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LEBANESE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN CAMEROON


UNIVERSITY OF MAROUA
ECOLE DOCTORATE

DEDICATION

To my parents, late Alhaji Isaah Melo Forchu and Sanatu Mbonjoh.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This thesis is the fruit of the conjugated efforts of many persons that I am
grateful to:

My supervisor, Dr. Mark Bolak Funteh who, besides his multiple occupations,
with determination, will and professionalism, created time to supervise this work. His
scientific rigour and constant availability permitted the realization of this work.

All the Lecturers of the History Department of the University of Maroua and
Higher Teachers Training College, whose teachings and advice permitted me to go
through my studies smoothly.;
Dr. Pangmeshi Adamu who, besides his initial training in English Literature
didnt hesitate to assist me materially and financially, am equally grateful to Mme
Djanabou Boubakary who gave special attention to my work and provided me with
books.
My class mates of the University of Maroua and Yaounde I notably, Nora
Nanga chi, Dingammadji Arnaud, Prince Nico Tchoudja whose support, collaboration
and criticism permitted the realization of this work;

All the informants who sacrificed their time and energy to respond to my
questionnaire, particularly the Lebanese community in Yaounde;

I also express my gratitude to my wife Asongazong Linda Fotabong,Pangmeshi


Maryam Ngangjo and friends like Mphoweh Jude Nzembaye, Nchichupa Ferginand
Luke and Nfor Robert for their constant moral, material and financial support which
contributed to the realization of this work.

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TABLE OF CONTENT
DEDICATION................................................................................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS..........................................................................................ii
TABLE OF CONTENT...............................................................................................iii
LIST OF ILLUSTRATION ........................................................................................ vi
LIST OF ABREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS....................................................viii
ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................. xi
RESUME....................................................................................................................... xi
GENERAL INTRODUCTION .................................................................................. 12
Motivation of choice ....................................................................................................... 2
Conceptual and Theoretical Framework ......................................................................... 2
Conceptual framework .................................................................................................... 2
Theoretical framework .................................................................................................... 8
Literature Review.......................................................................................................... 16
Statement of the Problem .............................................................................................. 23
Objectives of the Study ................................................................................................. 23
Scope or Delimitation of the Study............................................................................... 24
Significance of study..................................................................................................... 25
Problems Encountered .................................................................................................. 26
Sources and Methodology............................................................................................. 26
Organisation of the study .............................................................................................. 28
CHAPTER ONE ......................................................................................................... 27
ORIGIN AND IMPLANTATION OF THE LEBANESE IN YAOUNDE............ 27
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 27
A. The Reasons for Lebanese Immigration in Cameroon ................................... 28
1. Economic Reasons (pull factors) ........................................................................... 28

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2. The Political Causes (push factors)........................................................................ 30


3. Socio-Cultural Motivations................................................................................... 32
B. Stages of Arrival and Implantation of the Lebanese in Yaounde.................. 39
1. Different Phases of Arrival and Implantation in Yaounde ................................... 39
2. The Period of massivity or Boom ...................................................................... 47
3. Lebanese Family Business Network in Yaounde ................................................. 52
Conclusion..................................................................................................................... 56
CHAPTER TWO ........................................................................................................ 57
LEBANESE ENTREPRENEURSHIP CONSONANT IN YAOUNDE ................ 57
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 57
A. Typology of Business Activities ......................................................................... 57
1. The practice of Intermediary Trade: A favourable choice and vocation of the
Lebanese. .............................................................................................................. 58
2. An Entrepreneurial System based on Continuity after Independence ................. 62
3. Multipurpose Commerce: Another Form of Lebanese Dynamism in Yaounde... 68
B. Locomotive of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde ................................ 77
1. Business Reorientation and Entrepreneurial vigour ............................................. 82
2. Promotion of urban and inter-urban transport system in Yaounde....................... 89
3. Investment in Agro-Alimentary Industry in Yaounde .......................................... 92
Conclusion..................................................................................................................... 98
CHAPTER THREE .................................................................................................... 99
LEBANESE AFFILIATION AND BUSINESS STRATEGIES IN YAOUNDE .. 99
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 99
A. Lebanese Social Affinity in Yaounde................................................................ 99
1. Intra-Lebanese relationship in Yaounde ............................................................ 100
2. Lebanese and Cameroonian Relationship .......................................................... 105
3. The Lebanese and other Foreign Communities in Yaounde.............................. 112
B. Lebanese strategy of wealth accumulation .................................................... 120
1. Sloppiness in other sectors of activities ............................................................. 120

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2. Payoff and insecurity.......................................................................................... 122


3. A complex supply network ................................................................................ 124
4. The voluntary reclusion of the Lebanese community ........................................ 125
Conclusion................................................................................................................... 126
CHAPTER FOUR..................................................................................................... 127
IMPACT AND CHALLENGES FACED BY LEBANESE
ENTREPRENEURSHIP ................................................................................. 127
Introduction ................................................................................................................. 127
A. The Economic Impact of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde ............ 128
1. Determining presence of the Lebanese in Yaounde........................................... 128
2. Valorisation of the Major Cash Crops................................................................ 131
3. Investment in Real Estate in Yaounde ............................................................... 135
B. Socio-cultural Impact of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde............. 138
1. The Training and Initiation of Cameroonians into Modern Commerce. ........... 138
2. Influence of Family Link network and Western Education.................................... 142
3.Empowerment of the Informal Sector...................................................................... 145
C. The Challenges Faced by Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde ............ 149
1. Cameroon Business Offensive ........................................................................... 150
2. Non Cameroonian Economic Operators in Yaounde......................................... 164
3. The Lebanese and Economic Crises Dilemma of 1990s................................... 168
Conclusion................................................................................................................... 170
General Conclusion................................................................................................... 171
ANNEXE .................................................................................................................... 173
BIBLIOGRAPGHY .................................................................................................. 175

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATION

a) Map

Map 1: Location of Yaounde on the Map of Cameroon ............................................. 26


Map 2: location of Yaounde ......................................................................................... 26

b) Table

Table 1: Principal Motives for Lebanese Business Dynamism in Cameroon.............. 54


Table 2: Repartition of foreign population in Yaounde in 1962 .................................. 63
Table 3: Beneficiaries of Adjudications of Habitation Land in Yaounde in 1941....... 77
Table 4. Commercial and Industrial Land Title in Yaounde 1955............................... 78
Table 5: The Principal Private Foreign Investors in Cameroon between 1955 and 1962.
.............................................................................................................................. 74
Table 6: Nominative List of Owners of commercial Licenses in Yaounde in 1958... 78
Table 7. List of Lebanese Holders of Alcoholic Drink License and the Rights to
Operate Restaurants in Yaounde between 1950 and 1955................................... 96
Table 8: The relationship maintained by Lebanese with Lebanon............................. 101
Table 9 The Repartition of principal importers in Cameroon Between 1967 and 1978.
............................................................................................................................ 152
Table 10: Principal Cameroonian Economic Operators who invested in Foreign
Enterprises during the 1970 in Cameroon.......................................................... 155

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Table 11: The partial investment and quasi control by Cameroonian economic operators
between 1962 and 1967...................................................................................... 157
Table 12: Evolution of Gross Domestic Products of Cameroon between 1958 to 1967
(in billions of FCFA ........................................................................................... 166

c) Plates

Plate 1 Portrait of Hadjal Massad Mouawad, Cameroonian of Lebanese origin ......... 36


Plate 2: Lebanese African restaurant on Rue Foch 1957 ............................................. 36
Plate 3: Portrait of Two Lebanese Cameroonians Azar Sabeh Najib and Hamidullah .
....................................................................................................................................... 46
Plate 4 : Jean Abtour a Lebanese businessman and his wife, 1960. ............................ 51
Plate 5: Portrait of two major agricultural products in Cameroon (cocoa and coffee).59
Plate 6: The three portraits show the commercial area in Yaounde............................. 67
Plate 8: portrait of owner of CanaBois, Bou Hadir Nassar Mikhael, 2012. ............... 73
Plate 9: Lebanese business diversification and dynamism in Yaounde....................... 85
Plate 10: portrait of wood ready for shipment in Canabois, 2012. .............................. 88
Plate 11: portrait of a Lebanese bakery store on Rue Foch 1960................................. 94
Plate 12: Members of the Lebanese Community in a Family Union in Yaounde, 2012
..................................................................................................................................... 103
Plate 13: Ephemeral relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonian women.110
Plate 14: Portrait of Azar Sabeh, early Lebanese settlers Yaounde and wife. .......... 111
Plate 15. Portrait of early economic dynamism of to compete out the Lebanese Yaounde
town............................................................................................................................. 154
Plate 16: Portrait of the first major economic operators of Cameroonian origin Paul
Soppo Priso, Kadji Defosso and Arouna Njoya.......................................................... 160

d) Diagram

Diagram 1: Lebanese Business chain of Distribution in 1958 .................................... 33


Diagram 2: Outline of Commercial Chain in the Cocoa and Coffee Sector. ............. 61

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Diagram 3: Publicity Card of the Hadjal Massad, Azar Sabeh and Co. Limited in 1971
.............................................................................................................................. 84
Diagram 4: Hierachical Representation of Lebanese Social Union In Yaounde....... 100

LIST OF ABREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

AA: Affaires Administratives

AC : Archives Coloniales

AEF : Afrique Equatoriale Franaise

ANY : Archives Nationales de Yaound

APA : Affaires Politiques et Administrative

BCD : Banques Camerounaise de Dveloppement

CAMVOYAGE : Socit des Voyages du Cameroun

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CCC : Compagnie Commercial Chypriote

CCC : Complexe Chimique Camerounais

CEPER : Centre dEdition et de production pour lEnseignement et la Recherche

CFA : Communaut Financire Africaine ou Coopration Financire en Afrique

CFAO : Compagnie Franaise de lAfrique Occidentale

CLC : Communaut libanaise du Cameroun

CHOCOCAM : Chocolaterie et Confiseries du Cameroun

CLY : Communaut Libanais de Yaound

COTRACAM : Compagnie des Transporteurs du Cameroun

DIPES II : Diplme de Professeur dEnseignement Secondaire Deuxime Grade

EGB : lEntreprise Gnrale du Btiment

ENS : Ecole Normal Suprieure

FABUREAU : Socit Africaine de Fabrication dArticles de Bureau

FOGAPE : Fonds de Garantie pour les Petites et les Moyen Entreprises

FONADER : Fond National pour la Dveloppement Rural

IGDET : Groupement International pour le Dveloppement Economique et Technique

GDP : Gross Domestic Product

GPA : Group des Pharmacies dAfrique

GTC : Grands Travaux du Cameroun

IDO : Industrie des Oleagineaux du Cameroun

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PUF : Press Universitaire de France

SME : Small Medium Enterprise

STCP : Socit Commerciale de Transformation du Papier

USA: United States of America

UPC: Unions des Populations du Cameroon

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ABSTRACT
Understanding the theories and divergent practices of entrepreneurship is
currently dominating the global development agenda as both industrialized and
emerging economies increasingly pursue innovative entrepreneurship options as
mechanisms for job creation and economic stimulation. Entrepreneurship is important
to the economic and social development of Cameroon. Since independence in 1960,
the different governments of Ahidjo and Paul Biya have prioritized entrepreneurship
as a locomotive for economic growth, development and employment. Both leaders
directly got involved into entrepreneurship, prioritizing job creation and citizen
empowerment. It is in this light that this study has prioritized Lebanese
entrepreneurship in Cameroon. The Lebanese community in Cameroon can be divided
into two distinct communities, namely the established families or durables, who
have been in the country for two or three generations and some having Cameroonian
nationality and the relatively new comers, or nouveaux, who made their entrance in
Cameroon within the last two decades. The ability to have built and kept their
enterprises running for generations in Yaounde is a major element for investigation.
Therefore this study attempts to understand their arrival, entrepreneurial activities,
impact, challenges and the strategies they adopted to keep their business running for
generations.

Key words: Lebanese, Entrepreneurship, Customers, Motivation, Decline, Sector,


Commerce.
RESUME
La comprhension des thories et pratiques Variantes de lentreprenariat
dominent prsentement le dveloppement global de lagenda comme les conomies
mergentes et industrialises suivent rapidement loption de lentreprenariat innovent
comme un mcanisme pour la cration des emplois et la stimulation conomique.
Lentreprenariat est trs important au dveloppement conomique et social du
Cameroun. Depuis lIndpendance, les deux gouvernements dAhidjo et Paul Biya ont
prioriss lentreprenariat comme une locomotive pour lmergence conomique, le
dveloppement, et lemploi. Les deux rgimes se sont directement impliqus dans
lentreprenariat, en priorisant la cration de lemploi et en donnant la force
conomique aux citoyens. La communaut entreprenariat Libanais au Cameroun peut
tre divis en deux communauts distinctes savoir : Les familles tablies ou
"Durable" qui ont t au pays pendant deux ou trois gnrations et dautres ayant la
nationalit Camerounaise, et galement les nouveaux venues qui ont faire leur entre
au Cameroun entre les deux dernires dcennies. Le fait davoir construit et gard leur
entreprise en cours durant les gnrations Yaound est un lment majeur qui mrite
la recherche. Alors, cette tude a pour but dessayer de comprendre leurs arrives, les
activits entrepreneuriales, limpact, et les dfis Yaound. Les stratgies mises en

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uvre par les libanais pour sauvegarder leurs commerces en marche pendant les
gnrations est la proccupation de ce travail.

Mots cls: Libanais, Entrepreneurial, Client, Motivation, Dclin, Secteur, Commerce.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Most of the studies on the economy of Cameroon during the colonial period
have focused on the colonial impact, constricted in terms of the new changes
introduced by the French and British. This appears logical but fails to restitute all the
historical reality, Scholars responsible for these studies have devoted much space to
the major changes in sectors like currency and banking but they have left out the
survival institutions such as the conventions of trade, the networks of trade and the
contributions of alien participants like the Lebanese other than the Europeans have
only received passing dimensions to the economy and society.

It is in this light that this study focuses on Lebanese entrepreneurship in


Yaounde. Till date, there is no major study on the Lebanese; the attention has been
very scanty. It is clear that not all the major changes of the period were due to the
colonial administration, though the Lebanese presence in Cameroon has been the
subject of mixed reaction from the host societies. While many Cameroonians,
including political leaders have defended this presence in the belief that it has been
very beneficial for Cameroon others have strongly criticized it arguing that the
Lebanese have blocked the way for Cameroonians in trade, repatriated their capital
and used many kinds of malpractices in their trading activities.

But besides the mosaic nationality in Yaounde, the engagement and


determination of the Lebanese community under the French after the First World War
to succeed was unequal in relation to the other stranger communities in Yaounde, the

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action of the Lebanese drew peculiar attention. The Lebanese put up an obstinate
economic force to succeed in an estrange socio-economic environment. In the broader
context of the economic history of Cameroon, a study of the activities of the Lebanese
in Yaounde appears important considering that Cameroon had the first largest
concentration of Lebanese in Central Africa.

It is for this reason that it appears concerning studying the action, economic
evolution and impact of the Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde after the First
World War and during the second half of the 20th century known as: Lebanese
entrepreneurship in Cameroon: Case study of Yaounde 1922-1990.

Motivation of choice
Considering that Cameroon was placed successively under the mandate and trusteeship
between 1922 and 1961, most research and studies in Cameroon privileged Britain and
France. This choice appears logical but does not feature all the historical realities of
Cameroon with its international status lodge different foreign communities like the
Lebanese whose actions were equally important to the construction and development of
Cameroon. Looking at the evolution and growth of Yaounde town it is with profound
interest acknowledging Lebanese actions on vestiges of edifies and economic presence.
But it is with astonishing remark realizing that Lebanese presence in the historiography
of Cameroon is quasi absent, it became convincing that this study was worthy. The
issue of the Lebanese question in Yaounde also incited this research.

Conceptual and Theoretical Framework

Conceptual framework
Lebanese means an inhabitant or a native of Lebanon (Cambridge press,
2008:281). Archeologist and historians often refer to the Lebanese as Levantine

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(French concept of the state of Levant) meaning someone from the geographical area
of the eastern Mediterranean which appears to be Lebanon and Syria (Faour, 1991:27).
At the end of First World War, this region formally under the Ottoman Empire was
handed over to the French as a mandated territory, the French then referred to the
Lebanese as the Syro-Lebanese (Morrison, 2005:423).
The Lebanese in this study is a transnational community successfully operating
with a double culture and bi-nationality, successfully carrying out entrepreneurial
activities in Yaounde. The Lebanese community in Yaounde was a strong and durable
implantation not only through the practice of commercial activities but also through
the putting into place of a social organization largely influenced by the Lebanese
culture. Be it the Lebanese of the first wave or the second wave, the amicable social
relationship embedded in the Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde was
deeply rooted into their culture. Within the Lebanese community in Yaounde there
existed a feeling of Lebanity amongst them irrespective of their religious
denomination or ethnic affiliations (Shia Muslims, Maronites, Sunni Muslims,
Christians and Druz).

