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Bamenda: Abakwa Town!

Bamenda from the mountain road into town

Bamenda, also known as Abakwa and Mankon Town, is a city in northwestern Cameroon and capital of the North West Province. The city had a population of 269,530 at the 2005 Census, and is located 366 km (227 mi) north-west of the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé. Bamenda is known for its cool climate and scenic hilly location.

From its inception, the city is an amalgamation of three villages – Mankon, Mendakwe and Nkwen. The first was named for the Mankon people. An alliance of five ethnic groups founded a chieftaincy (a fon) known as the Mankon Fon.

Bamenda’s principal ethnic group is the Tikar. In the past, the Tikar faced invasions from the people in the surrounding hills, and between 1700 and 1800, they joined a confederation established by the Mbum for defense purposes.

Bamenda was subjected to German colonisation in the late 19th century, and evidence of Germany’s former occupation of Bamenda can still be seen today in structures such as the Fort at the Bamenda station. After the defeat of the Germans in World War I (1914–1918) the League of Nations shared German colonial territories among victorious nations.

Western Cameroon was administered jointly with Nigeria under the protectorate of the British until 1961, when following a plebiscite it attained independence by joining then the already

Menchum Falls, North-West Province, Cameroon

Menchum Falls, North-West Province, Cameroon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

independent République du Cameroun.

Today, many of the city’s inhabitants are English-speaking, and Cameroonian Pidgin English is the main language spoken in the shops and on the streets of Bamenda.

As a regional center, the city has many markets, banks, and offices. The main industries are the processing of agricultural produce such as coffee. The local museum and shops display a variety of local baskets, beads, wood carvings and bronze statues.

In Bamenda there are cultural sites such as the Mankon Fon’s Palace with its museum, and the Bali Fon’s palace with its ancient architectural structures. The mountainous terrain around the city affords scenic views such as that from the mountain Sabga over the Ndop plain.

The city of Bamenda has road links to Yaoundé and Douala, as well as a rarely used airport. North of the city is the Bamenda Ring Road, a 367 km (228 mi) circular route through some of Cameroon’s most spectacular mountains. Along this road is Mount Oku (3,000 m/9,800 ft), the Kimbi River Game Reserve, the Menchum River waterfalls, a huge chief’s palace at Bafut, and a pyramidal thatched shrine at Akum (also known as Bagangu).

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2 Comments on Bamenda: Abakwa Town!

  1. Nice article! Please keep it up! We have to do everything we can to open our country to the rest of the world.
    The 237 team

  2. Very nice post. I definitely love this site. Keep it up!

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Welcome to CTM! – The Cameroon Traveler Magazine: Cameroon like you have never seen before!
  2. Votre Séjour and 6 jours sur les plages du Cameroun – The Cameroon Traveler Magazine: Cameroon like you have never seen before!

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