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Contributed by: Jenifer Nesi

We all know that traveling from one town to another in Cameroon without an identity card can be suicidal; because you will either lose money to bribe the police or lose your liberty. I don’t know how locking people help them get identity cards in any case but this is Cameroon. This is the story of Daniel who was traveling to the North West region from Douala. According to a witness, this young man had accidentally parked his identity card in his luggage which was loaded and tied on top of the vehicle. He realised the detrimental nature of the error when they arrived the checkpoint at Santa. All passengers were required to leave the bus and show his or her identity card before passing through. Those who without id cards were usually humiliated and kicked around as a measure to rid them of their dignity as human beings. This young man knew the police would not believe that his identity card was tied with the luggage and he would even receive a worse punishment for lying. So he opted to risk it trick the police. This was a measure of self-preservation because he knew that the little money in his wallet was not enough to buy his freedom. He quickly hatched a plan with his friends who went ahead and presented their identity cards and crossed the barrier. Daniel went to a carrots vendor and both carrots worth of 500 frs, creased his tee-shirt and muddied his new knickers to add credibility to his carrots seller persona. Then at the top of his voice he started shouting “buy your carrots, sweet carrots” while shoving his merchandise in the face of passengers in the annoying habit of hawkers everywhere. He was also artfully navigating towards the police barrier. The police paid him no attention and several people bought his carrots because they believed he was a real hawker. When the bus was about to take off, he threw the other carrots and got into the bus to the surprise of his fellow passengers. Daniel earned applause from his fellow passengers who saw him as a hero for tricking the police and evening earning a little money in the process. The forces of law and order are supposed to protect innocent citizens but Cameroon’s police are famous for preying on the innocence while criminals roam unpunished. It is refreshing when a young man out manoeuvres them, I will surely use this same tactic if god forbid I should forget my identity card when travelling. The Cameroon police prey on innocent people while the real thieves go unpunished so whenever a young man get a chance to play over their intelligence it is always a pleasure. I would do the same if I find myself in that situation and can come up with such a brilliant escape plan. Note of caution, never leave home without your identity card, always ensure it is handy, we can’t all be lucky like Daniel.

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