Visit of the ambassador in Oku - Speech
Oku, may 14th 2016
Mr. Senior Divisional Officer
Honorable Member of Parliament,
Mr. the Mayor,
His Majesty Sentieh II, Fon of Oku,
Scientists and students,
Ladies and Gentlemen, people of Oku,
I am delighted to be with you today in Oku, a locality with an outstanding natural and human heritage. I thank Oku’s community for their invitation and warm welcome. I thank you, Majesty, for having honored me by making me Ya’ah.
I came here to celebrate specific aspects of France-Cameroon cooperation which has been unfolding for years in Oku. Thanks to the support of France and an African organization (the African Intellectual Property Organization), Oku is getting an international reputation. Its honey, the Oku white honey, is one of two Cameroonian products (the other one is Penja pepper) which now benefits of a protected geographical indication. It means that the high quality of your honey is internationally recognized.
There is a second reason why Oku has a specific importance for France : your place is a field of particular interest for the cooperation in scientific research. For a few decades, scientists from Cameroon and France have been investigating together on biodiversity, environment and history in Oku, as part of a partnership connecting Cameroonian institutions (in particular University of Yaounde 1, University of Douala and the Institute of agriculture research for development) and French institutions, among them Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) is at the fore-front.
Because Oku hosts the last large mountain forest in West Africa, research conducted here on tropical ecosystems allows progress in understanding tropical biodiversity and building strategies for environment conservation in tropical Africa.
The conservation and regeneration of Kilum-Ijim Forest is of paramount importance for bee-farmers who produce the famous Oku White Honey from the Prunus Africana trees. France is a longstanding supporter of efforts led since 2006 to carry-out forest regeneration activities, environmental education and apiculture training. Thanks to French funds, more than 20 000 trees were planted in Kilum-Ijim forest, therefore ensuring sustainable livelihood improvement to thousands of bee-farmers and their families.
Two events, scheduled today, will shed light on the scientific cooperation between Cameroon and France.
I will first have the pleasure to open the Field School « Man and biodiversity », which brings together Master and Doctorate students, and their supervisors. Based on scientific works carried out in Oku for about fifteen years, this special moment gives students the opportunity to deal with fieldwork. I wish to appreciate coordinators of this field school : Shey Wilfred Mbunda (representing Oku community), Pr Maurice Tindo (University of Douala), Pr Joseph Tamesse (University of Yaounde 1) and Philippe Le Gal (entomologist at IRD).
I will also have the pleasure to hand over an archaeological collection to His Majesty Sentieh II. Archaeological sites, close to his fondom, were excavated these past years by an « IRD / University of Yaounde 1 » joint team, under the supervision of a French archaeologist, Geoffroy de Saulieu. Were brought to light some pottery fragments, which oldest ones date back to the fifteenth century. In a few moments, I shall restore them to you, so that you keep them in your museum, to be seen by your local population, by pupils and students, and by national and foreign visitors, travelers and tourists.
I sincerely express the wish that these cooperative actions serve the sustainable development of your community, which has remarkable assets : your unique natural and human heritage, your forest, your lake, your cultural traditions and, of course, your honey, a high quality product coming from nature, but also from cultural expertise. In our world, subject to strong and rapid changes, this wealth is fragile. I wish you to succeed in finding ways to promote simultaneously both economic growth to provide jobs and to feed your population, and also conservation of biodiversity, source of future wealth.
I wish the people of Oku peace and prosperity, peace and harmony among themselves and with their neighbors.
Thank you for your attention.