News / Africa

Some Losing Christmas Spirit in Cameroon

Cameroonian hawker in Douala sells Chinese products for Christmas (VOA / D. Ntaryike)
Cameroonian hawker in Douala sells Chinese products for Christmas (VOA / D. Ntaryike)
Ntaryike Divine Jr.
At one time, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ was a big deal across predominantly Christian Cameroon. Worshippers of the Biblical savior, Muslims and even pagans in the Central African nation usually began preparations way in advance.

But in recent years, Christmas has steadily been losing appeal in many Cameroonian households. 

There seems to be a lack of enthusiasm apparent this year as I stroll along the major shopping districts of Cameroon’s largest city Douala. 

It’s only a few hours to Christmas day, and yet, I can hardly hear any carols blaring from roadside speakers. Only a small number of shop fronts and trees along the street are adorned with characteristic Christmas decorations.

On the streets, sweat-soaked hawkers and visibly nervous shop vendors are shouting discounts in an effort to entice scant numbers of last-minute Christmas shoppers. 

On trader tells me she has imported a container of toys, dresses, ornaments and electronic appliances, but has not sold up to a quarter of the seasonal goods.  She says she’ll either incur huge losses by selling the rest at giveaway prices or be stuck with them for one year.

Reports from rural areas indicate similar declines in enthusiasm.  About half of Cameroon’s 20 million inhabitants live in poverty and family wage-earners say the escalating cost of living no longer permits extravagant expenditures.

"The Christmas spirit is not still in me.  It’s not like it’s only me because even when you move on the streets, you don’t feel it," one Douala resident tells me. 

"I think," says another, "it’s because of the economic crisis we’re facing at this moment.  When you go to the markets and shopping centers, you see less people.  It’s not like the previous years."

In some homes, there’s tension.  According to the press, spouses are threatening divorce and kids are on the verge of unrest.  They don’t understand why they’re not getting budgets to cook special meals or for new dresses and toys.  

This might have been good news for some clergymen who have over the years frowned at the overly materialistic and commercial influences on Christmas.  But this year, there’s even apathy among some of the faithful.

"I don’t quite remember the last time I went for Christmas Eve," one man tells me. " It’s been about 4 or 5 years I’ve not been to church on Christmas Day and it’s really unfortunate because for a Christian, God is not going to be very happy with us."

"What if I go to church in the morning and then in the afternoon I don’t have anything to eat?  Then why will I be going to church?," says another.

One group stands out in the fairly subdued mood -- Chinese traders.  

Amid widespread inflation and the absence of locally manufactured goods, they’ve again topped sales charts with comparatively cheap products. Among the big sellers are three-piece suits for kids now selling for as little as five dollars.

"Chinese, yes.  Because we Africans have a bigger family so we’re thinking about everybody.  You cannot go and start buying expensive.  You buy cheaper and satisfy everybody," one shopper confides.

"I opt for Chinese goods because they’re cheaper even though they’re not durable but they provide much for less money," says another.

In the meantime, economists predict Christmases will be subdued as as long as the gloomy business climate and high unemployment rates continue.

Listen to report on Christmas in Cameroon
Listen to report on Christmas in Camerooni
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid