By Nkengasong Calesta*
Bolifamba-fondly called Mile 16, is a cosmopolitan village in Buea subdivision, Southwest Region of Cameroon. It is part of the gateway to Buea town from the nearby town of Mutengene .Its traditional ruler Chief Kombe Simon, who has ruled the locality for over twenty years
Bolifamba has a vast area with a population of about fourteen thousands inhabitants. Its green vegetation and quiet atmosphere make the locality look beautiful. The presence of small rivers, flowing in different direction, complements its attractiveness. The neighborhood is divided into Upper and Lower Bolifamba -both having twelve quarters -each headed by a quarter head.
Although a cosmopolitan settlement with residents from different ethnic groups of Cameroon such as the Bassa from the Littoral Region, the Bamilekes from the West Region and the majority settlers from the North West Region, the natives of Bolifamba are Bakweri .In fact, people of almost all walks of life reside in the locality such as civil servants, businessmen, petit traders, technicians and farmers.
Bolifamba -a food supplier
|Maize farm in Bolifamba-buea|
It is worthy of note that farmers constitute the largest population of Bolifamba-making about three-quarter of the total population. The conspicuous presence of many farmers in this locality, many of them who spoke to this writer, said “is due to the high fertility of its soils, which permits the growth of a wide variety of food crops and the hospitality of the natives”.
In deed, the high supply of food stuff from Bolifamba makes the locality to be likened to an important bread basket in Buea Subdivision. People leave from far and wide to come and buy tropical foodstuff such as yams, cassava, plantains, cocoyams, beans and maize in Bolifamba .The farmers, taking advantage of the richness of the soils, work very hard to ensure regular supply of tropical food stuff for sale and home consumption.
Being a small community with diverse cultural groups, the inhabitants of Mile 16 co-habit peacefully and regard one another as a family member. They share not only their problems but all they have with their neighbor regardless of the tribe.
Mr. Awacham Daniel, head of Quarter 8 said, “We are a very understanding people because when there is a problem, we prefer solving it among ourselves than to involve the local authorities”
Chief kombe also confirmed that solidarity is among his people, noting that such has permitted him with little or no problems for years.
A community without recreational facilities is empty, reason why youths as well as adults after their daily activities, would gather in the evening discuss on some local /topical issues and or share gossips. Many share their conversations at drinking houses, mostly occupied by unemployed and self-employed youth.
The small rivers and springs play an important role as they are used for cooking , laundry, bathing even as toilet for others; it should therefore not surprise a visitor there seeing adults as well as children bathing in those rivers ,unperturbed by passers- by
Houses are close to each other same as toilets; of concern is the fact that,about 90 % of the houses are built with planks and zinc; some toilets are walled with just pieces of zinc, old cloths with no roofs.
|This pile of dirt is very clear to houses in Bolifamba|
Mile 16 has got some filthy features that overshadow its natural beauty; the presence of slums and swampy areas common ; There are many areas with dirty and smelling still water which breed mosquitoes and other insects; piles of dirt litter some portions of the locality. Its roads are deplorable especially during the rainy season; even the road leading to the chief palace is deplorable. Mr. Awacham, earlier mentioned, said this: “During the rainy season when I want to go out of my house … I am forced to call a bike to pick me up in front of my door to avoid dirtying my clothes.” a
Because most houses the locality do not have toilets most residents go and defecate in the rivers. Such primitive behavior, according to health professionals, is a serious hazard not only to that community but to the entire Buea subdivision and its neighborhoods, for some people use the same water to drink and cook food. Reports talk of regular cases of diseases such as malaria and typhoid.
Other Problems for Attention
According to Chief Kobe, Mile 16 Bolifamba teething problems -one of which being how to make the many unemployed you responsible citizens. Youths in this vicinity are noted for their laziness and desire for easy money. They spend most of their time wandering up and down the quarters. Deplorable roads remains a serious problem.Thereroads has also been a major problem without leaving out the poor hygiene con is great need for improved inter-quarter roads. Illicit drug-consumption is common.For instance, youth smoke marijuana; some unemployed people engage in theft, making many to see the vicinity as a hideout for robbers.
Although, the locality has received very little or nothing form Buea Council in terms of development, the Chief has over the years been trying his best to see that his locality is developed. “We have succeeded in bringing the majority of the youths together through communal works and also we get them involved in development projects such as building of schools, health centers and the improvement of portions of road.
There is no doubt that Mile 16 Bolifamba is fast growing with the construction of modern houses and social facilities, but needs the greater attention of not only Buea Council but other relevant government services charged with nation-building.
Chief Kombe also said measures are being taken to improve on the hygiene conditions and the grading of more roads to facilitate movement.The chief and his inhabitants are optimistic that the future of their community will soon be brighter .He is calling on local and national development stakeholders to come and help build the cosmopolitan locality, which is a strategic food supplier.
*Nkengasong Calesta is a journalism intern from the University of Buea,Cameroon