COMMUNES ET VILLES UNIES DU CAMEROUN :: UNITED COUNCILS AND CITIES OF CAMEROON

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BANGEM

 

 

  Mayor   EKUH OJEH Simon
Phone   +237 673 76 88 12
Number of municipal councilors  35
Surface Area  1500 km2
Density  13 persons/km2
Number of inhabitants  19,775

Location of the council

Bangem council is found in Kupe Muanenguba Division of the South West Region of Cameroon. It is about 94 km from the town of Kumba and has an altitude of about 400m above sea level, with a surface area of 1500 square km. The Council shares common boundaries to the north with Tinto Sub division, to the south with Konye Sub division, to the south-east with Bangem and Melong, to the east with Santchou, Dschang and Fontem and to the west with Eyumojock and Toko. Topographically, the land is generally flat and raised 400m above sea level with gentle and steep hills dotted within the thick humid forest in the municipality. It is host to several forest reserves including part of the Bakossi national park, Bayang Mbo and the proposed Muanenguba integral ecological reserve.

Description of biophysical environment

Climate:

The climate of the Bangem Council area is equatorial, with heavy rainfall fairly well distributed throughout the year and giving rise to forest vegetation and fertile soils. The dry season runs from the month of November to March. During this period, the weather is bright with little rainfall, cold nights and hot days. The rainy season, on the other hand, starts gradually from April and heaviest from August till late October. It has an average relative humidity of 80% and average annual temperature of 15-25 degrees centigrade, with dry season from November to February, light rains from March till May, and rainy season from June till October.

Rrainfall: Generally average rainfall varies between 515mm to 15mm per month around Bangem, peaking in August and sparingly in February.

Soils

Soil consists of a comparatively thin layer of materials that covers the underlying rock, on which plants grow. Soil dept ranges from a few centimeters to over a meter. The Bangem Council area is dominated by volcanic, soils. The northern area is composed of acidic and volcanic soils covering areas like Ebamut, Nteho and Enyando. The soil Nkikoh, Muabi, Nyan Poala, and Ekangte have been formed from the recent local deposited of the volcanic cones of Muanenguba Mountain. Mbat and Ekanben villages, which are also part of the zone (Nhia Clan), have volcanic and basic soils respectively.

Part of Nninong Clan (Ebonemin Mueba and Nkack), and from Muambong clan, have volcanic soils. South West in the Muatan clan i.e. central Assume (Muetanaku and Ngomin) the soil is acidic. While the Bangem clan have basic soil with some element of clay in it as the distribution of soil types closely approximates the distribution of rock types since soils are developed from the decomposition of rocks. Above all, the nature of the parent material will have a major effect on the properties of the young soils and may exert an influence on even the oldest soils.

Generally the soils across the Bangem municipality are volcanic, hydro orphic and ferralitic. This makes it possible for a wide range of plants to be cultivated. Additional organic and inorganic fertilizers are imperative for high yields. Most soils in the council are naturally rich. The soils on the slopes of Mounts Muanenguba are very fertile volcanic soils, which are suitable for the cultivation of a wide range of both cash and food crops. In some places, they are interrupted with sandy, clay, loam and sedimentary soils which are also very good for crop production

Relief

The Bangem municipality stands out as an area of irregular relief configuration of highlands and lowlands. Plains, deeply grooved valleys and caves, which give a distinct relief feature of the area, interrupt the highlands. There are areas as high as 2,396 meters around Mount Muanenguba. The mountain is of volcanic origin. In fact, it is an extinct volcano. The altitude ranges from 200 to 2,396 meters above sea level. The area has an outstanding mountain, namely, Mount (2,396 meters). The slopes of these mountains are made up of mainly fertile volcanic soils, which are good for the cultivation of a wide range of crops, and sustain a high dense tropical forest rich in both flora and fauna. Generally, the council area land is of low gradient, punctuated with a few ridges and hills, whose valleys had been deepened by run-off. The council area drained by a few rivers, with River Mungo being the biggest and longest. There are a number of crater lakes, including the Muanenguba twin lakes which are a very significant tourist attraction.

