Mamfe, the Forgotten Town
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.