Civil Unrest in the Highlands

Trip Start Oct 12, 2009
Trip End May 03, 2010

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Time for another installment already as I was quite late posting my last one, lucky you!

Just a couple of weekend stories…. Our excursion on Saturday was not quite what we were expecting and filled with surprises.  We set off from Belo in a mini-bus that we'd hired for the day (this means there were 7 people in a 9 person vehicle, the first time I’ve been in an under-filled vehicle since I got to Africa) with the intention of visiting the Fon of the Tikar fondom at Bafut.  This is a much bigger palace than the one we visited the week before at Fundong and has a museum within the palace.  Unfortunately for us, someone had died so the palace was only closed to women for a special ceremony.  Being a group of four girls and two guys, we decided to leave the palace out and head to the SABOG botanical gardens.  These were interesting as the guy who created the gardens was trying to convey a social message about development in Africa as well collect & display plants… I won’t go into too much detail, but cast your eye over the pictures I’ve included and you’ll soon see what I mean.

The only bad part of the gardens was the arrival of some high school students and their group of teachers… we were having a nice sit down in some shade when their head teacher came over and asked us if we would greet and 'share something’ (advice) with his students.  This kind of thing makes me really angry because he had no idea who we were or what kind of people we are, he asked us solely because we were white.  So his students will go through school thinking that all white people know more than they do and have valuable advice to give, whoever they are.  The students were made to stand in rows in front of us whilst Gary (who luckily has been teaching and has given a few speeches) said a few words about how education is really important and that it was up to the students to pursue theirs and help develop Cameroon… only for the teacher to then say that yes, if you study hard then you can go to America and the UK where these people are from, the complete opposite of what Gary had just said.  Aaaargh!!  It makes me so mad that a generation of young people is being brought up not only with the idea that westerners automatically have knowledge & advice to impart just because they are white, but also that their motivations for being educated should be so they can go abroad, not so they can have a positive impact in Cameroon.

Anyway, so after a picnic lunch we made a sharp exit from the gardens and got en route to our next destination, Bali, which is a centre of handicrafts.  However, we encountered some civil unrest just outside of Bafut that put paid to that idea, as some locals had blocked the road.  The reason for the roadblock is this:  the body of the afore-mentioned dead person had gone missing from the mortuary.  Some were under the impression that the mortuary had sold the corpse (to be used in witchcraft) so proceeded to attack the mortuary.  The army were then called in to prevent the mortuary from being destroyed, and allies of the people who had been attacking the mortuary put the makeshift roadblock up to provoke the army and incite the police to come!  We kind of wanted to stick around to see what would happen, but realised this probably wasn’t a good idea to beat a retreat and abandoned the idea of going to Bali.  Instead we took a detour and went to sit on some cool rocks and look at a pretty view.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a resolution to the missing body/army/roadblock saga, more’s the pity.

I have also included a few pictures of our visit to the market here in Belo yesterday, we go every week with Victorine to get supplies (she won’t let us go on our own because the people will charge us ‘white man prices’).  It sells everything from food to shoes, clothes, tupperwares, electronics, etc. etc. etc. and is on top of a hill on the southern side of Belo so has some good views over the town and hills in the distance.  It is every 8 days (every ‘country Sunday’) but apparently is even bigger on Sundays so I’m looking forward to that in a few weeks time.

This weekend we are heading round the ring road to hopefully go and see some wild hippos.... I'll let you know how it goes it I make it back alive!

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Jan Cross on

A great blog ,Siân ! Takes me right back- colourful markets, the lush countryside, Fulani horsemen , and the unbelievable taxis- I was one of 12 inside once - and then spotted a leg dangling from the roof! Could you teach them some French ? useful to have English and French there . Guava jam will be amazing ! Bon Courage ! Take care! aamazing photos Love Jan

Erin on

Great blog. My mom and I are looking into voluteering at RUDEC next year. Any advice you can give? Would love to chat when you get a chance.


Jan Cross on

You are so industrious. Enjoying your blog and photos so much. Hmm- watch those hippos- more dangerous than any other wild animal in Africa , especially with young! have a wonderful Christmas with REAL peanuts .T'is freezing here !!
Love Jan

sianevans on

Hi Jan! I'm not sure about industrious, things are (surprisingly) progressing too slowly for me to consider myself that! Unfortunately the jam project is not working out, I can't source jars locally. I'm going to concentrate on the orphan project for the next few months I think. Christmas was great thanks, a bunch of us got together and cooked a LOT of food then I headed down to Kribi for new year's.... next week we're off to climb Mt. Cameroon, wish me luck!

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