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From The Hippo’s Ears: The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Facts you may not have know about The Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (République démocratique du Congo), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa.

The DRC is a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic, and gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

Common greetings include handshakes, as well as hugs and cheek kisses for those who know each other well. Hello in Lingala is “mbote”. How are you is “ndenge nini?. In French, these would be “bonjour” and “comment allez-vous?” respectively.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is culturally accepted as the lingua franca facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo. According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) could read and write in French.

Approximately 242 languages are spoken in the country, but only four have the status of national languages: Kituba (“Kikongo ya leta”), Lingala, Tshiluba, and Swahili.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in DRC. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Music is a large part of Congolese culture. The DRC has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuban rumba, and merengue to give birth to soukous, a genre of dance music from the Congo Basin.It derived from Congolese rumba in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s in France.

For a taste of soukous music, listen to Dibolo Dibala’s Michel.

Aerial view of Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Kwassa kwassa is a dance created by Jeannora, a mechanic in Kinshasa. It started in the 1980s, spread across Africa, and was made popular by soukous music videos.

Watch kwassa kwassa dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

National Heroes’ Day

Referred to as “Heroes’ Day,” this public holiday is celebrated annually on January 17. It commemorates the death of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s popular leader. It is one of the two festivals that commemorate Lumumba’s fight for human dignity in the region.

National Liberation Day

The Congo observes National Liberation Day every year on May 17. This is a public holiday, so all offices and most businesses are closed. It pays tribute to the efforts of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo rebel group who fought the government during the second war. MLC was led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, the son of Bemba Saolona, a Congolese billionaire. Street parades and cultural shows are held.

Parents’ Day

The world observes Parents’ Day every August 1, but in the Congo, it is considered a public holiday. Locals are enthusiastic about giving greeting cards and gifts to their family.

9. What are the seasons like?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo lies on the equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands, with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains.

South of the equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours. The average rainfall for the entire country is about 1,070 mm (42 in).

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Félix Tshisekedi has served in the position since January 2019. He is the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the oldest and largest party of the Democratic Republic of Congo, succeeding his father – Étienne Tshisekedi – in the role. Tshisekedi’s election at the end of 2018 marked the first peaceful transition of power since the DRC became independent from Belgium in 1960.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals were estimated in 2011 to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion. The DRC’s main exports are gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, crude oil, and wood.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include visiting Lac Ma Vallée, Mount Mangengenge, and the National Museum of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

View down a road in Kinshasa.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Ginger drinks and rice-based beers are popular. Linguila is a local wine made by fermenting sugar cane.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Popular DRC dishes include Chikwangue/kwanga (cassava, cooked and stored in banana leaves); loso na madesu (rice and beans); and liboke Ya mbika (steamed pumpkin seed pudding).

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

The DRC uses the Congolese franc (CDF). (1 USD = approximately 1,666 CFA).

3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant: 10,796 CDF
Apples (1 kg): 9,996 CDF
Milk (1 l): 3,382 CDF
Cappuccino: 5,198 CDF
Water (350 ml): 1,283 CDF
Loaf of white bread: 2,116 CDF

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Crime is common, and being vigilant is advised.
  • You should avoid using any taxis in DRC. If you must take a taxi, use a privately booked one. Don’t hail taxis in the street.
  • On 17 July 2019, the World Health Organisation declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following an outbreak of the Ebola virus in eastern DRC. New cases continue to be reported across the affected areas including the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu.
  • Travel within 50km of the border with the Central African Republic and South Sudan is advised against.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Patrice Lumumba, a Congolese politician and independence leader, who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic.
  • Robert Kidiaba, former Congolese international footballer who played for TP Mazembe, as a goalkeeper.
  • Le Grand Kallé (Joseph Athanase Tshamala Kabasele), a Congolese singer and bandleader, considered the father of modern Congolese music.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].

