The Geographical Location Of Cameroon Cultural Studies Essay

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Cameroon is located in centre Africa and shares its geographical boundaries with Chad, Nigeria, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea. It has an area of 475,440 Km; its climate varies from topical along the coasted region like the city of Douala and hot in the North. The population of Cameroon is estimated to be 16,380,005 people with a variety of ethnic groups with two official languages English and French. It has ten Administrative provinces with Yaounde as its capital and Douala as its economic Capital. These two cities are the highest in the country in terms of demographic growth with rural urban migration and immigrants from neighboring countries who flock the cities either for businesses reasons or seeking refuge

History of Douala and Yaounde

Douala city is found at the coastal region of Cameroon precisely Littoral Province of Cameroon. Douala was discovered in about 1472 by the Portuguese and it has become a site of a city formed by immigrants from the interior of Cameroon and other neighbouring countries. This city was known as the Cameroon town before it became under the German rule in 1884.It was also the capital of German Cameroon. The city of Douala is built along the banks of river wouri, the two sides of the city are linked by the Douala Bridge, "The Wouri Bridge", and this city has a multiplicity of colonial, traditional, and modern architecture making the city a complex one. Immediately after the Second World War the city grew very rapidly in terms of demography and infrastructure. The demographic rate was estimated to be 2.5 million people who were termed the fastest growing rate of urbanization. Chebo K. Asangwe 20004.

Douala city is the largest city in the country and it is also the economic and commercial capital of Cameroon. It of the country's import and export. It is the country's industrial centre. Couple with training schools industrial, research institutes for health and the country's commercial university. It has a Museum and a handicraft centre which encourage the production and preservation of Cameroon Art


Yaoundé is the second largest city of the country and has an estimated population of 1,430,000 in 2004. It is the capital city of Cameroon and lies in the centre of the country at about 750 meters above sea level. Yaoundé is situated on the hill and forest plateau of Nyong and Nsanaga Rivers. It also has few of the country's industries next to Douala. Yaounde city was founded in 1888 by the German traders as a base for the ivory trade and n agricultural research station. This city is the best in the country in terms of modern infrastructure particularly with regards to Governments Ministries.

These cities are the most populated in the country because of what their attractive businesses and other social amenities rural urban migration seems to be so rampart in these cities and thus caused a problem to the growth of the cities. Therefore this paper will seek to look at the in flock of people to the cities and the government measures to redress the degenerating state of the cities.

What Makes Yaounde and Douala a City?

Job Opportunities;

These cities offer the highest level of employment chances to the Cameroonian citizens, Douala has an estimated population of 2.5 million city dwellers, fastest growing rate of urbanization.(Chebo k Asangure 2006). The availability of the only sea port of the country which is the sole entering port of goods to and from the country creates wage earning opportunities for most Cameroonians. The attraction of job paid opportunities draw especially young people unemployed in their rural and traditional areas to nearby cities like Yaounde and Douala The unpaid labor in the family plot is out weighed by the search for a "better life" with its own financial rewards. Thus looking for a better life is a reflect, the search to find ways to make ends meet, to get better housing to secure paid job opportunities, quest for personal wellbeing is an internalized obligation. This makes the rural influck to these cities very rampant. Douala and Yaounde offer job opportunities to all categories of people, the educated and the uneducated, jobs that need skill labor and unskilled labor. The educated are those employed in the modern sectors like banking, accouters, secretaries, managers, manufacturers, just to name a few. While the uneducated are involved in clearing jobs around public buildings, markers, roads, transportation of finished goods to the markets for sale.

Modern Infrastructure

Douala and Yaounde owns most of the sophisticated and magnificent architecture in the country. Well structured and planned towns with accessible roads to each corner of the cities. The government administrative buildings posed the most modern architectures in the country with about thirty to fifty flours. This attract most people in the rural areas to move to the cities in order to visit these areas, just the historical grand tour of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, people with the means and inclination to do so have been drawn to towns and cities just to visit and experience a multiplicity of things to see and do pilgrims in the cities like Canterbury.(Karski 1990:15.). Douala and Yaounde have both become cities of attraction for other towns of Cameroon thus people visit these cities just for sight seeing and to have fun with friends and families.

Social Amenities

Douala and Yaounde offer most of the country's social amenities; they have one of the best hospitals in the country. All these hospitals serve as reference hospitals to the most complicated cases around the country. Educationally these two cities have the country's best educational training and professional schools from primary to University levels, vocation, technical and general education. Social places for relaxation like football stadium, Douala and Yaounde had the largest stadiums in the country. During international and national competition people from rural areas flock in to these cities to watch games. With all these social facilities this has made Douala and Yaounde cities.

