14 Nov 2013
Three Days Visit to the North Region---A photographic Narration.
Garoua, the capital of North Region is less than 800 kms away from Douala but getting there is pretty expensive. I was told in the Camair-Co. office that the air ticket from Douala to Garoua and back is 120,000cfa (approx $240) provided I book at least 10 days before departure. Because I was booking two days before departure, I had to cough out 197,900cfa! That is roughly half the fare to Paris (5000kms away) and back. It is important to mention that the plane was not full when we took off from Douala. Difficult for me to understand the logic behind this type of pricing that in my opinion, discourages Cameroonians from cultivating a culture of flying.
We took off from Douala, flew in the trajectory of Bafoussam, Bagante, Foumban, Adamawa Region and arrived Garoua before mid day on November 8th after one hour and fifteen minutes. While it was still raining occasionally in Douala,the rainy season had ended in Garoua around September and many of the small rivers around the region were dry.
The Climate at this time of the year was pretty friendly with occasional heat and dryness within the day. The sale of drinking water in small disposable plastic sachets is common. The emptied sachets are littered all over the place and combine with other plastics to make this part of the country one of the highest victim of plastic pollution.
Majority of the people of the North Region still live in traditional buildings made of mud walls and roofs of straw. Building walled fences around houses in this part of the country is the rule. People here are generally friendly though their restricted walled residences give a first erroneous impression that you are not welcome.
I stayed with Mr Mbah Festus in Ngong (40kms from Garoua along the highway leading to Ngaoundere). When you are in this part of the country you are bound to occasionally use motorbikes as taxis. I sometimes saw 4 to 5 people on one bike.
Lagdo, the place that houses the dam for hydroelectricity is also a fishing point and a touristic destination-thanks to the scenic hills around the equally beautiful Lake Lagdo. Electricity generated from here serves the three Northern regions. Electric supply in the northern part of Cameroon is more reliable than in the South.
There are specific trees common to this Region like the Neem tree and the baobab. Cotton, corn, groundnut and a variety of grain are grown here in significant commercial quantities. One goes away from here with the belief that with a little more organisation, and orientation the people here can practically triple their food production within a short time. The agricultural potential of this Region is not to be doubted.
I did also visit Guider, a town about 60 kms to the north of Garoua. Along the way we saw the typical landscape of this area comprising semi arid plains and rocky hills and very striking dried river beds.
One of the major attractions of this area is the River Mayo Louti that at this time of the year almost dries up and exposes a spectacular rocky plain and gorge at a place called Kola. It is quite tricky and risky to navigate your way through the deep gorge but the excitement of the adventure is worth the risk.
There are reserves in the North region but logistic difficulties and want of time could not permit me to visit. The only wild animals I saw were in the zoo in Garoua and a pair of Hippos in Lagdo.
As a pharmacist, I could not have failed to notice the obvious incidence of substance abuse esp. among the youths. While alcohol consumption is restricted in this predominantly Muslim part of the ‘grand north’, there is large scale consumption of the pain reliever tramadol. Empty blisters litter the streets. Cheaper versions of this drug are smuggled from Nigeria and can be seen almost everywhere. The inhalation of glue and petrol vapor is also is also said to be common.
My trip back to Douala did not follow the trajectory of my trip to Garoua. We left Garoua around midday on Nov 11th and flew 375 kms northwards to Chad’s capital N’Djamena. After dropping and picking other passengers, we flew southwards 1000kms to Yaounde. The last leg of my trip took me from Younde to Douala in 25 minutes.
It took me one hour fifteen minutes from Douala to Garoua and five hours from Garoua back to Douala.
Video link Kola Gorge:
Njei Moses Timah