It is hard to put my impressions of Yaoundé into words. The capital definitely stands out by its vibrancy. Around each corner there seems to be a new quarter to discover. In comparison to our prior surroundings, no single city center could be distinguished. Market places, bars, shops and supermarkets are spread out over the metropolis’ hills for miles.
The architectural combination of modern creations and colonial remains defines some of the city’s appearance, established only in the 1890s. Even without being known for many so called ‘sights’, the city had, in my terms of design and structure, a lot to offer.
As many central buildings around Yaoundé are still very young, the redefined and reappropriated Cameroonian culture was in my eyes very visible. Some say it offered architects the chance to set their mark. The main cathedral was both monumental and rich in its details.
Another architectural unique is the Monument of Reunification, representing the union of West (former British territory) and East (French territory) in 1961. Ironically that marks the same year as the construction of the Berlin wall, furthering the German division.
The top of the monument can be reached by two sides and passages – symbolising the merging of the two regions. The spiral form is also mirrored by other elements, as the ground pattern.
The staff was nice enough to explain to us the detailed meaning of all reliefs and elements.
At the entrance a statue juxtaposes tradition (the father) and new generations (the new children of Cameroon). The five children also symbolize the five administrative centres of the newly found republic, as do the five levels of the spiral tower. This remarkable oeuvre was sculptured by Gédéon Mpando, a Cameroonian apparently little known, as I researched his biography.
One more gem that is not so much mentioned in guides is the Basilica of Mary Queen of Apostles, reigning over the hills on a vast platform. Generally, Yaoundé possesses many open spaces that add to the city’s charme.
The day being rich in architecture, it was topped of with a more cultural experience. The match Cameroon vs. Algeria was sadly no longer relevant for the World Cup qualifications, but still reunited quite a few Cameroonian soccer enthusiasts. The stadium Amadou-Ahidjo is structured by the national colors. Through favorable connections we were invited to sit next to the presidential tribune, which made me feel a little weird regarding the special treatment we already sometimes receive, but also allowed me to experience a unique perspective on the stadium.
Our time in the capital really stood for the great hospitality and generosity of the people that showed us around and cared for us during our stay. The group photo was taken post match with a Cameroonian 2:0 victory. Another special memory is this photo I took of the opposing tribune – as I am not very much into soccer – that was chosen in a local photography competition of Nkongsamba as a winning picture for ‘Unique in its ensemble’. Once again, I felt very thankful for the openness I have experienced here so far.
The supposedly last stop of this Saturday was a trip up to the Mountain Fébé, which offers a grand view of the city.
Through the courtesy of our friend, we still ended up experiencing the Yaoundé night life. I very much enjoy the Cameroonian musical vibes that can be found not only in clubs and bars, but basically in any city, at any larger street. This is also why the street ambiance here is much warmer, much more open and life is less restricted to one’s private space.
Since my arrival I have gathered some essential songs that could play along a Cameroonian bus ride or bar soirée. I already know that this playlist will recall many warm memories when returning to Germany.