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Guidiguis
Extreme North Province

Contributed by Marsha Johnson, Guidiguis 1998-2000
TEFL
marsha@alumni.duke.edu




Introduction

Getting there and away

People

Celebrations

My Living Situation
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INTRODUCTION: Guidiguis is one of the highlights of the Extreme North. Well, perhaps it's not in any guidebook I've yet seen, but it should be. In Guidiguis you can get a real taste of much of the province. You have the soya stands (which, I might add, were cited by a favorite Peace Corps driver as "The Best Soya in Cameroon."), plenty of goats and sheep, a quite extraordinary post office, and nice, generous people. It is a small village, but I promise you that if you come to the North, everyone will know someone from Guidiguis.

GETTING THERE AND AWAY: As the village is located on one of the main roads of the EN province, it is fairly easy to reach. From Maroua, head to the bush taxi park and ask for a car to Guidiguis. The prices are 2000 cfa from Maroua and 3000 from Garoua. To leave and return to Maroua (or the airport) it is best to stand out by the road and wait for a car. If you head to the main intersection and enter a car, you could wait for up to 3 hours for it to fill up. It is best to stop one of the cars on the busy road that runs through the village. The men at the Coke stand near the main intersection are so nice; if you wait there, they will surely offer you a Coke and some good conversation. Jam na?

PEOPLE: There are two main groups in Guidiguis: The Tupouris, who have been in the area for hundreds of years, and the Fulani, who are common throughout the Extreme North. The village is divided into two sections, with each group in its own neighborhood, and though members of each pass each other on the trails of the village and encounter each other at the weekly market, there is little interaction between the two. I never noticed extreme outward animosity (besides disparaging remarks that members of one group will occasionally make about the other) during the time I was there.

CELEBRATIONS:
Muslim: The Fulani in the area celebrate the standard Muslim holidays, such as Ramadan and the Fête du Mouton, which is a specified number of days after Ramadan. As I lived with a Muslim family, these were my favorite times of year; never have I seen such feasting or enjoyment.

Tupouri: The main annual festival of this group is the Fête du Coq, during which Tupouris dance and sing in a circle. The celebration resembles the sterotypical "African" festival, with a few slight additions: women who used to dance barebreasted now wear bras, and western styles (such as tube socks with stripes somewhat akin to Dr. Seuss style) have proliferated the costumes. Bil-bil is widely consumed on this day, and the smell of this homemade beer fills the area around the dance.

MY LIVING SITUATION: As I've mentioned, I lived adjacent to a Muslim family. We shared a compound, and during the course of the two years I was there I grew quite close to the family, especially the wife Dam-Dam. We celebrated all the holidays together, and especially toward the end of my stay, I was eating all my meals with the family (actually, I sold my stove 4 months before I left in order to make that process easier.) I love them and will miss seeing the children grow up. I hope I can return soon to visit them.

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