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Carrefour Obili: Savouring The Citadel Of Anglophone Euphoria 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

You are welcomed by a blasting overdose of musical hospitality. A rumbling pollution of Makossa, Mbangalum, Njang, Bikutsi, Ndombolo and Coupé Decallé, deafens your ears as you saunter into the euphoric bowels of "Carrefour Obili" (Obili Junction) in Yaounde.
Situated in the south of Yaounde, Carrefour Obili is a tiny neighbourhood, yet it stands tall as the hub center of joy – a place where Anglophones go to rejoice and drown their sorrows.

Partial view of Obili, early morning, before the hustle and bustle

During the day, Carrefour Obili looks innocuous, but virtually overburdened by the hustle and bustle of people in business activities. In the evening, it is the citadel of "life choppers" sort of trying to outdo one another in the quaffing business. Just before you wink, the billboard of an imposing watering hole catches your attention.

It is "The Place". Yet, it is not the-place-to-be like in Buea, where people go to drink deep down the fountain of academics. "The Place", is where many Anglophones relax by dry cleaning their livers with beer. ‘The Place’ is a "Joie de vivre" drinking spot where the youth savour earthly pleasures in all hurly-burly. The nocturnal show makes the place a cauldron of the good, the bad and the ugly ambivalence. "The Place" is where things happen here at Carrefour Obili.
"There is total joy here," said one Djam Assolo, a driver. He talked to The Post as he violently emptied the content of a "33 Export" bottle in a bid to achieve marginal utility.

"The thirst that gripped me after the day’s work can claim the lives of five children at a go," he said. The bar was full of people doing justice to drinks of various kinds.  At the centre of the floor, stood a lean man seemingly subdued by alcohol. He strutted around in a rickety manner, quarrelling with himself as he grappled with three bottles of beer at once.

Equally drowned in the alcoholic bliss, a middle aged-man tried hard to stagger to the rhythms of Pastor Bangaha’s Njang song. From the beginning, his body seemed to have an intuitive agreement with the rhythm. But before long, his choreography rose to odds with the beats and soon degenerated to a catalogue of miscalculated dancing steps.

 "Tu fait quoi chez les Anglos?" (What are you doing in Anglophone neighbourhood?), one Francophone once asked another at Carrefour Obili. The question is not only a tell-tale of the soaring divide among Cameroon’s principle linguistic communities, but also a glaring testimony that Anglophones captured Obili many  decades ago and have been calling the shots there. "Carrefour Obili is Anglophones’ own Carrefour de la joie," observes a student journalist, Quinta-Belle Keale. By this, she means that this area is where Anglophones go to have fun.

In the same vein, Mm Rabiatou Abdoulaziz of the Advanced School of Mass Communication (ASMAC) in Yaounde, opines that "Carrefour Obili is just another name for a meeting point for Anglophones". Virtually, everything around Carrefour Obili is a tacit but shouting message that the settlers from the Northwest and Southwest Regions and, perhaps, those of the 11th province are in charge.

That is why there are bars like "Linking Park", "Charles De Gaulle" etc. "Charles De Gaulle" and "Linking Park", observers hold, serve as good centres for "romantic creatures". But if you want a gorgeous hairdo, get over to the" Ebony Beauty Saloon". Do not also forget to buy a few items at the "Parfumerie Bristol" that cuts the posture of good neighbourliness with "Charles De Gaule".

You can also quell the gastronomic uprising in your stomach at Emerencia Mungwin’s Corner, where food items like Achu, Kati-kati, Water fufu, beans and puff-puff, as well as coco yams, plantains and Ndole are waiting to be rendered good justice.  While at Carrefour Obili, many people do a lot of browsing at the "Azam" internet centre.

CRTV journalist, Kilian Ngala, a frequent Carrefour Obili goer, himself, holds that  the place is both paradise and hell. Hear him: "Carrefour Obili is a sure place where most Anglophones meet to drink and exchange ideas – a whirlpool for the exchange of ideas on hot political issues. But is also an extension of the Devil’s kingdom – where men hungry for sex wriggle their way among the rag-tag structures in the brothels." This is somewhat a near faithful rendition of what goes on at Obili.

Just behind Charles De Gaulle, perches a brothel where the oldest profession triumphs. In tandem with Shakespeare’s claim that alcohol provokes the desire for lechery but takes away the performance, many a drunk scampers to the brothels when in need to quench the "uprising beneath their pants."

The inmates of this kingdom, most of them old and middle aged women hang out in the dark of the night at the left flank of the junction in search of customers. Here, desperate customers pay FCFA 1000 for a "quick one". And within the twinkle of an eye, a drunk is at peace with himself, having cowed his libido into submission. Some female students from the neighbouring varsity equally hang out to be "collected" by customers.

The inmates here originate from some areas in the Southwest and Northwest regions. There are also conmen and scammers, who meander and mingle, looking for ways to ensnare their prey. Violent fights, banditry are no longer news out here. Little wonder that the police are always around to check excesses.

In stark juxtaposition, the place is also the capital of many Pentecostal churches. It is a place where men and women of God are heard charging for the salvation battle. "The Lord is good hallelujah, hallelujah. Praise the Lord!" Nonetheless, pastors bring solace to desperate Christians by performing "miracles".

Of late, health centres run by some common initiative groups have been mushrooming in the area. Yet, one pharmacy, known as ‘Pharmacy Principal’ stands tall, just before you get to the International Relations Institute known by its French acronym as IRIC. Microfinance Institutions as well as day-care schools equally make up Carrefour Obili.
 

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