Protesting Students Disrupt Varsity Games in Buea

 

Irate students disrupted the opening of the 15th edition of the national University Games that kicked at the University of Buea (UB), in the presence of an embarrassed minister of higher education Jacques Fame Ndongo.

 

 Declaring themselves to be members of the University of Buea Students Union (UBSU), the protesters interrupted the opening football match pitting UB against the University of Dschang for several minutes.

 

 They chanted songs of protest highlighting several grievances and demanded the immediate payment of participating bonuses of UB athletes owed them since 2006. They also demanded the purchase of new outfits for the athletes taking part in the games.

 

 In the presence of senior higher education authorities, Minister Fame Ndongo instructed UB’s vice chancellor Vincent Titanji to immediately plead with the irate students for calm.

 

 Earlier, the protesting students stopped the UB delegation from participating in the official parade to mark the opening of the games. They marched in the place of the delegation and boomed several grievances.

 

 Dressed in red T-shirts bearing the inscription “UBSU Pressure Group”, the protesters comprising over a hundred persons marched past chanting freedom songs, with their mouths stuffed with grass, but which did not gag their message.

 

 Calm eventually returned, and the opening football match was played. But violence erupted at the end of the encounter. Students attacked one of the match officials with stones and clubs wounding him severely on the head and face over what they termed his partial handling of the encounter. But it is believed their anger over their palavers with the university authorities pushed them to react this way.

 

 It is feared that the unhealthy atmosphere currently reining at the games could degenerate into a serious breakdown in order.

 

 The games are equally marred by organisational lapses. Lodging is the biggest problem in Buea as many athletes’ coaches and journalists spent their first night in the open air due to lack of accommodation in the hotel-scarce town of Buea.

 

 Dependable sources say University of Buea authorities received funds for the organization of the games barely 48 hours to the official opening of the games and so could not make adequate arrangements for lodging of guests.

 

 The university games is an annual rendez- vous bringing together athletes and students of the 8 state universities and some institutes of higher learning in Cameroon to compete for medals in many sport disciplines. It’s also a moment for students to take a break from their strenuous academic work.

 By Roland Akong

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