04 September 2016

Mt. Oku, International Women's Day and Bafut

Continuing our March 2016 holiday travels with my family.

After a nice breakfast prepared by Shangtal, we were given a ride to the outskirts of town to begin our hike with our guide Ernest.

Ernest leads the way.

We walked past farmland until we reached a community forest, where people can still trap small game and raise bees but do not farm.

Up in the tree! It's a man-made beehive!

Higher up the mountain, it became clearer that we were not making for the crater lake as expected. After reading the guidebook's description of the hike as “not particularly strenuous or challenging,” I thought I'd settled on a less difficult version of our Mt. Manengouba hike, with no mud to boot.

Trees on Mt. Oku.

Traps used to catch rodents.

While quite forested in lower stretches, Mt. Oku gave way to grasslands as we approached the summit.

Grasslands and forest.

A reputed 7 hour round trip was closer to 10 by the time we made our way back to town, although all felt some accomplishment and we then rode back to Bamenda.

We were quite impressed that Ernest spotted this
chameleon in a tree some five meters off the path.

The next day was International Women's Day. We met up with our colleague Izong, who was home for Spring Break, to check out the parade in Bamenda.

Pidgin English deployed in mobile phone carrier advert.
Gari is made of ground cassava. You add sugar to make it tastier.

We were warned that today is truly the day for women, and there were suspiciously large contingents of teachers for a school day, as well as groups taking over the various bars around town.

Today is for the women. The students will still be at school tomorrow.
Float promoting/demonstration voter registration.

From Bamenda we went north to Bafut to visit the Fon's palace there. We were hosted by Ma Rose, one of the Fon's many wives. Each successive Fon inherits the wives of his predecessor. The idea is that they counsel and advise him, and that the Fon remains responsible for the financial support of the wives and their children.

Bafut palace's grandstand and the compound entrance. The grass
Takombang House holds the Fon's ceremonial drum (for broadcasting messages).

We originally were given the number of Ma Constance, but she must have been busy at the Bafut International Women's Day celebrations and didn't hear her phone (we met her on the way out).

Bafut palace compound. Only the Fon and his
advisors can enter the thatched-roof Achum building.

Similar to Oku and other Northwest Region fondoms,
spiders and lions are symbols of wisdom and power.

Ma Rose showed us around the palace museum and grounds, and hastily arranged for a short dance performance.

In the old days adulterers and other criminals were
 tied here, beaten, and left for wild animals.

We headed back to town for drinks and dinner, and encountered many roving bands of International Women's Day revelers.

Our neighbours at a bar in Bamenda. This night belonged to the ladies.

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