The Court comes to the field

I think I have mentioned that PRTC is involved in a huge land dispute. Basically, the Fon (chief) of Bafut has ordered a bunch of his people to encroach on our land. Land that we used to use for grazing our cattle is now being farmed by these people. Having done a tour and seen it, I'd say they are occupying about 1/3 to 1/2 of our land — that is about 300-450 hectares. The most egregious case is a guy who has actually set up a rock quarry on our land, clearly visible from the main tarmac road. This has been going on for several years and Principal Fru spends at least one day a week in court or trying to be in court (the case has been adjourned over 10 times). The whole thing is quite frustrating and a wonderful view into how the legal system works (or perhaps doesn't work) here in Cameroon.

Finally, a week or two ago, they started to hear the case and the judge decided that he needed to come out and see for himself the land and what was being done. That day is today and what a scene!

Everyone and their dog showed up. First, on our side, the pastors began to arrive — Pascaline, our parish pastor, the Presbytery Secretary, the Provincial Treasurer, the Secretary from Mezam Presbytery and the Moderator's Representative to the Province (the Moderator is the head of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon). We also have on our side the Fon of Bambui, our lawyer, the (now retired) surveyor who did the initial land surveys when we bought the land and all of us.

On "their" side arrives the Fon of Bafut and (looking out my window) I'd estimate 150-200 local people, complete with produce to sell. (Every gathering of people is an opportunity for an impromptu market!)

It feels like Fonta just turned into Bamenda. Well, or at least Bambui. Our sleepy little compound has been taken over.

The really difficult thing about this whole case is that whichever way the case is decided in the end, there will be bad feelings between us and our neighbors. Not only is that unpleasant (and it has direct consequences for those who are Presbyterians because the are currently separated from their usual congregation), but in Africa, that poses a bit of a security threat. Safety here comes in knowing and getting along with your neighbors.

Hmmm.

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About Seth Longacre

primal health coach, vision fast guide, itinerant discalced Episcopal Deacon, barefoot runner, photographer, spiritual director, yoga teacher, minimalist, pilgrim
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