By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.
The country of Cameroon is known as “Africa in Miniature” because of its cultural and geographical diversity. It has white beaches, tropical rain forests, grasslands, and deserts all in one country! Cameroon has 2 regions, an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one. I will be focusing on the French side for this blog. The French region is in the East and its legal and educational systems are driven by those found in Europe, especially in France. In this blog, we will explore the culture of Cameroon with an emphasis on the food.
The division between English and French speakers is relatively equal. Roman Catholics and Protestants account for 38.4% and 26.3% of the country’s population, respectively. 22% is Muslim with the remainder following indigenous
religions. They celebrate the same holidays Christians do, such as Christmas, Easter etc. Many residents of Cameroon practice indigenous African religions, although the number is unknown.
Cameroon’s food is heavily influenced by a variety of countries. The French introduced omelets and French bread, which the Cameroonians eat for breakfast. Portugal introduced maize and cassava. Their dishes usually include plantains, rice, fish, and yams. Fufu (a starchy food used to dip into sauce) is also a staple of Cameroonian food, used in almost every meal. Cooking is usually done over wood or coal, with everything being made in iron pots with wooden spoons.
The unofficial “official” food of Cameroon is ndole, a spinach stew flavored with garlic, crayfish and fortified with shrimp and beef. It is well known as a comfort food in Cameroon and it is always offered at parties! It is similar to spinach dip, but more flavorful and with meat. Although ndole does not have any relations to French cuisine, it is definitely worth a try!
Cameroonian culture varies according to what language you speak (English or French), the religion, and what part of the country you visit. It is different almost everywhere. However, the parties and the gatherings are a staple throughout the country. Before Cameroon was colonized by France and Great Britain, gatherings were used to pass down folk tales, legends, magic formulas, rituals, heroic epics, poems, and war stories from one generation to the next. Although these types of gatherings are not as popular as they were before, storytelling, and dancing/music are still integral part of the culture. Food, people, music, dancing, and musical instruments are the important aspects of Cameroonian heritage.
Cameroonian party in America.
Cameroon is the perfect African country if you want to experience everything Africa has to offer. You can travel without a translator or a tour guide since English and French are the official languages. Although, it is highly recommended that you travel with a guide if you visit the indigenous villages. Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, is the most popular city with tourists. The biggest attraction would be The Notre Dame Des Victoires cathedral, which attracts both local and international visitors. Whether it is the food, the music, the gatherings, or the architecture, Cameroon is a great place to discover another aspect of the French culture!