Factors that caused Rural Urban Migration

The reasons why people move from rural areas to urban areas varied. Rural urban migration depends on an individual it is a notion that can only be defined by the individual concerned. Most people in the rural areas migrate to urban areas because they believe life in the village seemed stagnant to them "who demanded more stimuli and yearned for modern life with bigger crowds access to novelties such as walkman, radios and music tapes, fancy cloths and money in their pockets" Johnathan Baker and Paul Ove Pedersen (2000) .The jobs in the rural areas are poorly paid thus they are attracted to the heavy paid package in urban areas.

The urban areas offer social amenities; Douala and Yaoundé are believed to offer social amenities to it dwellers that are to get better housing, to secure education and vocational training, good hospitals, nice areas for relaxation.

Family reunion most of the rural urban migrants move to cities because they want to met their spouse. "Migrant women appear to be housewives who accompany their husbands to the cities; these women are not economically active and may even employ "mother's helpers" usually teenage girls from their own villages to help them with house work and child care. James T Fawcett, Siew- Ean Khoo, Peter C. Smith 1984, 137


Congestion and over Crowding.

This is the major factor that gives the other side of Douala and Yaounde cities bisque. The fact that the cites offer jobs to all genres of people, educated and uneducated, skilled and unskilled labor makes the cities very congested and over crowded. With the high demographic growth the space is limited to contain the massive number of immigrants flocking in every day. With the hardship of these cities there is shortage of housing since the infrastructure cannot contain all the city dwellers. Most people from the same rural areas are bound to have mutual reinforcement where they can inhabit the same locality and where they can own housing. Aidan Southals 1973. Especially the urban poor rely heavily on their own personal networks based on kinship, caste, village and religion of origin. Hence group that share a common identity tend to cluster together in residence. James T Fawcett Siew-Ean Khov, Peter C. Smith 1984. This is very typical of the Bamileke immigrants who have occupied the area of Douala city known as "New Bell" where under a roof with poor sanitary condition two to five families live. Thus the living condition of its inhabitant's present a strong contrast to great wealth created in the industrial zone Azcapotzalco Vallejo. For example in relation to housing problem there is an average of 6 person per dwelling 20 percent the house lack drainage "Nanneke Bedclift and Enzomingione 1985. Therefore you may find a house with thirty persons living in a two bed room house. This gives a very dark and dead picture of what is termed a city.

The fact that Yaounde and Douala cities serves as a ground where one can survive in so far as you can fight the hardship of a city life. Giving the fact that communication net work is very poor and slow, bad roads and limited public transport, the fastest and cheapest means of communication is the use of "Bensi Skin" the use of Motor bikes. This job is mostly done by school dropped outs and unemployed University graduates. The streets of Douala and Yaounde are crowded with Ben Skins which caused circulation very slow usually called "Amboutiage". The worst story about this means of communication is that they registered the highest level of accidents per year. The problem of congestion and overcrowding in these two cities has made the cities a horrible place to move around.

High Criminal Rate-Insecurity

Despite numerous police stations in the cities of Yaounde and Douala, there still exist high criminal rate and insecurity. The City dwellers who can afford to have a job ands lacks money to set up a small business to fend for their lives. They engaged themselves in social ills like prostitution, theft, and forged identities. Couple to this, urban and industrial life is characterized by the interdependent that stems from division of labor, thus if the public transport workers go on strike the whole city may be thrown in chaos and if one group of workers down tools they may endanger the employment of thousands of others . For example during the economic crisis of the 1980s in Cameroon, the vulnerability of this process of wage labor, formation was exposed and its instability as a base for urbanization was demonstrated. The insecurity of workers in important dependent industries was exposed when the bottom fell out of the oil boom, the was mass redundancies and real wages fell so much that an extra job on the side .Johnathan Baker and Poul Ove Pedersen 2002 like prostitution, and banditry. This make the cities of Douala and Yaounde a living but a death people living but in total fear because of social insecurity and high spread of diseases like AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases since many female layed out of work could only sell their bodies to fend for themselves and their families.