From The Hippo’s Ears: The Comoros

Facts you may not have know about The Comoros:

The Comoros (جزر القمر/Juzur al-Qumur/Qamar), officially officially the Union of the Comoros (Umoja wa Komori/الاتحاد القمري/Union des Comores) is an island country in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa between northeastern Mozambique, the French region of Mayotte, and northwestern Madagascar.

Comoros is a federal presidential republic, and gained independence from France in 1975.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

Common greetings include “how are you?” (“yedje?”), and “news?” (“bariza?”).  Some may choose to greet with “your health?” (“E ngawe mnono?”).

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

The most common language in the Comoros is Comorian, or Shikomori. It is a language related to Swahili, with four different variants (Shingazidja, Shimwali, Shinzwani and Shimaore) being spoken on each of the four islands. Arabic and Latin scripts are both used, Arabic being the more widely used, and an official orthography has recently been developed for the Latin script.

Arabic and French are also official languages, along with Comorian. Arabic is widely known as a second language. French is the administrative language, and the language of all non-Quranic formal education.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in Comoros. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Zanzibar’s taarab music remains an influential genre on the islands, and a Comorian version called twarab is popular. Popular bands include Sambeco and Belle Lumière, and popular singers include Chamsia Sagaf and Mohammed Hassan.

Popular Comorian instruments include the ‘oud (a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument) and violin (the most frequent accompaniment for twarab), as well as gabusi (a type of lute), and ndzendze (a box zither).

For a taste of music from Comoros, listen to Chamsia Sagaf’s Miyandi.

Harbor in Moroni, Comoros.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Some of the more common types of dances are the wadaha (a type of women’s dance), the chigoma (danced by men), and the diridji (a dance where the men dance around a table). These dances can be seen at the annual Grand Mariage festival on the island of Mohéli.

Watch traditional Comorian dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

New Year

Both New Year’s days (January 1st and the Islamic New Year) are celebrated with much gusto in the Comoros. The Islamic New Year is of particular interest as it is marked by a wide range of activities that embrace the local culture and traditions, including religious rituals.

Independence Day

Comorians celebrate independence each year on July 6, recognizing the islands’ freedom from colonialism. Like other events on the islands, the festivities are marked with good food, cultural presentations and merriment.

Grand Mariage

This festival is held each year, around July, on the island of Mohéli. Food, music, and dancing are on show at this festival. Comorians generally have two weddings – a small, private ceremony, and the grand wedding. The grand wedding is a momentous occasion, and costs many households a lot of money. It is a representation of social standing, and much preparation is put into the group event.

9. What are the seasons like?

The climate is generally tropical and mild, and the two major seasons are distinguishable by their rain levels. The temperature reaches an average of 29–30 °C (84–86 °F) in March, the hottest month in the rainy season (called kashkazi/kaskazi [meaning north monsoon], which runs from December to April), and an average low of 19 °C (66 °F) in the cool, dry season (kusi [meaning south monsoon], which proceeds from May to November). The islands are rarely subject to cyclones.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Azali Assoumani has held the office since May 2016. Previously, he was President from 1999 to 2002 and again from 2002 to 2006. He became leader of the Comoros on 30 April 1999 after leading a coup to depose acting president Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde, who he saw as pandering to the independence movement on Anjouan.

Azali was born in 1959 at Mitsoudjé, in south-western Grande Comore. Between 1977 and 1980, he trained at the Royal Military Academy in Morocco and qualified as a parachutist.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The Comoros’ major industries include spice production, essential oil production, and the dismantling of ships. Iron and gold are also exported.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include visiting Mount Karthala, Moheli Marine Park, Bouni Beach, Lac Salé, and beaches on the island of Mohéli.

Moroni port, in Comoros.

13. What is a popular local drink?

A popular drink is coconut milk. The islands are strictly Islamic, so alcohol is not common.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Popular Comorian dishes include mkatra foutra (fried unleavened bread, made with coconut water), pilaou (a highly-spiced meat and rice dish), m’tsolola (fish and green plantains stewed in coconut milk), and achard aux legumes (lightly pickled vegetable salad).

