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On the way to Cameroon
On the way to Cameroon Lengdung Tungchamma

Cameroonian Soldiers Held Me For Hours, But I Will Go to Cameroon Again

Traveling abroad for a short trip, temporal or permanent stay will require you to seek insight and information about your destination. If it’s a place you haven’t been before then, you need to do your research – to prepare for the journey ahead.

Nigerians love to travel for many reasons. While many people can afford luxurious travel plans to popular destinations around the world, others prefer to explore Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

In this new interview series, I will be conducting interviews with fun-loving Nigerians who have been exploring the world. These interviews aim to enlighten people about foreign destinations.

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The destination for this article is Bimbia, Cameroon. Our guest is a Nigerian tourist named Lengdung Tungchamma. He is a book reviewer and travel enthusiast who lives in Jos, Nigeria. He owns a little space on the internet where he shares his thoughts and travel experiences called Little Ends.

Lengdung was on a 3-day trip to Cameroon in early April 2022. His decision to travel to Cameroon was based on the proximity of Nigeria to Cameroon and his love for history. If you want to spend a brief time or an eternity there, read the article till the end.

How did you travel from Jos, Nigeria to Bimbia, Cameroon?

First, I traveled to Calabar, from where I boarded an Uber that took my companions and me to the Calabar beach. At the beach, we got a speed boat to Oron, and from Oron, we took another boat that took us to Cameroon. The immigration officials stamped our passports before we were allowed entry into Cameroon, but we paid 5,000 Francs, approximately ₦3,500, for the authorization.

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On the way to Cameroon/Source: Lengdung Tungchamma


What inconveniences did you experience during the journey?

It was a crazy and scary ride on the open sea. The journey was very inconvenient, but it was adventurous. It gave us memories.

First impression when you entered Cameroon 

Chaotic! The place was chaotic; the port was rowdy, just like Nigeria. It’s not a big difference from Nigeria.


What surprised you the most?

The Pidgin English is what surprised me the most. It is supposed to be like our Pidgin English, but it is worse than that. For instance, if someone wants to say that “We dey go your house”, they will say, “We be dey cam your house“, which is funny to me.

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How did you spend your first night there?

It was a short trip and got only one room to save cost. We were three on the journey; two of us were Christians, and the third person was Muslim. We all just met for the first time; we found ourselves to be tourists, so we just decided to form a group. The experience was not bad, nothing unusual either.


How was the food? Name a few you liked and the ones you didn’t

The first food we ate was chips and eggs. They made the egg in a very crazy way; I’ve never seen eggs made like that. They used cooked Indomie soaked in water, then they threw it in the egg and boiled it. It tasted weird; there was too much groundnut oil, but I’m sure Cameroonians enjoy it.

Also, one of their food called Cookie Beans, I’ve forgotten what it’s made up of, but it’s like Moi Moi. It was good.

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Did you visit any notable places?

All the places we visited were historical places like the slave museums, Camp Saker, the first baptist church, etc. We were specifically looking for history.

Alfred Saker Monument, Cameroon/Source: Lengdung Tungchamma

To read more about these experiences, click here.


How was the experience touring those places? Which was fun? Which wasn’t?

It was adventurous and mentally stimulating. I love history, and I love to see things from the past, so it was amazing to me.

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What was the biggest difference in how people live there, compared to here?

The biggest difference is that they are called Cameroonians and we Nigerians; that’s all, asides from that, nothing else. Nigerians and Cameroonians are so the same in several ways that they are different.

How was the language barrier/your ability to communicate with the people?

There was! When we met the soldiers on the road, they could only speak French, and we could only speak English. That part was very terrible – it was the most challenging part of the journey.


Did you experience any frustrations on your trip, whether related to the destination itself or the actual traveling?

Yes, I was very frustrated. On entering Cameroon, the soldiers held us because we didn’t have a Cameroonian residence permit. It was difficult to convince them and get through, and they told us we had to give them money before they could release us. They requested we pay 100,000 Francs (₦69,000) as a group, but we pleaded with them to accept what we had, which was 22,000 Francs (₦15,000). And there was a language barrier.

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What do you wish you knew before you started the journey?