Entrepreneurship is the process of discovering new ways of combining


resources (Hornsby, 2010:490). The word entrepreneur originates from a thirteenth-
century French verb, entreprendre, meaning to do something or to undertake. By
the sixteenth century, the noun form, entrepreneur, was used to refer to someone who
undertakes a business venture (Rwigema, 2004:456). An entrepreneur is someone who
organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. The first
academic use of the word by an economist was in 1730 by Richard Cantillon, in the
early 1800s, economists Jean Baptiste Say and John Stuart Mill further popularized the
academic usage of the word entrepreneur (Cunnigham, 1991:67). Say stressed the
role of the entrepreneur in creating value by moving resources out of less productive
areas into more productive ones (Kirzner,1973:128). Mill used the term entrepreneur

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in his popular book, Principles of Political Economy 1848, to refer to a person who
assumes both the risk and the management of a business. In this manner, Mill provided
a clearer distinction than Cantillon between an entrepreneur and other business
owners. Adam Smith defines entrepreneurship as, the search for pleasures of wealth
and greatness (sharper, 2004:89).
The entrepreneur is a leading character in many accounts of economic growth,
appearing in business biographies as a charismatic founder of a company; in industry
studies as a prominent innovator, or a leading figure in a trade association or cartel;
and in general economic histories, as one of the hordes of self-employed small
business owners who confer flexibility and dynamism on a market economy (Lee,
1997:72). Entrepreneurship is not confined to a private sector; it can also be discerned
in the personalities of people who establish progressive charitable trusts and reform
government administration. Entrepreneurship means different things to different
historians (Loasby, 1982:33)

Two notable twentieth-century economists, Joseph Schumpeter and Israel


Kirzner, further refined the academic understanding of entrepreneurship; Schumpeter
stressed the role of entrepreneurship in implementing innovative changes in an
economy by introducing new goods or new methods of production (Kirzner, 1973:75).
According to Schumpeter entrepreneurship brings about disruptive force in an
economy, emphasizing on the beneficial process of creative destruction in which the
introduction of new products results in the obsolescence or failure of others (Payne,
1990).
Entrepreneurship is the capacity and willingness to undertake conception,
organization and management of a productive venture with all attendant risk, while
seeking profit as a reward (Boettke, 1990:54). Definition of entrepreneurship thus
appears to follow two patterns. The first is to describe who entrepreneurs are: 1) a
risktaker 2) identify what the entrepreneur does, contribute to processes of innovation
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in the economy (as a result of taking risk) (Mcevoy, 1986:91). The term
entrepreneurship equally refers to the effort of an individual who takes risk in creating
a successful business enterprise it is also the special collection of skills possessed by
an entrepreneur, which include a propensity to take risks over and above the normal,
and a desire to create wealth (Portes, 1995:77). Entrepreneurs are people who find
ways round business difficulties; they persevere with a business plan at times when
others run for the shelter for full-time employment elsewhere.
Entrepreneurship in Cameroon has continuously gained additional attention as
has widely been viewed as a key aspect of economic dynamism, as observable with the
launching of multiple developmental projects in 2012 and the implementation of
favourable entrepreneurial policies to attract home and foreign investors. The
definition of entrepreneurship in relation to this study is directly related to economic
growth, productivity, innovation and employment.
This study identifies entrepreneurship with the definition of Isreal Kirzner and
Joseph Schumpeter, both authors stressed on the role entrepreneurship plays in
innovating and implementing changes in an economy by introducing new goods or
new methods of production. It is in this light that we study the economic importance of
the Lebanese in Yaounde.
Customer: Hornby (2010:361) defines the word customer as someone who pays for
goods and services or someone who buys and uses products. (Kanbur, 1979:748) looks
at the concept of customer as an individual or groups that purchases the goods or
services produced by a business. He furthers that businesses will often compete
through advertisements or sales in order to attract a larger customer base. The
customer is the end goal of businesses, since it is the customer who pays for supply
and creates demand. Initially it is the Customers demand which leads to supply of
goods and services, for example the demand for imported manufactured goods.
Companies closely-monitor the relationships that they have with their customers,

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eliciting feedback to see if new products should be created or adjustments be made to


what is currently offered.

Identifying and drawing inspiration from these definitions, customer in this


study is viewed in the relationship which existed between the Lebanese and the
indigenous people of Yaounde. The very important relationship which existed between
the Lebanese and the inhabitants of Yaounde was that of customers (buyers and client)
and vendors relationship. The people were considered as customers by the Lebanese
business men. This is important in analyzing the relationship between Cameroonians
and members of the Lebanese entrepreneurial community.

Motivation: (Cambridge, 2008:963), motivation means the reason one has for acting or
behaving in a particular way. The general desire or willingness of someone to do
something; people will be motivated to achieve a state of satisfaction; People are
primarily motivated by economic needs. (Schumpeter, 1934:25) Self motivation
changes from time to time, and through time, and from situation to situation. Given
the appropriate opportunities and resources they will apply their talents to achieve
mutual goals.

Looking at the definition advanced by (Jovanovic, 1994:196) motivation is


commonly viewed as the magic driver that enables managers to get others to achieve
their targets. In the 20th century there was a shift in theory, away from motivation by
dictation and discipline toward motivation by creating an appropriate corporate climate
and addressing the needs of individual employees.

The vision of Joseph Schumpeter is important in this study in that it gives room
to understand the primordial role motivation played in Lebanese business
implementation in Yaounde and how they dynamised into different business sectors
during different situations and times.

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Decline: (Harraps, 2007:122), defines decline as, the terminal period of somebody or
something, deterioration, reduction in number, amount, value, or quality. Also, decline
can be referred to as to gradually becoming less, grow worse or lower in output.
(Nickell, 1996:746) When something becomes less in number, importance, quality or
strength. For instance industrial decline, decline in the number of employees.
According to (Wennekers and Thurik, 1999:55), the word decline means falling
off, a tendency to a worse state, deterioration. His work is important to this study in
analyzing the Lebanese business regression and setbacks in the 1980 years, as the
Lebanese witnessed a decline in their commercial activities in Yaounde. It w enable that
we stress into the reason for the decline.

Sector: (Hornby, 2010: 1334) defines sector as the division of something into parts, a
particular aspect of activity. The division into economic sectors gives room for the
evaluation of each sector as the years go by, a component of an integrated system such
as an economy.

The definition guides our knowledge on the different sectors of economic


activities which the Lebanese entrepreneurial community invested in within Yaounde. It
is through the different sectors of activities that we are able to be informed of the
interest the different waves and generations accorded importance to .This definition is
imperative to this study in that it reiterates the classification of Lebanese sectors of
interest in Yaounde ranging from the primary sector, the secondary sector and the
tertiary sector.

Commerce: (Burke, 1995:20) defines commerce as the activity which consists of


fabricating, transporting and the selling of goods and services from one place to another
with the aim of exchanging for maximal profit. Transactions (sales and purchases)
having the objective of supplying commodities (goods and services). The British
economist Adam Smith in (The Wealth of Nation: 1776) remarked that the voluntary to

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exchange an object is intrinsic to human nature in the quest to realize his material
interest. He also exposed the importance of commerce to the interest of Nations.

(Cambridge, 2008:287), further defines commerce as, trade in goods and


services, the large-scale buying and selling of goods and services. This definition of
commerce is directly linked to this work in that it enables the understanding of the type
of goods that the Lebanese in Yaounde were buying and selling or the sector of
enterprise in which the Lebanese invested.

Theoretical framework
The theories of entrepreneurship are broadly classified into four: psychological,
sociological, Economic and ethnic theories of entrepreneurship respectively. A role or
single factor cannot be used exclusively in explaining entrepreneurship. From this
neither a single factor nor model is adequate to explain the development of
entrepreneurship. There is consensus amongst some scholars with regard to factors
facilitating entrepreneurial development.
No single factor can be assumed as the determining variable for studying the
phenomenon of entrepreneurship; in the light of this research numerous thinkers have
speculated the origin and nature of entrepreneurship. Psychological approach is
propounded by McClelland and Hagan, while sociological approach is advocated by
Max Weber, Cochran and Hoselitz, The ethnic theory is propounded by R. Waldinger,
the Economic theory by Adam smith, Isreal Kirzner, Joseph Schumpeter and Jean
Baptiste Say. All these writers have developed various theories on entrepreneurship
and popularized the concepts. The theories propounded by them can be categorized as
under psychological theory, sociological theory, ethnic theory and economic theory.
David McClelland propounds entrepreneurship from a psychological
perspective, According to McClelland; entrepreneurial growth can be explained in
terms of need for achievement motivation, which he considers as a major determinant
of entrepreneurial development (Fregetto, 2004:548). Motivation is imbued in the
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culture in terms of values, norms and beliefs (what McClelland calls value attitudes),
putting forward the reason why some cultures motivate their people towards a strong
desire to achieve and while others are not. McClelland attempt to apply his philosophy
in analyzing entrepreneurial development amongst different societies by interpreting
them in terms of ideologies reflected in disciplines like; history and religion (Jennings,
1994:234). According to him, these ideas help to generate the need for achievement
motivation. As the case of the Lebanese in Cameroon whose presence was
economically motivated. One of the principal reasons which made the Lebanese to
move around the world for centuries was due to economic pre-occupations. The
Lebanese were reputed worldwide for their movement and commercial activities.
Economic motives stood at the forefront of Lebanese expansion to Africa. Lebanese
presence in Yaounde was dominated by the business motive and economic potentials
of the strategic region of Yaounde. In effect, at the end of 1920, the first Lebanese
arrived as traders or agents in the first firms and factories installed in Yaounde and
Douala motivated economically, understanding that the Germans had left huge
plantation farms for exploitation. All these factors put together connotes therefore that
Lebanese presence in Yaounde was motivated by the need for economic achievement.

McClellands major point of argument is that motivation is directly related to


entrepreneurship and assuming that it is the immediate cause of the entrepreneurship.
This theory is supported by Hervett Hegan, through his concept of creative personality
which is accelerated by the motivation to achieve which is directly related to the
theory advanced by McClelland as cited by (Bates, 1997:231).
To him entrepreneurship is accelerated by change and driven by a motivation to
achieve. According to Hegan, entrepreneurial growth has been very gradual and may be
an intergenerational change. Hegan developed a thesis that the disadvantage minority
group is mostly the source of entrepreneurship. He takes the case of Japanese history in
America to substantiate his argument. He argues that the forces of disruption against the
stability of traditional society should be powerful to have creative personalities.
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McClelland modified Hegan's thesis to explain the case of Negroes in America. He


stated that the subordination of minority group may develop achievement motivation
among its members but it depends upon the group values and initial level of motivation
within the group. It becomes evident from the human history that entrepreneurship is
not equally distributed in any population or minorities. Migration of the ethnic groups
might have provided most of the entrepreneurial talent, but not all the ethnic groups are
the sources of entrepreneurship. Psychological theorists propound that the first and
foremost preposition is motivation which brings about entrepreneurship; they advocate
that human action is goal directed. The explanation for action is psychological; it is the
motive which is main thrust behind the action. If the motivation for action is temporal,
behaviour remains short lived. The major point of arguments propounded by
psychological theorist, which is motivation to achieve, is significance to this study as
provides an avenue to understand the reason for the Lebanese community in Yaounde
today. McClellands major point of argument guides our sense of direction in
understanding how motivation led to Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde.
Max Weber analyzed the impact of religious beliefs on entrepreneurship,
according to Max religious beliefs are the driving or restraining force for generating
entrepreneurial activity. Weber is the first amongst the social scientists who took the
position that entrepreneurial growth is dependent upon the ethical values of society.
He further explains that, entrepreneurial growth depends upon a specific value
orientation of individuals especially those of ethical values. Weber illustrates his
theoretical formulation by the relationship that he found between 'Protestant Ethic and
Spirit of Capitalism (Weber, 1930:35). He holds that this thesis is true about other
religions like Hinduism, Jainism, and Judaism. He argues that the followers of
Protestantism progress fast in bringing capitalism because their ethical value system
bestowed them with rational economic attitude.
Some of the Weberians contended that Jews and Jains fail to develop because of
their value restrictions in having contact of any type with other communities. Among

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the scholars who employ cultural factors to explain entrepreneurial development, the
Weberian proposition on culture of entrepreneurship is notable. Max Weber's work
'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' may serve as the best available
source, to identify the constitutive elements of culture of modern entrepreneurship. In
his thesis, Weber articulated singular importance in the attitude towards work. Under
the influence of Calvinism, Weber argues that work transformed from a technique for
survival and crude profit making, to a tool for salvation of the individual. In this shift,
the protestant ethic and new forms of production emphasized on hard work, frugality,
individual accountability and reliability, as well as habits of self-regulation and
personal drive (Weber, 1930:55). Kennedy Robert further supports Webers theory
though not universally that entrepreneurship develops independent capacity of
decision making. He agrees with maxis ethical values as having a positive effect on
entrepreneurial growth but considering them exclusively would be unrealistic.
Authors like Dwijendra contended that Weber's model is not adequate to analyze the
entrepreneurship particularly in Indian situation, as it is developed from the western
social system (Bygrave, 1991:112).
Another sociological theory of entrepreneurship is of Thomas Gehran. He
sanctions the performance of the entrepreneur might be seen in reference to his own
attitudes towards occupation, values and role expectations of that particular society or
norms are the most important determinant in the performance of business
entrepreneurial roles (Mandilara, 1998:222). Frank young shares Cochrans position
pertaining to the role of personality factor in shaping the entrepreneurial spirit. Young
maintains that the particular family background generates entrepreneurial activity and
its a reflector of the general cultural values (Young, 1993:23). Sociological theorists
explain how sociological factors accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship: these two
are theory of religious beliefs and theory of social change. Entrepreneurship is
therefore a function of religious beliefs and the impact of religion is seen to shape
entrepreneurial culture. The social theory is important to this study in that it provides

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an opening in understanding how culture and religious values of the Lebanese


community might have promoted entrepreneurship growth.
Ethnic theory of entrepreneurship, there has been a highlighted interest in the
study of ethnic entrepreneurship in recent years. Research on entrepreneurship in the
field of psychology, sociology, economics, and management sciences as well as ethnic
theory of entrepreneurship contributed extensively to the study of the phenomenon of
entrepreneurship.
Waldinger formulated a model that represents the most recent attempt to
capture the interactive, adaptive and emergent character of ethnic entrepreneurship
(Waldinger, 1990:74). At the core of the model he examined various ethnic strategies
which emerge from the interaction of two factors which are; opportunity structure and
ethnic group culture. Ethnic entrepreneurs adapt to the constraints of the host society,
build their group characteristics and attempt to carve out their own niche. It is implicit
in such a model that migration is an emancipatory process, a positive act which opens
up potential opportunities for social mobility for the growth and development of
members of an ethnic group (Yinger, 1985:345). Another important study of
Waldinger examines the organization of production within an ethnic firm, which is
different from that of mainstream enterprises, from this study it is found that kinship
and ethnicity are significant in reducing managerial, technical and capital costs. The
study reveals that family participation and extremely long working hours are often
viewed as expected responsibilities among the family members, which further prompts
the survival of this labour intensive ethnic entrepreneurship.
This Study affirms with the ethnic entrepreneurship theory as directly related to
the Lebanese community in Yaounde whose strategy of business is family based and
kinship. The Lebanese were prompted to implant themselves in Cameroon from a
parental, family background and ethnic affiliations. As soon as they had financial
means they made family members to come, forming a coherent commercial network
through which they structured their line of distribution based on family affiliations. It

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was through the ethnic affiliations that they developed shops and diversified their
branches in different towns and the other African countries. Family and friendly links
also played a decisive role in the installation of the Lebanese in Yaounde.
It is important to note that cultural and structural approaches to ethnic
entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. Several scholars especially in the recent
times have included both perspectives in their studies, by combining the two
approaches from a social, economic and cultural process which interact with the
historical process of entrepreneurial development. Both the structural and cultural
explanations are extremely deterministic in theorizing ethnic entrepreneurship.
Several studies have demonstrated the importance of ethical values like
religion, culture as the potential factors affecting entrepreneurship. Some studies
brought out the importance of variable like self-image constructions, aspirations,
occupational background, marital status, and their relationship between entrepreneurial
developments. Among the works on ethnic entrepreneurship, the study of Bonacich on
small business in Japanese American community is significant, as it examines the
reasons why ethnic groups enter into small business. Tracing personality and
achievement motivations, which are based on social and structural conditions as the
most significant criteria for entrepreneurial development (Bonacich, 1972:96). They
illustrate how social norms and values push particular ethnic groups into small
business. Their study has been further substantiated by the findings of Light who
stressed the role of ethnic networks in entrepreneurial development.
Another important study is that of Lieberson, on "Black and White immigrants
in the United States since 1980" gives description of the factors that condition ethnic
group's chances of entering in entrepreneurship. He highlighted the role of economic
and residential factors of ethnic communities in entrepreneurial development,
according to him the limited education and lack of training in skills required for higher
paying jobs among the members of minority ethnic groups restrict their entry into
main stream economy (Lieberson, 1991:201). Minority ethnic groups generally take up

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peripheral jobs in the occupational structure, which are characterized by high degree of
job insecurity. These conditions force them to consider other options amongst which
are self- employment which is an attractive alternative for them. The present study
makes use of ethnic entrepreneurship in other to understand how structural and cultural
stands have been deterministic in the creation of Lebanese entrepreneurship in
Yaounde. The theory is also important in showing the strategy used by the Lebanese as
an ethnic group to survive and maintain continuity, in which case will give the chance
to study the Lebanese line of activity in Yaounde from the point of independent or
dependent business operators.
Economic theory entrepreneurship, since the late 1800s some theoretical
insights on entrepreneurship were being formulated within diverse quarters such as the
American Institutionalist School and the Austrian School of Economics. The most
seminal contribution was that of Joseph Schumpeter, who cannot be classified strictu
sensu as belonging to a specific school of thought, although he was affiliated with the
Austrian School of Economics which propounded on Economic entrepreneurship
theory.
Schumpeter, in his theory of entrepreneurship rejected the twin assumptions,
prevalent before him, that economic change is induced exogenously and that
entrepreneurial activity is a response to exogenous forces (Schumpeter, 1961:112). In
contrast, he constructed an endogenous growth theory in which the entrepreneur is
the source of all dynamic change in the economy. A creative rebel, the
Schumpeterian entrepreneur creates disequilibrium and plays a key role in economic
development, by breaking away from the path of routine and implementing
innovations. The insights of Schumpeter later exerted a strong impact on the School of
Evolutionary Economics and economic historians, but they failed to affect
conventional economic analysis. Joseph A. Schumpeter also put forward popular
notions of entrepreneurship based on the heroic vision concerned with the heroic or
high-level kind of entrepreneurship that, historically has led to the creation of

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railways, the development of the chemical industry and the growth of integrated oil
companies. A weakness of his analysis is that it leaves little room for the much more
common, but no less important low-level entrepreneurship carried on by small firms.
Few economic histories nowadays would ignore the important role of small firms in
economic development.
Alfred Marshall, criticized the theory of Joseph A. Shumpeter by giving
credence only to heroic vision but emphasized on the importance and role of small
firms, Even though his findings could not fit into entrepreneurship analysis. But he
explicitly recognized the importance of low-level entrepreneurship. Alfred Marshall
cast entrepreneurship as being a key figure in the economic system, assigning the
distinct role of a decision making agent within an uncertain environment, this was
advocated by Hbert , Link, and Baretto (Marshall, 1890:90).
The Austrian school approach is reflected in the works of Friedrich A. von
Hayek and Israel M. Kirzner. The both authors as well as Alfred Marshall advocate the
essence and importance of low-level entrepreneurship in an economy, thereby in
accordance with the law of demand and supply in a market economy (Kirzner,1973:
408). The difficulty with the Austrian approach is, however, that it isolates the
entrepreneur from the organization of routine activities, which is so characteristic of a
firm. Where as a fuller understanding of entrepreneurship necessitates a clarification
linking entrepreneurship and the firm.
Analyses of various entrepreneurship theories reveal what economist differs on
the force that drives entrepreneurs or central characteristics of entrepreneurship. The
various authors: Adam smith, Kirzner, Josephe Schumpeter and Jean Baptiste Say,
remain unanimous that entrepreneurship is a distinct concept and central factor of the
economic activity (Swedberge, 2000:27). In economics the concept of
entrepreneurship as propounded by David Ricardo, is referred to as a factor of
production to gather with land, labour, natural resources and capital (Wilken,
1979:213), he also propounded that Entrepreneurship begins with actions, the creation

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of a new organization including priority to its creation, scanning the environment for
opportunity, the identification of the opportunity to be pursued, the evaluation of the
feasibility of the venture.
The importance of economic theory is imperative to this study as gives a path
way to understand the significance of small firms and heroic vision industries, through
this; the sector or line of the Lebanese business entrepreneurship will be more visible.