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

Comoros uses the Comorian franc (KMF). (1 USD = approximately 444 CFA).

Lunchtime meal (including a drink): 5,000 KMF
Apples (1 kg): 1,000 KMF
Milk (1 l): 650 KMF
Cappuccino: 3,500 KMF

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Crime levels are low, but it is still advisable to be vigilant.
  • Avoid walking alone at night on beaches or in town centers.
  • Safeguard valuables and cash. Use hotel safes, wherever applicable. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport, in a separate place.
  • On Grande Comore, the main round-island road is of a reasonable standard, but some other roads are in a poor condition.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Hadhari Saindou Djaffar, a sprinter who competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia as well at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece in the 100 meter dash.
  • Mohamed Ahmed-Chamanga, a Comorian writer, researcher, and professor. He has worked mainly to make known his Comorian culture, and in 2006 he was candidate for his country presidential election. He currently teaches at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, France.
  • Mohamed Attoumane, a swimmer who specialized in sprint freestyle events. Attoumane represented Comoros at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Chad

Facts you may not have know about Chad:

Chad (تشاد/Tchad), officially known as the Republic of Chad (جمهورية تشاد/République du Tchad) is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west.

Chad is a unitary dominant-party presidential republic (de jure) under an authoritarian dictatorship (de facto), and gained independence from France in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

A handshake and a nod is the most common form of greeting. It is important to shake all hands in the room if meeting a number of people at once. To say hello in Chad, in French, say, “Bonjour”.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Chad’s two official languages are French and Arabic, but over 100 languages and dialects are spoken. Due to the important role played by itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in local communities, Chadian Arabic has become a lingua franca.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in Chad. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Chad is an ethnically diverse Central African country in Africa. Each of its regions has its own unique varieties of music and dance. The Fulani people, for example, use single-reeded flutes, while the ancient griot tradition uses five-string kinde and various kinds of horns, and the Tibesti region uses lutes and fiddles. Musical ensembles playing horns and trumpets such as the long royal trumpets known as “waza” or “kakaki” are used in coronations and other upper-class ceremonies throughout both Chad and Sudan.

Styles of Chadian popular music include sai, which used rhythms from the southern part of Chad—this style was popularized by a group called Tibesti. Other bands include the Sahel’s International Challal and African Melody, while musicians include the Sudanese-music-influenced guitarist Ahmed Pecos and Chadian-French musician Clément Masdongar.

For a taste of music from Chad, listen to Clément Masdongar’s Mariam.

One of the largest of a series of ten mostly fresh water lakes, in the Ounianga Basin, in the heart of the Sahara Desert of northeastern Chad.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Like many other African countries in this region, traditional dance go hand in hand with traditional music. And many of the dances are named after the style of music it is associated with. Dance in these areas is usually either telling a story, performed as part of a ceremony, or merely for entertainment. In the city of N’Djamena, there are many dance clubs and bars with dance nights that are very popular as means of entertainment.

Watch traditional Chadian dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Liberation of Africa

May 25 is the celebration of Africa’s liberation from colonial Europe. It is observed in other countries like the UK, US, Tanzania, Spain, Kenya, and Ghana. There are plenty of street marches, school lectures and artistic rallies.

Independence Day

Chad’s Independence Day is celebrated annually on August 11. This public holiday commemorates the country’s freedom from France. Sports and political assemblies are common and delegates from around the world visit at this time.

Proclamation of the Republic

Chad remembers the declaration of its republic status every year on November 28. This day is all about fun and festivities, regardless of your religion. Some local communities organize political assemblies and sporting events.

9. What are the seasons like?

Each year a tropical weather system known as the inter-tropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel. Variations in local rainfall create three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country’s northern third. Yearly precipitations throughout this belt are under 50 millimetres (2.0 in); only the occasional spontaneous palm grove survives, and the only ones to do so are south of the Tropic of Cancer.

The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad’s center; precipitation there varies from 300 to 600 mm (11.8 to 23.6 in) per year. In the Sahel, a steppe of thorny bushes (mostly acacias) gradually gives way to the south to East Sudanian savanna in Chad’s Sudanese zone. Yearly rainfall in this belt is over 900 mm (35.4 in).

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Idriss Déby has been the President of Chad since 1990. He is also head of the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Déby is of the Bidyat clan of the Zaghawa ethnic group. He took power at the head of a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990 and has since survived various rebellions against his own rule. He won elections in 1996 and 2001, and after term limits were eliminated he won again in 2006, 2011, and 2016. He added “Itno” to his surname in January 2006. He is a graduate of Muammar Gaddafi’s World Revolutionary Center.

Chad’s recent history, under Déby’s leadership, has been characterized by endemic corruption and a deeply entrenched patronage system that permeates society, according to Transparency International.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Around 96% of Chad’s exports are crude petroleum. Over 80% of Chad’s population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihood. Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labour market accounted for approximately 80% of export earnings.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include visiting Zakouma National Park, Chad National Museum, and Ennedi Plateau.

A Chadian tailor sells traditional dresses.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Chadians use a medium variety of grains, vegetables, fruits and meats. Commonly consumed grains include millet, sorghum, and rice as staple foods. The day’s main meal is typically consumed in the evening on a large communal plate, with men and women usually eating in separate areas. This meal is typically served on the ground upon a mat, with people sitting and eating around it. Popular local dishes include Jarret de boeuf (a traditional beef and vegetable stew), and millet pancakes.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

Chad uses the Central African CFA franc. (1 USD = approximately 602 CFA).

3 Course meal: 18,000 CFA
Domestic beer: 1,700 CFA
Cup of coffee: 1,400 CFA
Coca cola (330ml): 600 CFA
Milk (1l): 1,100 CFA
Loaf of white bread: 4,800 CFA
Apples (1 kg): 3,200 CFA
Water (1.5l): 700 CFA

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Travel to Chad in all areas within 30km of all borders is not advised. Only essential travel in N’Djamena is advised. Travel is not advised in the regions of Ennedi, and Tibesti.
  • A state of emergency remains in place for the Lake Chad region.
  • Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Car jackings are common, even in daylight.
  • Terrorist attacks are possible, and you should be alert at all times.
  • Always carry working communication equipment, and get a police escort whenever possible.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Ndakom Valerie Ndeidoum, a retired Chadian goalkeeper. He played for the Chad national football team, and was the part of 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
  • Jacqueline Moudeina, lawyer and human rights activist, who is known for her work in bringing Hissène Habré to justice for crimes against humanity.
  • Koulsy Lamko, playwright, poet, novelist, and university lecturer. His experience in Rwanda led him to write his novel, La phalène des collines (“The butterfly of the hills”), about the 1994 genocide.
  • Marie-Christine Koundja, the first published female Chadian author.
  • Mahamat Idriss, high jumper. He finished ninth at the 1964 Olympic Games. His personal best jump was 2.17 metres, achieved in April 1966 in N’Djamena.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Central African Republic

Facts you may not have know about Central African Republic:

The Central African Republic (République centrafricaine/Centrafrique) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometers (240,000 sq mi) and had an estimated population of around 4.6 million.

CAR is a Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic, and gained independence from France in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

A handshake is a very common greeting in all areas. “Bonjour” is common as a French greeting, and in Sango, “Balao” is commonly used.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

The Central African Republic’s two official languages are French and Sango (also spelled Sangho), a creole developed as an inter-ethnic lingua franca based on the local Ngbandi language. French is the language of writing and formal situations.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in CAR. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Music of the Central African Republic includes many different forms. Western rock and pop music, as well as Afrobeat, soukous and other genres have become popular nationwide. The sanza is a popular instrument. African folktales are very popular as well. The Banda people have produced some modern popular music, using a trumpet-based kind of jazzy music. Pygmy styles include liquindi, or water drumming, and instruments like the bow harp (ieta), ngombi (harp zither) and limbindi (a string bow).

