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May 20 Cameroon’s National Unity Day 

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By Roy Lie Atjam

The Hague, on 16 June 2023, H.E. Ms. Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon, hosted a celebratory reception on the 51st National Day of Cameroon.

Defence Forces and Cameroonian people in harmony to safeguard peace and national unity, bedrock of a strong and prosperous Cameroon”.

The reception saw the participation of a sizable number of members of the Diplomatic Corps among them ambassadors from Germany, Uruguay, Romania, India, Argentina, Tanzania, Georgia, Finland, Armenia, Greece, Latvia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Japan, Albania, Poland, Brazil, Philippines, North Macedonia, Holy Sea, Egypt, New Zealand, Norway, Costa Rica, Panama, Rwanda, Algeria, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Angola. The Charges d’Affairs of Sudan, South Africa, Malaysia and Venezuela. The mayors of Westland and Dorchdrecht, senior officials of the Netherlands, business people, Dutch cultural community, medias, NGO’s and members of the Cameroonian diaspora in the Netherlands and beyond.

A  delightfully flamboyant atmosphere reigned in the reception room as well as outdoors.

Cameroon National Anthem / H.E. Ms. Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon.

Celebrating Cameroon’s National Unity Day

Ambassador Liguemoh Ondoua, explained the significance of 20 May for Cameroon. “It means celebrating an important moment in its existence as a Republic, a unique moment because it consecrated the fusion of the wills of the children of the same land to live together within a unitary State after an unprecedented referendum.”

The Ambassador went on to remark, in evoking this historic moment in the history of Cameroon, “I would like to convey to you the warm greetings of the President of the Republic of Cameroon H.E. Mr. Paul Biya and of his Government and to express my pleasure and that of all the staff of the Embassy on this day of 16 June 2023, to welcome you to share with all of you the joy of the Cameroonians in celebrating Cameroon’s National Unity Day. 

This unity remains our most precious asset, along with peace.

The People of Cameroon declared its will to unite during the Referendum of 1972. These founding values of a remarkable identity make our country a haven of peace, a stable State, a land of hospitality where life is good.

It is a Unity that celebrates and magnifies our cultural and linguistic diversity. Our unity is conscious of the need to involve the people in its consolidation and the development of the Republic. This is why the Constitution of Cameroon stipulates that, Cameroon is a decentralised unitary State and enshrines the special regime enjoyed by certain Regions, notably the North-West and South-West Regions.

Unity is the matrix that founded the Cameroonian Nation and its Martyrs. Cameroonian communities have always maintained plural exchanges despite their diversity.

The Government has chosen to place this 51st edition of the National Unity Day under the theme: “Defence Forces and the Cameroonian people, in symbiosis for the safeguard of peace and national unity, the foundation of a strong and prosperous Cameroon”.

The  President of the Republic of Cameroon H.E. Paul Biya, stated on the podium of the United Nations, “We are all beggars for peace“. Our commitment to peace is unflinching and firm.  This is why Cameroon is firmly fighting against terrorist and violent movements which, under the disguise of religious fundamentalism and irredentism, threaten peace. The commitment of Cameroon’s Security and Defence Forces against the Islamic State in the Sahel and Boko Haram.

Cameroon’s economy

Cameroon’s economy, known for its resilience thanks to its diversification, has been dubbed “Africa in miniature”. It is an attractive country, with a subsoil rich in mineral resources, a large amount of arable land suitable for healthy and commercial agriculture, and a young and well-educated population that speaks the two official languages, English and French above, making it more open to the world. Cameroon has adopted its National Development Strategy, which sets out vast economic, infrastructural and social projects to ensure its emergence by 2035. Potential investors are offered opportunities in the agricultural, industrial, road, airport, port and energy infrastructure sectors.

In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the Dutch and Cameroonian companies that took part in the Economic Days organized in The Hague in May 2022, chaired by Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations, HE Mr. Lejeune Mbella Mbella, who had fruitful discussions with the Dutch authorities and heads of international organisations in The Hague. There was also an economic visit to Yaoundé in Cameroon in November 2023. As a result of this ballet of economic operators, trends suggest that the Netherlands has become Cameroon’s 3rd largest economic partner.

In addition to the events mentioned above, we can also look forward to the opening in Cameroon of the very first Luxembourg Cultural Centre in Central Africa, the foundation stone laid in the Commune of Lobo in Cameroon (Centre Region) last April.

