Cameroon / Cameroun: Country of Contrast
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours

  Dispatch 8 - Bafoussam  
  Foumban‑Bafoussam (72km, 44 mi)  The route drops and crosses the Noun River and then climbs again.
Points of interest:  Foumbot has one of the best food markets in the area.
Cycling conditions: paved, flat, rolling; Foumban to Foumbot is an easy grade and then a long climb to Bafoussam.

Foumbot: main street Foumbot market: watermelonsFoumbot market: green peppers and eggplantNot to be confused with Foumban, Foumbot is about two-thirds of the way from Foumban to Bafoussam.  On Sunday the entire town becomes a market and the people reclaim the highway through town -- power to the people.  Technically, it Foumbot market: green beansFoumbot market: is probably several separate markets (vegetable markets, live animal markets, used cloths markets, etc), but it is so hard to tell where one stops and the next one starts that is a mile long market that spills off the main road to several hundred feet deep in some place.

Foumbot market: fruit sellerOur market experience provided another lesson that marketing matters.  After getting some antagonism from some people at the market -- it is not clear that they were always even sellers -- the woman at the left selling fruit and vegetables was friendly and encouraging of our group to take her picture.  It is not coincidental that she is the only merchant in the market that members of the group made purchases from.

Traditional Medicine Traditional MedicineOn the southern out skirts of Foumbot were these signs for the "Union des Tradi-Practiciens en Plantes Medicianales du Cameroun".  There are a reminder of how popular and active traditional medicine is in Cameroon.  Especially in the south, it is common to see signs out in cities, towns and some villages for practitioners of traditional medicine.  For decades Cameroon has been a favorite destination for Western researchers looking to mine indigenous knowledge about the medicinal properties of their local plants. It is also an area of research for Cameroonian PhD research chemists at the university.
Foumbot: irrigated field Foumbot: corn cribsIt is not much of a leap to figure out that the reason that Foumbot has such a large market is because the land around it is so fertile.  Clearly it is working out well for some folks because the field on the left has a nice irrigation system and the dozen corn cribs behind the field on the right are full.

Stopping for nourishment -- the sign over the door says, "Restaurant".

From our experiences there are no Starbucks, Burger Kings or Pizza Huts in Cameroon, in fact, when you want a bite to eat it is often best to try the whole in the wall type restaurants -- because that is all there is.  Don't be surprised if you get something as good as mom's home cooking because that is probably who is stirring the pot.  Though I have no memory of my mom ever pounding fufu or cooking jam-mu jam-mu stew!

Cameroonian bicyclist with trailerBicycles aren't a major mode of transportation in this area but they are around.  The motorcycle population is exploding.  As we have a predilection towards bicycling it is always nice to see them when they are out.  There is a good chance that this man is hauling palm wine.  If that is the case, hopefully he doesn't sample too much of the goods until after he delivers it.

Bafoussam: memorial dance Continuing with our snapshot in the day of life in  Cameroon, we came across a group singing and dancing in a village.  The were large groups congregated several place in the village.  They were there for a memorial for a person who had died a year earlier.  Because it is hard to get the word out and gather the resources for a big event right when someone dies, the initial burial is pretty low key.  The traditional is to organize a big celebration of an important person's life at a later date.

Bafoussam street

Bafoussam probably didn't look any pretty given it had rained for the last hour before we got to town.  But if the dirt between the broken streets hadn't been turned into mud, it could easily have been creating clouds of dust.  The city has a pretty setting but it would take a lot of private and public investment to draw out it charm.

Once again the language project may have faltered.  Bamoun is spoken in Foumban and for a way down the road.  Someplace before Bafoussam the language changes to Ghomálá' (a.k.a. Bandjoun or Banjun.)  We didn't hear about any other languages in between.  Because it is a large commercial center Bafoussam draws people from all directions who speak many different languages.  The largest other languages is Mungaka.


If it fits your plans there is a short cut from Foumban to Bangante.  As the road is not so good, it may not be faster but it will provide you with a view of a slice of life off the highway.

Cameroonian man on a bicycle
Bicycle transportation

Village chief's daughter
The village chief's daughter

Family weaving baskets
A family weaving baskets.


Next dispatch.



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