KAMERUN – CAMEROON – CAMEROUN

Figura kralja iz dinastije Akva-A statue of the king from Akwa dynasty

Figura kralja iz dinastije Akva-A statue of the king from Akwa dynasty

Katedrala u Duali-The cathedral in Douala

Katedrala u Duali-The cathedral in Douala

Nacin oblacenja-A local dress code

Nacin oblacenja-A local dress code

Park u centru grada-Central Park

Park u centru grada-Central Park

Restaurant Le derniere comptoire coloniale

Restaurant Le derniere comptoire coloniale

Specijaliteti lokalne kuhinje-Specialities of the local cuisine

Specijaliteti lokalne kuhinje-Specialities of the local cuisine

Spomenik generalu Leklerku-A monument of General Leclerc

Spomenik generalu Leklerku-A monument of General Leclerc

Stara kraljevska rezidencija-Old royal residence Akwa Palace

Stara kraljevska rezidencija-Old royal residence Akwa Palace

Ulicna knjizara-Street bookstore

Ulicna knjizara-Street bookstore

Le derniere comptoire coloniale

Le derniere comptoire coloniale

Ulicni prodavac zako papagaja - Street vendor of grey parrots

Ulicni prodavac zako papagaja – Street vendor of grey parrots

Prvi put me je, u ovu zemlju, odveo moj prijatelj Milenko Trojanović, zajedno s posadom jugoslovenske aviokompanije JAT, njihovim avionom koji je iznajmljen za potrebe regionalnih letova Cameroon Airlines-a i Ujedinjenih nacija. Ne samo što sam upoznao Dualu, koja je najvažniji centar ove zemlje iako ne i glavni grad, već sam imao to zadovoljstvo da letim zajedno sa sa Plavim beretkama, koje je tada naša aviokompanija, svojim avionom DC10, prevozila iz Urugvaja, preko Duale, u Kongo. Nažalost, srpska avio kompanija više ne poseduje taj avion. I drugi i treći put dolazim sličnim povodom, a tek četvrti put došao sam sâm i u tranzitu. Pola dana u Duali dovoljno je da ponovo odem u najbolji restoran sa morskim specijalitetima u tom gradu, neobičnog imena Le dérnière comptoire coloniale (Poslednji kolonijalni šank). Smešten je u prostranoj delti, u obliku stare drvene sojenice i u tipičnom afričkom stilu, sa maskama na drvenim gredama, ali i sa malo francuskog glamura, što je pridodato celokupnoj afmosferi.

Duala je uzburkan afrički grad, u kome smo neposredno po dolasku živeli u stalnom strahu od malarije, koja je ovde česta pojava. Ona ipak nije ograničavala česte večernje izlaske na mesta sa dobrom afričkom kuhinjom i provodom. Danju bih na glavnom gradskom trgu posmatrao statuu generala Leklerka, čuvenog osvajača i branioca centralnoafričkih prostora frankofonske imperije, razmišljajući o borbama koje je, u ime Francuske i De Gola, vodio širom sveta. Njegove zasluge su bile tako velike da mu je posthumno, nakon što je poginuo u avionskoj nesreći, dodeljen čin maršala.

Nešto dalje, na glavnom trgu nalazi se mala, stara kraljevska palata u obliku pagode, pokrivena zelenim krovom. Naziva se Akwa Palace, prema imenu jednog kralja koji je davno vladao ovim krajevima i tu živeo.

Uživao sam u kupovini maski i statua znatnih dimenzija, kao i zabranjene slonovače, jer je tada direktnim letom za Beograd, a bez većih provera, bilo mogućno sve to preneti. Sećam se samo da je bar desetak žako papagaja, onih najboljih pričalica, preneto tim avionom. Papagaji su zaista neodoljivi, mogu da nauče i oponašaju govor i pesme, a ulični prodavci ih svuda nude. Mislim da će im, uz dobru pažnju, u Beogradu možda biti lepše. Danas bi takva akcija bila nemoguća zbog zaštite ovih vrsta.

Duala nema gradsku plažu, a najlepša plaža Kribi je dosta udaljena od grada. Tu se može provesti ugodno popodne, ako se zanemare prodavci koji nude batik i ostale afričke rukotvorine. U trenutku ugledah mladića sa majicom na kojoj je bio lik Osame bin Ladena sa natpisom US target i začudih se čega sve ovde nema.

Nikada više, ni u jednom kraju sveta, nisam to video.

Jun 2002.
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My friend Milenko Trojanović took me to this country for the first time together with the Yugoslav Airlines crew on a plane that was on lease to Cameroon Airlines for their regional flights as well as use by the United Nations. Not only did I get to know Douala, which is the most important center of this country even though not its capital, but I also had the pleasure of flying together with the Blue Berets that were transported by a DC 10 belonging to our airline, from Uruguay, via Douala, into Congo. Unfortunately, the Serbian airline does not own this aircraft anymore. I visited it again two more times in a similar way, and only my fourth time did I come alone, in transit. Half a day in Douala is enough for me to go to the best seafood restaurant in the city with the unusual name of Le dérnière comptoire colonial (The last colonial bar). Situated in a vast delta in an African old wooden stilt house, the restaurant boasts typical African style with masks hanging from the wooden beams and the added French glamour contributing to the special atmosphere.

Douala is a hectic African city, where malaria was common, so once we got there we lived in constant fear of this disease. Yet it did not keep me from going out at night to places that offer good African cuisine and entertainment. During the day I would stand on the main square and watch the statue of General Leclerc, the famous conqueror and defender of the Central African French colonial empire and I would ponder over the battles he fought around the world, in the name of France and de Gaulle. His service to the country was so great that he was given the title of marshal posthumously, after he had died in an airplane crash. Some way away from here, also on the main square, you can find the small, pagoda shaped old royal palace with a green roof. It is called the Akwa Palace after a king who ruled this region long ago and lived here.

I enjoyed buying sizable masks and statues and forbidden ivory too, as it was possible at the time to transport all that on a direct flight to Belgrade and without major checks. I remember that this plane also transported at least 10 grey parrots, the most talkative kind. The parrots are really irresistible and can be taught to imitate speech or singing, and street vendors offer them everywhere. I think that in Belgrade, with a good care, they may do better. Today, this sort of action would be impossible because of the strict regulations protecting these species.

Douala does not have a city beach and the most beautiful beach, Kribi, is quite far away from the city. You can spend an enjoyable afternoon here, if you ignore the vendors selling batik and other African handicraft.  All of a sudden I caught a glimpse of a young man wearing a T-shirt with Osama Bin Laden’s face printed on it, with the words US target and I wondered at what strange things I could find here.

I have never seen anything like this again, in any other place in the world.

June 2002

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