Welcome to Limbe
Limbé is a seaside town in western Cameroon, famous for its black sand beaches and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It has in its center a vast botanical garden.
Cultural & economic activities
Another impressive top event is the canoe races of the villages of the coast. Each village has his race canoe and his team: more than 20 rowers moving these long canoes forward with an incredible speed. The event is rotating between villages; During FESTAC (Festival of Culture and Arts), Limbe, the canoes start from “Down Beach” and round the 3 km distant Ndame island coming back to the beach.
Down Beach fish market
A place where you can admire big Benin or other fisherboats from West Africa, and as well eat a roasted fish on the beach or buy barracuda, capitain, bar, shrimps, gambas, crabs sea snails.
Historic elements in Limbe, Bimbia...
Slave trade port Bimbia – memorial site
The slave trade site can be reached 20 min by vehicle from Limbe continuing from downbeach eastwards. In 2010 Limbe III council secured this place of a great historical value and is organising guided tours on it. The Cameroon Government has recognized the site in 2013 as National Cultural Heritage site. The important vestiges of the atlantic slave trade and the explanation of the guide are making you understand and also feel emotionally in a unique way this dark part of history and the human tragedies which have taken place here. Bimbia is composed of several villages: Dikolo, Bonagombe, Bonabile, Mabeta. The people are Isuwu. From about 1500 Bimbia was one of the big kingdoms beside Douala on the coast. After 1472 Portuguese have discovered Cameroon (“Rio dos camaroes” – English: River of Prawns) they established business contacts with Bimbia, buying slaves, ivory and other items. Slaves came mainly from the grassfields of Cameroon were shipped from here to Sao Tome, Principe, Fernando Po (Bioko island) and to America and Caribbean islands. The slave trade was flourishing: A US researcher Dr. Lisa Aubrey already identified 166 ships having left Cameroon territory (Bimbia, Rio del Rey, Wouri) between 17th and 19th century. Involved were Portuguese, then in the 17th Century the Dutch, but in the 18th century the British. 70% of the ships were from Britain. There are much more ships to be identified. The researcher Dr Lisa Aubrey has worked in the framework of an African Reconnection Program to allow Afro-american to trace back their history. Limbe Council III on request is also organizing a re-enactment spectacle of the slavery at the site. (Hors Série: Villages d’Afrique, Juin 2015: Transatlantic slave Trad Bimbia)
Abolition of slavery, Baptist Church and British colonial History in Limbe
The abolition of slavery took time and started with the abolition of the slave trade before stopping slavery as such; enforcement of both took several decades. Britain abolished slave trade in 1807, an abolition act of slavery was passed in 1833.
The French abolished slave trade in 1815/17 and slavery itself in 1848 before having abolished it already in1794 after the revolt of slaves in Saint Domingue under François Dominique Toussaint Louverture, but Napoleon re-introduced it in 1802. The Dutch and the Portuguese respectively abolished slave trade in 1814/1815 before abolishing slavery in 1860 and 1869. In 1827 Britain established through Captain Owen a post in Fernando Poo (Bioko island) which served to fight slave trade and to track and arrest slave ships. Baptist missionaries (John Clarke, and G Prince in 1841, Merrick 1842, Fuller, Saker 1858) all came to Fernando Poo before passing to the mainland in Bimbia. The British post was transferred in 1843 to Sierra Leone in agreement with the Spanish who had exchanged in 1778 with the Portuguese land in the bight of Biafra agains possessions in Brazil and wanted to take possession of the island. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of Africa before the contact with Europeans. However, kinship structures and rights provided to slaves (except those captured in war) appears to have limited the scope of slave trading before the start of the Arab slave trade and the Atlantic slave trade. Slaves were often not treated as property and were related to kinship eg in some cases children of slaves born into families could be integrated into the master's kinship group and rise to prominent positions within society. King Williams from Bimbia was a big slave trader in the 19th century until he made an agreement to suppress slave trade with Joseph Merrick in 1844. Jospeh Merrick a son of former slave in Jamaica became Baptist missionary who, assisted by Joseph Jackson Fuller, established the first successful mission on the Cameroon coast of Africa. In these years freed slaves from Jamaica had pushed the Baptist church for “an evangelical mission to return to the African homeland”. Despite some initial resistance because King Williams and his people had had enough of God’s palaver” which was disturbing their trade, the king finally accepted the suppression of slave trade and installation of the Baptist mission. Merrick translated parts of the New Testament into the Isubu language, set up a brick-making machine and a printing press, and used the latter to publish his Bible translation and a textbook for teaching in Isubu. Merrick and Fuller’s efforts paved the way for Alfred Saker, the Baptist missionary who arrived in 1858 in Bimbia. A monument of Joseph Merrick is found in “Camp Saker” in Bonabile.
The Baptist missionary Alfred Saker came 1858 to Bonabile (Bimbia) where King Williams of Bimbia granted him some land in the place of down beach Limbe before called Liwo La fo (“Beach market”). After the agreements with King Williams, Saker went back to Britain to get an annexation treaty signed between Queen Victoria and King Williams. The place of Liwo Fa Fu was then called “Victoria” to honour the Queen. In 1877 the Ebenizer Baptist Church was built. Alfred Saker is considered as the founder of Limbe; a memorial for Alfred Saker was built in 1958 after 100 years of the creation of Victoria/Limbe. The church you find more or less opposite the memorial on the same street. One of the oldest colonial houses in Limbe is “Brook mount” constructed in 1874, just beside the mouth of the Limbe River. It is behind the Presbyterian Press and occupied by the Presbyterian Church. 1886 Great Britain and Germany agreed to exchange Victoria and its vicinity for German rights at the Forcados River in Nigeria and St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. In 1887 Victoria and its vicinity were handed over to the German administration. At the same time Swiss Basler Mission (today Presbyterian Church) bought the land from the Baptist Missionary Society in 1887. In 1982 Victoria was named Limbe by presidential decree.
German colonial time
Also in Limbe there are a number of buildings from German Colonial time eg. The District Office (german Bezirksbureau), which has been built after 1890. A number of them are found downbeach, eg the Woermann house (German shipping line) and in the botanical garden, which was created in 1892. Close to the garden you have the hotel “Atlantic Beach” which has been the residence of Dr Preuss, the first director of the Botanical Garden, later it was a hospital.
District office (1890)
Crater Lake and German Lighthouse Cape Debundscha
Debundscha is the next village after Bakingili coming from Limbe (30min) on the road to Idenau. The Nachtigall crater lake is unique as just being situated few meters from the atlantic ocean. You can reach through a small walk from the beach or from Debundscha village, where you can see also observe fishermen on their daily job. The old German Lighthouse is not far from the crater lake.
Leisure value attractions in Limbe
Limbe Wildlife Centre
LWC is situated opposite of the Botanical Garden. Here you can see mainly primates of South West Region but also other areas of Cameroon. The LWC is a cooperative effort between the Ministry of Foresty and Wildlife (MINFOF) and Pandrillus, a NGO working to protect endangered primates in Nigeria and Cameroon, and specially the Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus). LWC started in 1993 by rehabilitating the form Limbe Zoo and transform it into a wildlife rescue centre. Most of the animals coming to the centre are orphans, victims of poaching or pet trade. The mothers have been often shot for bush meat by hunters. Most of the primates are kept in the centre, other species which can be more easily reintroduced after some caretaking back into the wild. The LWC serves as a major sensitization and education tool, reaching each year around 40,000 visitors, most of them Cameroonians. More than 1,100 children are reached through the education outreach programme of the centre and provides high standard training in behavioural ecology and veterinary science to Cameroonian and international students. The ultimate goal of the LWC is to enable rehabilitated individuals of threatened species to be reintroduced for restoring wild population when and where appropriate in the future, while supporting national law enforcement efforts (Limbe Wildlife Centre website). A project for a semi-natural site for drills in Mt Cameroon National park is actually under discussion.
Limbe Botanic Garden
The botanical Garden in Limbe was established in 1890 as “Viktoria Botanical Garden” by the Germans, under the directorship of Dr. Paul Preuss. The Garden possesses a herbarium, laboratories, classrooms, a museum, a library and staff accommodation. The objective was to introduce and test and improve tropical crops to support economic development in the new German Colony of Cameroon on
Lavaflow of 1999 at Bakingili
The signs of volcanic activities can be observed also outside the park at the different crater lakes (Debunscha, Njonji, Barombi Koto, Barombi Mbo) and very impressively at one of the lavaflows of 1999 which crossed the coastal road between Limbe and Bakingili (close to Seme Beach Hotel) and just stopped 200 m from the sea. Some steps and some sheds have been built on the lava flow to have a good point of view. Slowly it is re-vegetating with some pioneer plants.
Discover the beaches: Mile 6, Etisah, Seme, Tsabe
The volcanic influence has equally marked the beaches – they are of black sand. The black sand is contrasting in a beautiful manner with the blue colours of the sea and sky and the green colors of the surrounding vegetation. Specially the view on Mt Etinde and its forests from all of the beaches is unique and cannot be compared to any other known beaches. The beaches invite to relax, eventually after a exhausting hiking tour in the Mount Cameroon Nationalpark, to observe fishermen, to swim and do some other water sports (surfing, body surf, diving). A part from Mile 6 you find also restaurants and hotels at the beaches. In Seme Beach you will enjoy also the bath in a stream coming from the mountain in clear cold water; the water is used also to produce bottled mineral water by a factory beside the beach.
Bota, Ndame and Mondoli islands
These are the islands in the “Bay of Ambas” which were all habited by Wovia people which claim to be related to the Bubi in Bioko. In 1855 Wovia people in Ndame were forced to leave because of a conflict with people from Bimbia (Isubu). In 1907 the Germans transferred the inhabitants of Mondoli to the mainland in order to use the island as an leprarium. Bota island was the only one habited until recently. Bota is the biggest of a group of islands also called “Pirate Islands”. It is interesting to visit it with a fisher canoe from Wovia port. Once arrived you climb a steep stairway hewn into the rock up to the cliff of the island top. Here you can see the vestiges of the former village. People of Wovia are fishermen and practised formerly even whale hunting (E.Ardener, 1996 : Kingdom of Mt Cameroon).
Bimbia Bonadikombo Community Forest
The Bimbia Bonadikombo Community forest is one of the last remnants of coastal littoral forests of the whole Gulf of Guinea and this habitat is very rare in the whole continent. The forests hosts tremendous biodiversity, including many specialists and endemics, especially in insects and plants, not anywhere well present in the country. (pers. Communication Robert Tropek). Unfortunately important parts of the community forest have been transformed into farmland or being currently transformed into farmland. The forest and the mangroves can be visited on a Nature trail. The office of the community forest is in Limbe.