Urbanist's Guide to Yaundé, Cameroon

Yaounde Intro ・ Feb 18, 2022

As a third chapter of the African urban exploration of Traveling Circus of Urbanism, I came to the capital city of Cameroon, Yaundé! The city spreads over 7 hills, and after being a geographically flat city like Lomé, it feels refreshing to observe the wavy patterns of the landscapes. There is something mysterious and appealing about hilly cities.

Here, we're collaborating with geo.sm, an open data platform and local social network establishing digital maps and GIS in Africa, creating the infrastructure for the interaction of inhabitants by geo-locations. I'll report more about geo.sm and their wonderful initiatives, but for now, as always, I'm archiving my basic research on the urban happenings of Yaundé here.

Some of the reccomenddaion were from a local creative writer, Nfor E. Njinyoh from Bakwa Magazine. Nfor, you have my full respect.

Things to do, places to go

  • Monument de la réunification du Cameroun was constructed in the 1970s to memorialize the post-colonial merging of British and French Cameroon. Commissioned by President Ahmadou Ahidjo and designed by the architects Gedeon Mpondo and Engelbert Mveng, the spiral structure of the monument represents the political reunification of the “two Cameroons". There are still conflicts and armed insurgencies in the North-West and South-West of Cameroon, and the socio-political crisis that is known as the "Anglophone crisis" has shown that unity is still unstable. Yet, the monument surely adds a powerful image to the landscape of Yaoundé.

  • The architectre of Marché Central de Yaoundé (the central market hall) of Yaoundé is absolutely gorgeous. The bare concrete, circular structure, and bold decorations fit perfectly in the chaotic scene of the market, fully packed with the stream of people, items, colors, and smell.

  • Yaounde Immeuble CNPS is a 12-story high-rise building in the city center of Yaoundé. The building has a very futuristic design, as a giant yellow bubble sits on top of the lower building structure. I'd love to dig more into the design and history behind it.

  • Bibliolibrairie de la Cène littéraire is run in a mission to promote African literature. It's a library-cum-bookshop, as well as an art space.

  • When I saw the municipal lake with hardly no water left in it, I thought at first that it's because of a dry season. It turns out that the city is pumping the water out from there, as past of a long awaited rehabilitation of the site. The project will involve the construction of a five star hotel, restaurants and bars, leasure parks. The reason why they chose this site for these construction despite the oviously difficulty of pumping out the entire water first, I'm looking forward to see how the reneal of the site comes to be.

  • Contemporary Art Gallery looks like a nice to place to visit to check out the current art scene.

  • There is a nice alley in downtown covered in some murals. It's sponsoured by a French Institute of Cameroon located next to it.

  • I highly recommened to visit the Centre International de L'artisanat. Full of shops and galleries of local art & craft, you can spend a whole afternoon there. The building is also worth seeing.

Read and watch

  • Listen to an episode of AFRICA GEOCONVO PODCAST, where Willy Franck, the founder of the GeOSM platform, shares about the first open location intelligence platform in Africa. It's also worth checking out the other episodes of the podcast, if you are curious about geospatial innovations and technology in Africa.

  • Bakwa Magazine is a Cameroon-based Literary Magazine. I discovered this initiative through the article, which explains how literary production of both English and French increased and a conscious community was formed even in the aftermath of the Anglophone Crisis.

  • Africa is a country looks like an interesting media — I like the provocative title and minimalistic design.

Organization / initiative

  • geo.sm is an open data platform and local social network establishing digital maps and GIS in Africa, creating the infrastructure for the interaction of inhabitants by geo-locations.

Other parts of Cameroon

  • the Warka village is under construction in the tropical rainforest of Cameroon, and it is an integrated space for the Pygmy community, an isolated society located in the Mvoumagomi area. Constructed using only natural materials and ancient local construction techniques, the project, created by Warka Water and Italian architect Arturo Vittori, is currently operational, and expected to be completed in 2022.