Cameroon: Africa in Miniature
Cameroon is a country in west Africa on the Atlantic coast which is often referred to as Africa in Miniature. It has a huge diversity of climate from the beaches and rainforests to deserts and mountains. Cameroon is remarkably diverse in its cultural diversity as well. Although French and English are the official languages of Cameroon, there are over 200 linguistic groups in the country. The population is about evenly divided between urban and rural dwellers. There are fishermen and farmers as well as factory workers in Cameroon. There is also a thriving timber and oil industry as well.
The territory of the Cameroon region prior to 1884 was populated by various indigenous African ethnic groups and was organized into empires and kingdoms. It became a German colony in 1884 and was divided between France and England after WWI. In 1960 the northern French portion won it’s independence from France and in 1961 the southern British portion merged with it. It is now called the Republic of Cameroon. There is a great deal of tension between the French and English regions
Religious practice includes Christian Protestants and Catholics, Muslims, Pagan and Animists. Both polygamy and monogamy are practiced in Cameroon. There are a variety of native indigenous cultural religious practices which include witchcraft in some.
Cameroon’s national football team, The Indomitable Lions, have participated in the World Cup soccer tournaments on six occasions. They have also won four African Nations Cup tournaments in football and at the 2000 Olympics they took the gold medal in men’s football
A unique African soul music style called Makossa developed out of Cameroon with a strong rhythm and horn section heavily influenced by jazz, latin and funk rhythms. Manu Dibango is known for Makossa style and Sam Fan Thomas is better known for a lighter style called Makassi. Michael Jackson used a Makossa chant in his song “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”. Other artists using Makossa style are Eminem, Bloodhound Gang, Rihanna and Shakira.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Dja Faunal Reserve, one of the largest rainforests in Africa, was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The Dja River almost surrounds the park causing it to be fairly secluded and undisturbed. The reserve noted for it’s biodiversity contains five threatened species. Among it’s 107 species are a wide range of primates including lowland gorrillas and other mammals. Although population density is low in the region, living within the reserve is a population of pygmies. They are allowed traditional hunting methods and live a traditional lifestyle. There are thirteen other sites in Cameroon awaiting approval to be inscripted as a World Heritage Site.
Mount Cameroon Volcano
Each year there is a marathon called the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope in the capital city of the Southwest Region, Buea. This race was documented in a 2007 film called the Volcanic Sprint. The Mount Cameroon volcano last erupted in May of 2000. It’s native name Mongo ma Ndemi means Mountain of Greatness.
Prior to 2008 Cameroon was divided into provinces which were abolished in a controversial decree by President Biya and are now called regions. Each of the ten regions are governed by an appointed govenor charged with the task of carrying out the will of the President of Cameroon. President Biya, who has come under the inspection of vote watching group for suspected widespread fraud, has been the president of Cameroon since 1982. In 2008 he changed the constitution of Cameroon to remove term limits so he could continue in office indefinitely and provide him with immunity from prosecution after leaving office for any actions that he took during his time in office. He was ranked as the 19th worst dictator in the world in 2007 by Parade Magazine.
The Southern Cameroons are members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). They believe themselves to be colonized and occupied by The Republic of Cameroon and wish to have the region restored to the people of that region and gain independence from The Republic of Cameroon and become a sovereign nation