Monday, May 5, 2008
Ukpwa. 9km from Wum, up past GBSS [Govt. Bilingual Secondary School]. 1000cfa moto-taxi ride. very scenic route. again, open grassland... well, in this case just “opening” out into distant hills and valleys. i say just opening because there are trees planted along the road. farms and houses, as well. but that’s all left behind after a short while and it stars to open up into pasture land.
we stopped along the road a couple of times to greet people from the village; folks traveling to Bamenda and some elders waiting for the DO [Divisional Officer or Prefet]. he was supposed to come out and see “native” farmers encroaching on pasture land but he never showed.
the village is relatively new and modern... as modern as a rural village can be, i suppose. there’s been much in the way of development work done out there. the people are survivors of the Lake Nyos disaster so they were resettled in Ukpwa (and a number of other villages) about 13 years ago.
i imagine they got international funding for relief efforts... Mu’aath says the government put up minimal infrastructure and "chopped" the rest. they got 66 houses, cement and zinc roofs but all unfinished. a primary school. water catchment and local water system... rain sourced, of course. grinding mills and land. much land. cattle too, i guess.
they’ve also had much in the way of NGO development work. with international groups like Heifer and HELVETAS, and other local organizations. Mu’aath showed me the fields and pastures. i saw examples of animal traction. bee keeping. grass for preventing soil erosion. grass for cattle feeding. live fencing. leguminous plants. flowering plants. for fields and bees, respectively. live stock enclosures. specifically ones for vaccination. it was all very interesting. i hope all the outside input really helps.
we drank fresh milk. boiled, of course. ate fufu corn and ndjamma-ndjamma. prayed dhuhr there... in a mud-brick mosque. as the issue of farmer-grazer conflict came up (on account of the DO’s visit) i asked a little about that. Mu’aath knows his stuff in terms of the issues and actors in the local scene here.
anyhow... an enlightening visit all around. and i really enjoyed myself! i love that open grassland. i guess its the open space. the big sky... grassy green or sandy desert, they’re different but also the same. i envy the agro-forester who gets to go out into the bush like that regularly. i’m sure there’s much hard work and frustration involved. but it’s beautiful out there.