I have never been to several African countries especially in East and Southern Africa, but have missed out on visits to West Africa.
So when Goethe Institut –South Africa gave me an opportunity to travel to Yaoundé in Cameroon to attend the Ravy Festival, I was excited and I thought this was a big chance for me to visit a West African country.
Of course, I had an idea of the country itself simply because of football; it is the country which has done well in football circles, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in the past years.
But last year the country which has produced several high profile footballers including Rodger Milla, Patrick Mboma and Samuel Etoo failed to make it to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Being an Arts Journalist from Malawi, I longed for the Ravy Festival because I wanted to see how experienced they were in terms of organizing festivals as well as what this platform was made of.
West Africa is in front in terms of producing best artists and many of them do not live in their country and this is what I ended up learning after the end of the festival which run from April 3 -9.
I arrived in Yaoundé, Cameroon in the afternoon and was picked taxi driver who was hired by the Goethe Institut-Kamerun and drove straight to Hotel Tongou where I was accommodated.
It was a fantastic ride from the airport to the hotel passing through Yaoundé and it is from here that I noticed lots of smaller taxis painted in yellow, infact the driver told me this was the official colour of the taxis.
They were many of them, offering transport to the people and I noticed that it’s easier for people to move from one destination to the other because taxis are all over.
Although the taxis flooded the roads, with many other cars joining in, driving in Cameroon seems not careless and the driver said it’s rare to hear of accidents now and then in his country.
The only problem this tax driver noted was that they normally take time to hit various destinations because of congestion and that it is even difficult during peak hours.
The taxis are all over hooting in Yaoundé, giving people the much needed ride to their various destinations and they are actually cheaper. The funny thing is that all the taxis are smaller but to my surprise they can carry seven people at a time.
It seems the traffic officers are not that harsh when it comes to capacity because in Malawi, you would surely be charged. In normal circumstances, the sitting capacity for these taxis if it was to be in Malawi, then its five people including the driver.
Unlike in my country where we don’t use taxis within the cities but minibuses, I found this development new to me. Actually taxis are expensive in Malawi and people use them at night when they are stranded.
In Yaoundé’ taxis’ operate in cities taking people to various places including workplaces and the market while minibuses operate in longer routes and they are cheaper.
Apart from taxis, people in Yaoundé also use motorbikes for transport where there is even no attempt to use helmets. In Malawi, you cannot ride a motorbike without a helmet and if found, you will be charged. So here was another new thing to me.
So there I was thinking about the sounds of the taxis in Yaoundé, all night and every morning the sounds of the hooting taxis would wake me up.
This is what we call Moving Africa, learning new things from another African country, all courtesy of Goethe, bravo for the idea and as Malawi’s founder late Hastings Kamuzu Banda once said there is more learning in travelling.
Yaoundé does not sleep as is in Malawi where you would have difficulties in movement at night and instead be forced to cough more to pay for a taxi to get home. How I wish taxis were also cheaper in my country.