These first steps certainly augur promising economic prospects for our respective countries, given the immense potential identified on both sides in terms of natural resources for Cameroon, capital and know-how for Holland and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.”

Ambassador Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua also focused on Cameroonian entrepreneurs, sons and daughters of Cameroon who are working to make their country shine abroad and are participating in local development. “These sons and daughters have honourable intellectual aptitudes in many fields: scientific, technological, medical, political, social and artistic, like the Cameroonian photographer Angèle Étoundi, who is exhibiting 14 of her finest works this evening.”

Penja pepper, Cameroon cocoa and Cameroonian coffee

The Ambassador further lauded the activities of Penja pepper as a protected geographical indication product that grows on the Penja volcanic plains in the Moungo department of the Littoral region. This pepper, one of the best in the World, is particularly prized for cold meats, cooking, roasting and other seasonings. “I invite you to try and taste this pepper and make it an essential part of your cooking, just like several Michelin-starred chefs. Mr Sop, CEO of the SCT and Executive Secretary of the Penja Pepper Geographical Indication, has made a memorable trip for this event and is at your disposal.

The cocoa bean from Cameroon has a unique brick-red colour and tones from different terroirs, giving it a unique flavour worldwide. On this day, we are offering you Cocoa Valley chocolate, which is now the chocolate of Buckingham Palace, the Elysée Palace and the best pastry chefs and Michelin-starred chefs. The chocolate desserts you will taste today have been prepared by Mr Serge Ngassa, a Master Chocolatier, and Mr Thierry Court, France’s Best Pastry Chef.

Cameroon has Africa’s broadest range of coffee varieties, such as blue mountain. The Utamtsi brand coffee from promoter Morin Kamga, which you are offering, comes from organic farming and sustainable trade. This coffee is grown on mountainous volcanic land at an altitude of 1800 meters, enhancing the meticulous work of the GIC SONDASON Cooperative. 

Cameroon’s cuisine is rich and diverse, with enchanting scents and spices. Mrs Suzanne Ekwalla, promoter of the Cameroonian company Des Senteurs et des Goûts”, has taken great care of the meals served from our beautiful country.

Jangolo is an import/export company. It defines itself as the address book for operators involved in the agribusiness value chains in Cameroon.

MbòArts is a creation and brand named after a Cameroonian born clothing Designer called Anye Bih Irene.

CIMPOR company (which is not Cameroonian, but whose role in developing the industrial fabric in Cameroon deserves to be highlighted).

Visit Cameroon, visit this unique country in Africa, which concentrates all the beauties of the African continent. Today, Mr Yannick Tchamba‘s company AfroChic is offering you the chance to organise your visit to Cameroon.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank the Régie, Mr Wamba from ICON PROD, who has worked hard to make this event a success, as well as all my staff and the people whose names I haven’t mentioned.

To all of you who have honoured us with your presence, please accept the expression of my sincere gratitude and my dearest wishes for the strengthening of bilateral cooperation with the Kingdom of the Netherlands (and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg).

Let’s raise our glasses for long live Cameroon and friendship with The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Everyone and for Unity and Peace. End quote

The rich and varied Cameroonian gastronomy was served to the guests and the cultural and artistic performances to the rhythms of the musical artist Jay Lou Ava and his orchestra with his amazing vibes furnished this beautiful evening highly praised and appreciated by all.

Colourfully dressed Cameroonian ladies and music added an extra layer to the festive mood.

Celebrations back in Yaounde – Cameroon

The President of the Republic, H.E. Paul Biya presided over a grand military and civilian parade on 20 May 2023 to commemorate the 51st anniversary of Cameroon’s National Day at the emblematic 20th May Boulevard.

Festivities across the national territory to celebrate the advent of the Unitary State centred on the theme: “Defence Forces and Cameroonian people in harmony to safeguard peace and national unity, the bedrock of a strong and prosperous Cameroon”.

The festivities commenced with a magisterial performance by a detachment of the Egyptian Army’s military band invited by President Paul Biya – to foster the excellent, longstanding, fraternal, and diversified cooperation ties between Yaounde and Cairo.

A major attraction of their fantastic fanfare was the rendition of popular Cameroonian songs like “Waka Waka” and “Soul Makossa” of Zangalewa and Manu Dibango respectively.

On June 16th, 2023, we celebrated Cameroon’s National Unity Day in The Hague. Here’s to a long and prosperous friendship between Cameroon, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

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