Welcome to Mamfe, the capital of Manyu division in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. Situated on the Manyu River, just 74 km (46 mi) from the Nigerian border, Mamfe is a bustling city with a population of approximately 36,500 (2017 estimate). Although it is known for its traditional religion and medicine, Mamfe has recently undergone significant infrastructure improvements, with the roads in and out of the city now tarred and in good condition. Despite the ongoing Anglophone Crisis, tourism is beginning to take root in the area, with a number of notable attractions to visit.
The name Mamfe is derived from the Bayang language, which is spoken by the town’s inhabitants. According to local legend, Mamfe was named by German colonizers who arrived in the area via the Cross River. When they encountered a local man carrying sand from the shore, they attempted to interrogate him about their location. The man, who spoke no German, asked in Bayang, ‘Mamfie fah?’ which translates to ‘Where should I put it?’ The Germans misinterpreted this as the name of the area and thus named it Mamfe.
Mamfe is predominantly inhabited by people from the Bayang tribe, who speak Nyang as their mother tongue. English is the official language spoken alongside pidgin and several other dialects, including Ejagham. The city is also home to a significant number of Nigerians.
While Mamfe does not yet have a university, a Catholic university is currently under construction. The Mamfe Girls College was Cameroon’s first all-female boarding school. In addition, there is a teachers training college and several vocational schools.
Mamfe is known for its delicious local cuisine, which includes dishes such as eru and fu-fu, plantains with ndole, and fu-fu and ogbono soup.
Mamfe has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am). Due to its location in a river valley, humidity can exceed 90% and temperatures can reach over 120 F (49 °C) during the dry season (February – April). For the rest of the year, temperatures remain in the 80s-90s (27 to 37 °C), only falling during the rainy season, sometimes to 70F (21 °C). While the climate can be uncomfortable for travelers, there are several notable points of interest to visit, including the old German bridge, the Mamfe Cross, the Mamfe River by boat, and the Mamfe Cathedral. Though hotels are few, they can and do accommodate Western travelers.
Mamfe has produced several notable individuals, including George Elokobi, a professional footballer, Pauline Nalova Lyonga, the Minister of Education, and the late Chief Solomon Ashu Arrey of Ossing (1905-2005). In addition, Senator Mfaw Tabetando, Ndiepnso Matilda Nkwo, and the first Miss Cameroon, 1977, Miss Commonwealth Nigeria, 1988, all hail from Mamfe.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Cameroon, Mamfe is the perfect choice. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone in this hidden gem of a city.