Welcome to Buea
Buea is a city in English-speaking Cameroon, capital of the South-West region. Former capital of German Kamerun and British Cameroon, it is located in the Fako department at an altitude of 1,000 m at the foot of Mount Cameroon.
Mount Cameroon Race of Hope
Mount Cameroon Race of Hope is an annual event organised by the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education together with the Athletic Federation of Cameroon generally in the month of February. Actually around several hundred athletes participate from Cameroon and from abroad. The competition comprises, male, female, relays, junior, veteran courses.
The main course takes oﬀ at the Molyko stadium, then go to the summit of the mountain (4,070 m) and back to stadium (38 km). It is probably between the most strenuous races in the world.
The winners of the races are back after unbelievable 4 hours 20 minutes and something, the female winners need one hour more.
The first edition of the race on was held in 1973, organised by Guinness Cameroon and termed the Guinness Mount Cameroon Race, contested by 140 athletes, who were all male. Women first entered the race in 1983.
Guinness Cameroon sponsored the race for many years.
Famous in Buea is Sarah Liengu Etonge for winning the race seven times, hence her title "Queen of the Mountain" – she received a “doctor of honour” by Buea University.
Sarah Etonge supported the team of the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife in the senisitzation of the population for the creation of the National park.
The race is a major event in Buea, there a lot of spectators from the region and elsewhere in the country – it has character of a public festival specially in Upper Farms and at the stadium.
The Elephant Dance
The elephant (Njoku in Bakweri) is the totem of Bakweri people. Members of the “Male” societies have “their” elephant in the bush and can transform into this elephant. Villages meet from time to time to perform the “Male” or “Elephant Dance”. There a number of other traditional dances of the Bakweri people.
Traditional wrestling (Pala Pala) and Tug of War
Traditional wrestling or “Pala Pala” are rotating between the Bakweri villages.
Historic elements in Buea
Although the British monopolized trade along the coastal region of Cameroon, after 1860 the Germans led by the Woermann, Jantzen and Thormaelen firms became more and more involved in the trade with the Doualas. This trading companies made pressure on Bismarck to annex Cameroon as protectorate in order to expand their trade and further exploit the country. The Germans occupied successively all parts of Cameroon after Gustav Nachtigall signed treaties with the Chiefs of Douala and Akwa in July 1884. He advanced few days the British in the end of 19th century “scramble for territories” between the European Nations. The military occupation of the territory and fight against many resistant people in Cameroon took several years.
In 1891 captain Karl von Gravenreuth was charged to bring the Bakweri under German control. However the resistance of the Bakweri under Chief Kuva Likenye the German Troops were beaten in Likoko Membea, captain Gravenreuth killed and had the German troops had leave the town. Only in 1994 the german commanders von Stetten and Dominik broke the resistance against German power in a surprise attack .
One of the main objectives of the Germans was the economic exploitation of the Mt Cameroon area, in particular the creation of agro¬-industrial plantations, at the time mainly for cocoa . For this they grabbed the land (90,000 ha see above CDC) from the Bakweri (Lemoigne, N. 2010). The local population was limited to small land reserves and this also only after protests of the Basler mission. As in other colonial systems the changes in land tenure led to social disorganisation. The fact were aggravated by bringing a lot of people from elsewhere as plantation workers, either “voluntary” (recruited under agreement with the chiefdom of Bali, many people sent their slaves instead of working themselves) or condemned forced labour. (Michel, 1969). Bakweri people were not enough and showed not much enthusiasm to work as plantation workers on their expropriated land under difficult conditions. Many foreign workers after end of the contract decided to settle in the area aggravating the land problem. Working and living conditions on the plantations were notoriously harsh, often regarded by Africans as a new form of slavery ; labourers were known to have a high rate of mortality (Ralp A. Austen in Eckert A. 1998, Lemoigne N. 2010).
Things changed after the Basler mission now together with the German trade companies who were in competition with the plantations for workers (used as porters) accused the plantations publicly in Germany of disastrous working conditions. This protest lead to the establishment of a labour legislation in many aspects ahead of other West African Colonies (Michel, 1969). Buea has been capital under German colonial rule between the years 1901-1915. The Germans had been from 1884 to 1901 in Douala but moved to Buea because of the more healthy environment, many died in Douala from fever.
In 1901/1902 the Governors palace for the first Governor Jesko von Puttkamer was built in Buea, inspired by a Kaiser Wilhelm Hunting Pavillon. The “Von Puttkamer Schloss” is known also as “Prime Minister Lodge” in Buea as it served between 1954- 1961 as residence of the Prime Minister of Southern Cameroon and then from 1961-1972 as residence of the Prime Minister of Western Cameroon. Today it is belonging to the Presidency of Cameroon. The Schloss is surrounded by a park. The interior is not accessible for visitors.
Close to the Schloss there are some other administrative buildings from German time: The old secretariat (1902/1903) today used by the police, the Bismarck Fountain (1899) – The German Chanceler Bismarck (1805-1898) started in 1984 with German Colonial politics-, the old post office (1898), the construction office for the Schloss (1901), later used and known as “old Buea native school” and today used by the army. Close by you find also some historical houses and a mission church of the Basler Mission (1896) (now Presbyterian Church) and not too far close to the round point the old german cemetery (1898). There are quite some other houses built between 1903 and 1914, mostly residences of plantation managers which are built on pillars out of timber with corrugated iron sheets at the exterior. West farm, Upper farm and lower farm were used to grow vegetables and as dairies, the buildings of Upper farms still exist (E.W Ardener “Anmerkungen zur Geschichter der geschuetzten Denkmäler Westkamerun 1965)
On the road to Limbe
Tole tea plantation
Passing through the tea road from Buea to Mile 4 downwards to Limbe is a pleasure for the eye seeing the smoothly welled tea plantations in a special green in front of the Mount Cameroon massif. In good atmospheric conditions you will see even Bioko island. Tea was first brought by German 1914 to the Limbe botanical garden and an experimental plot established in 1928 (see Limbe Botanical Garden) This plot was used as seed bearer by the British to develop Tole estate in 1954 with 283 ha. In 1958 a small factory was built. You pass a part of the plantation and an old colonial house which is cold “Saxenhof” – a german name. Belonging before to the Cameroon Development Corporation Tole Tea estate has privatised some years ago. Close to Tole the tea factory is found where the tea is fermented and dried with firewood from the Eucalyptus plantations around; before the establishment of the Eucalyptus plantations in the 1980s firewood extraction depleted the natural forests in the area.
Bonjongo: Church Engelsberg
You reach here from Buea descending the tea road and just before the village of Wotutu branching right to Bonjongo. The Church was one of the first catholic churches built in Cameroon by the Palotine Fathers. Its construction started in 1894 a hill from where you have on clear weather a wonderful view on the coast and also on Mt Etinde. In German colonial time the place was called “Engelsberg” – “Montain of the angels”
Our Lady of Grace shrine
The entrance of the shrine is found opposite to the entrance of Sasse College. The shrine is situated at a beautiful waterfall where the water is coming directly out of the rock. It was traditionally a shrine of the Bakweri in Sasse Village. The village agreed that the catholic church is using it as a shrine dedicated to Mary. Two chapels are built close to the waterfall. It is now a place of christian pilgrimage.
Tiko Golf court
The Golf court is situated close to Tiko in Likomba. It is a 18 hole court. Most of the people playing golf here are coming from Douala.. You find in the vicinity fo the court the senior staff houses of CDC built in British Colonial time. Similar building are found also around the CDC headquarter in Bota.