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Buea, A Town Changing From Cold To Hot 

By Vanessa Mukoko Nalova* — Some thirty years ago, Buea, once thickly forested, never got warm spells and it was far too wet, too humid, foggy and so cold that folks who lived on this mountainside village then had to dry their laundry in Muyuka, another village about 30 km away.

Today, however, with most of the trees cut down to create space for the construction of concrete houses, a great departure from the traditional plank houses, Buea has slowly moved from a cold town to a hot one. Areas like Bomaka, Muea, Molyko, Bonduma, where fans and air conditioners were once odd equipment, have now become hotspots for such air cooling gadgets.

“Back in the 70’s and 80’s we had numerous trees but these trees have been cut down by people for domestic use. There are now farms in the areas where trees used to grow, while others use trees for bushfire,” says Samson Patrick, a dweller in Buea Town. Ninety-four-year-old Martin Mbua Evelle, a resident of Buea Town, says trees have been cut down by people for construction since he was a child.

“Previously, we had a lot of trees like boma, iroko and mahogany, but they have been cut down to build houses,” Mbua Evelle discloses. Victorine Che, an inhabitant of Bokwaongo, a village perched on the windward slope of Mt. Fako (4.000 metres high) is astonished by the change in weather conditions in the village. “I’ m very surprised because in the 60’s rain used to fall in such a way that one could hardly see his or her neighbours. It used to be very foggy, but now it’s a different case as rain is limited, though it’s still cold,” Che says.

Celestine Ekambi, another native, who has lived in Bokwoango for the last 40 years, says she is confused by the state of weather in Bokwaongo and some areas in Buea nowadays. “I’m very confused by the change in weather because the population has not really increased in Bokwaongo. Sometimes it will be raining heavily in the village, but in Buea Town it might be cold without rain, while Great Soppo, Molyko and Bomaka will be hot.

The rains appear inadequate but the atmosphere is generally cold in Bokwaongo,” Ekambi tells The Post. George Atabong, an educationist who moved from Federal Quarters residential area higher up the mountain slope to lower Molyko in mid-90s, says the weather downtown Molyko, where the University of Buea has attracted chaotic infrastructural development for the past 20 years, has changed from cold to hot.

“Molyko has transformed from cold to hot weathers, even at night. At first, buildings were located on very spacious plots which made for easy circulation of air but the recent population and congestion in Molyko makes air difficult to circulate,” Atabong said. Mola Johnson Mwambo Lyonga, in his late forties, says the forest that used to cover the Molyko area is no longer there.

“There is no forest now as compared to the past. Deforestation and the proliferation of houses and cars have made the weather almost unbearable. Even little bushes no longer exist. Exhaust gases from cars also seem to add to the heat trapped by the concrete that makes up much of Molyko houses nowadays,” Lyonga said.

“I think Molyko especially is experiencing global warming. Back in the 60’s, Molyko was not what it is today. People used to sleep under blankets; they never used to use fans in their houses. But today if you go to Molyko, you will discover that people are making provisions for ceiling fans and air conditioners. Our community is not what it used to be in the past,” Joseph Ewome explains.

However, some people believe that the reduction in the amount of rainfall is not caused by the depletion of forest cover or some other scientific phenomenon. They attribute it to witchcraft.
Some final-year Geography students from University of Buea ran into trouble with natives of Bimbia, a village on the Atlantic coast, when they went researching on rocks. They were practically driven away by the villagers who believed that rain was not falling normally because the gods on Mt. Cameroon were angry.

“On July 2, 2012, we went on a Geologic field trip to the coastal areas of Victoria, Bimbia and Idenau,” Klein Njume Mesape tells The Post. “At Bimbia we were trying to get some statistics for our research. Around farmland areas in Bimbia, when explained to some farmers that we were doing a research on how rocks are placed, they complained that they had not received rain for a very long time and said when we go back, we should make sure we tell our Chiefs to go up to the Mountain and talk to the gods to provide rains.

All attempts to explain to these farmers that the world is experiencing global warming failed, as they still insisted that the gods are holding the rains. They further said during the rainy season fishermen can’t go inland because of high tides, but the sea levels are at present high, even without the rains. The farmers, who were yelling and expressing their anger, drove us out of Bimbia.”

Nevertheless, according to statistics for rainfall and temperature of Manjo 1990 – 2005, from the Nkongsamba Meteorological Station, Buea can be said to be experiencing climatic change. Manjo, which comprises Littoral and Buea, fall under the same coastal climatic zone of Cameroon.

According to the statistics, temperatures around Buea show fluctuation, rising steadily from the months of January (24.6 C) to April (26.0 C) and starts to fall gradually from the months of May (17.7 C) to August (16.2 C). It then rises proportionately from the months of September to December, which is (16.5 C). The highest temperature was recorded in the month of April (26.0 C) followed by March (25.9 C), while the longest temperature was in the month of June (10.3 c).

In terms of rainfall and taking into consideration that there has been the adverse effects of global warming and climate change, the months of January, February, March, April, May, October, November and December, experience very little amounts of rainfall.  With a combined average being about 800 millimeters, the months of June, July, August and the first half of September, are characterised by heavy rainfall.

The peak of the rainfall commences from late July – August. Thus, June becomes neutral. That is the reason why people can no longer tell if the month of June and the early quarter of July is either a rainy or dry season because of the effect of the global climatic change. Whatever the case, with the change in the climate of Buea in respect to the human activities in the area, the fear of global warming becoming a citizen is now real in the Buea municipality.

* (UB Student Journalist on Internship

First published in The Post print edition no 01370