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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].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Cabo Verde

Facts you may not have know about Cabo Verde:

Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, and forms part of the Macronesia ecoregion. In ancient times these islands were referred to as “the Islands of the Blessed” or the “Fortunate Isles”. Located 570 kilometers (350 miles) west of the Cabo Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 sq miles).

Cabo Verde has a population of approximately 540,000, and is a unitary, semi-presidential republic. Cabo Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and began using a multi-party system in 1990.

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

A handshake is a very common greeting, and some people may prefer to greet by kissing on the cheek. Useful phrases include “olá” (hello). “modi bu sta?” (how are you?), and “te logu” (goodbye).

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Cabo Verde has one official language – Portuguese.

It is the language of instruction and government, and is also used in newspapers, television, and radio. Cape Verdean Creole, a dialect continuum of Portuguese-based creole, is a recognized national language. It is used colloquially, and is the mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans.

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 Cape Verde. 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?

Cape Verde music incorporates African, Portuguese, and Brazilian influences. Cape Verde’s quintessential national music is the morna, a melancholy and lyrical song form typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. The most popular music genre after morna is the coladeira, followed by funaná and batuque music. Cesária Évora is a well-known Cape Verdean singer worldwide, known as the “barefoot diva”, because she liked to perform barefooted on stage. Other popular singers include Sara Tavares, Lura, and Mayra Andrade.

For a taste of Cabo Verdean music, listen to Cesária Évora’s Bia Lulucha.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Two major traditional dances are the funaná (accompanied by accordion-based music), and the batuque (which is danced in a circle, and accompanied by singing only).

Watch traditional batuque dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Carnival 

Taking place each February or March, this is Cabo Verde’s most famous festival. The carnival is characterized by revellers cladded in fancy dresses who throng streets creating an electrifying atmosphere with the beat of good music. There is an entertaining float procession, with incredible, flamboyant costumes against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

The Flag Feast

This festival takes place on April 30th, on the island of Fogo. The festival starts with the ritual of women peeling and pounding maize in a pestle to the beat of the drum. The flags are important symbols and are blessed in water. Fogo males compete in horse races to have the honour of organizing next year’s event. The event combines a ceremonial mass and street party.

Sete Sóis e Sete Luas

Taking place in Ribeira Grande, on the island of Santo Antao, this festival offers superb music and culture. The name means ‘Seven Suns and Seven Moons’.

9. What are the seasons like?

Cape Verde’s climate is milder than that of the African mainland, because the surrounding sea moderates temperatures on the islands and cold Atlantic currents produce an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. Conversely, the islands do not receive the upwellings (cold streams) that affect the West African coast, so the air temperature is cooler than in Senegal, but the sea is warmer, because the orographic relief of some islands, such as Santiago with steep mountains, cover it with rich woods and luxuriant vegetation. Average daily high temperatures range from 26 °C (79 °F) in February to 31 °C (87.8 °F) in September. It rains irregularly between August and October.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Jorge Carlos Fonseca has led the country since 2011. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1991 to 1993. President Fonseca studied law, which he lectured at the University of Lisbon. He was also Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Law and Social Sciences in Cape Verde. The President has been married to Lígia Fonseca since 1989.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Cape Verde’s notable economic growth and improvement in living conditions despite a lack of natural resources has garnered international recognition, with other countries and international organizations often providing development aid. The economy of Cape Verde is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Although nearly 35% of the population lives in rural areas, agriculture and fishing contribute only about 9% of GDP. Light manufacturing accounts for most of the remainder. Cabo Verde has cooperation with Portugal at every level of the economy, and in 2007, joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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

Major tourist attractions include Pico do Fogo (a stratovolcano), Buracona (a popular lagoon and cave), Monte Verde (the highest peak in Cabo Verde, with beautiful views), and Praia da Atalanta beach.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Popular drinks include Strela (a beer produced in the capital), and several varieties of wines from Chã das Caldeiras, including Santa Luzia and Brava.

14. What is a popular local dish?

The Cape Verde diet is mostly based on fish and staple foods like corn and rice. A popular dish served in Cape Verde is cachupa, a slow cooked stew of corn (hominy), beans, and fish or meat. A common appetizer is the pastel, which is a pastry shell filled with fish or meat that is then fried.

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

Cabo Verde’s currency is the Cabo Verdean Escudo. (1 USD = approximately 97 Cabo Verdean Escudo).

3 Course meal: 1,500 CVE
Domestic beer: 170 CVE
Cup of coffee: 130 CVE
Coca cola (330ml): 110 CVE
Milk (1l): 110 CVE
Loaf of white bread: 110 CVE
Apples (1 kg): 275 CVE
Water (1.5l): 90 CVE

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep sight of your belongings at all times. Leave valuables in a hotel safe if possible and don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Avoid unlit areas after dark.
  • Petty crimes like pick-pocketing or handbag snatching can occur, including on beaches.
  • Make sure your holiday accommodation is secure. Lock all doors and windows at night and when you go out.
  • Sexual assaults are rare but they do occur. Be alert and avoid secluded stretches of the beach with limited or restricted visibility.
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage when traveling via Boa Vista airport.
  • Make sure your car or bike is in good condition, and insured.

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

  • Cesária Évora, a popular singer. She has appeared on local bank notes and stamps, and was awarded the Grand-Cross of the Order of Prince Henry, Portugal.
  • Lidiane Lopes, a Cape Verdean sprinter who specializes in the 100 meters and 200 meters. She is a 100 meters record holder, and competed at both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Ryan Mendes, a Cape Verdean football winger who plays for Sharjah in the UAE.

