As Cameroonians in South Africa prepare to welcome their national team, the Lions of Cameroon, to South Africa next month, many have high hopes that Cameroon will reach the finals.
We spoke to members of this community about the Lions of Cameroon, predictions for the team’s World Cup performance and celebrating 50 years of independence.
St Jean Mirabeau Nguetsop, a Cameroonian fashion designer and the owner of Angel’s Fashion, who has lived in South Africa for 12 years:
How do you plan to welcome the Lions to South Africa?
We’re very spontaneous when it comes to soccer. Cameroonians can make something out of nothing. We’re waiting to get the national team plans before we make provisions. But we’re already preparing ourselves with hats and anything that has a Cameroonian flag on it.
Other groups are planning how to get to the games in the different regions in South Africa. It’s a huge event for us, the first time we come together to encourage the Cameroonian national team.
What is your message for The Lions?
Cameroonians love the Lions so much, we expect a lot from them this time around. We not only expect them to make Cameroonians proud, but we expect them to make Africa proud. They did Africa proud already, they’ve done black soccer players around the world proud as well.
Guys, there are a lot of expectations from you. Please do your best and deliver the best for us.
The Lions will do well. They will definitely pass the first round and then anything after that is a bonus.
What does the 50th anniversary celebration of Cameroonian independence mean to you?
We are a proud people – so anything related to Cameroon we support! This is a special event. We’re here to celebrate being Cameroonians – we feel very proud.
Ngassa Hans Emmanuel, president of the Samuel Eto’o fan club in South Africa who has been in South Africa for 14 years:
What does the 50th anniversary celebration of Cameroon’s independence mean to you? How do Cameroonians mark the special day?
We are very proud to celebrate our independence. Cameroonians do a lot. On May 20, we had ceremonies and celebrations at home and here in South Africa.
How do you see the integration between the communities in South Africa and Cameroon?
It is with pride that since we as Africans have created football for the world, we’re proud that we will be part of the first World Cup in Africa. We look forward to bringing the World Cup to Africa.
What preparations are the Samuel Eto’o fan club making for the World Cup?
Yes, we are preparing to welcome Samuel Eto’o in a big way. All representatives from the Samuel Eto’o fan clubs around the world will be here to follow the Lions. Even Samuel Eto’o’s mother and father will be here. We’re looking forward to a great time!
Dr Emmanuel Edoun, a Cameroonian who has been based in South Africa for over 10 years and the president of the Sawa football club participating in the 50th Anniversary Cameroonian Soccer Tournament:
What does 50 years of independence mean to you?
We have come a long way in 50 years. We have not had a lot of problems even though things have been hotting up in our neighbouring countries. The government has succeeded in maintaining peace and security so that Cameroonians can live peacefully in their country and abroad.
Being an economist – what are your thoughts about economic stability and celebrating independence?
Many African countries have been struggling economically – including Cameroon. Our government have put policies in place that encourage employment and that is conducive to peace whereby individuals can perform their duties on a daily basis. In Cameroon, we have school fees which are affordable to everyone.
What is your feeling about the unifying force of football?
Soccer is a uniting instrument – we’ve seen it across the world. Cameroon is no exception.
What hopes do you have for the Lions of Cameroon in the World Cup?
We’ve been struggling a bit but the Ministry of Sport and Recreation in Cameroon have put in a strategy to ensure the Lions who come to play in SA are ready to play. Cameroonians always play to win!