Some months ago I wrote about how to do business in Cameroon like a Cameroonian. I shared with you some unique characteristics you need to know when you plan to start a business in Cameroon – especially foreigners. It may look funny, but it’s true! What about the things that don’t scare Cameroonians?
The daring attitude of Cameroonians
Cameroonians are a very daring people when it comes to soccer and sports in particular. We are always convinced our soccer teams will win even if they’re ill-prepared.
Soccer is just one of the things that doesn’t scare Cameroonians. Some people usually say Cameroonians are not afraid of giving or collecting bribes. That may be true to an extent, however, not everyone is involved in such acts.
However, every Cameroonian leaving and doing business in Cameroon must have been daring enough to not be scared by one of the below. Let’s see some daring things below that doesn’t scare Cameroonians.
1. Do not urinate here
Public toilets are lacking in many cities in Cameroon and the few that have, are not well maintained. So many people find it difficult visiting such places. Most of the bars and public places you find around don’t even have toilets where their clients can ease themselves. So how do they do their business in public?
Once you ask, they show you the bush or a nearby wall to relieve yourself. That may be scary to some, though not all. However, what is scarier is that places where you find it written in bold “Do not urinate here” is where people stand do this business without fear.
Let me share with you something that scared me the most. There’s an imposing painting on the walls of Lycée Bilingue Deido where a lady bends down to pee with a notice saying it’s not good to do that in public. This picture is meant to scare people, but I realized that it attracted more people to do their business there. The stench that you get from that specific area is so terrible.
If you think that painting was scarier, then you have not seen anything. Opposite the wall, across the street, there’s a public toilet. Unfortunately, the toilet has been used to serve another businesses other than the one it was supposed to serve. It is now a documentation center where you can by scratch cards, type, print, scan and photocopy your documents.
2. Family land, not for sale
It is very common to find sign posts around buildings or plots of land reading “family land, not for sale”, “No trespassing, plot not for sale”, etc. These warnings are for intruders who may want to encroach into a land that doesn’t belong to them.
There are also situations whereby people see a good piece of land with a building and propose to the owners to sell. When all family members are not in agreement, you will see a sign post telling the public that it’s family land or house and not for sale.
Trust my Bamileke brothers – when they see such a land, they know that they’ve won a jackpot. It suffices just for them to corner one of the family members and discuss with them behind. Before you know it, there’s a bulldozer coming in with police officers to send away occupants of the house.
How it happened, no one knows. However, make sure you read item 11 to get a clue of what may have happened. I am not responsible for what you understand, so don’t repeat elsewhere or you might be in trouble.
3. No hawking on the roadside
The very places that are restricted by the authorities are those that people dare to place their merchandise. The roadside of cities in Cameroon are saturated with makeshift kiosks, tables, where people display their wares for sales.
The fun is, it’s illegal and those using it know very well. Some even make such makeshift kiosks mobile so that when they see the authorities coming, they will easily escape.
Some of these roadsides have even turned out to become markets where people go to replenish their baskets. What is scary is that, when the authorities send them away, as they are going, the people are following them to set up again.
If you thought this is scary and can scare people, then you will be surprised. Just imagine you place a scarecrow in your farm to send away birds and you find it feeding the birds. Won’t you be worried or even scared of the daring birds?
What scares more is that the authorities who are supposed to send these vendors away collect rent from them for using the space. Last week, I watched on TV where one of these roadside vendors was saying the authorities collected rent the previous day. He said he was surprised the next day they came and destroyed their wares. That’s pretty scary and confirms that there are things that don’t scare Cameroonians.
4. No bribery in this office
You can find this in public offices where money exchange hands. The tax and customs department is one of such offices where you will find messages saying “No” to bribery and corruption. The anti-corruption committee has their “Public Service is Free of Charge” post that you can find on walls in public offices.
I sat one day in a bar taking a very cold beer under a hot sweaty afternoon in Douala. My attention was caught by this guy who was telling a daring story. I couldn’t believe he said he had that huge amount of tax to pay and he ended up paying less than one-third of the amount.
He said nothing should scare Cameroonians because in Cameroon, everything is possible. I wish I knew that guy to know more on how he did what he did. However, from his the discussion, he said, with money, you can achieve anything.
5. Bike riders don’t respect traffic rules
Foreigners coming to do business in Cameroon should know that they can drive their personal cars if they have an international drivers license. However, if they don’t have, they can do a test to obtain a license to drive in Cameroon.
Taking a taxi these days may not be an easy task given that COVID-19 alias Coronavirus has decided to impose a distance before you communicate with anyone. Just imagine entering a taxi and someone coughs inside. That’ll scare but Cameroonians don’t really care.
However, as a foreigner, you may be better protected having your own car. That doesn’t mean all is smooth when you have your own car in Cameroon. You need to be very vigilant when driving on the streets of Douala in particular.
Don’t always think it’s a two-way street separated in the middle, so you can drive anyhow. You would be shocked to see a bike rushing directly in front of your car without fear or favor. They’ll scare you ‘out of their way’ my friend because at that moment, he’s the one who is right.
This must have scared the hell out of you! Nothing scares a bendsikineur in Cameroon. If you think that was daring enough, then wait until he stops and asks you who issued you a driving license or if you got yours at a car-wash..
6. Switch off you phone in church
A Church is a holy place and there’s a high need for silence. Some churches, especially, Catholic churches, have signs on their various entrances asking people to switch off their phones before entering. You can even find them inside some churches posted on pillars.
However, this does not stop that Mama from picking her call and shouting “Allo!Allo!” in church. What about the slay queen who posts selfies on social media with title “In Church, praying for you”.
I remember scrolling down Facebook and saw this selfie with his pastor on the background. The person wrote “My pastor is so cute when he’s preaching”. Just imagine that – she dared what would have scared many.
7. Giving bribes to police, gendarmes, judges, etc.
Bribery and corruption is a crime punishable by law in Cameroon. Almost every citizen is aware of the consequences of giving or receiving bribes. However, that does not stop them from boldly stepping into the offices of the people who are supposed to enforce the law to offer them bribes.
Do you know what is even more daring, in certain cases, if you don’t propose or give, some of the aforementioned officials will ask or force you to give. It looks scary, but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t scare Cameroonians. That’s what I heard from one of my drinking sprees.
This is not all. I will be updating this post frequently with some daring and scary things that doesn’t scare Cameroonians. This should not scare you from doing business in Cameroon. It should rather encourage you because it will be fun to see.
What about you even turning such scary things into a business idea. Imagine you starting a mobile public toilet business in big cities in Cameroon. It’s fun and it’s through fun that crazy and innovative business ideas are gotten.
If you plan to start a business in Cameroon, check out the various services that we offer. You know our work is to help you start, run and grow your business in Cameroon.