki village. So many horrible stories about military and separatists attacks have been heard and written about it. Ediki is a small village along the Kumba-Buea road in the South West region of Cameroon. Papa P resides there.
The bus driver was even afraid to stand for us to alight. Passengers’ harsh words about the place got me angry leaving me with no choice but to respond in defence to their funny questions. My response was “Wuna feel say people them wey them dey dey no be human beings?” Some of them warned me not to stay there for up to 30mins but I did for 2days.
I was going to leave Baby for holidays. Papa P missed us so much and was eager to see us. But it was a suprise visit.
So, when we alighted from the bus, she carried her ‘valise’ on her head while I carried my bag on my back and the ‘sacks and Moto’ filled with goodies on my hand. It was very heavy but I had no choice. We knew the suffering in the bush was too much.
The village was occupied with so much grass. The very busy beautiful village had turned into a quiet grassland. It served as home for lizards, rats and snakes now. The houses were abandoned to themselves with no one to cater for them. We could bearly trace our road to Papa P’s hut. We opened new tracks with our big shoes and the load was weighing much on us.
I always say Papa p is a soothsayer but people refuse. Because upon reaching his small mud house, we found him sitting there. What was he waiting for? He just sat and was waiting. He said something kept telling him to leave the bush and come home. Thank God we met him there. We wouldnt have known our way to him camp in the bush.
So many things had changed. People no longer lived in the village. Families joined and built camps in different parts of the bush. We surveyed our compound and the sweet memories of Ediki came to us clearly. Baby couldn’t stop thinking of the many times they woke up at 4AM to fry ‘puff puff’ and the times she went to sell. I saw the section of the house that was almost razed down during the last military attack. The wall was black and the zinc half bent.
After we exchanged hugs and other lovely pleasantries, we then hit the bush road with him to go to their new home. This time the load on us was reduced since we had another carrier, Papa P.
Of course, we had to pass and greet others at different camps. Papa P insisted we go there and have a taste of the evening ‘Matango’ (palm wine). Unfortunately for us, we were too early for the next day’s sales. Those there had drunk the one for that day.
The campers were so excited to see us. They knew us when we were younger, when everywhere was calm and we always came around. It had been a long time since we visited. The crisis wouldn’t let us pass by. They shook our hands with so much respect and love. Baby was already feeling uncomfortable with what she saw.
The conditions there marvelled me; more than 6 families came together in one place and settled at and oil mill. Each family nailed its bed with sticks under the same roof. They used tents to protect themselves from mosquitoes. They packed their stuff under their beds and used one kitchen to cook.
I pitied them when they complained to me. I met one of my family members there with whom I had a lengthy discussion.
Weeehh mami, we be happy for see wuna eehh. Wuna small baby don big sotey. How for wuna? Things them no easy with we for here ooo. Since wey we di think say things them go better make we go back for house, we di only hear na so so bad news for here. Since after wey them shoot your Pa so, all man for village don run di stay na for bush. Na only God ei know how we di survive for here.
“Since wey I don di plan for go hospital with this my foot for Kumba again, I no di fit. Tin them no di waka. Since wey I stop that my market for chop, I no di fit take care for my skin again.
Tin for chop sef for this bush na problem. You make small tin for here so all man ei eye dey dey. We di just pray dsa make tin them better so that we fit go back for village”.
At that time Papa P was laughing and toasting with his friends. He had seen his beautiful daughters again after a long while. The only thing I saw on their faces was hope. They hoped for better days ahead. They kept saying that staying in the bush was for the time being.
The children played around the cleared areas of the bush while the women gathered in groups and discussed. I saw their church too. They had used tapolins given to them by one of the humanitarian organizations to build it. That was where they worshipped every Sunday to beg God for intervention. It didn’t matter from which domination worshippers came from. It was for everyone.
We left that place at about 18:30 and went to Papa P’s hut. It was almost the same thing just for few adjustments. He was living with a friend and another woman who came for treatment. She had broken her arm at her own camp. Papa P’s elder sister too was there. They had one kitchen in that ‘bush house’. I stayed in that bush for 40 hours, from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning.
The most interesting but scary part was when we wanted to sleep at night. These guys sleep as early as 19h:30. My God, I got tired of that plank bed. I had the most horrible night. For the two nights I spent in that place, a bat came hooting at midnight.
What scared me most was what Papa P’s friend said while shooting at the bird.
Comot for here. You no get any of your njangi people them for here. If them send you go tell the person say you no see we. Go with ya bad luck“.
A Bat’s cry at night was an ill omen to some sets of people like the Bakossi.
I covered my head in fear. I knew those people were coming for us. The thoughts of what used to happen in the village came back afresh. “Papa God, day too go break which time nor?”
I was very relieved when I was going back on Tuesday. But I enjoyed my stay in that bush. I had much to eat. Bush meat, plum, oranges, pear, all sorts of food. But I couldn’t make calls and access the internet. No electricity and network. My phones stayed off for 40hours while I was having a good time with my family.
My hosts were very happy because of the little goodies we brought. Baby couldn’t stop crying when I was going back. She cried ceaselessly. She couldn’t bear staying in that bush for a day without a companion. Everyone in that camp was in their late 50s to 80s.
All I did was wish. I could only imagine how I could help those in the bush. No access to medical health care, hunger was inevitable and small things like Maggi, salt et al could only be gotten in Kumba.
However, I wish to go there some day and see them again. The pwoplp there are very interesting and believe in Community life.
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Tell us what you will change if you were to be in their shoes.