Literature Review
It is important to review existing literature as well as past that are related to the
study. In the context of this study the Literature review will prove that the theme of
study is backed by authors who have carried out research related to the work under
consideration.
Jacque Binet, (1975:49) carried out his study on the arrival of Syro-Lebanese in
francophone African countries. His study gives an explanation on the type of activities
carried out by the Lebanese in shaping the economies of the area where they find
themselves. He equally gives a vivid run through of the Lebanese early commercial
activities in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger and Cameroon. His study makes mention of
the Bamileke in west Cameroon, who moved across the Mungo River and bought large
farming lands for the cultivation of cocoa and coffee. Finally, his study portrays the
Lebanese as a dynamic community who started their commercial activities like
peddlers with modest store owners and further evolved in the commercialization of
luxurious products. The Lebanese later got into export and import trade, owning
transport enterprises. His study is limited as it elaborates extensively on early arrival
and implantation; again his points of view on the Lebanese are vividly explained. His
study is important in enhancing the present study, as it provides a path way through
which the arrival and the first commercial activities of the Lebanese will be

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understood. This study will also examine the impact of Lebanese entrepreneurship in
Yaounde.
Chris Bierwirth, (1999:166) worked on the Lebanese in Ivory Coast. He
portrays the Lebanese in Ivory Coast as a visible minority who have been politically
and socially marginalized, vulnerable to political pressure and manipulation and
therefore find themselves unable and unwilling to assimilate fully as Ivorian nationals.
The study equally portrays the Lebanese to be a dynamic community. Finally, his
study shows the difficulties faced by the Lebanese in assimilating fully in Ivory Coast.
Historically they were noted as hyphens in the Ivorian society in colonial society,
neither Africans nor Europeans and Unwilling to assimilate to neither Africans and
unable to be assimilated as Europeans. His work is important to this study as it
provides a prior knowledge to understand the process of Lebanese implantation and
integration in Yaounde. An addition to his study will be examining the challenges
faced by the Lebanese in Yaounde in the course of integration; be it social, economical
and political.
Lloyd, F, (1962:34) his examines the commercial activities of the Lebanese in
south western Nigeria; he shows how the earliest Lebanese community became the
nucleus through which the influx of other waves came from Lebanon or other parts of
Africa. He also addresses the developmental role of the Lebanese in south western
Nigeria. He emphasizes on the contribution of alien participants other than the
Europeans in Nigeria. He emphasizes that the development in south western Nigeria
could not be solely attributed to the British but also to the nationals and the Lebanese
who constituted the largest non European group. His work will be primordial in this
study in giving a profound critical analysis of the link between the first immigrant
Lebanese in Cameroon, the new comers and a panorama of present trend and future
perspectives of their business activities.
Emmnauel k, Akyeampong, (2006:216) focuses on the political integration of
the Lebanese community in Ghana, who immigrated to the Gold coast during the early

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colonial period. Lebanese-Ghanaians and Lebanese residents complained that after


decades of residence they were still treated as political strangers, they have been
socially assimilated but cannot still participate in to politics which makes them to be
attached to Ghana as a place and not to Ghana as a polity or political space. They have
not actually been involved in politics with a few exceptions, like half people-
Lebanese or half Ghanaians (mixed race). As a result of this the Lebanese
community has continuously maintained a close relation with Lebanon even though
there is not any specific policy that Beirut focus on the diaspora. An addition to this
study will be to examine the place occupied by the Lebanese community in Yaounde
and the level of socio-political adaptation.
Albert Bourgi, (2005:112) analysed Lebanese in francophone African countries
such as; Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, Sierra-Leon and Liberia and the Lebanese in
Central Africa. He refers to the Lebanese in Africa as a stranger trader community
operating on behalf of colonial masters and firms as facilitators and middle men
between the local producers and international firms. He equally discusses the
multifaceted menaces faced by the Lebanese during and after independence. This
study gives us a prior knowledge to inquire, analyze and identify the integration of the
Lebanese in Cameroon before and after independence in Cameroon.
Philipp Bruckmayr, (2010:333) traced the presence of the Syro-Lebanese
community in the southern Caribbean to be long term. He also gives analyses about
the major waves of Lebanese arrivals starting in 1930s and then again in 1975. He
presents this two periods as representing a shift from a mainly Christian to a
predominantly Muslim community subject to the forces of globalization. He focuses
on the Columbian experience of syro-lebanese community to study the modes of
adaptation to local culture and the environment. This work is important as it gives a
prior knowledge in understanding the different waves of Lebanese migration in
different societies.

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Anja Pelikis, (2000:92) puts interest in the Lebanese diaspora in Ivory Coast,
his study traces the origin of the Lebanese presence in ivory Coast, his findings prove
that Lebanese presence is economically motivated, he goes further to proves that the
Lebanese in Ivory Coast still maintain a tight relation with Lebanon. This work will
give a clearer insight to evaluate the activities of the Lebanese in Cameroon, its
significance to the economy and study the link Lebanese in Cameroon still maintain
with their ancestral home land.
Sawsan Abdulrahim, (2009:101) examines the pathway through which
Lebanese community in the USA came to own small businesses in the Detroit
metropolitan area. He examines the reason for which the Lebanese fine themselves or
move into small business enterprise. His study suggests that structural conditions in
the host context are crucial in describing the path ways through which Lebanese
community became owners of small businesses. His study is important to this work in
giving room to study the path through which the Lebanese in Yaounde evolved from
intermediaries, facilitators and finally to become independent entrepreneurs.
J. Joost Beuving, (2006:25) focuses on the Lebanese economic dynamism in the
business of second hand cars in West Africa coming mostly from Western Europe. He
further discusses Lebanese involvement into other sectors through which family
members and friends followed, he explains further that their business often started as a
kin- based enterprise to gradually incorporate family business and peers. He concluded
that their migration to West Africa is highly profit motivation and wish to live a better
life. His study is imperative to this study in that it gives an opening to identify the
various sectors of business line in which the Lebanese are involved in and the strategy
use to stay afloat in business.
OBrien Rita Cruise, (1975:62) analyses the situation of the Lebanese before
and after independence. The Lebanese who were known as petit blanch received the
favour and protection from the large firms in charge of importing and exporting. In his
study he refers to the Lebanese in Senegal as a stranger community who are treated as

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a socially excluded people in the country, while being the centre point of development.
He presents the Lebanese in Senegal as a community motivated to achieve wealth and
improve on their condition. They thrive initially on the peasant economies, operating
as middle men between local producers of raw materials and selling in the
international market, thus providing a skill in trade and knowledge of international
trading system. They have been exposed to different forms of menace before and after
independence. The important of this work provides an avenue to understand how the
presence of the Lebanese has both hindered the growth of local firms and at the same
time contributed to the growth of international trade and contributed to development in
Yaounde.
Michel de Montaigne, (2011:56) In his study explains the arrival of the Greeks
in Cameroon in 1920 and examines the mark they left to the host country through their
businesses. He further presents the Greeks as a visible minority amongst other
foreigners who stood at the heart of the colonial system of trafficking before
independence. They invested in intermediate sectors of the colonial economy after
independence, economic growth and urbanization created new avenues of activities
such as building, construction, department stores and import of various items. The
long period of devaluation of FCFA in 1994 discouraged and weakened the Greek
business; a number of activities (forestry, transportation) were passed to the hands of
competitors like the Lebanese and Bamelike. Since the countrys independence they
will lose their small business to the local people and they will subsequently be affected
by the Africanisation of business competition dynamics of Africa entrepreneurs. They
still keep sophisticated technology trade, super markets and small industrial
investment and an important place in the bakery industry. The study is important in
that it provides a forum to understand the other business competitors that stood in the
face of the Lebanese business in Yaounde.
Josiane Fahed, (2004:62) worked on the Lebanese community in S. America
and also examined the importance of family business as an engine that drives socio-

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economic development. He explains that family business is the backbone that has kept
the Lebanese business to be running for over generations and strategic in growth and
innovation. He equally site the importance of family business in sub-Saharan Africa,
as usually the main institution capable of sustaining entrepreneurial activities amongst
Lebanese communities be it in Lebanon or out of Lebanon. The analyses he makes are
important to this study, it opens a path to understand the strategy put in place by the
Lebanese to have kept their business running for generations and to understand the
rule of family business in Yaounde.
Oswald Truzzi, (2002:412) his article examines the main characteristics
regarding the trajectories taken by Syrians and Lebanese immigrants in Brazil,
between the last decades of the 19th century. He examines issues including the reasons
for their coming, the beginning of their economic integration in Brazil as peddlers,
their affirmation as merchants, the changes in their images identities and group
cohesion and finally the patterns of upward mobility of the first Brazilian born
generation social trajectories of the Syrians and the Lebanese immigrants in Brazilian
society. This study is important as it provides a path way to interrogate the motive for
the presence of the Lebanese in Yaounde and to access the evolution of their economic
integration.
A. Metaxides, (2003:112) puts emphasis on the favorable politico-economic
environment which encourage the Greeks and Lebanese entrepreneurial community in
Cameroon after independence. This work though focuses on the Greeks gives a
panoramic view of Lebanese activities during the period before independence and after
independence. Fabrice Akono, in his DEA memoire wrote on the Hellenic community
in Cameroon before independence also wrote in the same light. He examines the socio-
economic integration of the Greeks in Cameroon he equally makes mention of non-
European and other immigrant groups amongst which are the Lebanese, Indians and
the Pakistanis.his study is primordial in the ongoing study in that it gives a path in

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understanding the relationship that exist between the Lebanese and other non-
European groups.
Assidon Eisa, (1989:67) compared the relation which existed between the
European firms and the Lebanese community who acted as facilitators to the French
administration and intermediaries to the colonial firms. She puts particular emphasis
on the adaptation and integration difficulties in the resident countries. Her work sheds
light on this work in that it precedes an opening to understand the situation of the first
immigrant in Yaounde and their activities.
J.L, Ndongmo, (1981:82) gives a detail analyses of the commercial activities in
Yaounde during the 1960 and 1970s with a special consideration of the commercial
communities of the bamileke whom he regards as a commercially dynamised group in
Cameroon. He further sweepingly presents the competition amongst the Greeks,
Nigerian and the Lebanese. His work is important even though partially focused on the
Bamileke but gives this work a prior knowledge on commercial activities in Yaounde
in the 1960 and aids in the projection of the present and future of the Lebanese in
Cameroon today.
Marianne Meunier, (2009:109) refers to the Lebanese community in Cameroon
as hybrids that have become not completely Cameroonian and not truly Lebanese
Francois Bambou, writes equally in this light, he gives a vivid run through of pioneer
Lebanese traders in Cameroon during the 1960 (Francois, 2009). These studies will
enable us to study the problem of nationality and legitimisation amongst the Lebanese
community in Cameroon. These remarks though superficial contribute in giving
critical analyses about the entrepreneurial activities of the Lebanese in Cameroon.
L Fallers, (1962:105) examine the socio-cultural integration of the Lebanese
community in West Africa, with results varying according to conditions in the
different countries of settlement. He further portrays them as a risk taking trader
community motivated by profit His work is important as will enhance a general

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knowledge in understanding Lebanese entrepreneurial activities in varied contexts in


Yaounde.

Statement of the Problem


The implantation and professional action of the Lebanese community in the
capital city of Cameroon since the 1922 calls for questioning. It is worthwhile evoking
the contribution of the Lebanese in the economic evolution, edification and
development of Yaounde. The study analyses precisely the mutative format and
strategy through which the Lebanese successfully carried out their activities in
Yaounde amidst the numerous challenges they faced.
It is from this that, a central question is posed: What was the impact of
Lebanese entrepreneurship in the development of Yaounde? What was the role, action,
contribution of the Lebanese in the construction and economic evolution in the capital
of Cameroon during and after the colonial period?

Objectives of the Study


The general objective of study here focuses on finding out and understanding
the history of the Lebanese in Yaounde, designating a prime position to their
professional life and its impact in Yaounde. Specifically, the first objective of this
study gives a comprehensive historical background and early activities of the Lebanese
in Yaounde, which is imperative understanding and analyzing the progressive
implantation of the Lebanese enterprise in Yaounde.
The second objective devotes a perceptible appraisal on the significant role
played by the Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde. It examines the socio-economic
activities of the first and second generation of the Lebanese.
The third objective examines the relationship that existed between the Lebanese
community in Yaounde with emphasis on the relationship they had amongst

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themselves (intra-Lebanese relationship), Cameroonians and other foreign


communities in Yaounde.
The fourth objective explores the impact of Lebanese activities from an
economic and socio-cultural point of view in Yaounde and also examines the
components of challenges that Lebanese entrepreneurship faced in Yaounde.

Scope or Delimitation of the Study


The study is delimited to Yaounde which is the capital of Cameroon and a
principal commercial town. Yaounde has a population of approximately 2 million
people, the first densely populated city in the country before the port city of Douala. It
lies in the center of the nation at an elevation of about 750 metres (2,500 ft) above sea
level Athanase (2003:67). Founded in 1888 by German traders as a base for the ivory
trade and today major industries in Yaounde include tobacco, dairy products, beer,
clay, glass goods, and lumber. It served as a regional distribution center for coffee,
cocoa, copra, sugar cane, and rubber from the pre-colonial period and after
independence (Samuel, 2001:44). Yaounde is also home to foreign embassies and the
expatriate European community.
The chronological framework of this study is 1922 to 1990. The year 1922
marks the first arrival of the Lebanese community in Cameroon placed under the
French mandate by the League of Nations as a mandate B territory Marc Michel
(2007:55). This period symbolizes, the official date of Lebanese immigration to
Yaounde. On the part of the Lebanese, the year 1922 marked the accentuation of
socio-political instability as a result of numerous coups dtat in Lebanon. Its also a
period when Europe particularly experienced a relative peace marked by the
reconstruction of the western countries after the great war of 1914-1918. For
Cameroon, 1922 marked the period when the new administration of France and Britain
actually took the destiny of Cameroon after the departure of the Germans.

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As concerns 1990, it represents first the period during which Lebanese business
activities faced a downward trend forcing some Lebanese of the first generation to move
out of Cameroon, due to the economic crises which accelerated the regression in
Lebanese business activities in Yaounde, For Cameroon, the year 1990 represented a
period of economic set back. The drop in commodity prices for its principal exports (oil,
cocoa, coffee, and cotton). All combined together with economic mismanagement
which led to a long decade recession and a brutal fall in living standards only
exacerbated a bad situation for the Lebanese business operators in Yaounde. The once
booming Cameroonian economy which grew at 7 percent per annum from the mid
1980s slipped into a crisis in 1990 as a result of changing international economic and
policy. The shock waves plunged the country into a crisis with severe economic and
political consequences. The failure of the government to meet the aspiration of the
people led to increase demands for multiparty politics

Significance of study
Understanding Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde is imperative in
assessing the dynamism of Cameroons economy from the period before and after
independence. Entrepreneurship in Cameroon has continuously gained additional
attention as has widely been viewed as a key aspect of economic dynamism.
Numerous problems hinder the growth of indigenous and foreign entrepreneurship in
Cameroon, the consequence of such problems has led to the regression of foreign and
national enterprises in Cameroon. So, for this sector to be rekindled policy makers and
stakeholders must look for lasting solutions to ameliorate the sector.
Considering that Yaounde still continuously welcome more and more foreign
entrepreneurs, it is worthwhile to know that the installation of businessmen and other
economic operators in Yaounde is not a simple phenomenon of existence, it has
maintain a long tradition of welcoming and integrating foreign investors. The
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phenomenon of entrepreneurship which is popular today in the Cameroonian capital


city is also as old as the History of Yaounde. Of all times the Cameroonian Capital
have welcome and host foreigners of diverse communities who by their actions
participated in the economic evolution, development and the blossoming of its
inhabitants.

Problems Encountered
In spite of the diversified sources consulted, the realization of this study was
marked by numerous difficulties in the course of the research. The first was the
difficulty obtaining documents or information at the Level of the Lebanese Consular
Office in Douala. The people at the consulate were recent migrants and in most cases
had no susceptible information to the realization of this work. At the level of the
National Archive in Yaounde, the non proper classification of documents though
coded, showed simply their disappearance.
At the level of the oral sources the task was not equally easy. The majority of
the Lebanese witness or actors who lived during the period relevant to this research
had left the country. It was difficult getting in contact with a Lebanese, who lived in
Yaounde from 1920 to 1980. As concerns the young Lebanese generation they seemed
disconnected from the activities of their predecessors who lived in Yaounde. Certain
informants, particularly workers within the Lebanese firms were reticence and
uncommunicative particularly for fear of losing their jobs.

