Anything goes on Canada Day in Cameroon

Businessmen and NGO directors formally clad in suiting.  Ambassadors and wives begowned and bejeweled.  Police wielding automatic weapons.  VSO volunteers strutting their stuff in birkenstock sandals, jeans and short-sleeve shirts.

Anything goes on Canada Day.

The attire of attendees at the Canada Day celebrations in Yaoundé was as varied as the colours in a peacock’s fan.

Last night a trickle of Canadians in Cameroon descended on the Canadian High Commissioner’s home to celebrate our National Day.  It would have been a small party indeed had the list been restricted to the 50 or so maple-leaf wielding guests.  Thank goodness a diverse smorgasbord of different nationalities – 450 people strong – filled up the spacious residence grounds.

Cameroonian ministers.  Japanese economic forum reps.  Belgian UN workers.  American consular officials. Chinese business tycoons.  Korean bibimbop connoisseurs.  Cameroon’s top-ranked half-Chinese half-Canadian tennis player (our good friend Catherine).  Jersey-born country director of VSO Cameroon.

Dario – the Jersey-born country director of VSO Cameroon

Fine hors d’oeuvres, countless Canadian flags and unique renditions of French Canadian classics fostered a lively atmosphere where laughter flowed as freely as the spirits being decanted at the open bar.

We shared the fun with some good friends – both VSO volunteers and Canadian Embassy staff –who together belted out our national anthem with both languages merged simultaneous into a confused and horribly off-key patriotic aria.

CUSO-VSO Volunteers - Catherine, Greg, Caroline, Rebecca, Maxime, Steffen

No one seemed to mind … although the Cameroonian ministers did keep their distance!

Trying patriotically to promote our country – Canada is trying to gain a seat on the UN Security Council – our usefulness did not extend to answering trivia about our home and native land.  C’mon, does anyone really know what the colours on the Canadian flag represent?

My embarrassment didn’t last long … just long enough to snag a few more mini-hamburgers and chicken skewers to go with a timely refill of my gin and tonic.

So our nation’s day turned out to be a pleasant mélange of merriment and international encounters.  This only proved possible because anything goes at the Canadian Embassy on Canada Day!

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~ by Greg Spira on July 2, 2010.

2 Responses to “Anything goes on Canada Day in Cameroon”

  1. Happy Canada Day No. 143! Glad you were able celebrate it too, even though you are so far away. Don’t forget to tell us all about Cameroon Day, too, whenever that is or whatever it’s properly called!

    Oh, and for the record, it very nearly rained on our parade, but the thick black clouds turned out to be more threat than torment, and we even managed to get in a little scrub baseball and bocci ball. 🙂

    ea/

    • We’ll have to wait until next year for Cameroon’s National Day (May 20th). This year was the 50th anniversary, but all we witnessed to be frank were road blocks. And we did see a few fireworks from a distance. We’ll see what we can catch of the 51st…

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