Bamenda, also known as Abakwa, is located in north-western Cameroon and is the capital of the North West Region. The city has an estimated 500,000 inhabitants and 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.
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.
The Bamenda Prescraft and Handicraft shops display specimens of fine handicraft works. In Bamenda, there are cultural sites such as the Mankon Fon’s Palace with its newly constructed museum, and the Bali Fon’s palace with its ancient architectural structures. The mountainous terrain around the city affords scenic views such as that from the Sabga Hill over the Ndop plain, some 15km from the city of Bamenda.
Today, many of the city’s inhabitants are English-speaking, and Cameroonian Pidgin English is the lingua franca in the shops and on the streets of Bamenda.
The mainstay of the Bamenda economy is small businesses and agricultural produce from the neighboring Divisions. Industrial presence is very minor, but human endeavour and ingenuity are enormous. In the past, Bamenda town served as a major market and avenue for the processing and channeling of coffee to other main cities such as Douala and Yaounde for direct sales or for export. The Bamenda city, therefore, boasted of the North West Cooperative Association and the Cameroon Produce Marketing Board. But the general economic slum that hit the Cameroonian economy in the 80s did not leave Bamenda untouched. In fact, if anything, Bamenda is one of the major cities in Cameroon that have been very seriously affected by this crisis. In Bamenda, the International Soap Factory and Bambuiy Family Industries account so far for some of the very few industries in this very limited industrial presence. There is as yet any industry that can boast of over 50 permanent employees.
The city of Bamenda has road links to Yaounde and Douala and an airport, though without any scheduled services. To the north of the city is the Bamenda Ring Road, a 367 km (228 mi) circular route through some of Cameroon’s most spectacular mountains. Along this road is Mount Oku (3,000 m/9,800 ft), the Kimbi Game Reserve, the Menchum River waterfall, a huge chief’s palace at Bafut, and a pyramidal thatched shrine at Akum (also known as Bagangu).
A value potential analysis of the city of Bamenda
(land, water, forest, tourist, educational and social resources)
Bamenda’s land, forest and social resources (cultural and educational) make it a continuous attraction for investment. This is heightened by the rich presence of numerous cultural groupings in Bamenda, and the hospitality of the people. Bamenda hosts and harbours some of the most prestigious Secondary and High School establishments in Cameroon, to which an increasing heavy influx of students, especially students from French-speaking Cameroon, is continuously on the rise.