Destinations Western Africa

10 Shocking Things I Learnt During My Cameroon Trip

Cameroon Market
Written by Teresa Mwangi

When you think of the cultural intrigues of any West African country with a Francophone setting, Yaounde and Douala quickly click. It is logical to think along these lines because there are plenty of things to learn about Cameroon.

It’s an interesting French-speaking country sitting between west and central Africa. Thus, most of it influences come from both regions but the French way of life is in every sphere.

Masudio Catherine, a Kenyan relived her Cameroon experience on a local Facebook group, Wanderlust Diaries. The group with over 401,000 followers offers an open platform for members to share their personal travel experiences across the world.

Before we look at her surprises in Yaounde, the country’s capital, here are a few facts about Cameroon. It is has diverse landscape that includes beaches, mountains, rainforests, and savannas.

The country is known for its natural beauty and is home to a variety of wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. Cameroon also has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of different ethnic groups and languages.

Tourists to Cameroon can visit national parks, go on safari, visit museums and cultural sites, and experience the local cuisine and music. Yaoundé, is home to a number of attractions, including the National Museum featuring exhibits on the country’s history and culture.

Douala, another famous city located on the coast, is also a popular destination for tourists, famed for its bustling port and sandy beaches. That said, these are the 10 things to learn about Cameroon.

Yaounde Cameroon

Yaounde in Cameroon. Photo by Twitter

1. People Speak Loudly

The French speakers in this area literally yell instead of just talking. By the way, that is the norm for them. Even worse, if your neighbour decides to host his or her own friends and they start talking; you’ll feel like they’re in your room. If you don’t like a lot of noise, you might suffer headaches.

2.  Always Have Coins With You

Have you ever encountered folks who love pennies as if their lives depended on them? Travelers, have you ever? If you don’t have coins, you will leave a store empty-handed, a taxi will leave you standing by the side of the road, and you will pass out from dehydration while holding your large sum of money.

A vegetable vendor will give you a look that makes you leave her stall quickly if you don’t have coins. Talk of motorbike riders, and conductors; they will not even look at you twice if you don’t have coins with you. That’s why things to learn about Cameroon is crucial.

3. Never Board a Taxi/Cab Without Agreeing on The Fare

As a rule of the thumb, always mention your price after flagging down a taxi followed by the destination. Never board any cab without agreeing on the fare first. Should the driver fail to agree with you, he just leaves!

However, the worst mistake is boarding without agreeing on the fare because the driver charges you exorbitantly and there is nothing much you can do about it.

5. Forget Using Your Credit/Prepaid Card

One of the culture shocks awaiting you in Cameroon is payments especially if you are used to swiping your credit card to make payments. Across major cities in this beautiful country, it’s either you have cash or use mobile money payment.

5. There’s No Shame Peeing By The Roadside

Peeing anywhere by the side of the road is quite common, and this goes for both men and women. Even the best of men driving expensive cars will pull up and empty their bowels and proceed with their journey and it’s no big deal.

6. Cameroonians Love Alcohol

Cameroon alcohol

Cameroon alcohol. Photo by NewsWeek

Of the most intriguing things to learn about Cameroon is that her people love alcohol a little bit too much. Consuming alcohol is like drinking water here and it’s not uncommon to find men and women having a beer before 8 am.

The most intriguing aspect of this is how uncommon it is to witness a Cameroonian seriously intoxicated to the point of falling or causing mayhem. Ironically, their level of self-control is admirable. Not to mention the size of their local beer bottles. Contrary to East Africa, where the largest beer bottle is 500ml, most are 600 and 650ml in size.

7. Sports is a Serious Affair Here

Here, playing sports, especially football, is almost a requirement. Anyone working out in the field is visible from sunrise to sunset, regardless of the weather. Whether it’s sunny or rainy, there are always people there.

Children are not excluded from this, especially on Saturdays when they are not in class and instead play basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, or just exercise. It makes sense why they are among the African football champs.

8.  Customer Service is Disappointingly Bad

You would anticipate that an employee would attend to you as soon as you enter a store or other places of business. That’s only a figment of your imagination because it is far from reality.

You’ll need to exercise a lot of patience in this situation because, if you go in and they are already working on anything, you have to wait for them to finish before getting any attention. Be sure no one will even bother to contact you back if you lack the patience and leave! Sad, right?

9. Shopping in the Market Has Its Language, Often a Mean One

This has to be the most interesting of things to learn about Cameroon. In the event you’re in the market and stop by one seller but notice the neighbor has better stuff, don’t bother going to them. They won’t sell you anything because your first stop was the first vendor who should sell you whatever you need.

10. You Barely See Anyone Smiling

Cameroonians rarely smile. You know how they say that Kenyans and Ugandans are friendly and will greet and converse with you with a grin even if you are a stranger? You simply have to have lower expectations when you visit Cameroon.

In fact, it becomes more difficult if you’re an English speaker in a Francophone environment. It is not commonplace to smile. You could be tempted to believe that everyone is always furious, but that is simply how they are.

In conclusion, Cameroonians are generally friendly and welcoming. The country has a diverse cultural heritage, and the people are known for their hospitality. Being a French-speaking country, it becomes easier for you while here if you speak French. Nevertheless, with a little bit of effort to understand and appreciate the culture of Cameroon, be sure to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience as a tourist.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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