articles

Tourism in OrokoLand (By Fred Bebe)

Although there are many sites of touristic importance in Orokoland, they are yet to be developed, and advertised as such. However, a feature of immediate and growing importance is that of ecotourism. “Ecotourism is a form of tourism that strives to minimize ecological or other damage to areas visited for their natural or cultural interest”. Ties defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improves the well being of local people”.

Orokoland is blessed with a mountain forest ecosystem and a biodiversity in animal and plant life that is one of the richest in the world. Its forest resources, the most renown being the Kurop National Park, the Rumpi Hills of the north, the Southern Bakundu, Bambuko and Mukoko River Forest Reserves to the south, (to name but a few), could form the nexus for a viable tourism industry. But this could only occur if the basic principles of ecotourism are respected and necessary investment made to sustain it on a developmental and industrial basis, such as to provide a positive experience for both hosts and visitors. On a smaller scale, there are many local features that are noteworthy.

In the Mundemba Central Subdivision is the Nambangi Cave (named after its founder) and located at the Bulu camp of the Pamol Ndian Estate. It is said to be large enough to contain a whole village, but today a habitat for rodents, reptiles and other types animal and plant life.There is also the Ndian Estate Beach which was an indispensable link to the outside world the construction of a motorable road to Mundemba; the critical rock formation in the Batanga area known as Ila ya Mokimo and the Iyombo Waterfall in the Ngolo area.Further south, in the Ekondo-Titi sub division, there is the Pamol Lobe Estate offices and oil mill, the Ekondo-Titi Beachand Market (a major trading locale before the Bakassi conflict).

Along the forested valley and hills of the Rumpi Forest Reserve lies another waterfall in the village of Bafaka, the Diowa la Timbe whose hydroelectric potential could be enormous, if harnessed . There is known to be another waterfall in the Ekombe village of Bakua and an inselberg (an isolated hilly patch of semi arid land) in Nganjo, Mbonge a peculiar occurrence in a forest zone Meanwhile, along the northern and southern Bakundu stretch, there is the famous Etana of Itoki. Traditionally, the Etana is a general appellation for a juju house. Basically, (according to Nofuru) it is, or could be referred to as ”a traditional House of Parliament without party politics, where binding and peaceful decisions are arrived at.” The Etana of Itoki is a traditional museum that reveals the expertise of Oroko craftsmanship. The Mungo River that forms part of the western border of Orokland is an important touristic feature. It was the only route to the interior before road construction.

The Banga and Bombe beaches and the relics of German infrastructures are worth reviving touristically, if not for their historical significance. The above sites may not be well described or documented, and are by no means the only features of interest. A detailed photographic and documentary analysis of touristic sites or tourism as a whole in Orokoland is warranted ; an endeavor that could be the basis of a sponsored scholastic work.

References: www.ecotuorism.org : The International Ecotourism Society, Washington, DC.Bebe, F (2005): Forest Resources of Orokoland and the Korup National Park. An interactive presentation, Oroko-USAConvention 2005, Atlanta GA.Nufuru, E. (2002): Know the Oroko Ethnic Group: an overview of a people in diversity.Bebe, F (2005). A Journey to the heart of Orokoland. www.fredbebe.com