An African Safari, Part 3

The Dogon country is a capsule of a forgotten time, when people lived in harmony with nature, when crocodiles lived with villagers, and when tourists were honored guests.

The people of Benin work hard

The people of Benin work hard

Descending the escarpments, we came down to the Cape Coast of Ghana, fabled Gold coast, and later, source of slaves. The hospitality of the people, and their concern at the future held us back, we would have wanted to stay longer, but the road called.

In Benin, constitutional republic risen from the nightmare of Marxist dictatorship, we slept at the Songhai Center, a farming development based on sustainability, integration of traditional culture into modern development, and pride in self. An excellent restaurant offers their organic produce, and we were pleased to learn that the ‘microbe’ of their concept has spread and is taking root elsewhere in the region. For this region is ideal for agriculture, especially cotton, but American farmers are subsidized to take the markets away from these farmers, making them dependent on food handouts.

The trans-Africa Expressway had some soft spots

The trans-Africa Expressway had some soft spots

We did not do justice to Nigeria. Such was the reception by customs and immigration officials that we stuck to our plan, and dashed across by the fastest route, the Trans African Expressway. It must be said that this is in part an excellent road, though afflicted by police road blocks on average every ten miles, but parts of it was atrocious.

But worse was to come: Once into Cameroon, and well into the rainy season, we tackled the notorious Mamfe road. 25 miles took a friend in the dry season just four hours, but we took 24 hours, and friends, two weeks behind us, 5 days. Soon, however, this will be in the past: A Chinese company is building a magnificent highway.

Cameroon is a beautiful and friendly country, but we were reminded that the oil industry is everywhere. The picturesque islands of Limbe bracketed a tanker, and the incomparable beaches of Kribi will soon host a gas terminal. But again, in fairness, despite the offshore presence we did not find any sign of pollution on the pristine beaches.

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