Friday, September 6, 2013
Bamenda, North West Region, Cameroon
Tuesday, August 27 – Friday, August 30
Now, that our tournament has finished, I finally got a chance to travel outside of Kumba. My destination: Bamenda, which is in Cameroon’s North West Region. These are my three impressions of Bamenda.
1. Bamenda is developed (at least compared to Kumba). Today, Bamenda is the third largest city in all of Cameroon. It is home to a variety of businesses, many of its roads are paved, etc. (In Kumba, there is only one road that is truly, fully paved; the pavement on the others is falling apart because the people that paved them embezzled a large part of the money allocated for the job and did cheap, low quality work.) Bamenda is also regarded as a cultural center of sorts for Cameroon.
Here’s an explanation of how Bamenda became developed:
As you may be aware, Cameroon is a bilingual country. Eight of the country’s ten regions are French speaking, having been colonized by France. The two remaining regions, North West and South West are English speaking, having been colonized by Britain in conjunction with Nigeria, which lies just north of these two regions. In 1961, the Anglophone regions separated from Nigeria and united with the Francophone regions of Cameroon as one country under one government, an event known as “reunification.” The country remains in this state today.
Despite their unification, there remain serious differences between the Anglophone and Francophone regions of Cameroon in terms of language and culture. As you might imagine, because the Francophone regions are larger in number, they have dominated politics within the country. (Although reunification is still celebrated as a holiday today around all of Cameroon, the sad truth is that if it were not for reunification, the North West and South West Regions, in which Bamenda and Kumba are located, of Cameroon would be much stronger and more developed.) The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), a political party headquartered in Yaoundé of Cameroon’s Centre Region, which is the capital of the country and is French speaking, has ruled over Cameroon since the country’s independence in 1960. As a result, in 1990, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) was founded in Bamenda, the capital of the North West Region, as the first opposition party to the CPDM. As the SDF grew stronger and stronger, the CPDM began to give them money, favors, power, etc. to please them, yet still keep them at bay and maintain its dominance over Cameroon. The money and power received by the SDF from the CPDM paved the way for the development of Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. But because the SDF was more politically active in the North West Region than the South West Region, the North West remains more developed as compared to the South West.
2. Bamenda is cold. Every time one of my Cameroonian friends would explain to me that Bamenda is cold, I would laugh. “Africa is hot. You don’t know cold,” I would respond. But when I finally arrived in Bamenda early Wednesday morning wearing shorts and a t-shirt, I found myself freezing! I was shocked. Because of its high altitude, Bamenda has a pretty cool climate. Granted, I visited Bamenda in August, a month during which Cameroon’s rainy season is in its prime. (Cameroon’s climate is categorized into two seasons: Dry season and rainy season. Rainy season is like winter for them.) But regardless, the truth is that my friends were not lying. Bamenda is cold.
3. Bamenda is beautiful! Bamenda is located within a valley. It is a hilly city, which provides for great scenery. The fact that Bamenda is somewhat developed also increases its appeal to the eye. Some of the pictures below probably explain better than I can.