Sources and Methodology


In providing an element of response to the central question of this study, we
resorted to published and unpublished sources. The published sources entailed books,
articles, journals and newspapers. The published sources were gotten from libraries
and research centers such as The University of Maroua Multimedia Centre, The
University of Yaounde I Library, The library of the Ministry of Scientific Research

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and Innovation, Data from the above sources were important in testing and
complimenting the accuracy of the results from the field.
On the other hand, unpublished sources refer to dissertations, archival and
oral data. Dissertations were gotten from the Higher Teachers Training college (ENS)
multimedia Centre Maroua, as well as the department of History, The Circle of
History/Geography and Archeology of the University of Yaounde I (CHGA), The
Department of History Yaounde I. Data was equally collected from The Yaounde
National Archive (NAY). The archival collections contributed in widening the field of
documentation and ameliorating the quality of this research.
The oral sources were collected from resourceful persons destined to complete
and clarify the written sources. Interviews were carried with the use of questionnaires
and oral communication, questions were asked and the individuals responded directly.
The people granted interviews were members of the Lebanese community in Yaounde,
Douala, Mbalmayo and Ngaoundere. Besides the Lebanese close friends, Lebanese
workers, foreign and Cameroonian business operators in Yaounde familiar with
Lebanese presence in Yaounde were granted interview. The interviews were important
in giving first hand information in relation to the Lebanese entrepreneurship in
Yaounde. A careful analysis was needed in the treatment of information. Concerning
the iconographic data, the photographs were collected from the YNA and private
archives like that of Hadjal Masaad, a prominent Lebanese business operator. They
were complimented by photographs taken in the major commercial streets of Yaounde.
In this work the deductive and diachronic methods have been made used.
The diachronic approach has been used to analyze the evolution of Lebanese
entrepreneurial activities in Yaounde in respect to the two time framework. The
diachronic method is also important examining the impact of their activities, giving
room to understand why their activities slowed down at a given period.

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On the other hand the deductive method, which is observation from broader
generalization to specific observation, has also been used to elaborate on the impact of
the Lebanese entrepreneurship in Cameroon in general and Yaounde in particular.

Organisation of the study


The first chapter scrutinizes the fundamental reasons for Lebanese presence in
Cameroon through a series of motivations and factors commencing with economic and
socio-cultural reasons. It moves over to examine the stages of arrival and Lebanese
implantation in Yaounde.
The second chapter analyses the professional activities of the Lebanese
communities in Yaounde. It examines their entrepreneurial and commercial activities,
ranging from intermediary commerce, multipurpose commerce, the promotion of
transport in Yaounde. It concludes with the putting in place of agro-alimentary
industries in Yaounde.
The third chapter, is consecrated to the impact of Lebanese activities in
Yaounde from the colonial period and after, from an economic and socio-cultural point
of view. It also explores the component of Lebanese business regression in Yaounde.
The third chapter of this work gives a critical analysis on the impact and reason
for decline in Lebanese activities in Yaounde. It examines the impact from an
economic and socio-cultural point of view. This chapter is essential in assessing the
constructive part played by the Lebanese activities in Yaounde.

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Map 1: Location of Yaounde on the Map of Cameroon

Source: Adapted by author from Athanase, (2003:420).

Map 2: location of Yaounde

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Source: Adapted by author from Athanase, (2003:420).


CHAPTER ONE
ORIGIN AND IMPLANTATION OF THE LEBANESE IN YAOUNDE

Introduction
Lebanon is the only country to have more citizens living outside its boundaries
with an estimated figure of 15 million citizens living abroad for an inside population of
4 million (Bourgi, 2005:43). Migration has long been a tradition for the Lebanese,
starting as early as the Phoenicians who sailed across the Mediterranean seas. The
modern Lebanese migration began in the 19th century. The history of the Lebanese
shows that there has always existed a Lebanese trans-nationalism. This has been as a
result of the Lebanese dynamism to discover the world and leave their mark (Bhachu,
2001:78). The Lebanese arrived Cameroon as young men with completely different
customs with very little money in their pockets faced all the adaptation problems and
managed to reach the only thing they had in mind to be successful businessmen. This
chapter examines the arrival of the Lebanese in Cameroon through the different waves
of migration and the fundamental reasons that motivated their presence in Cameroon.
The question worth asking here is to know which reasons motivated the Lebanese to
leave their country and settle in Cameroon and Yaounde in particular? What would
have been the push or pull factors and why Yaounde?

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A. The Reasons for Lebanese Immigration in Cameroon


The arrival and installation of the Lebanese community in Cameroon was
backed by a number of reasons. The first and most significant of which was economic
and secondly followed by the unstable warlike and tense political climate in Lebanon
(Fahed-Sreih, 2004:98). This implies that Lebanese settlement in Cameroon was both
motivated by pull and push factors. The pull factors reflected the economic
prerogatives (voluntary migration) while, the push factors reflected the political
reasons (involuntary migration) that forced the Lebanese to have settled in Cameroon.
Different reasons justified the choice of Yaounde to the Lebanese, but the dominant
reason was the economic potentials of the strategic region of Yaounde.

All these factors put together connotes therefore that Lebanese presence in
Cameroon was motivated by both push and pull factors as revealed by the subsequent
paragraphs.

1. Economic Reasons (pull factors)


One of the principal reasons which made the Lebanese to move around the
world for centuries was due to economic pre-occupations. The Lebanese were reputed
worldwide for their movement and commercial activities. Economic motives stood at
the forefront of Lebanese expansion to Africa. In effect by 1922 the first Lebanese
arrived as traders or agents in the first firms and factories installed in Douala and
Yaounde by the French and Germans (Ngoh, 1990:180). Dakour Raja a businessman
of Indian origin corroborated this fact:

If the Lebanese came to Cameroon it is first of all for economic reasons. Cameroon was and still
remains geographically strategic for Lebanese business men. Everyone was informed that the
Germans had left behind them large spans of fortunate plantation and it is one of the reasons
that attracted the Lebanese and other foreign communities to settle in Cameroon. Again other

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Lebanese family members who had settle earlier were doing fine and motivated the incoming of
friends, relatives and business ventures in Cameroon1.

To be very explicit again, Hajal Massad Mouawad saw Lebanese expansion in


Cameroon to be economically motivated. He affirms that:

Whether it was Khoury Elie, Ibrahim Helou, or Torbey Barbar and others. They were all in
Cameroon for the search of an economic and financial wellbeing. The prove is that they all got
involved into the practice of profitable commercial activities. Though the start was timid in
most cases because of capital, they dynamised as the years went by into influential
entrepreneurs Economic motivation is no doubt the reason why members of the Lebanese
community left their homeland to settle in Africa and Cameroon2.

The Lebanese presence in Cameroon was a subject of mixed reaction from the
host society in Yaounde while many Cameroonians particularly political leaders
defended their presence believing that it was economically beneficial for Cameroon.
Others strongly criticized it arguing that the Lebanese presence was an impediment to
the growth of a purely Cameroonian economic class. They were considered as
corrupted and carried out illegal activities and used many kinds of mal practices in
their trading activities3. The Lebanese in Cameroon were regarded as corrupted,
embezzelers and dupes present on all the economic strata, sometimes supported and
favoured by the government and rejected and hated popularly. Frugih Sabah
disapproved of this and admits that:

The principal reproach addressed to the Lebanese entrepreneurial community was because of
their success in business, though no physical confrontation existed between the Lebanese and
Cameroonian business community in Yaounde they were a natural target to a popular uprising.
By nature the Lebanese in Yaounde are a reserved community who didnt exacerbate matters for
the two communities. The Hausa and Bamileke who were competing with the Lebanese in

1
Interview with Dakour Raja, 51 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Mvog Ada, 23 December
2012.
2
Interview with Hadjal Massad Mouawad, 57 years, Businessman in Yaounde, Rue Foch, 22 December
2012.

3
Interview with Zada Fouad, 61 years, Pakistani Businessman in Yaounde, Avenue Kennedy 15
November 2012
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Yaounde were ready to create fear into the Lebanese at any given moment so as to get their
privilege business position4.

2. The Political Causes (push factors)


Political reasons in Lebanon prompted the presence of Lebanese immigration
across the world, Africa and Cameroon in particular. The political climate played a
non-negligible role by contributing to the Lebanese migration across the world, Sub-
Saharan Africa and Cameroon in particular. The Lebanese community in Cameroon
while historically trade related, has more recently been linked to the Lebanese civil
war. Many Lebanese immigrated to sub-Saharan Africa for safety reasons and to seek
for new opportunities prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Lebanese were situated in
Anglophone countries as well as French speaking countries (central Africa, West, East
and South) in their different waves of arrivals (Binet, 1975:55).
Many reasons stand to account for why the Lebanese left their country of origin
to settle in many parts of the world. The question worth justifying here is as such, how
were political reasons responsible for the Lebanese immigration to Africa and
Cameroon in particular? One of the fundamental reasons was the chaotic political
situation in Lebanon (Bigo, 1992:92). Tracing the reasons right from the Ottoman
Empire, we realized that the warlike nature of the Ottoman Empire to increase its
Empire led constant war of expansion which made matters worse for the Lebanese
because of the usual demand of military recruitment by the Royal Imperial Army who
needed Lebanese youths as soldiers. Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire right
from the XVI century. The result of such actions prompted the Lebanese to seek for
safe heavens in other parts of the continent amongst which was Africa, particularly in
Egypt so as to escape from conscriptions (Lloyd, 1962:121).

4
Interview with Frugih Sabah, 49 years, Iranian Business man in Yaounde, Carrefour Lintendant 23
October 2012.

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The origin of the very first major conflicts in Lebanon that led to massive
displacements and immigration was due to the Ottoman colonization, which hastened
anarchy in the socio-political and economic sector, the situation became exacerbated
again after the First and Second World Wars Lebanon was marred with confessional
and political troubles (Anja, 2000:56). As a result of instability and crises, conflicts
flourished between the different religious confessional and political forces again.
Lebanon then became a theatre of political and social battle. Khoury Paul a
Cameroonian of Lebanese origin admits that:

One of the principal reasons which made my father to leave Lebanon for Cameroon was
directly linked to the First and Second World War which resulted to the generalize poor
economy in Lebanon. It affected the economy of most of the countries in the Middle East
amongst. The Lebanese in most of the cases left Lebanon in search of jobs to assure a secure
future for themselves and their generations. The African countries that appeared less affected
than Lebanon became the hopeful destination of most Lebanese youths5.

Another major reason for Lebanese immigration was equally linked to the 1929
economic crises and its impact on the Lebanese society and its economy. It was from
the above that we deduced that Lebanese expansion to the African continent was
propelled by the political and social divisions within Lebanon.
Besides the consequences of the two wars and world economic crises in the
1930 the economy of the Arab countries was very weak and unstable (Bruckmayr,
2010:320). The majority of Lebanese who left for Africa were in search of jobs and a
successful future. Abou Saha a Cameroonian of Lebanese origin doing business in
Yaounde in Mvog Ada quarter admits that from his view, The first and second world

5
Interview with Khoury Paul, 57 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Ahala, 18 December 2012.

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wars were primordial in their present coming and settlement in Africa and Cameroon
in particular6.
Another reason for Lebanese migration was the The Arabe-Isreali conflict in
1948 which affected Lebanon, and as a result Lebanon was finally occupied by Israel
in 1982 (Smith, 1948:67). Another reason was the civil war of 1975 which ended in
1991, destroying almost all of the countries structures, the socio-economic and
political difficulties related to this chaotic situation. The chaotic situation inflicted
hardships and sufferings which caused the Lebanese to move out of their country of
origin. The immediate result of such a crises made the Lebanese to move out of their
land to settle in other parts of the world knowing their country was not safe for
settlement.
Besides the political reason, there equally existed personal motivations for
migration; many Lebanese preferred leaving their country for different new horizons.
A majority of individuals lived in poverty and misery. It was as a result of this that
most Lebanese decided to take up an adventure to ameliorate their conditions. Such
projects of adventure were characterized by the nature of their ancestors who were
known as the Phoenicians (Sawsan,2010:302). The Phoenicians were great sea
explorers and adventurers, they were renowned for their commercial activities in major
European markets like Middle East and Africa. The movement of the Lebanese in
search of an Eldorado to make fortune was relative to maintaining the same tradition
as the Phoenicians.

3. Socio-Cultural Motivations
Besides political motivations, the Lebanese were prompted to implant
themselves in Cameroon from a parental or family background. Family and friendly

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Interview with Frugih Sabah, 49 years, Iranian Business man, Yaounde, Carrefour Lintendant ,
23 October 2012

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links also played a decisive role in the installation of the Lebanese in Cameroon. As
soon as they had means they made family members to come so that they could form a
coherent family commercial network (Marianne, 2009:112), they made success and
transformed their enterprises, developed shops and diversified their branches in
different towns and the other African countries into many sectors.An example is the
first textile company in Cameroon which was opened by the Lebanese
(Marguarat,1973:213). In Lebanon the means of subsistence was limited so the young
people had no prospects but to emigrate. The early migrants usually poor and
uneducated villagers would board a boat and embark on a journey to sub-Saharan
Africa to meet successful family members (Olufunmilayo, 2005:272). They structured
their line of distribution from the agricultural areas to urban, right up to the coastal
areas for exportation and importation. Diagram 1 shows the Lebanese business chain
in Yaounde, it shows how the Lebanese played a major role between the local farmers
(cocoa and coffee) and the French warehouses that furnished buying capital. They
were a go between, linking the rural people to the urban areas through coffee and
cocoa.

Diagram 1: Lebanese Business chain of Distribution in 1958


Agricultural Zone (cocoa, coffee)

Intermediary Traders

Major firms and Warehouses

Douala port (exportation of cocoa)


importation of manufactured goods

Source: conceived by author, 1AA, cacao et caf: condition et contrle, 1958

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The Lebanese were intermediary buyers and suppliers, they furnished cash and
imported European products in the villages around Yaounde ( Saa, Monatel and
Obala). They were small scale middlemen who collected the products from indigenous
traders to sell to European firms7. The Lebanese evolved in their activities as the years
passed by to embrace other non commercial activities. The pioneers who started in
1922 lived a very difficult and painful mode of life (Peddlers selling tissues, beads
kiosk owners and living a mediocre life and often sleeping in their area of business8.
By 1966 they had become prominent buyers and exporters and could hire agents who
received commissions to sell or buy on their behalf. These agents communicated in
local languages and market conventions, travelled to the surrounding villages to
distribute or collect goods in the major cash crop areas in the outskirts of Yaounde.
They also made use local agents. The presence of the Lebanese equally initiated the
training of the Cameroonian young black bourgeoisie class; they furnished the officials
of the civil service and the first politician after independence. In the cause of this the
ordinary Cameroonian learnt a lot from their enterprising activities.
The influential Lebanese traders understood and mastered the technical and
commercial processes perfectly to an extent that they enjoyed control over the stores,
Lorries. This made them to make profits from the trade, advance credits to small scale
cocoa dealers and negotiated with the major European exporters. The Lebanese
maintained their expansion by constant ploughing back their profits and exploring
business in new areas and in potentially profitable areas of investment. The reputation
for low priced and prompt payment of money when agricultural products were
supplied. The colonial administration also increased pressure on them to reinvest more
of their benefits in Cameroon instead of prioritizing remittance.

7
Interview with Onambela Menduga, 59 years, businessman in Yaounde, Mvog Mbi, 12 December
2012
8
NAY, 1AC6459, population libano-syrienne, contrle 1956.

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They preferred large centers and the central market places unlike the European
who lived in the reservation areas. The Lebanese had to obtain a lease for their
commercial and residential premises. They were modest, prudent and operated
silently, surely and steadily without calling for any alarm (avoiding problems),
ambitious, hard working, steadfast and energetic9. They came with a vision to climb
the social ladder and succeeded finally.
Their sons followed in the same light as importers and exporters and also
indulged into the creation of enterprises, constructed houses and gave it out on rents
obliging the tenants to pay at least six months of rents, like Immeuble Hadjal in the
centre town of Yaounde, constructed by Hadjal Massad who arrived Cameroon in
1952 and invested in real estate and agro-alimentary industry10. Plate1shows the
image of the picture of Mouawad Hadjal and a friend in his shop. He is the Heir of
Hadjal Massad and head of the Hadjal business group. He is a Lebanese Cameroonian
through his father who had naturalized as a Cameroonian. Plate 1 shows the portrait of
Hadjal Massad Mouawad who is a Lebanese of Cameroonian origin. He is the head of
the Hadjal group of business affiliates who are mostly made up of Lebanese business
men in Cameroon.

9
Ibid.
10
Interview with Hadjal Mouawad, 23 October 2012.
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Plate 1: Portrait of Hadjal Massad Mouawad, Cameroonian of Lebanese


origin

Source: Snapped by Nouridin melo, Rue Foch Immeuble Hadjal,Yaounde 30


October 2012.
Many of those who came later were joining relatives and friends rather than
striking out for entirely new territory, they followed the same line of economic
activities as their fellow predecessors did. The Lebanese began at the lowest level of
commerce, trading in inexpensive commodities, but after independence they expanded
their scale of enterprise and began to displace independent European merchants11. The
Lebanese also invested in urban constructions in Yaounde and were amongst the first
to develop residence and restaurants in previously less accessible areas of the capital
city of Cameroon.

Plate 2: Lebanese African restaurant on Rue Foch 1957

11
Ibid.
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Source: personal archive of Fahat Moussa, 22 December 2012

Presently many hold Cameroonian citizenship though unwilling to integrate


fully and assimilate to the Cameroonian society. Damashki Hassib corroborates this
presence, I was invited to Cameroon for the first time by my Aunt Youssefieh Azar
who was the junior sister of my mother, the wife of a business man Azar Sabeh who
was installed in Cameroon since 1938. I responded responsibly to the invitation of my
Aunt. I left Lebanon before Christmas in 1960, My documents were signed by the
authorities of the ministry of the French overseas, Boarding authorization to a French
colony12.
Family link was very pertinent and responsible for the arrival and implantation
of members of the Lebanese community in Cameroon particularly amongst the
Lebanese community of the first and second wave. Helou Habib a Cameroonian of

12
Interview with Damashki Hassib, 66 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Carrefour
Lintendant 31 October 2012.

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Lebanese origin declared on his part that; I arrived Cameroon in 1966 at the age of 16
years. My uncle, the brother of my mother brought me; he was living in Cameroon
since 1925 and was also brought into Cameroon by an uncle13. Khoury Paul also
declares that his implantation in Cameroon was due to the close relation which existed
between him and one of his parents living in Cameroon.

My father left with his whole family to America in 1920, where he worked in a restaurant and
did commerce. He was later in 1945 sent to work in an American company fabricating shoes in
Yemen. After the Second World War. I was sent to England to follow up studies conditions
seemed bad for my father and I had to come back. It was as a result of that which I decided to
come home to Lebanon and take an adventure to Cameroon. I wrote to my uncle the brother of
my mother and finally I came to Cameroon in 1975. He too came to Cameroon in 1939 through
his own uncle14.

