I grew up in a small but growing town called Buea. It was the original capital of German Kamerun (1884-1918). Then it became the capital of the British Southern Cameroons (1918-1961) and that of West Cameroon. This political transition happened when the British Southern Cameroons voted in 1961 to gain independence by joining the French-speaking Republic of Cameroun in what became the Federal Republic of Cameroon. It has, since 1972, become the capital of the southwest province (now region) of Cameroon. Located about 900 feet on the slopes of West Africa’s highest peak, Buea has a very refreshing climate. The beautiful Fako Mountain (also known as Mount Cameroon) overlooks this growing metropolis as volcanic soils from years of eruption provide fertile ground for farming.
My grandmother, Mami Ncha, raised me in this town. Whenever she was not at the farm somewhere on the mountain slopes or selling in the marketplace, she was in the kitchen cooking. I always enjoyed watching her combine ingredients without measuring and was eager to help in any way I could. She would give me the task of getting the spices and ingredients ready for the dish(es) she was going to cook. I was always happy to do the job. Sometimes when my siblings and she returned from the farm or the market, I would have the meal prepared. She was always quite impressed.
By observing and helping Mami Ncha in the kitchen as much as I could, I developed a passion for native culinary delights. I would cook and have friends over or cater their social events upon request. It has been this passion for cooking and the joy of seeing people eating and enjoying the food I have prepared that has pushed me into introducing Cameroonian dishes and foods here in Santa Fe. Most of the people who have tasted my cooking have always encouraged me to open a restaurant, but I don’t think I am at a juncture in my life where I want to be involved in a project that big. I had tried that venture in the past on a shoestring budget quite unsuccessfully, I might add. I still continue to cook for events around town and enjoy doing so.