 

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],  Rainer Strehl [3].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Burundi

Facts you may not have know about Burundi:

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country amid the African Great Lakes region where East and Central Africa converge.

Burundi has a population of approximately 10.5 million, and gained independence from Belgium in 1962.

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

A handshake with the right hand is the most common form of greeting. At any time of the day, it is common and appropriate to greet others saying amakuru (‘what’s the news?’). Amakuru comes from the verb gukura which means ‘to grow,’ or ‘to become big.’ Consequently, you are not asking about just any news, but the headlines, the big news. The answer is n’amahoro (‘it is peaceful,’ or ‘it is calm’).

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Burundi has three official languages – Kirundi, French, and English. Swahili can be found spoken along the Tanzanian border and it has some official recognition by law as a language “spoken and taught” in the country. Kirundi is spoken by the vast majority of the population.

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 Burundi. 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?

The drum such as the karyenda is one of central importance. Internationally, the country has produced the music group Royal Drummers of Burundi. One feature of Burundian men’s folk songs is the presence of an inanga, a type of stringed zither. Other popular instruments include Ingoma drums, made from tree trunks, and the inzogera, a closed bell. Popular Burundian-Belgian musicians include Khadija Nin, Ciza Muhirwa, and Éric Baranyanka.

For a taste of Burundian music, listen to Khadija Nin’s Wale Watu.

Burundian Presidential Palace.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Traditional dance is strong within Burundian culture, and often accompanies the drumming, which is frequently seen in celebrations and family gatherings. Some Burundian artisans have special songs to accompany different stages of their work.

Watch an traditional drumming-dance performance from Burundi here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Sorghum festival (umuganuro)

A magnificent display of traditional dances by court dancers (intore). Also participating in the festival are drummers beating the Karyenda (“sacred drum”), an emblem of the monarchy—their performance is intended to give both musical and symbolic resonance to this festival and to other ceremonial occasions.

Sauti Za busara

This festival brings people together to celebrate African music under African skies. The 17th edition will take place in Stone Town, Zanzibar from 13th – 16th February 2020. It will feature over 400 musicians over 4 days, as well as a parade and fringe events by the local community.

9. What are the seasons like?

Burundi in general has a tropical highland climate, with a considerable daily temperature range in many areas. Temperature also varies considerably from one region to another, chiefly as a result of differences in altitude. The central plateau enjoys pleasantly cool weather, with an average temperature of 20° C (68° F ). The area around Lake Tanganyika is warmer, averaging 23° C (73° F ); the highest mountain areas are cooler, averaging 16° C (60° F ). Bujumbura’s average annual temperature is 23° C (73° F ). Rain is irregular, falling most heavily in the northwest. Dry seasons vary in length, and there are sometimes long periods of drought. However, four seasons can be distinguished: the long dry season (June–August), the short wet season (September–November), the short dry season (December–January), and the long wet season (February to May). Most of Burundi receives between 130 and 160 cm (51–63 in) of rainfall a year. The Ruzizi Plain and the northeast receive between 75 and 100 cm (30–40 in).

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Pierre Nkurunziza has served in the position since 2005. He was the Chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the ruling party, until he was elected as President of Burundi. On 7 June 2018, Nkurunziza announced that he would not seek another term and step down when his current term ends in 2020. He was born in Bujumbura, and has a wife and 5 children.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The economy is predominantly agricultural, accounting for 50% of GDP in 2017 and employing more than 90% of the population. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. Burundi’s primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, though exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Other agricultural products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk and hides.

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

Major tourist attractions include the Kibira National Park, Ruvubu National Park, Ruzizi River Park, and National Museum of Gitega.

Traditional dance performed in Burundi.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Popular drinks include urwarwa (homemade banana wine) and impeke (beer brewed from sorghum).

14. What is a popular local dish?

Burundi cuisine is very representative of the African culinary culture, as it includes beans, which are the staple of Burundi cooking, exotic fruits (mainly bananas), plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, peas, maize and cereals, like corn and wheat. Profiteroles are also sometimes enjoyed as a rare delicacy. Not much meat is consumed in Burundi, because animal breeding is a secondary occupation; still, there are some dishes that include goat and sheep meat but cows are very sacred.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. 1,835 Burundian francs)

Burundi’s currency is the Burundian franc.

3 Course meal: 19,000 francs
Domestic beer: 2,000 francs
Cup of coffee: 3,200 francs
Coca cola (330ml): 1,500 francs
Milk (1l): 1,200 francs
Loaf of white bread: 2,000 francs
Apples (1 kg): 3,200 francs
Water (1.5l): 2,200 francs

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Do not walk around Bujumbura at night.
  • The road north of Bujumbura towards Cibitoke should be avoided.
  • Do not attempt to visit the Parc National de la Kibira or Parc National de la Ruvubu.
  • Do not travel anywhere by road at night.
  • Avoid the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border areas.
  • Carry your passport at all times.

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

  • Khadja Nin, a singer and musician. Her first album was released in 1992, and sung in Swahili.
  • Vénuste Niyongabo, a former middle-distance runner. Niyongabo won a silver medal in the 1500 m at the 1992 World Junior Championships and also came fourth over 800 metres.

 

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: musiccity [1], [2], [3].