|(Trish and I visited Cameroon for a month in 2007. Here is our report.)
Cameroon is a mélange: It is part West Africa, and part Central Africa. It is part Francophile, and part Anglophile.
Cameroon is located in the heart of Africa at the bottom of the “bulge” of West Africa, tucked in between Nigeria and the
Congo and is often known as “Africa's crossroad” because of its many ethnic groups.
We chose Cameroon because Trish was curious about the West Africans we often see on the streets of Paris. Many of the
women wear vibrant multi colored robes, often with several babies peeking out through the folds. After researching the area
we decided on Cameroon. It sounded very interesting. A few facts:
• Some 240 languages are spoken in Cameroon; nearly 100 have written forms.
• Among Cameroonians, nodding up quickly and audibly taking in breath means “yes.” Shrugging means “no.”
• Cameroonians make clicking sounds with the tongue to indicate agreement or astonishment.
As Cameroon is a bit larger than California, we deided to focus on the Eastern Highland area known as “The Grasslands”.
Here, away from the torrid central plains and even hotter Northern desert areas, the weather is relatively temperate.
Here is our tale:
After a stop in Tripoli, our flight on the Libyan airline Africquai Air took us to the steaming, teeming port city of Douala. Upon
our arrival after midnight, the hotel clerk demanded our room payment in advance in the local currency – which the friendly
money changer down the street gladly provided. We spent our first day exploring the city.
The next day we headed out to the coastal town of Limbe. We were told, and we found, accurately so, that it is just about
impossible to get anywhere in Cameroon using public buses, and had hired a driver to take us there. A German man we had
met in Douala had recommended “The Birdwatchers’ Club”. It took some doing to find it, but we finally did. It was hidden
down a small path. It turned out to be the perfect place.
There were only two rooms, but we looked over the
We ended up spending half our trip in Limbe. Sometimes
it’s better really getting to know one place, especially if it
is as special as Limbe.
We made some wonderful friends there, mostly Cameroonians, but a few Europeans. You really have to be a special kind of person to live in Cameroon,
maybe even a little nuts.
Sandy has spent a lot of time volunteering at the Limbe Wildlife Center, and often takes her work home with her.
One local man we met really made an impression on us. We were planning on heading up into the mountains and John offered to join us
on the first part of the trip. He hadn’t been home to his village (No one in Cameroon ever really leaves their village) in some time. We
It turned out to be the highlight of our trip and will be the focus of this web page. John had earlier told us of some of the villages’ needs.
After the initial German colonists were forced out by their defeat in World War I, the English and French divided the country – a heritage
that still divides Cameroon. The current government is Francophile, and to some extent neglects the Anglophile areas. Ndibesi 1 is in such
The village is called Ndibesi 1, so as not to confuse it with Ndibesi 2.
John was treated like a prodigal son as he greeted brothers, sisters, and other relatives. He is related to everyone in the tight group of villages
|We had several wonderful meals with his sister Cecilia and Auntie Maria in their home.
The only school for the eleven surroundingvillages is a simple grass shack,
with nothing but primitive wooden benches for the children.
Many of the children can not even attend this school. Their villages are on the other side of a ravine.
We had been talking to John about helping his village and decided on two projects.
A market is needed to alleviate the long walk to the central town of Bangem, When full these baskets can weigh over fifty
pounds and the walk is now over nine kilometers. Construction will start on the new market soon (February, 2008).
But the more important project is a new bridge to replace the precarious timber that is currently the only link to the outer world
for the people in several villages. The new bridge will also enable the children to attend the school, as poor as it is.
We discussed the projects with the village elders and the Chief in his "Palace”.
|When we left, everyone bid us a fond farewell.
After we left Ndibesi 1 we had other adventures in Cameroon, but I will let a few photos suffice for now.
The only crossing is a primitive board that is too dangerous for the children on their nine kilometer walk an is impassible during
the long rainy season.
When we explored the large market, we rarely saw any
other tourists. The people while not especially friendly,
did not hustle us, but left us alone to wander among the
stalls, or along the beach as they brought in their catch
after a long night’s fishing.
|Finally we returned to our small deck in Limbe to contemplate the incredible beauty of the waning day.
We look forward to seeing our many friends in Cameroon again