Thousands of fishermen from Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Equatorial Guinea and Togo say Idenau is home out of home. Here, they find peace, justice and equal opportunities.
How much do you know of West Coast Sub Division and its dazzling soapy beaches? You must have heard of its headquarters-Idenau, a small low lying area geographically pitched on the foot of Mount Fako by the north, and bordered to its south by a long stretch of pretty sandy coastlines. Idenau might not have imposed itself as a major business zone in the South West Region, but its name reigns in three domains-a hub of large scale fishing, a reliable sea route to neighbouring African countries and a potential heart of tourism in Cameroon.
Are you allergic to temperatures? Whatever the answer, Idenau is your dream destination! The municipality is endowed with an equatorial climate that is marked by two distinct seasons- the dry and rainy seasons. Rainfall is unimodal and spreads from March to November with a temperature range of about 25-28?C. Rainfall, occasionally associated with storms and floods, rises up to 4,000 mma-1, reaching its peak in August and September, while the dry season is intense in December and January. Indeed, one of West Coast’s constituents, Debundscha, is noted to have the highest rainfall in Africa, and rainfall is observed throughout the year. The dry season is characterized by dry winds that blow from the mountain to the South, instigating high daily temperatures with a slight drop in the night. Such complimentary climatic conditions make the soil favourable for the growth of oil palms, cocoa, cassava and other food crops.
The Idenau municipality has two distinct biophysical environments -maritime and mainland. The mainland area is covered by evergreen forest vegetation with some of the villages situated at the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The coastal region stretches from Bakingili to Enyenge while the mountain-forest region covers the Northern section of the municipality including Etome village and Mt Etinde. Access to these villages is through the creeks or by high sea. Three settlement types characterize the municipality- the native communities, the fishing port in habited by fishermen and the CDC camps.
For those who love summer tours, Idenau is a “must visit” endpoint. Here, you will come face to face with an interminable body of the Atlantic Ocean that hosts the whale and the shark a few kilometers from your lodge; you will shake hands with bands of heroic fishermen, daring enough to dine with the sea gods; and from their nets, you will discern the strangest creatures that inhabit the swamp of the earth. For those who value fish, Idenau is the market place. You will be greeted with assorted species of shrimps, the barracuda, hairtail, catfish and sole at affordable costs. Here, the CFA Franc, the Nigerian Naira and the US Dollar sell most.
For hospitality, you will meet a fine blend of humans, ranging from the local administrators to ordinary men and women. You will meet Nigerians, Ghanaians, Malians, Equatorial Guineans Togolese and several other nationals who find home, sweet home in Idenau.
Trois questions a...
Ekomba Basile: “Idenau is Peaceful”
You have administered West Coast Sub Division for over five years. Can we have a vivid picture of your administrative unit?
Idenau is the headquarters of West Coast Sub Division created in 1995. It is found in Fako Division of the South West Region, located some 29km from Limbe city. It has a total surface area of 16km2 with an estimated population of 30,000 inhabitants living in 8 villages, among which are fishing ports, native communities and CDC camps. It is bounded to the North by a stretch of the Mount Cameroon National Park, to the North East by Buea sub-division, to the East by Limbe II municipality, to the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the West by Bamusso sub-division, and to the North West by Mbonge Sub-division. The populations rely mainly on fishing and farming for livelihood. About 40% of the population constitutes foreigners from Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Equatorial Guinea who are mostly fishermen.
Idenau faces the Ocean; it is sea route to various African countries. How is the security situation?
I think Idenau is the most secured administrative unit in Fako Division. The government has done all it takes to guarantee the security of the population and their property. Here, we have various units of armed forces, including the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), the gendarmerie, the police, the emi-immigration officials and the marines. We are free of threat. However, we vigilance remains our watchword, as long as the Ocean remains our neigbour.
What about co-existence between Cameroonians and a thousand others from neigbouring nations?
Living together and living in peace with foreigners is what I can brandish as one of my achievements. Before my arrival, there was a lot of misunderstanding between settlers, the natives and the administrators. Most of the immigrants bribed their way without a single legal paper; others resisted taxes and related regulations. But through dialogue and constant sensitization we have found solution. We now live like a big family. The major headache is land and chieftaincy disputes which we have also gradually found solution. Indeed, Idenau is calm and peaceful.
Abel Mukoko: “Water is Scarce”
Prince of Bibunde
“While we appreciate the effort made by the government to raise living standards in our municipality, I wish to emphasize the need for drinking water. Idenau relies on boreholes, but insufficient electric voltage and constant blackouts render the machines ineffective. Besides, the absence of CRTV signals and images render life quite difficult. We rely on images from Equatorial Guinea for news and entertainment.”
Odette Banyore: “Keep Promoting Women”
“I would like to acknowledge the participatory approach adopted by the Mayor and his team in managing resources and the population. This approach has largely improved the plight of women in various spheres of life, especially in politics. Women now play key roles in this community, and I wish to encourage the Mayor not to relent any effort in promoting the women folk.”
Nzuk Tembote George: “We Live in Peace”
“Our pride is the ability to live as brothers and sisters. Thousands of people have come from different parts of Africa to settle here. But you can hardly make any difference between Malians, Ghanaians, Nigerians and Cameroonians. We believe that every human needs justice and equal opportunity to survive. Here, we find peace and hospitality with our neighbours and local administrators. Idenau is home out of home, indeed!”
Tonde Lifanje Gabriel: “ Plans to Construct Tourists Village”
You are almost at the threshold of 2018 when your mandate ends. To what extent have you satisfied your electorate?
We might not have done all we promised our populations due to lack of funds. But we have used available resources to construct classrooms and provide chairs and benches in needy neigbourhoods, assist farmers with seedlings and necessary farm tools, opened farm-to-market roads in several villages including Etome, Bakingili and Njonji. We have also constructed a landing stage for fishermen and a fishery center where fishing activities are controlled. The council has built several health centers across the municipality and recruited support staff, dug boreholes in Njonji, Sanje and Enyenge villages to provide drinking water, extended electricity to needed areas, constructed a craft center and the Idenau main market with 34 lockup stores.
What do you consider as major challenges?
Portable water is a serious problem. Despite numerous boreholes, inadequate power supply results in weak pumping system. Lack of funds to carryout basic development projects remains a major obstacle. Most ministries have not transferred competence to local councils. Even those that have taken a step continue to dictate the use of such funds, which most often do not tie with the needs of the population. The absence of essential government services and lack of accommodation for existing ones is also an impediment. Worst still, companies that ought to pay taxes to Idenau council pay them elsewhere. We also need a tender’s board to facilitate the award of projects.
Has the council any major projects envisaged for 2017-2018 fiscal year?
Of course! The council has plans to construct a multipurpose hall, tar major streets, construct a motor park, a grandstand, a guest house, a tourists’ village as well as fence the council premises. We also intend to equip and install electricity in the District Hospital, reinforce community water scheme and install solar energy in the council area. Feasibility studies have been carried out on most of these projects and forwarded to concerned ministries for action.
Will you contest elections in 2018?
Yes. I will. I have the zeal to serve my people better, if God permits. Let me use this opportunity to appeal to friends of Idenau and people of goodwill to join us in building this municipality. We need their assistance to develop the tourism sector, and to improve the quality of fishing which is the major source of livelihood for the population.