Lax Government Policies

The fact that the cities of Douala and Yaounde have a laissez faire government altitude where people are allowed to build wherever they want without following or respecting the government's town and city planning map. People even build on public spaces, houses are even constructed and abandoned uncompleted in the heart of the cities making the cities looked like a ruined area of war. For example in urban Cameroon, architectural rumor is a powerful force . Space built and un-built alike are its focus. On structure a hulking tower, stands near the administrative centre of Yaounde, unfinished it remained for years gathering soot and grimes after its construction was brought to a halt by the staggering economic crisis of the mid-80s and 90s. For well over decade, it serves a refuge for thieves and the homeless. Dominique Malaquais Article Course Reader 2009. This building is right at the middle of the city of Yaoundé and it has an inscription on it " Immeuble de la Mort" the house of the death which creates a fearsome reputation for the city dwellers as a place of danger and death giving the city of Yaounde a darker picture.

Social Disorder

Yaounde and Douala cities are marked by social disorder and chaos city dwellers do carry on their activities no respectful of cultural law, law to them is a thing far fetch. Just like in other African cities Douala and Yaounde have limited space for its dwellers thus they find no option than to abandon their religion and cultural values to survive. They use the public cemetery for many uses for example those have got no homes use this for their homes at night. These cemeteries are also used as a place for money making by the unemployed like the case of the cemetery in Kinshasa in Proffesor Filip De Boek Invisible Kinshasa 2009 course Reader where young well as the old see it as a business place where money can be made. There exist mysterious killing in the cities of Yaounde and Douala" mysterious killing in the cities suggest that some of these may have been kidnapped and murdered for ritual purpose. Murder for money Jane I Guyer, LaRay Denzer Adigun Agbaje 2002 these cities have been come a dreadful place, people live in total fear a contrast of what is meant to be a city.

Waste Disposal and Pollution

These are the fundamental factors that give a darker view to the cities of Douala and Yaounde. In Africa especially in Cameroon traditionally villages grow into town and cities, the authorities simply pick up the rubbish and dump it on the road side at the edge of he built up area. Richard E. Stren and Rodney R. White 1989.In Douala and Yaounde part of the road sides are covered with waste from kitchen and even dead animals, this waste is not been covered or managed at times it caused traffic jam since the continues dumping of this waste have formed small mountains at the road side this gives an ugly picture of the city space. Also these cities are characterized with all types of pollution. Sound pollution and environmental pollution etc. A city like Douala is on a level sandy ground this makes the drainage system very poor, because of its marshy nature water can no be easily absorb into the ground thus waste water from toilets and industries are seen flowing in sallow gutters. This is a very big problem to the dwellers because they are often attacked by air and water born diseases like cholera.


As Africa's urban areas grow in population and land areas at historically unprecedented rates, governments face increasing pressures to provide efficient services and effective infrastructure, and to coordinate and manage a wide range of public and private sector activities at the local level. The pressure are becoming even more compelling in the 1980s Richard E. Stren 1989. Basic urban infrastructure like water supply, garbage removal, housing, public transportation and inadequate and deteriorating states. The Ministry of Urban and Town planning and her policy of urban and cities reconstruction is trying to improve in national housing fiancé systems urban management and planning, local government revenue generation. Marshy areas in the cities are reclaimed and government structures are set up to reduced congestion and to improve the living condition of citizens' accommodation. Marshy land has been reclaimed at Messa in Yaounde and thousands of Cities dwellers are occupying these houses at very cheap and affordable prices.

Still under government policy people who were occupying areas owned by the government or shanty houses built at the heart of the cities and incomplete houses in the cities are destroyed by the Ministry of Urban and town planning and new modern buildings are reconstructed. Giving the cities a neat and beautiful scene, special structure and modern infrastructure are built with same color painting making the buildings to have a unique and uniform color. Before an individual builds a house in the city of Yaounde, he has to obtain permission form the Ministry of Urban and town Planning inorder to follow the plan of the town. Also in accordance with the government policy each Municipality in each city likes the Yaounde and Douala urban Delegates are dong their best to give their cities what they deserve. They have reacted to the perceptions about of uncontrolled urban growth by attempting to impose a modicum of "order" on towns and cities. In seeking to secure urban environment conducive to efficient enterprise and good governance, they have tried to institute politico administrative systems for urban management and regulate urban land use ( Halfani 1996, Rakodi 2002: 46, 67, 68, vaa 2002 Course Reader 2009/2010. This government policy has helped to map the cities roads are constructed in all parts so that there is easy accessibility to all part of the cities reducing traffic jams in the cities. Pedestrian paths are constructed no more mix up of people and cars on the same path. Houses built two meters from the main roads are demolished making the streets airy and spacious. Houses built along the street should be modern and neat, no more shades along the roads sides, no more small set up businesses along the street new markets are constructed where all the traders along the streets can sell their goods. This has given the cities of Yaounde and Douala a free and secured place because there is no more congestion in many parts of the streets except for commercial areas.