The above quotation shows the solidarity the Lebanese manifested amongst
bringing other members close to them and achieving success collectively. During the
colonial period the Lebanese tended to support independence movements. They
maintained a social position outside of the colonial relationship, as neither colonist nor
colonized enabled them to maintain good relations with both Cameroonian consumers
as well as the large French business men. After independence in French Cameroon in
1960 most French small traders eventually and gradually gave way for the Lebanese
and nationals, Lebanese migrants and their descendants tended to maintain dual
citizenship of both Lebanese and Cameroon, however they preferred to stay out of
politics. The first arrivals were like emitters that send receptive waves to family
members to follow suit. Besides economic and family link, the political climate in the
Middle East was also another prominent reason for Lebanese immigration and
settlement in Cameroon. The Lebanese arrived Cameroon in different waves and
stages (Franois, 2009:6).

13
Interview with Helou Habib, 63 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Akwa 28 November 2012.
14
Interview with Khoury Paul, 31 October2012.

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B. Stages of Arrival and Implantation of the Lebanese in Yaounde


The arrival of the first Lebanese in Cameroon was under the Franco-British
domination and precisely in the part of French territory at the beginning of 192215.
This arrival had little significant as they were only few in number by then, but through
them an important movement of the Lebanese in Cameroon and in many African
countries registered in 1960 after the independence and of a majority of African states
The first wave of the Lebanese to be present in Cameroon was after the First and
Second World War, followed by the second after the partial independence of French
Cameroon in 1960. Since then subsequent members have arrived Cameroon in
different waves, particularly in 1975 as a result of the civil war in Lebanon16

1. Different Phases of Arrival and Implantation in Yaounde


There were two principal waves with different forms of implantation; casual
settlers and definitive implantation. The temporal settlers were often members of the
first generation who felt attached and had a nostalgic feeling for Lebanon. The reason
being that they had spent part of their youthfulness in Lebanon and found it hard
spending all their life-time in Cameroon. But who were the Lebanese and where did
they come from to implant themselves in Africa, Cameroon and Yaounde in particular.
The first element of response to this interrogation is that presented by Madame Abou-
Jaoudi Farouk who is a Cameroonian of Lebanese origin traces the departure of her
parents from Lebanon and arrival in Cameroon as such:

15
NAY, 1 AC 278, Renseignement divers sur les colonies et limmigration dans les colonies: 1934-
1951.
2
Its worthwhile remarking that Cameroon was not the lone country of Lebanese destination in Africa.
One of the first places in Africa that the Lebanese first settled was in Egypt, before moving south of the
Sahara to settle in West Africa in Senegal, Ivory Coast. After which to settle in Central Africa with a
high concentration in Cameroon and Gabon. A significant population also settled in South Africa,
Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) and in Zimbabwe (ex Rhodesia)
16
1AC6459, population libano-syrienne, contrle 1956.

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When my parents arrived in Cameroon from Lebanon in 1954, they left again for Marseille for
supplementary vaccines. When they left Marseilles again they travelled back to Cameroon
with a boat known as Aiolia which had four engines. They stopped in Douala where they stayed
with an aunt who owned a restaurant in Douala for two weeks before moving to Yaounde
finally. The climate of Douala was not favorable for them, so they preferred Yaounde where it
was also strategically located for commerce. I later followed in 1960 with my husband through
the invitation of my parents.While in Cameroon we worked hard to own a textile shop17.

In the same light Bittar Hilmi a retired businessman of Lebanese origin in Yaounde
provided a good memory of his journey to Cameroon:

I was 15 years of age with a suit case of little content, we took a boat from Lebanon to Cairo,
from there we took a plane known as Dakota of British Airways, we stopped at Khartoum
(Sudan), after which was Maiduguri and Lagos Nigeria. We finally arrived Douala on the 12
April 1965.I left for Yaounde a week later to meet my uncle Darwiche Hani who worked for a
French firm as an intermediate buyer of cocoa in the peripheral town of Yaounde since 1942.
He owned a store of textile materials where I had to be there as shop keeper, assisted by
Cameroonians. I could neither speak French nor English18.

The definitive settlers were children of settlers of the first wave who obtained
Cameroonian nationality and took over control of family business and gave way for
their parents to move back to Lebanon. The Phoenicians were great sea explorers and
adventurers (Hourani, 1992:231). They were also renowned for their commercial
activities in major European markets like Middle East and Africa. The movement of
the Lebanese in search of an Eldorado to make fortune was relative to maintaining the
same tradition as the Phoenicians. A majority of individuals in Lebanon lived in
poverty and misery; it was as a result of these reasons that most Lebanese decided to
take up an adventure to ameliorate their conditions. Such projects of adventure was
characterized and deep rooted in the past of their ancestors who were known as the
Phoenicians. Their presence was chained to economic motives; this was justified by
the migration Lebanese made to the USA (United States of America) and Latin
America in 1918-1945. The USA was the first destination for the Lebanese who were

17
Interview with Sumaya Fadiyaa , 55 years, Designer, Yaounde, Odza, 16 June 2013.
18
Interview with Bittar Hilmi, 63 years, Lebanese business operator, Yaounde, Odza, 17 January 2013.
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drawn there by its prosperous economy, the freedom of speech and its high growth rate
of per capita income (Oswald, 2002:55).
As a result of the world economic recession and a global collapse which
affected America and European countries most the Lebanese decided to intensify their
migration to Sub-Saharan African countries which were less affected by the economic
recession (Morrison, 2005:118). The greater number of emigrants came from the two
extremes of the social ladder, those who were particularly of the underprivileged
hoping to do better abroad than they did at home in Lebanon (members of the first
wave). The already successful and wealthy in search of new opportunities,
(particularly members of the second wave of immigrants) (Boumedouha, 1990:232). A
majority of the Lebanese moved to French African countries amongst which were
Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Senegal (Ibid.).
Yaounde is an important political and economic town which attracted people
from the different regions of the country such as the Extreme North, South, East and
N.W. Region. The Lebanese implantation in Cameroon was selective in that they often
chose to implant themselves only in major towns and commercial areas. The first
Lebanese settlers in Yaounde during the colonial period and after independence
preferred to settle close to popular and populated commercial quarters; like Rue Foch,
Avenue Kennedy and Monte Anne Rouge (Franois, 2009:43). Many reasons stand to
account for why the Lebanese left their country of origin to settle in Cameroon as
discussed above. There equally subsisted personal motivations for migration, many
Lebanese preferred leaving their country for different new pavilions. Yaounde seemed
to have been the final destination of the Lebanese after their first arrival in Cameroon
through the Douala port. They chose Yaounde because of its geographical and
strategic position in relation to the other regions of Cameroon. Its intersectional and
central position between the Northern and southern part of Cameroon. Its position was
also strategic in linking the different countries of the Central African countries of
(Gabon, Congo Republic, and Equatorial Guinea).

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Again the settlement of the Lebanese in Yaounde was equally due to the fact
that they decided to avoid fierce competition with their compatriots in Douala like the
Greeks, Pakistanis, and Indians. Considering that Douala was the economic capital of
Cameroon with different foreign economic operators and business operators of
Cameroonian origin like the Bamileke and Hausa dynamic business community
(Guiffo, 2003:76)
At the level of Yaounde the Ewondo people were less enterprising people and
posed little threat to the Lebanese in commercial activities (Warnier, 1993:91). The
less economic dynamic and little enterprising ambitions of the Ewondo in Yaounde
only left the Lebanese with numerous advantages on the commercial level to exploit in
Yaounde considering that they were not going to pose a problem of economic phobia
in the commercial sector. The position of Yaounde town permitted the Lebanese to
easily move their goods to the northern part of Cameroon. Yaounde town was equally
not far from the Douala port town where goods could easily be moved into for export
and import without difficulties.
The climatic condition in Yaounde was one of the reasons which made the
Lebanese to prefer installing in Yaounde. Some preferred Yaounde also for health
reasons; this was the case of Ali Dahas family (Fimigue, 1998-1999:75). He settled in
Yaounde because of the good climate. His daughter was a patient and had been
advised to keep away from humid climate or extreme cold. Douala town and the
western region were considered to be insecured particularly by the members of the
first Lebanese community in Cameroon, due to the fact that both were UPC strong
holds and also major areas of revolt (Ngoh, 1990:67). The Lebanese who could hardly
be distinguished from the French could not be an exception in case of an impending
attack; as a consequence Yaounde was preferred.
The implantation of the Lebanese in Yaounde was economically possible only
due to the reception given to the Lebanese by the administration in Cameroon after
independence. Immediately after independence the administration composed of the

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national elite made commercial activities a little complicated for the Lebanese. This
was due to the attempt made by the Cameroon government to put in place an economic
policy to absorb business men of Cameroonian origin into the commercial chain. The
Cameroonian business operators were favoured and prioritize to the detriment of
Foreigners (Anonymous,1992:85).. The case of the French was exceptional because of
the trade conventions signed with the new administration in Yaounde. They still
continued to influence the ideas of the new state on matters of administration, military,
socio-cultural affairs and business perspectives (Ibid.).
The French right from the colonial period and after independence maintained a
monopoly in Cameroon and did not wish to cooperate with other foreign economic
operators be it the Asians or Lebanese (Mouandjo, 1991:167). The French constituted
a real hindrance to the economic evolution of the Lebanese community. Lebanese
ability to have surmounted the difficulties and adaptation problems made them to
evolve economically thanks to the amicable relationship which existed between them
and the Ewondos, the Bamileke and the Hausa who were also an enterprising
community in Yaounde (Sakou, 1982:96).
The 1964 naturalization law gave members of the Lebanese community
the opportunity to have a Cameroonian nationality. The Lebanese were received as
Cameroonian nationals and it granted them the same commercial privileges reserved
for business men of Cameroonian origin19. Though considered as Cameroonians the
Lebanese were perceived as corrupted, tax frauds, racist and untrustworthy people.
The administration acted diplomatically by not tensing the commercial atmosphere to
scare the Lebanese but took a wise decision to work together with the Lebanese to
discourage such actions, permitting the Lebanese to carry out their activities in a
conducive atmosphere20.

19
2AC,1324, etrangers : naturalisation,1956.
20
Ibid.

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The first phase of Lebanese installation faced the problem of speaking the
Ewondo language in Yaounde, the majority of customers could not speak French and
in most cases they had to bring in people to translate but as the years passed by
language was no longer a problem due to the efforts put in place by the national
administration to boost education in Cameroon.
On the cultural and religious point of view the Lebanese were accepted by the
Muslims and Christian population, as they did not oppose their worship with rival
sects. The Lebanese in most cases preferred to worship at home but took part rarely
during Friday prayers in the mosque and participated in financial contributions and
acts of solidarity in the mosque. The Maronite Christians and Druz on the other hand
worshiped with the Christians on Sunday particularly with members of the Roman
Catholic Church and the protestant Church even though with a lot of reticent21.
The majority of the first and second wave of the Lebanese in Cameroon
originated from the East and Centre of Lebanon. The graph below shows that the
Lebanese in Cameroon were a heterogeneous group with different religious and ethnic
backgrounds (Anja, 2000:155). This community was principally composed of people
from either unstable regions or socially and economically less prioritizes regions of
Lebanon. The Lebanese community in the 1960s was an important Arab community in
Cameroon and precisely in Yaounde town. The social relationship between members
of the Lebanese community permitted them to adapt and reside in Yaounde peacefully,
thereby giving them a conducive atmosphere to carry out their commercial activities.
In Yaounde there were many Lebanese that came later to be part of a family business.
All was due to the social and religious relationship which they had established with the
population they met in Yaounde (foreigners and nationals residing in Yaounde).

21
Interview with Chidiac Ghazi, 55 years, Lebanese businessman, Omisport, 23 October 2012,
Yaounde.
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Figure1 shows the religious partition of members of the Lebanese community


in relation to their religious affiliations. It shows that the Shia Muslims constitute the
majority of Lebanese presence in Cameroon, second by the Christian maronites, third
by the Sunni Muslims and the Druz coming last with 7 percent.
The Lebanese community in Cameroon which was the largest Arab population
by 1965 constituted a confluence of religious groupings as seen on the graph above.
These people of different religious backgrounds came from different places all over
Lebanon. The Lebanese religious community on figure 1 were as follows; Shia
Muslims coming first with 41 percent, Second by the Sunni Muslims with 27 percent,
Third by the Maronites with 16 percent, fourth by the Christians with 9 percent and
finally with the Druz coming last with a religious population of 7 percent22.

Figure 1: Lebanese Presence in Cameroon According to Religious Affiliations

Lebanese presence in Cameroon


according to Religious Affiliations

7%
9%
41% Shia muslims
Maronites
27%
Sunni muslims
Christians
16%
Druz

Source: Adapted by author from, (Bambou, 2009:150).

22
One of the major reasons which made the Lebanese community of different religious backgrounds to
settle in Cameroon was as a result of the desire to improve on their standard of living. The Lebanese in
most of the case were in search of jobs, to assure a secure future for themselves and their generations.
The African countries appeared favourable and hopeful as a destination for most Lebanese Youths.

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After independence the new administrators had to respect, recognize and protect
the rights of other member states present in Cameroon, amongst which were members
of the Lebanese entrepreneurial community carrying out commercial activities in
Yaounde. An example of renowned members of the first Lebanese in Cameroon were;
Hadjal Masaad, Helou Habib, Zada Fouad, Dakour Raja23. The principal photo which
figures amongst the pioneers of the Lebanese in Cameroon is that of Azar Sabeh Najib
and Hamidullah Kamran on plate 2. Besides the fact that they were few in number,
they were determined and motivated to achieve wealth and get recognized for,
particularly in the light of business. The first Lebanese worked very hard to have the
opportunity to lead rather than to be led by others. Their successful presence in the
business sector determined the arrival of further successive groups in the 1960, 1970
and 1980. Plate 2 shows the portrait of two Lebanese Cameroonians Azar Sabeh Najib
and Hamidullah Kamran. Both personalities constituted one of the principal Lebanese
businessmen who arrived Cameroon before independence. Their legacy is still of
importance today through the business settings they left in Yaounde. Restaurant de
Marseillies belongs to Azar Sabeh and is still managed by his children. The sons of
Najib used his wealth to be part of the joint venture in Hadjal massad.

Plate 3: Portrait of Two Lebanese Cameroonians Azar Sabeh Najib and


Hamidullah .

23
Interview with Damashki Hassib, 12 October 2012
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Source: Nassif, S.E. Francois, personal Archive, Yaounde.

2. The Period of massivity or Boom

After independence, Lebanese immigration in Africa and particularly towards


Cameroon increased annually, marking de facto, a significant era of the Lebanese
installation in Cameroon. The number of Lebanese immigrants in Cameroon increased
and their economic activities augmented and diversified into different sectors. and it
was equally from this period that the Lebanese community became the most important
Arab community based in Cameroon and Yaounde in particular. This period was then
regarded as the Lebanese boom in Cameroon, the Lebanese were then found in many
parts of Cameroon carrying out different economic activities. They implanted their
businesses in the Northern part of Cameroon like; Ngaoundere, Garoua and Maroua
and Southern regions (Douala, Bertoua and Ebolowa). Their arrival was marked by a
great ambition to succeed and to achieve as much wealth as possible. The majority of

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them preferred settling in major towns like Douala and Yaounde and outskirts such as
Akonolinga, Obala, Bafia and Mbalmayo where cocoa was grown in a large quantity
in Cameroon (Kamguia, 1996:75). The reason being that they found it commercially
beneficial in carrying out their activities. What was so striking about Lebanese
presence in Yaounde?
The independence of French Cameroon in 1960 was significant to an
embodiment of the foreign community implanted in the French part of Cameroon
amongst which were members of the Lebanese community operating in French firms
and acting like auxiliary. It was also a boom period for the arrival of the Lebanese in
Yaounde. The future of the Lebanese then seized to depend on the French but on the
relationship they were to establish with the new political elites. By 1964 with the
passing of the naturalization law many Lebanese gained Cameroonian nationality even
though not completely leaving out their own identity. The economic contributions
from the Lebanese business community such as job creation and employment was
primordial for the construction of the new state.
To realize these objectives Cameroonian political elites engaged to encourage a
good relation with the Lebanese and foster further settlement. Their expertise was
needed in liberal professions as well as in the sector of commerce. The putting in place
of post independent construction projects boosted the Lebanese activities as they were
recruited as auxiliary to the administration (Bopda, 1980:78).
Looking at figure 2 we realize that the immigration of the Lebanese to Cameroon
evolved as the years passed by, the immigration reached its peak in 1960 and 1961
respectively in Francophone Cameroon which received a majority of the Lebanese
population that resided in Cameroon. The most important wave of Lebanese migration
as shown on figure 2 was that which took place in 1960, it shadows more than the
other years and represents more than double that which took place in 1955 to 1956.

It is interesting to note that the increased migration of the Lebanese into French
Cameroon by the year 1960 was not an issue of chance or luck but was because that
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year marked the political independence of French Cameroon. This date became
significant to all Cameroonians and also to an embodiment of the foreign community
implanted in the French part of Cameroon.
It marked the beginning of a new political era for the Lebanese community who
depended on the French for protection and neither had French or Cameroonian
nationality. It was from 1960 that most of the Lebanese community gained a new
status and autonomy to independently carryout trading activities without forcefully
necessitation of the political protection and backing of the French.
Figure 2 shows the immigration of the Lebanese in Cameroon from 1955 to
1962, from the figure we note that the number of Lebanese only kept increasing from
1955 to 1962, particularly in Francophone Cameroon. It is worth while noting that the
first and second wave of Lebanese migration was different from the present Lebanese
migration; the second waves came not only from Lebanon but were part of Lebanese
transnational community in Africa and other parts of the world. Some came from Ivory
Coast, Senegal and a large number from Egypt.

Figure 2: Lebanese immigration in Cameroon from 1955 to 1962.

