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Gabon First Lady’s Visit Paralyses Business In Yaounde 

By Quinta-Belle K, Rabiatou Jingi, & Rose Tang*

Business activities were halted in Yaounde Monday, August 30, when the First Lady of Gabon, Silvia Bongo Ondimba, came visiting. Traffic was interrupted for the most of the day, forcing Yaounde inhabitants to trek to their various destinations.

Inhabitants of the Melen neighborhood where the headquarters of the Chantal Biya-led African Synergy against HIV-AIDS and suffering is situated suffered most. Armed presidential guards flooded the area early in the morning, ordering traders to close their stores as police blocked traffic.

Business people and the Cameroonian economy, observers said, lost several hundreds of millions to the visit. The visit swelled the nightmares Yaounde inhabitants have been going through whenever President Paul Biya or his wife is coming in or moving out of the town.
However, the silver lining of the visit, pundits hold, is the fact that the Gabonese First Lady closed ranks and became the 27th first lady to join the Pan-African NGO against Aids and sufferings.

Silvia Bongo, during her one-day friendly visit, appended her membership to African Synergy at the organisation’s headquarters in the Melen neighborhood in Yaounde. Her move was a rupture of the arms-length relationship that existed between the former Gabonese First Lady, late Edith Bongo Ondimba, and Chantal Biya.

Upon her arrival at the Nsimalen Airport in Yaounde, Mrs. Sylvia Mbongo was received by Mrs. Chantal Biya alongside the Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, the Minister Delegate for Commonwealth Affairs, Joseph Dion Ngute, and the Deputy Director of the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency, Joseph  Anderson  Le. Also, on hand to welcome the guest were wives of principal collaborators of the Head of State led by Mrs. Linda Yang, wife of the Prime Minister who is also General Coordinator of the Circle of Friends of Cameroon, CERAC.

Later, the Gabonese First Lady was received at the Unity Palace by President Paul Biya. They held closed-door talks followed by lunch and exchange of gifts.  Back in Gabon, Silvia Bongo’s activities are focused on health, youth, women and culture. The African Synergy was created on November 12, 2002 by Chantal Biya in the presence of 17 African first ladies with goals to mobilise African societies and the international community to fight against pandemics and other scourges.

Andre Choute, a teacher, appreciated the fact that Silvia joined the NGO aimed at improving on the situation of the underprivileged people in the Central African Sub-Regions. According to Pierre Tchounge, a bar attendant, Mrs. Bongo’s visit brought joy to most Cameroonians, because they knew she was coming to join the African Synergy for a good cause. Many jubilated at the Gabonese First Lady’s visit even though he said some commercial activities were halted for part of the day.

*(ASMAC and Siantou Students On Internship)

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