For a taste of music from CAR, listen to Laetitia Zonzambé Mbi Nze.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Pygmy nationals have numerous kinds of traditional dances. Dance is seen by the community as a means of bonding and bringing the people in the community together. Dance can be done both in public and in private. The types of dances, the location, and times when people dance all depend and determine a person’s role in the community and station in their life. Likewise, some dances are for ceremonial purposes, and some are designated for entertainment.

Watch traditional Pygmy dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Independence Day

This public holiday commemorates the Central African Republic’s proclamation of independence from France on August 13, 1960. The day is celebrated joyously, as everyone is thankful for the freedom from slavery. Festivities are held in major cities including the capital, Bangui.

Feast of the Assumption

August 15 is the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is marked a public holiday. While it is traditionally a Roman Catholic event, the day is considered a multi-faith holiday in the Central African Republic. Processions are organized and holy masses are held throughout the day along with prayer gatherings.

National Day

The Central African Republic celebrates its national day on December 1. The day is marked by sports festivities, speeches, parades, and other activities throughout the nation. There are boat races along the Ubangi River. Military officials, soldiers and political leaders attend the parade in the capital along with the locals. Music, traditional dances, and food are in abundance.

9. What are the seasons like?

The climate of the Central African Republic is generally tropical, with a wet season that lasts from June to September in the northern regions of the country, and from May to October in the south. During the wet season, rainstorms are an almost daily occurrence, and early morning fog is commonplace. Maximum annual precipitation is approximately 1,800 millimetres (71 in) in the upper Ubangi region. The northern areas are hot and humid from February to May, but can be subject to the hot, dry, and dusty trade wind known as the Harmattan. The southern regions have a more equatorial climate, but they are subject to desertification, while the extreme northeast regions of the country are already desert.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra has been President of the Central African Republic since March 2016. He was previously Prime Minister of the country from January 2008 to January 2013. Touadéra was born in Bangui. He earned a mathematics doctorate, and went on to lecture mathematics at the University of Bangui, and was vice-dean of the University’s Faculty of Science from 1989 to 1992. He became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bangui in May 2004. Touadéra was appointed as Prime Minister by President François Bozizé on 22 January 2008, following the resignation of Élie Doté. He is married, with 3 children.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Diamonds constitute the country’s most important export, accounting for 40–55% of export revenues. Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. The Republic’s primary import partner is the Netherlands, with other major import locations being Cameroon and France.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include Notre-Dame of Bangui Cathedral, Oubangui River, Marche Central , Musee de Boganda, Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, and Les Chutes de Boali.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Indigenous agriculture in the country includes millet, sorgum, banana, yam, okra, yellow onion, garlic, spinach, rice and palm oil. Meats can be scarce in the Central African Republic, although fish is used in a variety of dishes, and other sources of protein include peanuts. Roadside stalls sell foods such as baked goods and makara (a type of fried bread), sandwiches, barbecued meat and snacks. Popular dishes include kanda ti nyma (spicy meatballs made with beef), and m=uama de galinha (chicken with okra and palm oil).

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

CAR uses the Central African CFA franc. (1 USD = approximately 588 CFA).