Hydrography

The hydrography is made of rivers, streams, springs and twin lakes.In the hinterlands, these springs and streams which take on different names at different locations serve as vital sources for drinking water. As far as rivers are concerned, the Muanenguba region has about five (5) major rivers with smaller streams emptying their water to them. In the southwestern part of this region, river Chide and river chunge are most prominent. Tributaries to river chide include river muamekum, (Muambong) toe (Ngomin) and chunge (nkincunge). River chide then moves southwest ward in addition to other small rivers in Tombel sub division to meet river mungo. River Dibomba stand southwards as the major river, with rivers like Moukoukume, Njabeu, Nedieu Ebong, Mberebe, Eyene and Djoube as tributaries. River Dibombe continues its movement southward to river Wouri. River Mbe with its tributary Muasum alongside river Mbwe appear to be prominent heading to the cross river in Manyu Division and Nigeria. Eastwards, river Adibengoh, Ntisan and Nye empty their waters into rivers Nkam. Due to the low altitude around Mboawasum area, this area has portions, which are swampy. Other swampy areas can be found around Mbourouku and Melong; meanwhile there is a pond at Muanyet.

Flora and vegetation

Muanenguba region is in the humid tropics, which has tropical rainforest vegetation. But the altitudinal modifications have given rise to dominant grassland vegetation and some patches of forest. The vegetation of this region is less varied as we should expect in a region, which has one distinct climate with alternative rainy and dry season. The region has a transition from equatorial rainforest at its borders, to sub montane and montane forest, shrubs and grassland. It has one of the best-developed sub montane forests in West Africa and it is rich in montane endemics of guinea Congolian affinity. The region is forested on the southern slopes

Fauna:

According to Ejedepang Koge (1986) the Muanenguba region was the original and initial dense settlement place of all the Bakossi people and their relatives. Hence in order to survive, both the forest and the animals were over used. In this light, most of the large forest mammals have disappeared like the Elephants, Lions, Buffaloes, Gorillas etc. At the moment, what are mostly found are the herbivores and rodents like Deer, Hare, Grass cutter, Porcupine etc.

The birds in this region are similar to those of the Cameroon Mountain but there exist a scarcity of very large birds like Eagles, Vultures etc. Some species observed in this zone include the stonechat, scatly francolin, African harrier hawk, pipits species, yellow bishop and red-eyed puff back shrike.

The aquatic community is not well developed here. The female lake has some Tilapia in it. There are various species of amphibians; some of which are locally consumed. Three species of amphibians are endemic to this region. They include cardioglossa, trafesciata lepplodactylon, erythrogaster and phynodon species. The absence of large fish in this region is probably based on the rough topography of its river regimes. This area also accommodates chameleon, snakes and other reptiles.

There is a good population of insects including butterflies, millipedes, beetles etc. some butterfly species include byclus euphidra and papilo.

Mineral resources

As for this moment Minerals such as gold, is yet to be discovered. The municipality has gravels, sand, harsh which could be used for road maintenance and construction work

Protected area

There are a good number of protected areas in the municipality. These inclues the Bakossi National Park 29,320 ha, Mt. Muanenguba (Proposed Integral Ecological Reserve)

History of the people of the council:

Origin of the people,

Bangem council area consists of sixty–three (63) villages belonging to eight clans: the Bangem, Nninong, Muambong, Nhia, Elung, Ebamut and Muatan clans. The council area is inhabited by mainly the Bakossi tribe, all of whom share the same ancestor as descendants of Ngoe who was married to Sumediang and they had seven sons. They lived in Mwekan, about 10Km from Bangem in the western part of the Muanenguba Mountain.

Bangem - formerly part of the Kumba Eastern Area Federation (Kumba North) - became a Sub-Divisional Headquarter in the 1953, incorporating all of Bakossi (in the western aspects of the Kupe and Muanenguba mountains. In 1968 Bangem was split into Bangem (Northern Bakossi) and Tombel (Southern Bakossi) (Ejedepang-Koge, 1986) and subsequently achieved Divisional Headquarter (Kupe Muanenguba) status in the 1993.In 1963, the Bangem District was created covering the land occupied by the Bakossi people. Bangem District was split into Northern and Southern districts in 1968, and, in 1977, the Bakossi Council was also split into Northern and Southern councils.

