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Discovering an unusual market… ~ Badalfohmoh

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Discovering an unusual market… ~ Badalfohmoh

While spending a weekend in Bafou, in western Cameroon, I learned a lot about the Meya market in the Bafou village. From its evolution to its decline, I tell you more in this post.

More than a week ago I was out west. But not in my home department. I was in Menoua in Dschang. I went there to assist a very good friend who “cried” his father as we say here at home. In fact, his family was doing the funeral of his dad, who had died 4 years earlier.

Image of a map of Cameroon and screenshots of the department of Menoua (Dschang), and the village of Bafou. C: A montage of myself made on Canva with photos taken from Pixabay and screenshots from Google Maps.

On the way to Bafou…

To accompany him in this important moment, I left Douala for Bafou. A village of which I only knew the name.

Arriving in the early morning of the ceremony at the Dschang bus station, I took a bush taxi which left me not far from the village public school. My friend should have been waiting for me there, but strangely enough, he wasn’t there.

Me, after noticing the absence of my friend Joël. C: Badal Fohmoh

After several calls, I had to follow his instructions. Finding a motorbike from my location was not easy.

As the day dawned, all the motorcycles and vehicles that passed were full of passengers and/or food. It was a dad returning from the chiefdom who graciously gave me his help. At first contact, he knew I was foreign. He made me understand that it’s market day in Maya.

Residents of neighboring villages who came to market in Bafou embarked for their territory. C: Badal Fohmoh

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I did not hesitate to give him the reasons for my presence. Along the way, he told me the story that you will read in the next paragraphs.

Story of a septuagenarian

In the heart of the green hills of the Bamiléké country lies the Bafou village, known for its rich history and vibrant culture. Within this century-old community, the Meya market has long been the focal point for weekly exchanges, weaving essential social and economic ties for its inhabitants. However, the history of this emblematic market is also one of significant evolution and decline.

A glorious past

In the past, the Meya market was the economic and social lifeblood of Bafou. The lively streets were a veritable maze where the intoxicating smells of spices, the shimmering colors of fabrics and the bustle of commercial exchanges coexisted. Every week, residents gathered to buy, sell and share village news.

The causes of the decline

Over the years, the Meya market has seen a gradual decline, fueled by several factors. The rural exodus, the primary cause of this fall, has led to the departure of young people in search of better economic opportunities, leaving behind an aging and less active population. In addition, the construction of a paved road linking Bafoussam to Dschang facilitated access to other markets, thus diverting part of the local clientele.

Current challenges

Today, the Meya market is a specter of its glorious past. Empty stalls and deserted streets bear witness to its decline, while the complex land issue hampers any attempt at revitalization. The landowners’ heirs are scattered and disunited over the future of the market, leaving fertile ground for abandonment and disrepair. The current excitement is nothing compared to that of previous years.

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Papa Noumedem’s story is certainly short, but full of memorable cultural history. And which most of the markets in our villages know or have known.

It was with pleasure and a smile that we parted ways at the Lessing crossroads where my friend Joël was waiting for me. Who was surprised to see me chatting and laughing heartily with an unknown old man.

All this reminded me of the primary nature of man: kindness. Every time I go to Bafou or someone talks to me about this village, I will remember Papa Noumedem.

To this day, this experience still makes me smile when I think about it. And you, have you also already had a similar experience? Where it was ? When ? For what occasion ? Tell me about it in the comments.

With all my love, Badal.

C : Badal Fohmoh

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