What You Need To Know
Bamenda, also known as Abakwa, is located in north-western Cameroon and is the capital of the North West Region. The city is situated 366 km north-west of the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde. Bamenda is known for its cool climate and scenic hilly location. Bamenda is all about a city and a people whose commitment to self-reliance sets the pace in individual and collective development. Metropolitan Bamenda doubles as the capital of the North West Region and Mezam Division. Hospitality is a legendary asset of the people who are also known to be very grateful but rather too sensitive to injustice.
As a regional centre, the city, also an administrative commune, has numerous financial institutions, woodcarvings, bronze statues, local artworks and common craftworks, a wide variety of local baskets and beads, markets, and offices. Bamenda is also about people known to be poor and proud, with few government enterprises to absorb the unemployed. The main industries are the processing of agricultural produce such as coffee.
Population: 800,000 (2012)
- The official currency is the Central Africa CFA Franc (XAF), which is divided into 100 centimes. Cash is fairly easy to exchange, and Euros are by far the easiest currency to change for CFA francs. Credit cards have limited acceptance in Cameroon and ATMs are few and far between.
In Bamenda, the wet season is comfortable, humid, and overcast and the dry season is warm and mostly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 58°F to 82°F and is rarely below 54°F or above 86°F.
the best time of year to visit Bamenda for warm-weather activities is from late November to late February.
The warm season lasts for 2.4 months, from January 16 to March 30, with an average daily high temperature above 80°F. The hottest day of the year is February 19, with an average high of 82°F and low of 61°F.
The cool season lasts for 3.8 months, from June 25 to October 18, with an average daily high temperature below 73°F. The coldest day of the year is January 1, with an average low of 58°F and high of 79°F.
French and English are official languages, a heritage of Cameroon’s colonial past as a colony of both France and the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1960. Eight out of the ten regions of Cameroon are primarily francophone, representing 83 of the country’s population, and two are anglophone, representing 17.
Today, many of the city’s inhabitants are English-speaking, but Cameroonian Pidgin English is the main language spoken on the streets of Bamenda. Some Anglophone political pressure groups represented in the city such as the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) advocate secession from the rest of Cameroon, which is francophone.
Health and security
- Medical facilities in Cameroon are poor. Emergency facilities are extremely limited. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation will be necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
There is a high risk of malaria in Cameroon. There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in all areas of Cameroon. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
- Carjackings and armed robberies occur near the borders with Nigeria, the Central African Republic and Chad as well as along the Bamenda-Banyo, Bafoussam-Banyo, Bafoussam-Doula and Bafoussam-Yaounde roads.
Levels of violent crime in Cameroon are high and there have been a number of reports of violent crimes committed against foreigners.
- It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Cameroon is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trade in ivory. If you’re caught buying or trafficking these goods you’ll be prosecuted and could receive a prison sentence or a fine.
- Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports and ports is forbidden. While photography elsewhere is not illegal, communities can be sensitive to people taking photos and may ask for money in return. Officials may also ask you to pay for a ‘permits’ to photograph certain places.
- Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence.
- A must see in the centre of Bamenda is ‘Fanta Benji – “Arts Prophet and Doctor”. He is a Rasta artist doing beautiful abstract oil paintings. Ask him to explain the stories behind some of his work and you could be there for a while!
- Another place you must see while in Bamenda is the Prescraft, This is a great craft shop on Commercial Avenue offering all types of arts and carvings from Cameroon but especially from the N/W. The great thing about Prescraft is it’s fair trade policy ensuring that the craftsmen get a fair price for their workmanship.