3 Course meal: 20,000 CFA
Domestic beer: 2,500 CFA
Cup of coffee: 2,000 CFA
Coca cola (330ml): 400 CFA
Milk (1l): 300 CFA
Loaf of white bread: 250 CFA
Apples (1 kg): 330 CFA
Water (1.5l): 850 CFA

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Travel to CAR in general is not advised by many foreign governments, due to ongoing unstable security situations, activities of armed rebel groups, and the high level of violent crime.
  • If you do travel to CAR, maintain high levels of awareness, keep a low profile, and limit travel within the country.
  • Have adequate stocks of personal supplies on hand in CAR, and monitor media coverage closely.
  • Check if your travel insurance covers CAR, and make sure your country of residence has a diplomatic office in CAR before traveling to the country.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Raphaël Nzabakomada-Yakoma, writer and historian. After earning his PhD in History, in France, he worked at the Faculty of Literature and Human Sciences in Bangui from 1972 to 1982, where he was Dean from 1976 to 1979.
  • Anicet Lavodrama, a retired professional basketball player. Lavodrama played for the Houston Baptist Huskies from 1981 until 1985, and he was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 3rd round of the 1985 NBA Draft.
  • Léandre-Alain Baker, an actor and film director. Baker is the author of several novels and plays, and has been making short films since 1993.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Image sources: hdptcar [1], Alllexxxis [2], Philippe JIMENEZ [3].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Cameroon

Facts you may not have know about Cameroon:

Cameroon (Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (République du Cameroun), is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa. The country is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” for its geological and cultural diversity.

Cameroon has a population of around 23 million, is a unitary dominant-party presidential republic under an authoritarian dictatorship, and gained independence from France in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

A handshake is a very common greeting in all areas. In Francophone areas, kissing cheeks may also be used as a greeting. Greetings should not be rushed – it is important to take time to inquire about the person’s family and other matters of general interest when greeting someone. Greetings in French include ‘Bonjour’ (good day) and ‘Comment allez-vous?’ (how are you?)

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Both English and French are official languages, although French is by far the most understood language. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the lingua franca in some areas. A mixture of English, French, and Pidgin called Camfranglais has been gaining popularity in urban centres since the mid-1970s. The government encourages English and French bilingualism, and official documents are published in both languages.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in Cameroon. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Popular music styles include ambasse bey of the coast, assiko of the Bassa, mangambeu of the Bangangte, and tsamassi of the Bamileke. Nigerian music has influenced Anglophone Cameroonian performers. The two most popular styles of music are makossa and bikutsi. Makossa developed in Douala and mixes folk music, highlife, soul, and Congo music. Performers such as Manu Dibango, Francis Bebey, Moni Bilé, and Petit-Pays popularised the style worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s. Bikutsi originated as war music among the Ewondo. Artists such as Anne-Marie Nzié developed it into a popular dance music beginning in the 1940s, and performers such as Mama Ohandja and Les Têtes Brulées popularised it internationally during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

For a taste of music from Cameroon, listen to Anne-Marie Nzié’s Beza Ba Dzo.

Elephants in Waza National Park, Cameroon.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Dance is an integral part of Cameroonian ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling. Traditional dances are highly choreographed. The goals of dances range from pure entertainment to religious devotion. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally. In a typical performance, a chorus of singers echoes a soloist. Traditional dances segregate dancers based on age, occupation, sex, social status, and other factors. Some dances require special costumes and props such as masks or fans. Professional dancers make a living among some ethnic groups, and other professionals perform at national festivals and for tourists. Popular dance, wherein men and women dance together, is found in Cameroon’s bars, nightclubs, and private parties. This style is closely tied with popular music, such as makossa, bikutsi, highlife, and hip hop. Dancing is an important avenue of social protest and political rallying in the country. Cameroon is home to more than 200 different traditional dances.

Watch traditional Assiko dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Nyem-Nyem Festival

Held during July in Ngaoundéré, a city in the Adamawa area, the Nyem-Nyem Festival is held to commemorate the resistance movement of the Nyem-Nyem people against German control. Locals come out in full force, showing their support for those who fought for the region’s independence. The occasion is marked by cultural dances with full traditional attire.

Culture Week

Observed in either August or September, Culture Week takes place all over Cameroon. The youth travel back to their villages to pay respect to their families and ancestors. The week also involves music shows, wrestling matches, sports games and traditional dances that involve sacred masks.