Lebanese immigration in Cameroon from 1955 to


1962
2000

1500

1000

500

0
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962

Source: Adapted by author from, Yaounde National Archive, immigration


When Abdel Gamal Nasser came
and regulation, to power
Yaounde, in Egypt2012.
23 November in 1956 he adopted a politic of
nationalization of the Egyptian economy which compromised the continuous presence
and installation of the Lebanese economic actors in Egypt.
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He thereby forced Egyptians to search for other spheres where they could carry
out their economic activities without menace. It was in this light that some members of
the Lebanese communities arrived Cameroon to join family members who had arrived
earlier, due to the revolutionary measures imposed by Abdel Nasser (Marianne, 2009:6).
Many moved to West Africa knowing that some Lebanese already carried out
commercial activities there (Ivory Coast, Senegal and Nigeria). Concerning this subject,
Fahat Moussa explains why his family settled in Cameroon:

My Father Hajj Nazih was a Lebanese of Syrian origin. My grandfather was a millionaire in
Cairo for many years. He was one of the very important Lebanese personalities in North Africa.
He owned two companies fabricating butter. After having had a diploma in engineering my
father immediately became an employee in the company of his father. The menace and fear of
the Nasseran politics of economic nationalization made my father to implant in Cameroon. It
was as a result of this that we found ourselves in Cameroon in 1957 because we saw prospects
of business in the strategic position of Cameroon24.

The Nasseran reforms forced the Lebanese population to increase significantly


in many west and central African countries amongst the Lebanese were Torbey Louis,
Yacoub Yacoub, Assaad Chidiac and Abtour Francois all of whom chose Yaounde as
their implantation town25. It is important to note that it was the French part of
Cameroon that received the very large number of Lebanese during the 1960 and 1970
years. In the English speaking part of Cameroon the movement was inconsistent and
evolved in a stable manner. The fact that Lebanese immigration in French Cameroon
was more significant to that of British Cameroon presented three reasons. Firstly the
Lebanese arrival in French Cameroon was supported by the French because of the
historical link that existed between the two when the Ottoman Empire was defeated in
First World War, Lebanon was given like a mandate territory under the League of
Nations to be administered by France (Lloyd,1962:47). Moreover, many Lebanese had
transit in French towns like Bordeaux and Marseille before moving to Africa which
24
Interview with Fahat Moussa, 57 years, Lebanese businessman, Yaounde, Odza, 15 March 2013.

25
Ibid.
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familiarize them with French ways, while in Africa they mostly settled in Francophone
countries. A majority of the Lebanese upon arrival to Cameroon were already
accustomed to the system of administration in Francophone countries than English
speaking zones or countries. They found it difficult adapting to a new language and
culture they knew little about. Some preferred to follow the footsteps of the first wave
of settlers by settling in the French section of Cameroon (Ibid.). Another reason was
territorial advantage, it was due to the fact that French Cameroon was the part placed
under the Franco-British mandate. This part became very important after independence
as it harboured the major sea port of Douala and the capital of Cameroon. The majority
of Cameroonian population resided in the French section than the part of Cameroon
under the administration of the British (Hourani, 2002:112).
Plate 3 is the portrait of Jean Abtour a Lebanese Cameroonian and wife who
arrived Cameroon in 1960 accompanied by his wife after being menaced by the
Nasseran politics of economic nationalization which forced them to move to Yaounde.

Plate 4 : Jean Abtour a Lebanese businessman and his wife, 1960.

Source: Abtour Francois personal archive, Yaounde.

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Another reason was territorial advantage, it was due to the fact that French
Cameroon was the part placed under the Franco-British mandate. This part became
very important after independence as it harboured the major sea port of Douala and the
capital of Cameroon. The majority of Cameroonian population resided in the French
section than the part of Cameroon under the administration of the British.
It is worthwhile understanding that the first and second waves of Lebanese
immigration in Cameroon resided only in the major towns of Douala and Yaounde, but
today the situation is different; the Lebanese are present in almost all parts of
Cameroon. They have become eminent entrepreneurs and proprietors of renowned
enterprises. Their style of commercial activities has also modernized and dynamised.
Eminent names like Hadjal, Azar Saleh cannot be left out. Some of them today
Cameroonians have made themselves known not only in Cameroon but beyond the
borders of the map of Cameroon and Africa at large.

3. Lebanese Family Business Network in Yaounde


Family businesses were the engine that increased socioeconomic development
and wealth creation amongst the Lebanese communities in Yaounde during the
colonial period and after, entrepreneurship stood as a key driver of family businesses.
The ability to have built and kept the business running over generations was a major
element of family business continuity. Entrepreneurial family businesses guaranteed
primary job creation amongst the Lebanese in Yaounde. In Lebanon, family businesses
constitute 85 percent of the private sector, accounting for 1.05 million of 1.24 million
jobs (Fahed-Sreih, 2006:67).
The family unit in Yaounde was a key intact institution capable of sustaining
entrepreneurial activities amongst members of the Lebanese community. The
Lebanese provided a unique experiment where they could invite their families from
Lebanon and enjoy a successful family business. The contributions and growth
orientations of Lebanese businesses in Yaounde was due to the role played by family

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businesses. Lebanese social organization in Yaounde had been cardinal in shaping and
influencing the growth intensions and expansion plans of Lebanese entrepreneurship.
By understanding how the Lebanese social organization motivated entrepreneurship in
Yaounde, we equally understand how social forces and culture can also influence
entrepreneurship.
The members of the Lebanese family in Yaounde are an instrumental
community playing an important stabilizing role in social and economic value creation
and trans generational wealth perpetuation processes. They have also over the years
played an important role during start-up and business development. The family
amongst the Lebanese served three major functions: firstly they played an economic
role in the Lebanese entrepreneurial process in Yaounde; they also represented a
valuable repository of socio-economic resources. The family was also regarded to
represent a learning element that taught and passed on skills that encouraged economic
development. Secondly, The Lebanese family was regarded with the duty of
establishing a moral system which was cardinal for the running of Lebanese
entrepreneurship in Yaounde. Finally, Lebanese family was seen as custodians of the
culture in creating a motivating force which was central to private enterprise formation
and business preservation across successive generations. Lebanese led enterprises were
largely successful because of the role of family participation
It is known in Lebanon and in the Arab world, that family business is a way to
improve a familys social standing (Ibid: 64-68). This special way of managing a
business in Arab countries relates to the socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds of
these families (Ibid: 99). Lebanese family firms tend to exhibit perseverance, follow a
path of self-reliance and despite the turmoil of war and destruction, express optimism.
Initially from table 1 it can be seen that the Lebanese entrepreneurs in Yaounde are
motivated to provide security and to generate the income necessary to create and
protect a strong family life. This finding is consistent with the works of Fahed-Sreih
(2006), which documented the family as the most important social entity among all

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social institutions in Lebanon with a unique motivational business attributes. This


illustrates the strength of the Lebanese family in Yaounde in the development of
entrepreneurship. There was an overlap at some points in the relationship between
entrepreneurship and cultural values and the family, from this point the connection
between entrepreneurship and family amongst the Lebanese community was obvious.
The top ten motivation of Lebanese enterprise in Yaounde were arranged as
follows in the following descending order. The results of table 1 suggest that the
Lebanese entrepreneurs were motivated by the need for independence and personal
flexibility, family well-being, and the desire for high-income levels, Family security
and family life also appeared to be the central motivating forces.

Table 1: Principal Motives for Lebanese Business Dynamism in Cameroon

Lebanese entrepreneurial motives


1 To be my own boss, to work for myself.
2 To make better use of my training or skills.
3 To give myself, my husband/wife and children security.
4 Desire to have high earnings.
5 To have greater flexibility in my personal and family life.
6 To achieve something and get recognition for it.
7 To make a direct contribution to the success of a company.
8 To be able to develop an idea for a product or a business.
9 To control my own time.
1 To have the opportunity to lead, rather than be led by others.

Source: conceived by author, adapted from personal archive of Hashem Charif, 28


November 2012.

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The Lebanese culture emphasized on achievement motivation, entrepreneurial


vocations, rationality, asceticism, and self-reliance. Though the family was a necessary
determinant of entrepreneurial activity it was not singly enough for the growth and
dynamism of Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde. The Lebanese social
organizations were directly linked to the determinants of market forces rather than
family reliance alone.
Entrepreneurship to the Lebanese appeared like a social norm that was to be
valued, therefore making them to reflect the same cultural propensities towards
business operation. Understanding the determinants of entrepreneurship in such
amongst the Lebanese might be useful in understanding relative rates of
entrepreneurial activity among varied cultural groups in Cameroon like the Hausa and
the Bamileke. Cultural and family determinants of entrepreneurship amidst the
Lebanese might also be key in reflecting important differences in historical and socio-
economic conditions that motivated different cultures to be enterprising and others to
be less enterprising like people in the Centre, South and East region of Cameroon.
Lebanese family also had a key role in determining the nature and extent of
entrepreneurial activities; more than one third of all Lebanese of the second generation
passed through Lebanese families in Yaounde to familiarize themselves with the
socio-economic environment in Yaounde either as sales persons or obtained
investment loans before establishing or acquiring their own business structures.
Lebanese cultures and family links were significant in Yaounde in shaping
entrepreneurial activities.
A comparative study of entrepreneurial behaviour of five Lebanese family
groups in Yaounde found that business success and development depended upon
family characteristics and opportunities. The Bamileke communities were also a social
group that valued family entrepreneurship more than the other communities in
Cameroon such as the Bulu and Ewondo. Although some attributed these low rates to
insufficient capital, cultural attributes likely played a role in differential propensities to

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entrepreneurship success rates. High rate of entrepreneurship amongst the Bamileke


community have contributed to the continued social marginalization of significant
numbers of this group by members of the less enterprising communities like the Bassa,
Douala and Ewondo and particularly in other regions of Cameroon.
The Lebanese family and cultural networks have also been integral to the
development of entrepreneurial activities. Close family, religious ties and trust were
evident in studies of entrepreneurial networks in Yaounde, shared based cultural ties
have also facilitated more available resource mobilization through kinship and
friendship networks within the community.

Conclusion
This chapter focused on the origin and implantation of the Lebanese in
Yaounde. It examined the factors which motivated the Lebanese community to settle
in Yaounde. It analyzed the different waves and stages through which the Lebanese
arrived Cameroon, implanted themselves and formed a social organization. The
Lebanese who arrived in Cameroon were in search of an economic wellbeing and a
social stability. This orientation towards economic domain was clearly visible in the
choice of entrepreneurship which they practiced once implanted in Yaounde as seen in
chapter II.

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CHAPTER TWO

LEBANESE ENTREPRENEURSHIP CONSONANT IN YAOUNDE

Introduction
This chapter which is consecrated to the professional activities of the Lebanese
in Yaounde has as first target to present and examine the actions of the Lebanese in the
Cameroonian capital. It is worthwhile here providing elements of response to the
following questions: Which were the activities carried out by the Lebanese in
Cameroon and singularly in Yaounde? How did their activities evolve in Yaounde?
What was the particularity of the Lebanese in Yaounde?

A. Typology of Business Activities


The Lebanese once in Yaounde assured a durable and effective implantation by
putting in place a series of remunerating activities amongst which commerce was
accorded a prime place. The Lebanese in Yaounde evolved and re-orientated their
activities towards other liberal professions and diversified their commercial activities.
They started with simple intermediary trading in cocoa, coffee firms, to partnership,
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proprietors of shops, major importers and exporters and finally owners of


transformation industries.

1. The practice of Intermediary Trade: A favourable choice and vocation


of the Lebanese.
The practice of intermediary commerce was considered by the Lebanese as
a choice and a career. It is a truism that the presence of the Lebanese in Yaounde was
essentially economically motivated but besides, the first Lebanese that arrived
Cameroon were in most cases under the canopy of the French administration and
major French commercial firms such as, Enterprise Paterson (PZ), La Compagnie
Franaise de lAfrique Occidentale (CFAO), The Lever Group, Entreprise
Equatoriale Africaine (EEA) (Kenmogni, 1989:67). The Lebanese were directly
involved into the main chain of the exportation of principal agricultural products like
cocoa, coffee. Plate 4 shows the two major cash crop products (cocoa and coffee)
which motivated the Lebanese to settle in Yaounde. The Lebanese constituted an
important chain in the commercialization of the two agricultural products of coffee and
cocoa.

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Plate 5: Portrait of two major agricultural products in Cameroon (cocoa


and coffee).

Source: Encyclopedia Universalis (2010), consulted, 20 June, 2013

In their positions like commercial agents or middlemen between the firms and
agricultural producers the Lebanese constituted a strategic important commercial chain
in Yaounde. Besides their middleman role in the French commercial warehouses the
members of the Lebanese community were important in the role they played by
promoting micro commerce in Yaounde and initiating Cameroonians into their style of
commerce. A glaring example being the members of the Bamileke community who
practiced similar strategy of doing commerce just like the Lebanese, with priority
focused on family entrepreneurship (Bopda, 1985:98).
In total, the activities carried out by the Lebanese from the period of
independence onward were directly linked to commerce. The first intermediate traders
in Yaounde at the eve of independence moved into multipurpose commerce from
which came transporters, mechanics and garage through which other branches
emerged (Ibid: 76). The love the Lebanese manifested for commercial activities
permitted the Lebanese in Yaounde to participate in the organization and edification of

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the centre commercial town of Yaounde. This was animated by the social relations
they maintained with Cameroonians and on the other hand between the relationships
they had with other foreign enterprising communities in Yaounde (Ngango, 1971:82).
In the course of the colonial period, they played an important role between
local producers and the major exporting firms. The Lebanese in most cases often
received financial support from the French firms during the colonial period, because
they were major buyers in the villages and through this currency was distributed right
up to the lowest level. The French commercial firms and administration used
intermediaries in inaccessible areas to buy and stock agricultural products before they
were sent to the European factories (Ibid). The Lebanese intermediaries received
advances remunerations and commissions to supply products in the firms after which
their payments were to be completed. Zang Amougou a formal Lebanese shop keeper
and businessman attest that:

What is true is that the bulky commercial firms in Yaounde bought cocoa and coffee from
intermediary Lebanese and they were the ones who financed the intermediaries with the loans
they got from the banks or their major buyers. They often were given sums of money like one or
two million which was very sufficient in 1955 and 1960s.They were paid according to the
number of tons of cocoa they supplied to the warehouse at the end of the harvesting year. The
major warehouses were often located in the towns of Yaounde and Douala, and worked in close
collaboration with the major intermediary Lebanese firms whose role was to go into the interior
and supply the warehouses in the major towns1.

The system of intermediary commerce practiced by non-African foreign


communities was not new in Africa, but was different in that non Africans were
involved like the Lebanese and the Greeks. It is worth while noting that the Lebanese
intermediary traders were part or affiliated to the major European commercial firms.
1
Interview with Zang Amougou, 67 years, Retired Lebanese shop Keeper , Yaounde, Mvog Ada

12 June 2013.

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The firms on their part gave both loans and financial advances to the commercial
agents who in turn bought cocoa and coffee from the local producers in the rural areas.
They were then sent to the buyers for exportation. This chain was represented as such.
Diagram 2 presents an outline of the Lebanese commercial chain in the cocoa and
coffee sector. The chain shows that the Lebanese intermediary buyers played an
important role between the warehouses and farmers. They were at the centre of cash
provision and European manufactured goods in Yaounde.

Diagram 2: Outline of Commercial Chain in the Cocoa and Coffee Sector.

Banks (Creditors)
Remboursement
towards the Banks

Accord of Credits

Major commercial Firms

Commercialization
Loans or Advance of products to firms
Payments

Intermediary Trader

Cocoa/coffee payment

Agricultural Products for


Exportation
coff

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Source: conceived by author, from Dongmo (1981:66)

One of the very remarking things about the table above was the place occupied
by the Cameroonian agricultural producer on the ladder. The position of the producer
was revealing and symbolic of its last rule on the commercial organization during the
colonial period. The role the producer played was central but was only considered as
an instrument of production at the service of the French firms and major exporting
European companies. The most important issue worth remarking was the fact that the
French firms only interested themselves on the products supplied by the producers.
The role of the cocoa and coffee producers was very important but was not
recognized as important by the colonial organization. They were viewed as agents and
instruments of commerce working for the western commercial houses. It is important
here to note that the evolution and organization of commercial products like coffee and
cocoa was at the control of the French administration. In fact the service in charge of
colonial commerce in French administration was in charge of fixing prices for the sale
of cash crops in Cameroon before and after independence (Mouandjo, 1991:74).
The colonial authorities did not only fix prices of the exportable products in
Cameroon they also prepared the selling calendar and the planification even after
independence the selling calendar was still under the control of France
(Menkam,1994:87). It is worth while noting that the Lebanese commerce in Yaounde
was polyvalent while playing their middleman role they also commercialized
European manufactured goods to the outskirt villages. They sold goods and articles
adapted to the needs and exigencies of the client on the field particularly goods like
cloths and hunting guns.

2. An Entrepreneurial System based on Continuity after Independence


Without sudden and direct changes, the Lebanese underwent certain mutations
after the accession of Cameroon to independence. Just like was the case during the

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colonial period, the Lebanese activities were not disconnected from commerce.
Commerce still remained the essential cornerstone around which their activities in the
capital city rotated.
The advent of independence in French Cameroon imposed fundamental changes
in the management and socio-political and economic orientation of Cameroon, these
mutations did not immediately influence the entrepreneurial activities of the Lebanese
in Yaounde. After independence the Lebanese still consolidated their commercial
hegemony in Yaounde (Fimigue, 1999:87). There were no moments of drastic changes
that would have influenced the entrepreneurial activities of the Lebanese in Yaounde.
The majority of enterprises and major importing and exporting firms did not
seem moved due to the support the Lebanese gained from the French who still
influenced activities in French Cameroon after independence. After the departure of
the French administration in Cameroon the Lebanese had established firm grounds and
were not ready to settle elsewhere. The independence of French Cameroon opened up
a new page through which the Lebanese had to be registered under a new autonomy
with a different political status.
The independent period was remarkable in that it increased the number of
Lebanese in Yaounde and accelerated the implantation of many Europeans (France,
Greece and Britain) Asians (china, Pakistan and Indians). the number of immigrants
and Lebanese enterprises only increased side by side the evolution of other Asians,
Americans and European firms. The table below shows the evolution of foreign
immigration in Yaounde in 1962. Table 2 shows the division of foreign population in
Yaounde in 1962.The table shows impact of independence on foreign population
increased in Cameroon.