The Ministry of Urban and Town planning couple with couple with the Ministry of transport are doing a great job in communication net work in the cities of Douala and Yaounde. The construction of impressive transport and communication networks, the new technology is admired and fetishes, promoting the myth of progress and modernizations an automatic means of producing a better society. Course Reader 2009/2010. Major roads in the cities are renovated port holes are filled, drainage systems are constructed so that water can not longer stand on the road causing port holes. Inter quarter roads are also constructed linking one part of the city to another.

The Ministry of Public Health together with the Municipalities of the cities of Douala and Yaounde called Communes are working Hand in glove to keep the cities neat and health for its city dwellers. They essentially involve in three areas Public cleaning and urban planning, social services such as public health education and sport. The Communes have exclusive powers to collect and treat household refuse. Richard E. Stren and Rodney R. White 1989.They have set up a company called HYSACAM responsible in clearing all the rubbish on the road sides, cleaning of public spaces like the markets hospital and schools. Trash cans are kept at all corners of the roads where pedestrians often used. Individuals are also supplied with trash cans that are collect twice a week. This rubbish is recycled for agricultural use like manure; the cities of Yaounde and Douala do not no longer carry a flirty face since the areas where garbage was deposited has been transformed to flower gardens given the cities a beautiful and enjoyable place to live. Public toilet are constructed all over the cities where people can answered their nature call unlike before where people do it just at the road sides polluting the whole area. Abandoned and bad cars are removed from the road side for recycling, public parking spaces are provided with very minimum rate for the average Cameroonian.

Government sport complex are built all round the cities for relaxation and to fight stress, good Counties are also set up around the busy areas of the cities where one can have a snack and a cold drink at any time of the day with clean and modern services.

Trees are planted along the road sides giving comfort to pedestrians during hot weather, small shades are also constructed by the Communes along the high ways were people can sit and wait for their taxis, Police checked points have also increased in the cities to check and track down criminals thus, there is much more security moving in these cities for the past three years.

The Impact of the City Dwellers

In Cameroon the informal sector of the economy is handled by the city dweller. "Call Box" a new form of self employment .Call Boxes have sprang up around the cities of Yaounde and Douala where people are involved in telephone businesses. This an informal sector of the economy where people are self employed with their little capital just to earn a living. They set an umbrella at the corner of each main commercial area where people move in and out. Call made is just 75 franc CFA this business is mostly done by women and young girls. This existence of Urban informal economic opportunities have given other predisposing conditions to a considerable increase in the volume of female migration resulting in shifting sex ratios in the cities and migration pattern Carynnk- Sinclair 1974.

Giving the fact that communication net work is very poor and slow, bad roads and limited public transport, the fastest and cheapest means of communication is the use of "Bensi Skin" the use of Motor bikes. This job is mostly done by school dropped outs and unemployed University graduates. The streets of Douala and Yaounde are crowded with Ben Skins which is the fast means of circulation since the roads are very bad. They are very helpful in these cities because the poorest Cameroonian can afford this means of transportation.

Because of employment, most of the city dwellers involved themselves in informal activities which imply low direct income and the absence of indirect income health housing, and social security benefits. Informality is also identified with illegality like banditry, prostitution; and even cultic practices to earn a living. Nanneke Redclift and Enzo Mingione 1985. In Douala especially cultic practice is taken the orders of the day many city dwellers who can not find a job and need to have ends meet prefer to have quick money. National newspaper carried a cover story titled "Murder for Money" describing how ritual killers were spreading agony in the country. The Murders seem to coincide with a phenomenal emergence of nouveax riches amid the country's ongoing economic hardship Jane I Guyer, Laaray Denzer, Adigun Agbaje 2002


The theory developed from this study is that there .exists urban rural relationship due the urban hardship; city dwellers always do hold ties back home for moral support. The city seems very expensive because of high demand and low supply of goods and commodities like food stuff. The city dwellers fall back to the villages for the supply of food. Thus there is a strong pressure on individual's members to preserve an image of them as essentially rurally oriented. These people take every opportunity of retiring to their rural homes Aidan Southall 1973