BY TIKUM MBAH AZONGA
This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 16th of December 2003. This was a post card view of Limbe as perceived by this blogger after a recent visit to the historic seaside resort. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.
Anyone who has visited Limbe recently can not have helped succumbing to the city’s irresistible charm. Such a traveler must have realized that the attraction goes far beyond just the city itself and embraces all of what can be considered as the jurisdiction of Limbe Sub Division. That includes the area from the east of the city westward towards Debunscha - which has earned itself the reputation of being the wettest place in Africa where it rains all year round - right to the town of Batoke.
This was the fascination that caught this commentator when he was in Limbe three years ago, but even more so when he was there only a week ago. This time around, the entire community of Limbe looked reinvigorated, reawakened, and very much alive. New companies were springing up, thereby intensifying economic activity. These included the Limbe Shipyard in Limbola village, next to the National Oil Refinery, SONARA. The enterprise is expected to provide jobs for some 3000 people when it becomes operational. A thermal plant was also being constructed by the national electricity authority, AES SONEL with a view to curbing the frequent power failures that have gripped the nation like some pandemic, in recent years.
That was not all. The much heralded Limbe Deep Sea Port was also found to be fast becoming a reality. It is to be noted that the structure has for years constituted a far cry on the part of Anglophone Cameroonians West of the Mungo who feel marginalized by the Francophone majority on the other side of the Mungo. At SONARA, there was now a new General Manager, Charles Metouck, who was appointed by presidential decree in replacement of Bernard Eding who died in service. However, the appointment left tongues wagging as some indigenes of Limbe, headquarters of Fako Division in particular, and the South West Province as a whole, grumbled that although SONARA was in the land of the Bakweris, the president kept appointing “outsiders” to lord it over them. Both Eding and Metouck came from the Bassa tribe found partly in the Littoral Province and partly in the Centre Province.
This commentator also noticed that despite the cutting off and privatization of the tea production component of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), the rest of the corporation was still waxing strong under the leadership of son of the soil Henry Njalla Quan who has an unstoppable love for culture and sports, but especially sports. The CDC which owns and manages huge plantains of cash crops mainly for export, was set up by the Germans when they colonized Cameroon before being thrown out by the allies at the end of the Second World War. Today, the corporation is not only the second employer in the country after the State of Cameroon, but also one of the largest plantation managers in Africa.
From what this commentator saw, it was clear that some key attractions in Limbe had been consolidated. These included the Limbe Botanic Gardens, said to be home to some rare flora in the world. The main tourist sites in the locality still retained their golden luster of old. Among these were the Limbe black sandy beaches, the legendary tropical rainforest, the Cameroon Mountain lava track, the German colonial lodge used by Von Gravenreath in 1906, and which today serves as the Senior Divisional Officer’s official residence. The Engelbert Catholic Mission constructed in Bonjongo in 1892 was still conspicuously present. Bimbia, Botaland, Wovia, Batoke and the Mondoni islands, were all still compulsory stops, even for the unwilling. The rich cultural heritage of the indigenous Bakweri, Isubu, Bota and Bomboko people and popular dances such as ngosso, nyanga and the njoku elephant dance, were still forces to be reckoned with.
Considerable progress had definitely been made in the city itself, for generally, it looked cleaner, healthier and livelier. Limbe Council had relocated into new and more attractive buildings and now looked better organized with clearly defined service directives, a clear anti AIDS policy and an all inclusive “Call me clean city: proud of Limbe” campaign.
Explaining the reasons behind Limbe`s success story, the City’s boss, Government Delegate Lifanda Samuel Ebiama said: “The Council`s mission to which we strongly adhere is to bring out positive change by encouraging economic, social and cultural development through the active participation of each and everyone.”
No wonder, the musician Sam Mbende chose Limbe as the theme of one of his songs, and the poet, André Mvogo Mbida included a poem on Limbe, “Je reviendrai Limbe”, in his book, “Reflexes des Temps Rois.” Decidedly, the story of the romance of Limbe has only just begun.