Table 2: Repartition of foreign population in Yaounde in 1962


Countries of Origin Census results Percentages
France 2.318 76.78
Lebanon 199 6.4
Italy 67 2.2

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Greece 55 1.8
United States Canada 77 2.5
Germany 22 0.7
Britain 14 0.4
Benelux 12 0.4
African countries 203 6.6
Other countries 35 1.1
Undetermined countries 74 2.4
Total 3.098 100.0
Source : Rpublique du Cameroun, la population de Yaound, Rsultat dfinitif du
recensement de (1962-1970:321).
The Table also shows the accession of Cameroon to independence increased
significantly the presence of other foreign non-African communities in Cameroon as
well as that of the Lebanese. Just like during the colonial period, the French population
was more than any other foreign population by 1960, followed by the Lebanese, then
followed by other Westerners (Greeks, Americans, Canadians and Italians). It is
worthwhile remarking that out of the Lebanese present in Yaounde in 1962, more than
90 percent were businessmen or practicing an activity linked to commerce. This
statistic permits us to conclude that the accession of French Cameroon to partial
independence permitted the Lebanese to dominate in the cocoa and coffee
intermediary trade in Yaounde and outskirts (Mbalmayo, Saa, Obala and Monatele).
They continued to play the first role in this mother commercial activity in the buying
of cocoa and coffee till the creation of the marketing boards in 1964 which curb the
role of foreign and individual intermediaries (Okah-Atenga, 2005:75).
Even though a new administration had taken over, the rules and regulations of
commercial activities were less severe. The difficulty of breaking up definitely with
the major economic and commercial monopolies that existed during the colonial
period was still felt in independent Cameroon. The Cameroon administration did not
hesitate to wear the same colonial French shoes, the strategy of administration
remained almost unchanged since most of the rules and regulation of trade largely
favoured the French. The monopoly of the Lebanese was continually felt in the cocoa

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and coffee sector in Yaounde town; they continued to maintain influence in this
important sector of agriculture in Cameroon, their success made them to bring in
members of their families so as to continue to maintain monopoly not only in this
sector but in other commercial activities (Ibid.)
By early 1970 the Cameroon government adopted a new resolution without
fundamentally breaking the monopoly held by the Lebanese in the cocoa and coffee
sector. The government then established a new type of relation between the local
producers of Cameroon origin and the Lebanese client. This decision taken by the
authority in Yaounde was to create a forum for transparency, curb corruption, fraud
and to ameliorate the relationship between the state and the Lebanese economic
operators in the cocoa and coffee sector considering the important role they played.
This is affirmed by Hussein Abib:

I came to Cameroon towards the end of 1966, I had two uncles in Cameroon, one in Yaounde
who was a tailor and one who was selling cocoa and selling articles. He also had a bakery in
Mbalmayo. He bought cocoa from local producers from whom he often gave credits to during
cultivation. The state equally put in place cooperatives that we worked together with in
purchasing cocoa from the local producers. I worked so close with my uncle before finally
working as intermediary between the cooperatives and exporters2.

The new state of affairs taken by the Cameroon government imposed a spirit of
adaptation and respect on the Lebanese actors who played a central role in the cocoa
and coffee trade in Yaounde, the same decision existed in the import and export
market in Douala, even though the Lebanese still continued to enjoy a privilege
position because of the fact that their roots had been established right from the colonial
period. Angula Martin a businessman in Yaounde attest that:

After independence cocoa and coffee producers sold their products to state cooperatives. Cocoa
and coffee businessmen on the other hand had to buy from the cooperatives which were

2
Interview with Hussein Abib, 59 Years, Lebanese business man, Yaounde, Marche Central,

12 January 2013.

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organisms put into place by the state. The buyers who bought from the cooperatives did so from
the account of exporters. The cooperatives expected that the buyers should provide vehicles,
bags and money for instant payment; it made it possible for the cooperatives to buy from
producers. I also made payments to the cooperatives who supplied me and I also supplied the
exporters whom we worked together3.

In the 1970 Yaounde central town was controlled by the French, Lebanese,
Greeks and lastly business operators of Cameroonian origin. The Bamileke from the
western grassfield and the Hausa present in the centre region. The Ewondo in Yaounde
were less enterprising in commercial affairs and posed no competition problem to the
Lebanese4. They were mostly involved into agricultural activities and took part in the
farming of most of the cash crops in the outskirts of Yaounde.
The commercial atmosphere in Yaounde was that which out of the 106 shops in
1972 the Lebanese owned 91 selling points followed by the Greeks with 8 and the
Bamileke who were proprietors of 7 shops. Amongst the very popular of the Lebanese
shops present in Yaounde in 1970 and 1980 were Haya and Massad (Warnier,
1993:54). The Lebanese were specialized in the commercialization of goods like
cloths, building materials and also the commercialization of cocoa and coffee. There
was also prominent Khoury enterprises distributed in most French African countries
today it implicates Cameroonians as shareholders. The enterprise was involved in the
purchasing and exportation of agricultural products (cocoa, coffee and banana), Urban
transportation and the commercialization of multiple choices of consumable products
(Ibid:101). The inhabitants of Yaounde still keep a successful image about the major
selling points of the Lebanese in the capital city of Yaounde precisely on Avenue
Kennedy, Mont Anne Rouge, and Rue Forch. The very renowned Lebanese in the
capital city of Yaounde involved into commercial in activities in 1950 to 1966 were:
Daher Youssef, Damashki Hassib, Hashem Charif, Khayyat Hassan, Abour Karim and
Sidy Rouhia who were mostly proprietors of shops and commercial stores in Yaounde

3
Interview with Angula Martin, 64 years, business man, Yaounde, Nkoldongo, 28 November 2012.
4
Ibid.
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central town5. The very renowned of Lebanese shops on the Yaounde commercial
centre are Haya, Hadjal Massad, ORCA and CONEX, Cana Bois, Khoury Bois. The
1960 brought about the appearance of new figures amongst which were the renowned
ORCA. After first installing in Douala the economic capital of Cameroon, they
decided to move and invest in Yaounde. They opened up 6 business units in the
Yaounde political capital of Cameroon even though most of the selling points were put
under family control6. Plate 5 shows the three portrait of the Yaounde commercial area
from Monte Anne Rouge, Avennue Kennedy and The area around Yaounde central
market.

Plate 6: The three portraits show the commercial area in Yaounde.

Source: snapped by Nouridin Melo, Avenue Kennedy, Yaounde 22 December 2013.

5
Interview with Tezano Tchoudja, Year 65, and Retired Lebanese shop Keeper in Yaounde, Mendong
28 November 2013
6
Interview with Gilbert Zee, 65 years, Retired Lebanese shop Keeper in Yaounde, Mballa II, 12 January
2013.
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3. Multipurpose Commerce: Another Form of Lebanese Dynamism in


Yaounde
The traditional role or activities of the Lebanese was the middleman role they
played tracing from the colonial period and partly after independence, the typology of
their activities would be examined from two perspectives, the types of activities they
involved in before and after independence. What was behind the reason for their
change of activities or commercial mutation and from which commercial activity to
which and why? The Lebanese have developed new areas of investments with passing
time. The traditional occupation had ceased to exist as the children of the old
emigrants and grandchildren of previous emigrants diversified and sort to seek
different avenues of investments. Particularly more profitable and capital intensive
sectors of commerce have been taken up by children of first migrants. They have quest
to affirm their economic power by manifesting interest on the important sectors of the
economy, the commercial and industrial sectors.
The introduction of government marketing boards and cooperatives in many
newly independent countries in Africa withdrew direct purchase from Lebanese
middlemen. As a result most Lebanese who practiced this trade were forced to
diversify into other commercial sectors and other liberal professions like road
construction, public works and engineering sectors in Cameroon. The office de
commercialization Agricole (OCA) which took the place of the Lebanese middlemen
was introduced in 1961. Only a few Lebanese merchants who were accredited after
scrutiny had the rights to buy from the peasant farmers and sale to the (OCA)
(Anonymous, 1981:98). The OCA did not last for long and failed because of
corruption, poor distribution of finance and payment in time.
After independence Lebanese families moved throughout the whole of
Cameroon, on like elsewhere in Africa where members of the Lebanese community
generally remained confined to trading centers and major trading towns and city
capitals. The creation of the OCA forced the Lebanese to evolve in other activities and

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also to move into the other provinces of Cameroon (Ngaoundere, Garoua, Maroua and
Bertoua) to look for other arena of investments.
Before nationalization of the agricultural sector, the majority of the Lebanese
were involved into cocoa and coffee commercialization and played the middleman
role. After the decision of the state, the Lebanese moved into other activities both
liberal professions (building, road construction and engineering) and commercial
activities like the sale of cloths and groceries of a general store (Ibid.). The majority of
the Lebanese sold to Cameroonian peddlers particularly members of the Bamileke
community and the Hausa resident in Yaounde or small shop keepers who provided
the circulation of goods to the outskirts of Yaounde Mbalmayo, Monatele, Saa and
Obala or to more remote areas of the region. Through it the Lebanese lost its
customers through nationalization and had to seek for a new model of operation to
bargain for new customers again (Edjoa, 1978:78).
The progressive reduction of the price of cocoa in the 1970 meant reduction in
prices paid to the cocoa peasant farmers. This was to mean low capital in circulation
since cocoa provided a high percentage of the countrys export trade. As a result of
that the purchasing power of the population was reduced since the reduction in the
prices of cocoa which directly affected the economy was a severe impact. Lebanese
business though had shifted from trade in cocoa could not escape the drop in prices
since it affected urban investments (Ibid: 89)
After independence in 1960 the departure of thousands of colonial officials and
troops also precipitated economic recession in the retail trade. The situation started
changing again in 1966 when incomes of civil servants were at the rise opening up
patterns of spending on durable and luxury goods. During the 1960 to 1980 the
Lebanese relatively increased and diversified their investments in Yaounde centre
town (Menkam, 1994:87). Amongst the other types of commercial establishment
owned by the Lebanese in Yaounde, groceries and general bazaar had traditionally
been predominant in a few instants. These traditional types of shops were involved in

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the sale of articles like: perfumes, rags, shoes, glasses carpets and hundreds of other
items. The Lebanese took over the retail of cloths and clothing trade almost entirely
from the French by the 1970 and 1980.
The Lebanese decided after independence to do business or trade directly with
France rather than through the declining local French companies as was the case
before independence. The decision created animosity and tensed the atmosphere
between the French and the Lebanese. After independence the continuous involvement
of the French in Cameroon politics was felt to somewhat detrimental to the Lebanese
interest like technical advisers in the Ministry of Finance and Commerce (Medou,
1986:97). Some invested into real estate in urban centers. Today they collect
substantial amounts of rents from the structures. Other forms of investments were
restaurants, hotels, entertainments, super markets and chemist services, garages and
mechanics and metal works. In the course of these entrepreneurial activities
Cameroonians gained jobs that boosted their social status equally7.
There are estimates that more than 90 percent of Lebanese activities were in the
form of commerce. During the period before and after independence Lebanese
investment in Yaounde had mostly been confined to services and processing
industries. One may ask why the Lebanese in Cameroon didnt exploit possibilities in
the manufacturing sectors as did their compatriots in Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast
(Joost, 2006: 98). There are combinations of reasons for this, most important reasons
advanced are that; during the colonial period they were pre-empted by French
investors and barred from the club. Again was also the fact that the Lebanese had or
were willing to invest little in manufacturing sectors and did not give priority to
manufacturing with all these obstacles removed, they would have opted for innovative
long term investment rather than concentrating on short term non capital intensive
investment. The Lebanese did not want to be involved into every trade either because

7
Interview with Hashem Yacoub, 45 years, Retired Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Mont Anne
Rouge, 12 June 2013.
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of shortage of capital or prevented from like the case during the colonial period where
certain activities were reserved for the French, an example was the right to import
directly from France. The Lebanese could only have imported goods through the
French companies before independence. These reasons made the Lebanese to put
interest in certain activities and to neglect others because of the socio-political
structure and economic factors. After independence they were equally prevented from
carrying out certain activities, the administration put an economic policy in place to
favour the growth of a typical Cameroonian class of business men. Plate 6 is the
portrait of the renowned Immeuble Hadjal found on Rue Foch in Yaounde directly
opposite the St. Anastasie Garden. The building is owned by Mouawad Massad who
inherited it from his father who was also a Lebanese of Cameroonian origin.

Plate7: Portrait of Renowned Lebanese Structure in Yaounde on Rue Foch.

Source: snapped by author, Immeuble Hadjal, Yaounde, 12 October 2012.

The Lebanese decided not to own cocoa and coffee farms for fear of clashing
with local producers and decided to remain like middlemen contrary to the Lebanese
in Guinea, Ghana and Ivory Coast who involved in agriculture and owned large cocoa
farms. This was different with the first immigrant Lebanese population in Yaounde

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who were much more tilted and oriented towards commercial activities. They evolved
like functionaries in the French administration and middlemen in French firms. After
having acquired enough capital as the years passed by they evolved from shop owners
and finally to autonomous and independent entrepreneurs (Joost, 2006:111). Some
moved out of Yaounde for investment in the other towns of Cameroon like
Ngaoundere, Garoua and Maroua.
There were the children or progenitors of the first wave Lebanese and the
present generation that provided sufficient funds to invest or research into new arenas
of commerce or into new trends of business. The hard work and prudent live style
carried out by the first migrant made it possible for the present generations to be able
to diversify to economic activities and invest in sectors like mining and forestry which
demanded a huge capital. They were equally able to carry out import and export in
hundreds of tones without the financial assistance of the French as formally done by
members of the first wave. Today the children of members of the first wave are better
up than what they went through.
The Lebanese were not directly involved into agricultural activities but gave out
finance through trust means to local producers whom they had confidence in, to
receive cash crops from them during harvesting period. They equally owned industries
of wood transformation in Ahala and Awai where wood of various qualities are
Transformed. Woods like Mahogany, Sapele and ebony are transformed to the sizes
and shapes depending on the command of the international market. One of the very
renowned wood exploitation company in Yaounde is Canabois8.
In the mining sector the Lebanese were reticence in investment and their
absence was being noticed. This could be traced right from the period before
independence when the French limited their investments in certain activities such as
gold and diamond mining. This was contrary to the Lebanese in sierra-Leon and in

8
Interview with Bou Hadir Nassar Mikhael.
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Congo Democratic who invested in gold and diamond also like the case in Gabon. The
first immigrants or durables did not venture because it was reserved for the French but
today besides the available financial potentials there is also the need of a political
lobbying. There existed strong lobbying forces in other to be awarded an exploitation
contract particularly in the energy sector. All these made the Lebanese to preferably
remain in the commercial sector of economic activities. The wood were transformed
and shipped through the Douala port to France and other European and Asian
countries. In this sector, the Lebanese faced competition with the French, Italian,
Chinese and Cameroonian companies operating in this sector though have been
accused of malpractices in this sector, they still operate and made enormous gains
(Metaxides, 2009:67).

Plate 8: portrait of owner of CanaBois, Bou Hadir Nassar Mikhael, 2012.

Source: Personal archive of Bour Hadir Nasser Mikhael, Ahala,Yaounde.

Concerning durable investments it depended on how capable and willing the


Lebanese wanted to face competition with Cameroonians and other Europeans and

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African companies. Amongst the Lebanese interviewed was the wealthier class or group
that owned super markets, wood processing industries and large importers, the rich were
politically safer or secured than their poorer compatriots and could invest in any sector
because of political lobby. They established a fraudulent relationship with senior
government officers such as magistrates, customs, senior taxation officers and police
commissioners to cover their illegal activities. Perhaps the most notable advantage that
the Lebanese had in business was that they turned their economic vulnerable and
political weakness to an economic advantage by exploiting persistently every available
opportunity for earning short term profits. The financial contribution of the Lebanese
community to the present economy was however not commensurate to the profits they
earned and the remittance they sent back home.
unnoticed by the administration right from the colonial period. They had no
accounting system which made it impossible to access their asserts for taxation. They
were notorious for involving into illegal activities. The workers they hired were none
permanent so as to avoid payment of their insurance and respect of the labour law and
social security. Finally the amount of capital lost through the expatriation of profits to
banks or investments in Europe and Lebanon was considerable though impossible to
access directly o precisely the case of Gabon. The malicious and weird action of the
Lebanese business operators could only be explained by a system of protection
through corrupted senior civil servants and politicians who also benefited personally to
the detriment of the state. The system of illegal acts committed by the Lebanese was
perpetrated at the highest level in public life with senior politicians and civil servants
being the brain child behind such corrupt actions(Ibid:143). Such actions were difficult
to be tracked down considering that senior state officials who would have discouraged
such action on the contrary favoured it for personal and not public aims. Thus,
Lebanese business men subsidies their luxurious standard of living which made the
Lebanese contribution to become essentially to the network of corruption which
operated amongst politicians and civil servants.

