13 May 2015

Cameroon: working to banish Boko Haram terror and tempt back tourists

What to do on a spare day in Maroua? Go to the races of course.


Several thousand people turned out last Saturday at the stadium of the capital of Cameroon’s Far North to cheer on youthful jockeys – some in proper silks, some in more casual attire – as they kicked up sand galloping round the race track.

I favoured Number six, a skinny chestnut who danced and pulled on his way to the start, but he came in fourth so I’m glad I didn’t take a bet.

Little kids sat on the ground at the front cheering on their chosen horses, while dignitaries were seated in the grandstand.

Among the visitors was Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali, whose wife, Francoise Agnes Moukouri, was kidnapped by Boko Haram last July.

She was released three months later alongside 26 other hostages, including 10 Chinese workers who had been building a road.

The Cameroon government wants to show that life is returning to normal after two years in which Boko Haram has raided across the border, killing, kidnapping and wreaking havoc.

In the old days, Cameroon’s Far North attracted tourists, missionaries and other foreigners. There was trade across the border.

It will take a long time for that life to return, but the government believes it is now winning a war that has devastated lives and livelihoods in Cameroon.

See Lindsey’s full report from Cameroon on Channel 4 News at 7pm

Follow @LindseyHilsum on Twitter

Tweets by @lindseyhilsum