News / Africa

    Chinese Goods Top Christmas Wish List In Cameroon

    In Cameroon, as elsewhere, Christmas is often accompanied by consumer spending sprees on food, clothes and toys. Across the Central African nation of 20 million inhabitants, dwindling purchasing power and a lack of local manufactured goods have given Chinese imports an edge. Low-priced products from the Asian economic powerhouse are the most-preferred this Christmas.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    For many in predominantly Chrisian Cameroon, Christmas without new dresses, playthings and extraordinary food is unthinkable.  Family breadwinners must provide them all for their spouses, kids and other dependents to guarantee a happy and peaceful holiday.

    Across the country this year, the traditional hustle and bustle that usually heralds the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ started off slowly.  Until a few days ago, traders grumbled about poor sales, fearing they may end up with piles of unsold stocks of the seasonal Christmas goods.

    Civil servants complained the government had failed to pay their salaries on time.  Others said they were waiting for the last minute rush and a possible drop in prices.  As a result, most markets nationwide only recently witnessed an upsurge in sales in the final days to Christmas.

    Gifts made in China, the preference of many consumers this Christmas in Cameroon.
    Gifts made in China, the preference of many consumers this Christmas in Cameroon.

    In the country’s most-populated city and economic nub Douala, the vast majority of Christmas shoppers prefer low-priced Chinese goods. Many said imported products from other parts of the world like Europe and America are far beyond their reach.  They  addedthat with as little as little as five dollars, it is possible to buy a dress and a pair of shoes.

    Soaring demand

    Throughout the streets of Douala and other major urban settlements, the soaring demand for Chinese dresses, toys, medicines, motorbikes and electronic appliances among others has led to cutthroat competition for street-side commercial space between Chinese nationals and their Cameroonian hosts.

    Economists say the failure of the country to manufacture consumer goods and the heavy dependence on imports has favored the steady influx over the years of Chinese products.

    Calixtus Fuh Gentry is the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Mines, Industries and Technological Development.  He said the situation is not peculiar to Cameroon.

    "China is bailing out the whole," said Gentry. "The U.S. owes China lots of money. China is bailing out Europe. So it’s not that we’re rushing to China. The very partners we started with, who are internationally renowned companies from very highly industrialized countries are heading to China to get financing, or they’re bought out by the Chinese."

    However, a fraction of Cameroonian consumers said they would not, for anything in the world, spend a dime on Chinese goods for Christmas. For them, the more expensive products from Europe or America are better because they last longer.

    Demand for consumer electronics

    Despite the ongoing debate, Chinese products have clearly topped the wish lists for many this Christmas in Cameroon.  Among the choice items for shoppers are educational electronic toys and gadgets including laptops.

    Many parents say they have noted with delight the absence of toy weapons on the markets this season.  They say it is an indication that years of lobbying against them are finally paying off.

    Elsewhere, some are frowning at the increasing commercialization of Christmas over the years.  Ursula Njefrey, a member of the Holy Trinity Choir of the Presbyterian Church in the capital Yaoundé, said the growing attention on material at Christmas is blurring the real meaning of Christmas for many.

    "Christmas is a season for reconciliation, for peace, for love," she said. For those who cannot afford to buy gifts, or don't believe in purchased ones, she offers songs,and greetings, of the season instead.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora