By Aloysius AGENDIA
In a bid to tell the world about Lebialem, The Post on its website published an article titled The Curious Journey to Lebialem laced with generalised utterances, hasty observations and loose statements. Without questioning the prolific, imaginative, and creative skills of the writer, the article which was an excellent prose though, failed to paint a real picture of Lebialem and at best, it could be said it was misleading. This might have been as a result of the writer’s lack of knowledge on Lebialem and its history and certainly because his journey to the division was meant for something else. This is supported by the fact that the article was not accompanied by any picture. The picture used online in a different website to promote the article was not taken by the writer or a photographer of his media housed despite the fact that he had been there for a couple of days.
Lebialem Division was created in 1992 from Manyu Division. It has 17 Fondoms with a general population of over 100000 according to the last population census. It is made up of two principal ethnic groups with close ties notably Nweh and Mundani. The place is not only admired for its very good climate but also its rich tradition and a very hospitable people but also the production of lots of food stuff though faced with lot of marketing problems because of the bad roads. The writer of the article in The Post certainly visited less than one percent of Lebialem and judging from his article, he did not talk to people who could give him some reliable information on Lebialem. He might have been in haste. However, to some extent, his article is also a challenge to Lebialem elites do more for the development of the division.
The writer visited Wabane but said nothing about the tourist attractions like the Palace of the Fon of Bamumbu, The ancient British army posts, The Magha volcanic plug, Dem Dem Falls of Besali, Lebialem Waterfalls.
He was in Fontem but refused to write about the Palace of the Fon of Fontem, Mariapolis Centre of the Focolari Movement, Nyih Fuambindia (giant volcanic plug), Catholic Parish Church in Menji, The Atohngeh forest, the last of the tropical patches in Lebialem Division and The Mary Health of Africa hospital etc.
His article did not state whether he was in Alou, another subdivision in Lebialem where he could enjoy with beautiful temperate climate of M’uock, Market gardens of M’uock lands and the ever attractive Fons’ palaces. In all these areas the writer did not write about the people nor their produce giving that Lebialem is a bread basket with areas like Alou and Wabane providing lots of food products like palm oil, cabbages, carrots, cocoa etc which are marketed in Dschang and other parts of the division. At the end of the day I wonder what took the writer to Lebialem, an area described by the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich as a city in the Forest.
Who will believe that there are naked children in Lebialem everywhere as categorically stated by the writer? It makes me think of people in the Amazon Forest who have never had contacts with the rest of the world. Though such a blanket statement must not be taken seriously, it would have been better had the writer told us where he saw the naked children everywhere.
The writer makes mention of Mary Health of Africa Hospital but fails to acknowledge that there is no hospital in the whole of Southwest region equal to that hospital. The writer slept in Menji and does not mention of several construction works there. He describes the place as scanty; a pure figment of his imagination. Is it scanty in terms of population or in terms of housing?
He says in conditional tense that Lisbon is the only rest house in the capital city. Writing it in the conditional implies that he did not bother to find out if there are many more, and yes there are. Hence, I consider that declaration a sweeping statement. Are night clubs any barometer for measuring how developed a place is?
The writer could not receive CRTV signals, may be TV. YES. But in several parts of Lebialem including some parts of Menji signals of the National Radio, Poala FM in Baffousam, Radio Batcham, Radio Star Baffousam, CRTV West, CRTV Bamenda and a few other radio stations in Ikwa Ibom Nigeria are received. He might have been overwhelmed to capture a Nigerian radio signal, may be for the first time and decided to focus on it. This does not cancel the fact that there is the dire need to reinforced CRTV signals in the division.
The writer was in Wabane, but fails to find out that food production in the area is abundant and the people just as in other parts of Lebialem need to be assisted in road construction. I do not know what he saw in Alou. The main issue in Lebialem are the bad roads. It is at this level that I think the government must do more. ROADS.
He totally ignores the landscape and vegetation in this part of the world which is a source of attraction to many and even tourists, yet he is writing about Lebialem.
He says there are no banks, which is true to a greater extent but Menji Cooperative credit Union is among the best performing CAMCUL affiliated micro finance in the country. May be Menji Cooperative credit Union should take the challenge and seek to begin paying salaries of civil servants so that people do not go to the west province for such services again. There is also Express Union and recently Nkong Hill Top Micro finance institution.
It is really funny when the writer says one should buy everything even bottles of mineral water before embarking on a journey to Lebialem. This is really condescending statement. On the contrary, Lebialem has supermarkets which sell certain items even cheaper than some places in town. May be the writer should say he did not see people drinking and getting drunk. That would have made the place to look livelier in his eyes.
The writer says Lebialem people virtually live in Nigeria. This claim is really funny because Lebialem is not only far from Nigeria geographically but the people there do not in any way live as if they are in Nigeria. Receiving one station broadcast from Nigeria just like the reporter received signals from BBC does not make him feel as if he is in Nigeria or the UK.
As most African writers with the obsession for the western products, the writer takes the liberty to advertise the BBC shortwave frequency but failed to do so for Lebialem Community radio which can also be received in several parts of Cameroon at 99.9 FM.
You are welcome to visit Lebialem, enjoy its rich culture, commune with its hospital people, seek treatment in one of Cameroon best medical establishment, enjoy the numerous tourist attractions, get a taste of the cuisine of people and also buy food for exportation, enjoy abundant wild life and discover medicinal herbs. Come to Lebialem enjoy the place, the people, their culture, their story. However, Lebialem is in dire need of roads.