Tockem Entrance

First contact with Western Cameroon

FH Photography » Travel Diaries » My Life in Cameroon » First contact with Western Cameroon

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Time passes very quickly in Cameroon! After working two intensive days, I can enjoy the holidays I booked to take advantage of my parents’ visit to the land of the indomitable lions.

We will have five full days together to make the most of this country, otherwise known as Africa in miniature. Time being counted on us, we had to find a destination close to Douala, easily accessible and not too trying in terms of climatical conditions. We, therefore, opted for Western Cameroon, the Bamileke, and Bamum countries (Dschang, Bafoussa, Foumban, …).

We left early this morning to make the most of the places we wanted to see on the road. The plan was to first stop at the Ekom-Nkam waterfalls before going to Dschang and visit its museum of civilizations, to finally arrive in Tockem at the end of the day where we would stay in a guest house created by a Bamileke chief very invested in ecotourism.

Here is a map to get a better idea of the location. You can zoom-in and zoom-out moving the slider

Shortly after our departure, we stopped in Douala to pick up our guide, Serge from Tourismo Cameroon, who will accompany us throughout the visit to the country’s western part. Unfortunately, even if I have visited western Cameroon several times and discovered magnificent places there alone, I cannot serve as a cultural guide for my parents. So I preferred to offer us the services of a professional guide.

The Ekom-Nkam waterfalls, a piece of paradise on Earth

After a three-hour drive on a tricky road, we were happy to finally be able to stretch our legs and breathe the good air of the forest.

The majesty of the surroundings greatly delighted my parents.

If you regularly visit my blog, you must have read one of my articles mentioning these majestic waterfalls over 80m high. If you have not already done so, please look at this article on the subject where I give more details about the place.

We stayed two hours on site and were able to discuss various and varied subjects ranging from the beauty of the landscape to the geological and geographical evolutions that the region has undergone in recent millions of years.

That way, my parents could locate the waterfalls I regularly talk to them about and also get to know Tarzan’s tree, which appeared in the eponymous film shot in 1984.

The Ekom-Nkam waterfalls

We also took advantage of a cocoa field near the waterfalls to show my parents how the pods containing the grains that would later give chocolate grow on the tree itself.

Tropical cultures are always fascinating to study for people who are unfamiliar with them.

And this more particularly for cocoa that will give the chocolate we know.

We left the place at midday for Dschang, our next stopover city, where we visited the museum of civilizations. Cherry on the cake, there was also a temporary exhibition where some artists intervened to present their works.

Dschang, a cultural city

For those who do not know, the city, Dschang is located in the highlands of Bamileke country. You reach it by a winding road on the side of the cliff from which you can see the valley below. It is an impressive and dangerous road. Fortunately, we made it without any problem.

Thanks to its students, Dschang is also a pretty “young” and dynamic city. Indeed, since 1993, you will find several specialized faculties: Agricultural Sciences; Economic Sciences and Business Management; Humanities; Law and Political Sciences; and Sciences.

After a good lunch at the Fosso restaurant at the foot of the Dschang’ Alliance Francaise, we visited the Museum of Civilisations.

The museum of civilisations

Located on the road leading to Bafoussam, a bit before the end of the city, you will see on your right a modern building painted with Bamileke colours and style: blue patterns representing different stylised animals typical for western Cameroon.

As part of the vast project of the road of chiefdoms, the museum of civiliations opened its doors on November 20, 2010. Produced in partnership between the cities of Dschang and Nantes, this museum allows you to discover in one place the extreme diversity of the culture and history of Cameroon. Its visit is crucial to understand Cameroon, its people, and its cultures.

Several sections structure the exhibition. However, the common thread is the discovery of the four primary cultures that make up modern Cameroon: the people from the forest, the people of the water, the grassland people and the people from northern Cameroon.

For each civilization, you will find reproductions of traditional huts, tools, and reconstructions of landscapes typical of these regions. In addition, explanatory panels are available to give you more information on these four peoples’ beliefs, customs, and rites. It is a fascinating and complete museum that you must visit if Cameroon and its culture interest you even a little.

You should hire a guide for the visit who can explain in detail the scenes behind this exhibition and give you anecdotes about each of these different civilisations. In one of the photos above, you will see our guide for the occasion. I recommend her wholeheartedly. She was really interesting and passionate about her work. Unfortunately, I forgot her name and contact, but with a bit of luck you may find her at the museum entrance.

You will need to allow at least an hour and a half or two hours to make the most of the museum and read all the information panels. Unfortunately, we had to speed up our pace and couldn’t make the most of the explanations because of our late arrival on the site.

Therefore, we had to leave the premises due to the museum’s closure and headed to the Alliance Francaise, where a temporary exhibition awaited us.

The “Re-connect” exhibition

It was with great surprise that we discovered the presence of this exhibition when we arrived a few hours earlier. I did not even know there was an Alliance Francaise in the city.

We thus learn that the university’s department of applied foreign languages is at the origin of this exhibition. This workshop’s theme is: “Re-connecting objects, knowledge and/with subjects”.

According to this article coming from the website of the University of Dschang itself, the motivation behind this exhibition is the following:

“It is a theme that suggests the articulation of a unifying space, of a history, of a memory where contemporaneity intersects to envisage the future. It is not a question of rehashing the past to feel sorry for it or to develop nostalgia but above all of re-examining the paradigms to think differently about our past, to reclaim our history to better face current and future challenges.”

Below, some examples of works that were exhibited.

We had the chance to meet two artists presenting their works there: Marios Kenfack, the sculptor and plastic artist, and Sidoine Yonta, the photographer. They were very kind to allow me to take them in pictures. Therefore, I am sharing with you in exclusivity their portrait: respectively Sidoine Yonta and Marios Kenfack.

After staying more than an hour enjoying the exhibition and the discussions with the artists, we had to hit the road again for Tockem, the guest house I was talking about at the beginning of the article and which will be our base for the night.

After a good day, full of beautiful discoveries and emotions, it’s without any problem that we will go to bed and recharge the batteries to make the most of the adventures that await us over the following days. Good Night!