I wish I knew that there was something called a Residence Permit. There is something called Residence Permit in Cameroon, so every Cameroonian, including residents, should have it. If you don’t, you will have difficulty moving around. So it is very important to always have it or your passport with you because that is the only way for you to identify yourself.


If so, what should people be aware of in order hopefully avoid those frustrations?

Just google and learn about where you are going so you can read up about people’s experiences like mine. I never knew I would be held for not having a Cameroon resident permit, which cut my money short.


How did you transport yourself and how was the experience? Convenient?

We used cars mostly and bikes. There was this particular bike rider, Pastor Edwin. His bike had a canopy (umbrella) at the top, it gave us shade from the sun, and I really appreciated it very much. It was amazing.

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What would you recommend other tourists to do or try while over there?

I highly recommend people, Nigerians, to visit Cameroon, not just for the fact that we are brothers. At one point in West Africa, there were no differences. It was colonialism that divided us. It’s not we are the same; we are different people, but I’m just saying that they have the same shared experience in terms of colonialism. The way the people move, hustle, and live is very similar to Nigeria.


Was there anything you did or saw that you wish you did not?

I don’t think there was anything that I wish I didn’t see. However, one traumatizing experience for me was when we stopped at Bakassi. Bakassi is in the middle of nowhere; it’s in the middle of the ocean. I think someone can bomb Bakassi, and no one on the mainland would know that it happened; it’s that crazy. Those people use water transportation for everything. They are born there, live and school there.

Bakassi - trip to cameroon | tasmag
Bakassi /Source: Lengdung Tungchamma

What was the best thing you ate on your trip?

What a question! Maybe the cookie beans, yes, it tasted great, like Moi Moi. I enjoyed it.

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What did you pack that came in handy?

Travellers don’t really overpack things. For me, I just go there to insert myself into the experience and go home.


How much did you pay the local your guide?

We didn’t pay any local guide. The truth is if you really want to enjoy tourism avoid guides. Avoid guides except in cases where you have to travel to another continent. For instance, if whites were going touring here, I’d recommend a guide because they are more likely to be exploited. But if you are a black person, I don’t think you need that. You just need common sense because you understand how Africa works.

When we went to museums, we met guides because it was natural to have them around, but we didn’t have one to take us around town. We trusted our instincts, and we knew almost all the places we wanted to go with google maps.

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What did you bring back with you?

We returned with the Cameroonian currency, which was a souvenir we wanted to keep.


What did you wish you packed with you?

I don’t wish I had packed anything but maybe more money.


Did you notice any cultural norms that would be helpful for someone to know before visiting?

If you go there, just don’t let anyone know that you are a Nigerian; behave like a citizen. Be relatable to people, so they don’t treat you in a ‘bad way’. Be open when planning a trip to Cameroon, and don’t expect to not be disappointed.

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Expect to have the worst and plan to have the best. If you think that travel will just be easy, you may run home very fast when you get disappointed. If you are open and know this is an adventure, bad things might happen those you planned and didn’t plan. It’s like the movies; it starts with a story, everything going peacefully, then everything goes wrong, and then the hero starts fixing them. That is your role as a traveler, to be the hero of your adventure story.

Was it easy to find and buy things you needed along the way?

Our currency is slightly higher than theirs, and things were quite expensive, but the Naira was more valuable. So that made it kind of easy to purchase more items.


What was the most enjoyable or relaxing part of your trip?

I like saying that having different friends from countries around the world is a gift. The most enjoyable part was relaxing at Camp Saker, the first place the first missionaries landed in Cameroon. They turned the beach into a retreat site. The night was chilly; it was like a village, quiet and sweet.

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Did you go anywhere super beautiful where you felt like your photos just couldn’t do it justice?

Camp saker was the most beautiful place I saw. I saw a part in Limbe from the car, but I couldn’t snap it because we were in transit.


Would you go back?

Yes, I would certainly go back to Cameroon. I would go back to the places and visit new sites.

On a total, how much did you spend on the trip?

I spend about ₦250,000 going to Bimbia, Cameroon. I might have gone a little overboard due to miscellaneous.

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Ngozi Nwaubani

Ngozi Nwaubani

She's usually found writing Sci-Fi and fun articles on entertainment and lifestyle.

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