Population

Bangem municipality has an estimated population of 19775 inhabitants occupying an area of 1500 km. sq with a density of about 13 persons per square kilometre.

Ethnic groups:

Migration Pattern: Movement in and out of Bangem municipality is similar like in other rural communities. There is significant movement of indigenous people out of Bangem Municipality to other areas of the South West Region, Kumba, etc Douala, Yaounde, and even out of the country. People move out of Bangem for several reasons including the search for job opportunities, higher education, and other economic opportunities. Movement into the municipality is significantly low. However, most of the internal migration is due to farmers’ quest for new farmlands and administrative transfers of teachers and other civil servants, particularly since the creation of the Divisional headquarters.

Movement out of Bangem municipality is high due to the following: work and higher education opportunities, the search for better social facilities and the human desire to discover the world. This high rural-urban migration can be attributed to the absence of electricity in close to 85% of the municipality’s village communities, job creating structures and the generally slow pace of life. On the other hand movement into Bangem is slow compared to movement out of the area. Emigrants from villages around migrate to settle and do business, while people of the North West Region of Cameroon also migrate here to take advantage of the fertility of the soil that is good for the cultivation of cocoa and major food crops such as plantains and yams that have become important sources of income. The creation of a Divisional headquarters here constitutes a pull factor. There are a few services that have been established in Bangem town to cater for the needs of workers in various Divisional services and including road side sellers of food, drinks, and provision stores.

Religion:

The main religions in Bangem Municipality are Christianity, Islam and Animism. The Christian religions have the following denominations; Catholic, Presbyterian, Apostolic, Full Gospel and Baptist. Traditionalists adhere to ‘juju’ and shrine worship. It is common to have people, who are both Christians and traditionalists however; Christianity is increasingly becoming more dominant. Below is a table on the distribution of these institutions. The main religions in Bangem Municipality are Christianity, Islam and Animism. The Christian religions have the following denominations; Catholic, Presbyterian, Apostolic and Full Gospel. Traditionalists adhere to ‘juju’ and shrine worship. Several persons are both Christians and traditionalists however; Christianity is increasingly becoming more dominant. Below is a table on the distribution of these institutions.

Main economic activities:

The population of Bangem Council area consists predominantly of farmers. Over 80% of the population is involved in agriculture which therefore constitutes the basis of the local economy. The rest (20%) of the population is involved in other sectors including administration, teaching, petit trading, transportation and forest exploitation. Livestock is reared as a part time activity.

The lack of electricity has rendered it difficult for any processing activities to develop thus agriculture is limited to farming, harvesting and sale of farm produce in the primary state. Non-farm actors include civil servants, teachers, medical personnel, petit traders and motor cycle riders. The youth unemployment rate is extremely high as many have rejected farm work and posses no marketable skill needed for any gainful employment. They engage in farm work to assist their parents and not as a permanent profession. The crime rate however has remained relatively low. Children in this municipality go to school and offer assistance to their parents as the need arise; they help in farm preparation, weeding after planting and harvesting. They also help in the market during the weekends and do other household chores. Therefore, children in this municipality are not deprived of their education.

In Bangem council area, household surveys reveal that in the municipality the following prevails: housing is semi permanent (mud or plank), Education is averagely at the primary school level, and Clothing is largely obtained through traders of second hand goods from nearby towns. Feeding habits are reflected in the availability of what is produced locally. Sanitation conditions are poor as it is commonplace to find stray animals and some homes without pit toilet facilities. People bath upstream while others collect the downstream water for domestic and related chores.

Agriculture

Due to the favourable climatic conditions and the very fertile soils, the region can support a wide range of crops, domestic animals and birds. As a result, most inhabitants of Bangem municipality are farmers, and farming is the main source of employment. An average farmer crops between 1- 4 hectares. Primary crops for the various clans include as follows:

- Food crops: Some of the food crops cultivated in the area are plantains, coco yams, maize, sweet yams, cassava, pepper, okra, beans and bananas. The municipality has the potentials for producing more including vegetable of all varies.

- Export crops: The following cash crops are grown: cocoa, coffee and oil palm. The Bajoh clan is the highest producer of cocoa in the council area while the Bangem clan areas are the highest producer of coffee robusta. Other export crops with production potential are green beans and strawberry and fruits such as mangoes, guava, cola nuts and avocado.