African Theater Festival for Children and Young People (FATEJ)

November in Cameroon marks the exciting arrival of the FATEJ. Held every two years in Yaoundé, the festival brings together young people from across Africa and around the world to participate in theatre workshops delivered by industry professionals. The event is a great opportunity for troupes around the country to hone their craft in a cosmopolitan and collaborative environment.

Festival National des Arts et de la Culture (FENAC)

FENAC is the largest festival in Cameroon that has no religious affiliation. Simply a celebration of the country’s vibrant arts scene, artists from all over help to grow the event and promote the rich heritage of the region. Taking place in Moroua in December, FENAC is characterized by lively parades, colorful music and dance shows.

9. What are the seasons like?

The climate varies with terrain, from tropical along the coast to semiarid and hot in the north. Exceedingly hot and humid, the coastal belt includes some of the wettest places on earth. For example, Debundscha, at the base of Mt. Cameroon, has an average annual rainfall of 10,300 millimetres (405 in). Almost everywhere, there is a dry season in winter and a rainy season in summer due to the African monsoon, which is shorter in the north and longer in the south, while along the coast, even in winter there can be some showers. The northernmost part of the country, on the shores of Lake Chad, is the driest area, where less than 600 millimeters (23.5 inches) of rain fall per year

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Paul Biya has been the President of Cameroon since 1982. A native of Cameroon’s south, Biya rose rapidly as a bureaucrat under President Ahmadou Ahidjo in the 1960s, serving as Secretary-General of the Presidency from 1968 to 1975 and then as Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982. He succeeded Ahidjo as president upon the latter’s surprise resignation in 1982 and consolidated power in a 1983–1984 staged attempted coup. The regime is supported by France, which supplies it with weapons and trains its repressive forces. France is the leading foreign investor, ahead of the United States.

Biya introduced political reforms within the context of a one-party system in the 1980s. Under serious pressure, he accepted the introduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s. Opposition politicians and Western governments have alleged voting irregularities and fraud on numerous occasions. President Biya is currently the longest-ruling non-royal leader in the world.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Cameroon’s main industries are petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, and ship repair. Its major exports include crude oil, cocoa beans, coffee, and cotton. France is Cameroon’s main trading partner and source of private investment and foreign aid.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include Mount Cameroon, Dja Faunal Reserve, Lobé Falls, Korup National Park, and the National Museum in Yaounde.

Douala, Cameroon.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Cuisine varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on cocoyams, maize, cassava (manioc), millet, plantains, potatoes, rice, or yams, often pounded into dough-like fufu. This is served with a sauce, soup, or stew made from greens, groundnuts, palm oil, or other ingredients. Meat and fish are popular but expensive additions, with chicken often reserved for special occasions.Dishes are often quite hot, spiced with salt, red pepper sauce, and noodles. French bread is widely consumed as part of breakfast in Francophone areas.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

Cameroon uses the Central African CFA franc. (1 USD = approximately 588 CFA).

3 Course meal: 6,000 CFA
Domestic beer: 600 CFA
Cup of coffee: 700 CFA
Coca cola (330ml): 470 CFA
Milk (1l): 1,200 CFA
Loaf of white bread: 300 CFA
Apples (1 kg): 1,400 CFA
Water (1.5l): 400 CFA

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Travel to the far north, within 40 km of the Nigerian border, within 40 km of the Chad border, and within 40 km of the Central African Republic border is not advised.Travel is also not advised in the towns of Buea, Muyuka, and Tiko.
  • There are Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa terrorism risks in Cameroon, especially in the northern regions.
  • Health authorities have classified Cameroon as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.
  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
  • Travel at night should be avoided.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Richard Bona, a Grammy Award-winning bassist.
  • Marc-Vivien Foé, a footballer who played as a midfielder for both club and country.
  • Véronique Mang, a track and field sprint athlete, competing internationally for France.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Image sources: Amcaja [1], [2], Emiliano Gandolfi [3].