Mandjou

So I’ve finally settled in Mandjou. Mandjou is about 10-km outside Bertoua, the capital of the East region. These cities are significant because they are at the crossroads of many East-West routes in Central Africa. So many drivers stop either temporarily or for a few days to rest, get supplies, fix their lorries, or unload/load goods.

Mandjou has a few thousand people. It is a very small and poor village. Farming and herding represent primary economic activities. It is also a stop for big lorries heading both West (to Yaoundé, Douala, and elsewhere) and East (to Congo and Central African Republic). There is a significant Muslim population (including most of the Mbororo), with at least three mosques. Ramadan began yesterday (27/05) and will continue for the next month.

I have moved from a hotel into an extra room on the property of one of the Mboscuda members. He has many children, and they were very excited for me to arrive. They seem to be learning a number of languages and speak a fair bit of English. They were very cute and funny. A young boy took a liking to my Canon camera, and has been taking it out for a spin with almost no instruction whatsoever.

I have come down with a bit of malaria, so I have a bad fever and headache. I was supposed to meet with the district officer (prefet) and sub-district officer (sub-prefet) today but wasn’t feeling well. Tomorrow I will go to the field for the first time and conduct about three hours of interviews with Mbororo herders. My questions will concern issues with land, rights, and bureaucracy.

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