Livestock breeding and fishery

In Bangem council area, there is small-scale rearing of pigs, goats, sheep, cows, horses and poultry, mainly as a form of family savings and for ceremonies. Commercial enterprises are non-existent except in the case of the Bororo who rear cows for money in the Muanenguba Mountain region. The native population stopped rearing cattle, in particular the short-horned species known locally as the “muturu”. Increasingly, the culture of rearing goats and sheep is dying out, as people now farm close to their homes, and the local population is not equipped with alternative skills for rearing animals, not least of which is the complementary relationship between food crop production and animal rearing.

Almost everyone in Bangem Municipality is practicing some husbandry, mostly at a small-scale, household consumption level. Everyone keeps fowls. A few farmers keep goats (~1 - 5 goats) or pigs (2-5). Livestock are consumed in the home, or sold for funerals mostly. However, the development of livestock and fishery in the municipality is hampered by a number of difficulties, including a poor and largely impracticable road network, low prices of products, small farm sizes, lack of inputs and improved breeds, substantial post-harvest losses, lack of processing facilities, poor stock and ageing farming population, and poor husbandry practices.

Hunting

Hunting is the first recognized human activity in this region. History holds that “Ngoe” the first man to settle in this area, was a hunter. Animals hunted in the area include duiker, bus-buck, porcupine, giant rats, bush cats, civet cats, monkeys pangolin, squirrels lyrax and cane rats. Large mammals like elephants. Lions and gorillas have disappeared from this area to forested Babubock area and its environs. Some hunters reveal that they last saw these animals during the early1970s. Rodents like grass cutters are more dominant.

Forest Exploitation:

The Bangem council area’s forest has a wide range of endemic, unique and endangered flora and fauna and also has a share in the contribution of the forestry sector to Cameroon’s economy: providing wood to the numerous carpentry and furniture workshops nationwide. There is little pollution in the Council area. This leaves the environment in an appreciable state with fresh air to breath. Bangem municipality falls within the tropical evergreen rainforest zone of Cameroon in Mbwogmut area. It is endowed with valuable forest resources including Timber, Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and wildlife. There exist several tree and animal species (No data is available). Another visible problem is river poisoning where by villagers up stream use chemical (Gamaline) for fishing and run off from chemical farmimg. Hunting, fishing, collection of NTFPs and forest exploitation are guided by forestry laws. However, poaching and illegal forest exploitation still prevails. There is high exploitation of timber (African mahogany, Sapelli, Iroko, Bubinga, Small leaves Akom, Milk stick and Black Afara) within the council area from Mbwogmut clan. Timber is exploited for home use and a substantial quantity is illegally exploited for commercial purposes that serve a timber supply chain in Kumba, Douala, Limbe and Buea. NTFPs, including wildlife (bush meat) provides substantial income, employment and serves as food source to a good number of people in Bangem council area. Like timber exploitation, there is no information on the total quantity of NTFP harvested from the area

Collection of non timber forest products:

The unique plant species, Coffea montekupeensis, known in Bakossi as “deh a mbine,” is a wild coffee plant believed to be more valuable than the Robusta and Arabica coffees common in Cameroon.

Handicrafts:

Handicraft activities were realized to be carried out by few of the villages in the municipality. This constituted a considerable source of income for the local people. Basic handicraft activities include weaving, stitching and carving. The main products are thatches, sleeping mats, wood utensils and traditional musical instruments/attire.

Commerce:

Trading is not a very developed activity in the municipality. This is so because of the enclave nature of the municipality. Traders buy goods from Kumba, Douala and Bafousam and are distributed in other villages through petit traders who are resident in these villages. Villages in the hinterlands transport their needed goods through head loads or motorcycles from the market centers. There are 5 provision stores, 3 cold stores and 25 off licences supplying basic commodities within the municipality.

Industry:

There are no major industries within the municipality but for apprentice which is the only industrious activity going on in all the villages within the municipality. This helps to provide some required maintenance services to the local population. This includes hairdressing, carpentary, motorcycles and motor mechanics. These services are employing a hand full of the youthful population. This porton of the population is neither farmers nor businessmen, but rather investing more on this sector.