opinionBy Martin Nkematabong
Are you a fan to countryside tours? Toko is the destination. Its gentle equatorial climate, with heavy rainfall fairly distributed throughout the year, and its evergreen landscape punctuated with ridges and caves are worth the price.
The name “Toko” may sound unfamiliar in many ears, particularly to people living out of the South West region. But the locality,which is as old as the nation itself, deserves a bigger image.Toko is the headquarters of Toko Sub Division in Ndian Division, endowed with a rich and extensive tropical forest containing some of the best species of wood and great apes of the world. It is the ancestral origin of the Ngolo, Batanga and Bakoko people whose hospitality has attracted others from different parts of Cameroon, including various groups from the North West, the Bayangis, the Dongolos and the Bakundus who coexist in serenity. Do you love game? Hunting is a major economic choice of the inhabitants. Its relief configuration of highlands and lowlands, deeply groaned valleys and caves is home to different species of animals which serve as food and a reliable source of family income. Researchers say much of the hunting is illegal due to general lack of basic knowledge about conservation of protected animal species. Are the muscles and entrails of old chimpspart of your special menu? Do you enjoy the taste of stewed viper and mamba? Maybe you prefer cane rats and porcupines. Toko offers all in abundance! Are you are a fan to countryside tours? Toko is the destination. Its equatorial climate, with heavy rainfall fairly distributed throughout the year; its evergreen landscape punctuated with ridges and tors are worth the price. You will come face to face with the KORUP Park which occupies a surface area of 49,105 hectares, dedicated primarily to conservation, research and tourism. You mount the RUMPI Hills which covers a surface area of 5,445 hectares. You will merrily explore the Christian Philanthropic Community Forest which covers a surface area of 4,928 hectares. But, believe me. A trip to Toko is not a day’s job! Your obstacle might not be time or money. It might not be any other cause but poor road network! No tourism van attempts to ply the road, even in the dry season. Only motorbikes and a few four-wheeled fortified Lorries do. During the rainy season, the solitary earth road which runs through the heart of the equatorial dark forest becomes inaccessible, making movement into and out of the municipality impossible. Farmers and hunters pay the price as they can hardly transfer their produce or their catch to Mundemba and further. Poor access has fuelled rural exodus, impede literacy rate and sustained poverty.
Philip Nyane Orume: “The council is financially handicaped”
“Access from Mundemba to Tokois horrible. We spend a minimum of FCFA 10,000 on a bike. Equally there are no Radio or TV signals. We cannot get information about the country. Pipe-borne water is another challenge. These difficulties scare most civil servants from Toko sub division. The Mayor has very good development intensions but he is handicapped by financial difficulties facing the council. The council cannot generate even a thousand francs a day because it has neither markets nor motor parks. We rely on the government entirely. We hope rapid decentralization will bring a solution.”
Sarah Tanga: “High Cost of Living”
“In the rainy season we trek for dozens of kilometre seven though purportedly moving on a bike. We pay huge sums for little service due to bad roads. Secondly, we don’t make use of our phones while in Toko. The entire sub division has no market. Life is extremely expensive here. A cup of salt is FCFA 100, a tablet of Savon is FCFA 500. Foodstuff is even more difficult to come by. One has to negotiate with the villagers to bring food from the farm. It may take up to a month to get the required consignment. Hard to talk about diet here!”