One Hour In Cameroon: See the Bustle of the Bamenda Cattle Market

Cattle breeders from all parts of the Northwest region of Cameroon come to the Bamenda Cattle Market to sell their animals. Beginning around sunrise, traders and cattle turn the market into a beehive of activity, with buyers and sellers haggling to reach a price. The soya, or barbecued beef, sold at the market is reputed to be some of the best in the nation.

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One Hour In Cameroon: See the Bustle of the Bamenda Cattle Market

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WHAT: See cattle traders from Northwest Cameroon haggle over cattle and goods.

WHERE: Bamenda Cattle Market

WHY: Each Thursday, in the early morning, herders from throughout Cameroon’s Northwest region gather at the Bamenda Cattle Market to sell the cattle that provide their livelihoods. Some traders trek for up to eight days to get to the Bamenda highlands area, where the city can be seen from above. Buyers come from many of Cameroon’s major urban areas to buy livestock.

The cattle market is the largest of its kind in English-speaking regions of Cameroon, says Taiwe Alban, a veterinarian from the Regional Delegation of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, which oversees the cattle market. Up to 1,500 head of cattle are there each Thursday, he says.

The cattle herders are from various tribal groups, but Alban says the 100-year-old market is dominated by the Fulani, whose traditional occupation is cattle rearing. So many Fulani gather at the market each week that a mosque was constructed a few meters away, guaranteeing that the Fulani, who are primarily Muslims, have a place to pray.

For some herders, the market day is lucrative. Some say they bring in as much as 5,000,000 francs ($8,670) on market day, Alban says. An estimated 300,000,000 francs ($520,000) changes hands each Thursday, he says.

Visitors can watch a lively regional tradition as buyers and sellers view the cattle, and they can also find souvenirs and taste local food. Herbs, dresses and household goods are for sale near the cattle market. Roasted or barbecued beef, which some say is the best in the region, is available, as are many types of beer and soft drinks.

DETAILS: The cattle market is open Thursdays beginning at 6 a.m. It is in the Bamendankwe, Bamenda I Council Area, Mezam Division. Taxis can take visitors to the cattle market.