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Cameroon Mamfe, the Forgotten Town

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Cameroon Mamfe, the Forgotten Town

by AllAfrica.com

My departure to Mamfe was like the beginning of a thrilling adventure to nowhere. The lap from Buea to Kumba has never been this good for at least ten years.

A recent layer of tarmac has considerably reduced the once arduous two-and-half-hour journey to a mere sixty minutes.After having worked throughout the previous night and started the following day at 5 am, I was feeling tired, thirsty and sleepy.

So I closed my eyes and went to sleep as we zoomed towards Kumba. But as soon as I closed my eyes, the driver announced our arrival in Muyuka. I delivered the Muyuka consignment of The Post GCE results editions and off we moved on to Kumba. I don't need to recount the lap to Mamfe - but as usual, it was deplorable, bumpy, stony and muddy. Nothing better than that.

It is really impossible to make sense of Manyu Division generally when you compare the resounding victories the ruling party registers there and the stark realities on the ground.

The streets shine with sheen of tar, however. That is O.K. but they are filthy, littered with plastic bags, decomposing corn stalks and groundnut shells.

The cars that ply these streets are another eyesore. They are rickety, rusty contraptions that usually carry more people and goods than their capacity allows. It is not uncommon to see passengers riding on the roofs of these cars or four people straddling a commercial motorcycle (bendskin).

As for petrol stations, one can't imagine that this part of the country buys fuel from neighboring Nigeria.

No Water, No Electricity

Water and electricity are like extraterrestrial amenities in Mamfe. Before I arrived in the town, the inhabitants had gone for 11 straight days without these two basics. For the Mamfe man, this is a very normal thing and it doesn't seem to matter since there are a number of wells, streams, and generators.

If there is little water and only an epileptic supply of electricity, there is not much food to go along with the little water. However, the two most consumed meals are fufu and eru, and rice. It is mind-boggling to know that abundant foodstuff is sold at the Muea market in Buea and exported to neighboring Chad and Equatorial Guinea, while people in Mamfe have only "strong leaf" (eru) to chew.

Bendskin

When in Mamfe, watch out for bendskin marks on girls' legs. A t least, two out of five girls there bear burn scars on their right legs. Because, in Mamfe, if you don't have a private car, the only means of transport is aboard a motorcycle. Thus, the bendskin exhaust pipes have been singeing the right legs of girls, especially since they like wearing short, tight skirts. Whenever a girl tells you she is from Mamfe, check her right leg.

FCFA 500 And 2 Loaves Of Bread

Keeping the peace and order seems not to be on their menu. Harvesting FCFA 500 seems to be the duty call. At a village called Nchang, a gendarme officer after going scrutinizing the documents of our vehicle and affirmed that all was in order, apparently with good faith said; "driver, you can't leave me like this."

The driver fished out an FCFA 500 note and folded it into the itchy palms of the gendarme. At another check point farther on, a police officer asked two Nigerian nationals whose travel documents were also in order, to motivate him (police) for "protecting and allowing them to move freely though the Bakassi issue was hot." The "generous" Nigerians offered two loaves of bread which the officer gladly received.

"Mimbo Agogo"

The six-hour journey back from Mamfe was more interesting. Two hours into it, we came upon more than two dozen vehicles parked on either side of the road. Its occupants, quaffing beer from a makeshift bar created by a brewery truck that had capsized in the heart of the forest, some 40 kilometers from Nguti.

Travelers-turned-revelers were having a free-for-all drinking spree while the truck driver and his turn boy (motor boy) helplessly looked on. The members of the roadside "club" could be seen drinking two or three brands of beer all at the same time. A woman, obviously zonked after a bottle too many, became the "opener" for anyone who cared to drink.

She put her dentures - a la camerounaise - to good use, de-corking bottles upon bottles.

Although the number of people kept swelling, there was still enough beer to go round. Earlier on, the motor boy had fetched a cutlass from the cabin of the truck and brandished it.

The exhilarated drinkers had warned him against getting excited with such a crowd at hand - a drinking crowd for that matter. He chickened out and begged the looters."Just drink, but, please, don't go away with the bottles."

As the looters worked their way through a half of the 40-ton truck, the emotions floated to the surface and lively conversations ensued. I overhead a man discussing with another one. They talked on several issues then one of them asked the other about the performance of his daughter at the GCE Exams.

The other man said; "my brother, do I even know what she read?"After about an hour at the "watering hole", our driver pleaded with us not to board the vehicle with bottles of beer. But a Nguti-bound man said he would rather stay behind and consume "his" beer. He asked the driver to offload his luggage.

I got back to the good, old Buea fagged out but feeling greatly relieved.


 
 
 
 
 
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