A Glimpse Into Life inside the Bamenda Central Prison in Cameroon

Bamenda prison

Bamenda prison

Blogger Salma Amadore narrates [fr] how her visit inside the central prison of Bamenda, the capital city of  the north west region of Cameroon, made a lasting impression on her :

J’arrive à la prison de Bamenda à 9 h 30. Mgr Cornélius Fontem Esua, archevêque de Bamenda y donne une messe pour la fête de Pâques. Première surprise les gardiens me lancent « on n’entre pas en prison avec le pantalon ». Je supplie une gardienne de me donner un bout de tissu pour l’attacher au-dessus de mon pantalon, mais elle n’a rien. Je remercie le ciel d’être « journaliste » comme l’a souligné un des gardiens. [..] 

La cour est grande, il y a des bâtiments où les prisonniers sont classés par ordre de délits. Il y a aussi les cases de mise en quarantaine, des cellules pour femmes. Je remarque un seau de beignets et je demande à qui il appartient.  L’un des membres du personnel me fait remarquer une cafeteria, des champs de canne à sucre, de maïs, des choux. Tout ceci appartient aux prisonniers qui pour l’acquérir doivent écrire une demande au régisseur qui leur attribue un lopin de terre ou une parcelle de terrain pour diverses activités. Ceci est fait dans le but de récompenser ceux qui se comportent bien et de montrer ainsi aux autres prisonniers récalcitrants qu’en suivant le bon exemple, ils peuvent aussi jouir de certaines libertés comme le commerce.

I arrived at the prison of Bamenda at 9:30 am.  Bishop Cornelius Fontem Esua , the Archbishop of Bamenda is holding a mass for Easter. First surprise,  the guards inform me that “no one enters the prison with pants.” I beg one of the lady warden to give me a piece of cloth that I could tie over my pants but she did have any. I thank God at that moment that I am a “journalist” as stated by one of the guards [so they let me go on].  
The yard is quite large, the buildings where prisoners stay are ranged according to the innmates’ crimes. There are also quarantine cells and cells for women only. I noticed a bucket of donuts on the floor and I ask who it belongs to. One staff member pointed out to me that there is a cafeteria in the prison, as well as fields of sugar cane, corn and cabbage . All of the fields belong to prisoners. To acquire them, prisoners have to submit a written request to the guards who in turn, will allocate a piece of land or a small lot for various activities. The idea behind the project is to reward the inmates who perform well and show other less compliant prisoners that by doing the right things, they too can enjoy some amount of freedom through this trade. 

1 comment

  • Ruth

    I am a pro bono lawyer representing an asylum seeker who was imprisoned in Bamenda Central Prison. Any way I can get proof that he was imprisoned there?

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