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The wealthiest Lebanese entrepreneurs were able to purchase protection and


security at higher levels while the payoff by the rest of the Lebanese community was
usually made in the form of adhoc payment, for favours such as the deliberate neglect
of an official rule. Those in the forestry sector who are prone to exploit beyond their
contract were often much renounced to such corrupt practices. The system continued
to operate at the detriment of Cameroon peasant and the economic development of the
country as a whole. For the present, at least the payoff system is not only an issue of
the Lebanese entrepreneurial community but a cankerworm that has eaten through the
hearts of other national communities doing business within the various towns of
Cameroon, with particular emphasis placed on the main commercial town of Douala
and Yaounde (Mainet, 1981:75).
After independence the Lebanese traders set up their own proper commercial
activities (creating many shops, stores and selling points on the streets of Yaounde).
They put at the disposal of their customers products like cloth, sewing machines
construction materials and housing equipments with their target buyers mostly
Cameroonians. They also sold agricultural tools like, pesticides particularly to the
cocoa and coffee farmers. The Lebanese intended making profits from all commercial
actions. The Lebanese who bought cocoa from the local population received credits
from French firms and at the same time they also established commercial houses at
rural levels so as to give farming loans to farmers to receive cocoa after harvest. They
also indirectly took back the money by selling manufactured products to the people
after buying their products, they were offered European manufactured goods by the
commercial houses David Kom (2001:52) explains that there would have been no
wealth for both colonialist and nationals if there was no agricultural product, he further
adds that the local producer was the principal victim in the midst of the European
firms that made exorbitant profits to the detriment of the local producers. He further
mentions that the rational exploitation of the colonies started with agricultural
products. There were at that time numerous Lebanese in Cameroon who opted for

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individual commercial activities. Passing through Carrefour pharmacie du soleil, there


used to be a series of shops on these area belonging to the Lebanese, particularly
affluent importers like Abour Saleh, and Hadjal Massad. The Lebanese shops during
the colonial period served as distributors and wholesalers to other business community
in Yaounde. Many of the Lebanese made fortune with one or two shops in Yaounde.
The Lebanese were also found on Mont Ann Rouge Street and on Rond Point
Intendance and on Rue Foch. The majority of the shops belonged to the Lebanese. Its
a reality that the Lebanese were at the origin or played an important part in the
construction of Yaounde centre commercial area in the capital of Cameroon (Kom,
2001:67)
Some of the Lebanese businessmen bought lands which they used in opening
their selling points to assure an economic security in Yaounde. The major foreign
investors in Cameroon in the commerce, agricultural sector and industry was
dominated by the French, British and the Lebanese. Table 3 shows the 10 members of
the Lebanese community that acquired a land title in Yaounde in 1951-1952 for the
purpose of habitation. The prices of the lands varied between 2. 100. 000 to 336.000.
Amongst the very expensive parcels acquired by the Lebanese being that of Chidiac,
Raymond, Nagib Azar, Abdel Jalil Darwiche. The processes of land acquisition in
Yaounde is corroborated by table n2 below showing the acquisition of commercial
and industrial land by the Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde. Table 3
shows a list of Lebanese beneficiaries of land permit and the amount they paid for in
Yaounde in 1951 and 19529.
From table 4 an important presence of the Lebanese was mobilized towards the
acquisition of industrial and commercial land. Considering that their presence in
Cameroon was directly linked to economic motives, the acquisition of land was
primordial in setting up their business structures without having to spend more in

9
NAY, 2AC,1702, Etrangers, Familles et immigration,1941.
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renting lands. The prices of the lands ranged from 500,000 to 115,000 FCFA.
Amongst the much renowned Lebanese proprietors in Yaounde were; Hadjal Masaad,
Khoury Elie, Abtour Francois and Darwiche Hani.
It is equally not all the Lebanese had the financial means to own land for
habitation or for commercial activities. As a result of that, some were able to get into
contracts to own lands and also to rent shops so as to permit them to go on smoothly
with their commercial activities10 the contracts usually ranging from 5, 10 and 20 years
after which could be renovated or prolonged. This was the case with Nabil Abbas who
first rented a piece of land on which he installed his business in Yaounde before later
acquiring his own land title in Mvog-Mbi11. The preferable choice of certain Lebanese
in Yaounde town was rather to own their own personal lands rather than renting.
After having acquired lands in Yaounde town and its outskirts members of the
Lebanese community constructed commercial areas to enhance their economic
activities and also to put up habitation structures. As the years passed by the
acquisition of land became a challenge which made members of other foreign
communities like the French and the Greeks to quest for. Tables 3 and 4 appear to be
unelaborated considering that the circumference or the diameter of the lands bought
were not given, this was intentionally done by the French administration to distort
information for their own economic profit.12 Such actions were very much beneficial
to French functionaries who distributed lands arbitrarily or according to their interest
and wish. Table 4 identifies the members of the Lebanese community who were
beneficiaries of a commercial and industrial land in Yaounde in 1955 and the amount

10
The acquisition and land expriopration in Cameroon for public use was taken charge of by regulations put down
by French authorities during the colonial period. The decree also stated that all unused lands after a period of six
Tableyears
3: was
Beneficiaries
going to be deoffacto
Adjudications
the property ofof
theHabitation Land in Yaounde
colonial administration. in 1941
As a result many Lebanese, French and
Greeks acquired lands through this means. After independence the acquisition of land was taken charge of by the
Ministry of land and survey.
N
11
Names of Beneficiaries Amount in franc CFA
Interview with Nabil Abbas, 65 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Ahala, 12 June 20
1 Jean Abtour 1. 000. 000
12 2
Idem. Nagib Azar 1.250. 000
3 Assaad Chidiac 2. 100. 000
77
4 Chidiac Raymond 1.405.000
5 Abdel Darwiche 1.200.000
6 Helou Habib 1.000.000
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of money they paid, the highest amount being 192,000 FCFA and the least being
500,000 FCFA.

Table 4. Commercial and Industrial Land Title in Yaounde 1955.

Industrial Land
No Names of beneficiaries Amount in franc FCFA
1 Azar Sabeh 192. 000
2 Hadjal Masaad 192.000
3 Khoury Elie 192.000
Khoury Miguel 264.000
Commercial Land
1 Abdel Haya 205.000
2 Chidiac Raymond 115.000
3 Sabah Ruahni 350. 000
4 Torbey Barbar 280. 000
5 Khoury Aziz 275.000
6 Hajal Masaad 335.00
7 Hajj Toufic 350.000
8 Abtour Francois 380.0000
9 Khoury Miguel 115.000
10 Jabra Yacoub 340. 000
11 Zakhi Youssef 410. 000
12 Darwiche Hani 460. 000
13 Torbey Louis 115.200
14 Michael Zada 500.000
15 Hajal Issam 500.000
Source : NAY, 1AC, 8946,Yaounde centre urbain,1955

such actions taken by the Lebanese were primordial as a sign to demonstrate the
devotedness of the Lebanese to invest into commercial activities in the capital city of
Cameroon. The Lebanese understood that the success of their activities in Cameroon

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depended on a certain level of practical engagements. It was as a result of this that the
Lebanese businessmen decided to invest into a real territorial conquest. The objective
of such actions was not only motivated by profit but to assure a certain level of
confidence and assurance in Yaounde town. All the above actions were also aimed at
assuring a durable and long lasting investment by the Lebanese in Yaounde town. By
1955 to 1962 the principal investors in the sector of agriculture and industry were the
French, British, the Lebanese and the Greeks. Table 5 shows the principal private
investors in Cameroon between 1955 and 1962. We immediately remark that private
foreign investments in Cameroon by 1955 and 1960 was dominated by France. The
French dominated on the industrial, commercial and agricultural sector. In the
commercial sector the French investments were evaluated at 300 million FCFA and
immediately followed by those of the Lebanese and British respectively estimated at
830 and 650 millions of FCFA. As concerns agriculture and industry, France occupied
the highest in terms of investments, with about 5,000million of FCFA in the sector of
agriculture and 18,000 million of FCFA destined for industrial activities (Akono,
2010:114). At the level of commercial, industrial and agricultural investments the
second position in rank was the Lebanese followed by the Greeks. Table 5 shows the
principal private Foreign investors in Cameroon between 1955 and 1962 with the
French topping, followed by the Lebanese and Greeks (Kom, 2001: 153). Again George
Kyriakides a Greek businessman in Yaounde confirms that:

Table 5: The Principal Private Foreign Investors in Cameroon between 1955 and 1962.
Sectors Major Investors Evaluation in Total
millions of FCFA

Commerce French 3.000 4.400


Lebanese 836
British 650

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Agriculture French 5.000 5.100


Libanais 100

Industry -Franais 18.000 18.300


-Lebanese 300
-Greeks
Total 27.880

Source : ( Kom, 2001: 153)

The first mansions and beautiful houses which constituted the administrative and commercial
town of Yaounde belonged to the French; they often had gardens surrounded by trees. The
Yaounde centre town inhabited some outstanding commercial firms and some shops constructed
on the European model. From the actual Avenue Kennedy to Lintendance there were a series of
Lebanese shops, it was also known by some as Rue des Lebanese. There existed multiple
Lebanese shops of all sorts of things and boutique of all marks. Renounced Lebanese who
owned shops and building structures in this areas were; Khoury Miguel, Jabra Yacoub, Hadjal
Massad and Azar Sabeh13.

On another plan, it should be noted that besides the middleman commercial


method put in place in the capital city of Yaounde earlier mentioned the Lebanese had
another method of commerce which characterized their activities. There were other
Lebanese commercial actors who distinguished themselves through hard work and
determination to raise their own business. Abdel Jalil who is a Cameroonian of
Lebanese origin confirms that, the young dynamic traders profited from hard work and
determination to be successful:

When the Lebanese got into retail business and found it successful they immediately left the
middleman role they played under French firms and constituted themselves into independent
businessmen. Their success made them to invite their wives, children, friends and family
members in Yaounde progressively. Considering that family is the backbone of Lebanese

13
Interview with George Kyriakides, 55 years, Greek businessman Yaounde, Rue Foch, 12 January
2013.
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business. There was an influx of Lebanese not only in Yaounde town but also in towns like
Douala, Bafia, Ntui, Sangmalima, Maroua, Ngaoundere and Bafia14.

They actually made themselves and could be referred to as self-made men


who actually engaged themselves towards an independent financial and commercial
path. They finally succeeded to put their finger prints in every profitable business
activity in Yaounde be it from the retail to the wholesale level.
They had one primordial objective which was that of spreading their tentacles
as wide as possible. They did not only intend to spread their business activities only
within Yaounde and its outskirt but they also intended to move throughout the
territory. This was in the path of opening major shops as many as possible and also to
have a large number of customers so as to realize high profits. It was dynamism and
the propensity to work individually for ones self and personal account which
transformed the Lebanese into real commercial proprietors in Yaounde. By 1959 in
Yaounde the Lebanese owned about 35 percent of selling license in Yaounde urban
town they were far ahead of Cameroonian business men with 5 percent15.The table 6 is
a perfect illustration of the Lebanese preponderance in the commercial sector in
Yaounde. Another very remarkable thing about the table is the role played by
Lebanese shop keepers Yaounde. Many Lebanese shop owners largely made use of
members of their community in most of their shops because they trusted them and had
confidence on their actions. Again they were commercially alert to cease opportunity
to exploit an economically beneficial situation. The Lebanese held 21 licenses in the
circonscription of Yaounde in 1958.The principal proprietors of these shops were:
Hazim Hazim, Hadjal Masaad, Azar Saleh, Hajj Nazih and Saadeh Hajj. These
licenses ranged respectively from the first category first class, first category ninth class
passing through the fifth category, sixth and seventh.16

14
Interview with Abdel Jalil, 46 years, Lebanese businessman in Yaounde, Avennue Kennedy 14

January 2013.

15
As concerns this subject certain informants didnt hesitate to speak of the Lebanese commercial flux
all over Cameroon. Paul Ebozoa for instance made it clear that he saw the Lebanese as true conquerors
in constant quest of a commercial territory to invest in.

16
Licence was given to Lebanese businessmen incharge of importation and exportation, license was
also issued to those incharge with goods that needed transformation and finally to those incharge with
retailing of small objects
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B. Locomotive of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde


Besides Lebanese traditional activities of intermediary trade and multipurpose
commerce the Lebanese developed other entrepreneurial activities particularly after
independence. One of the very prominent of such activities was the creation of inter-
urban transport. They equally evolved into opening up agro-alimentary industries and
numerous bakeries within Yaounde town. One of the reasons that accounted for the
early success of the Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde was their
entrepreneurial spirit which inspired them to diversify into other economic activities.
For the above reasons some decided to settle out of Yaounde where they established
themselves as monopolies since few people particularly during the period after
independence were involved into commercial activities. Some people preferred
agricultural activities to business which then gave the Lebanese the chance to fill such
economic vacuums which was unexploited. The Ewondo were not so skilled in
commerce and lacked interest, they were less enterprising in relation to the Bamileke
community. The long presence of the Lebanese into commerce instrumented other
enterprising communities like the Bamileke of the grassfield who after independence
put up powerful competition with the Lebanese.

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Table 6: Nominative List of Owners of commercial Licenses in Yaounde in 1958.

Names of Autorities Categories Names of Place of decision N


Number Holders Signatories of of license Managers exploitation
Decision class
1 Saadeh Hajj Chief of Nyong and 1stCategory- Michael Elig-Belibi 1222/Dr RNS 16-11-1957
Sanaga Region 1st class Zada

2 Ali El ALi HighCommissioner 1stCategory- Jabra Centre-Town 2131/AE of 08- 01-1942


Hassan 1st class Yacoub

3 Hayeck, Chief of Nyong and 1stCategory- Courcol Centre-Town 2936 of 1-12- 1947
st
Joseph Sanaga Region 1 class Maya

4 Wadad Haya Chief of Nyong and 1stCategory- Korbage CentreTown 66/D-RNS of 28-11-1951
Sanaga Region 1st class Baladi Avenue of 27

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Aout

5 Hazim Hazim Administrator- 2nd category Ibrahim Centre-Town 4/01CMY of 13- 01-1953
Mayor 5th class Helou Parcel N 219
6 Toufic Administrator- 2nd category Jalil Awae 816/ CM Y of 29-11-1955
Seklaoui Mayor 5th class Darwiche
7 Seklaoui, Administrator- 2nd category Jean Centre-Town 60-M2/CMY of 21-03-
Samir Mayor 5th class Abtour Parcel N 68 1963
8 Georges Administrator- 2nd category Meziarah Centre-Town 203/CM Y of 21- 05-1964
Tanios Mayor 5th class Zgarta Parcel N 222
9 Abou-Jaoudi Secretary General of 2nd category Nagib Azar Centre-Town 848/APA/ of 31- 05-195-
the region 5th class Parcel N 139 46
Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Youssefieh Centre-Town 662/DR-RNS of 28-
10 Sanaga Region 5th class Azar Parcel N131. 111951
Nicholas Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Tanios Bou Centre-Town 21 of 07-01- 1950
11 Hachem Sanaga Region 5th class Zeid
Paterson- High- 2nd category Bou Zeid, Centre-Town LN-91207/AC of 20-06-
12 Zochonis Commissionner 5th class Jean 1936
Chebab Habre Administrator- 2nd category Mohamed Centre-Town I057/DR-RNS

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13 Mayor 5th class Dahrouge of 20-09-1957


Abou-Jaoudi Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Ghossoub Centre Town 663/DR-RNS of 28-11-
14 Sanaga Region -5th class Farah AvenusFoch 1951

15 Georges Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Assad Centre-Town 357 of 05-10- 1949
Tanios Sanaga Region - 5th class Hayeck

16 Abdel Karim Administrator- 2nd category Centre-Town Rue 478/CM Y of 25- 07-1955
Bittar Mayor - 5th class Jihad Rana Narvick
17 Mohamed Administrator- 2nd category Centre-Town 372/CMY of 02- 07-1956
Dahrouge Mayor -6th clclass Bahia Elias
18 Elias Habre Minister of Interior 2nd category Saadeh Centre-Town 93/INT/2 of 15- 03-1958
- 6th class Danny

19 Nicholas Minister of Interior 2nd category- Nicholas Carrefour Bastos 187 of 09-06- 1858
Hachem 6ndClasse Hachem (Route Obala)
20 Saadeh Hajj Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Elias Habre Centre-Town 345/DR-RNS of 28-06-
Sanaga Region -7th 1951
clclass

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21 Hajj Nazih Chief of Nyong and 2nd category Habre Elig-Belibi 423/DR-RNS 20- 6-06-
Sanaga Region - 9th clclass Michel 1957
Source: ANY, 2 AC 489, Rapport annuel de la subdivision de Yaounde, 1958, p.34.

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1.Business Reorientation and Entrepreneurial vigour


Close to 55 years after independence in Cameroon the Lebanese who were
economically present in Yaounde saw it as an obligation to proceed to other profound
entrepreneurial activities considering the new trend of affairs and the emergence of
new economic competitors like China who were leaving no stone unturned. The
Lebanese were continually not being felt in their privilege sectors of activities like
agro-alimentary industry, transport, and import / export trade. The new orientations of
economic activities brought about investments into new avenues like building
materials, the sale of agricultural machines, heavy mechanical spare parts, electrical
generators, technological materials, office equipments, electrical house equipments
and forest and processing industry (Ngango, 1971:89).
Two reasons can explain this reorientation of the Lebanese economic operators
in Yaounde town. The first was due to the sudden economic revolutionary trend in full
gestation in Cameroon. The second was due to the decision taken by the Cameroon
government to transfer economic responsibilities to nationals. Added to this was the
fact that, the Lebanese had historical competitors like the Greeks, Indians and
Pakistanis on one hand. The government put in an economic policy in place to initiate
nationals in the exploitation and commercialization of agricultural products like cocoa,
coffee, cotton and banana. Nicolas Metaxides (2009, 171) estimates that Lebanese
entrepreneurship in Yaounde reorientation was not voluntary but imposed. It was due
to the decision taken by the state to empower Cameroonian economic operators:

When the cocoa and coffee sector was totally confided to the control of Cameroonians the
Lebanese felt menaced and many of them preferred to change and diversify their sector of
activities. Commercial activities were not more liberal and there was a system of control that
was put in place to check the activities of foreigners. There was increase custom duty
particularly for foreigners as compared to nationals; it was a secret to no one that major
Cameroonian businessmen had periods when they were free or spared from custom duties. This
reduced the level of competitiveness of the Lebanese and gave nationals commercial priorities.
For me I would say it was some form of Cameroonisation of the economy (Waffo, 1994:80)

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The stand or position of favouritism defended by Nicolas Metaxide and is


contrasted by Jean Louis Dongmo (1981, 56). The latter analyses the sudden change in
the commercial activities of the Lebanese as due to the commercial dynamism
manifested by the Bamileke economic operators of Cameroon origin in general and
precisely in Yaounde town. The Bamileke stood as tough competitors and pushed
considerably the Lebanese in what they considered as their prime sector of activity, so
as a result influenced substantially the choice of their economic activities in Yaounde.
Jean Louis Dongmo substantiate that:

Yaounde which was the principal town of the Centre and south region was not an exception to
the Bamelike quest of territory as well as the Lebanese. The Bamelike just as the whites were
amongst the first Cameroonians to compete with the Lebanese; they opened their own shops and
selling points at proximity point with that of the Lebanese and multiplied the number of shops
on the street of Yaounde. The Lebanese were forced to specialize into other sectors, selling very
expensive goods that demanded much capital so as to distant themselves from national
competition (heavy construction machines, office materials arms and ammunitions) or in the
sales of ostentatious goods destined essentially to the European and wealthy clients. They also
got involved into wholesale, leaving retailing entirely to the nationals of Cameroon origin. All
the above was in the quest to establish a hierarchical commercial position to avoid direct
confrontation with nationals of Cameroon origin, like members of the Bamileke community
(Dongmo, 1981:90).

Dongmo (1981:101) affirms that the pressure born from Bamileke lonely
disorientated and forced the Lebanese commercial actors to abandon their commercial
monopoly in Yaounde town. Contrary to the 1950 and 1960 years when the Lebanese
were the sole monopoly and made profits on the detriment of the local agricultural
producers. The commercial pressure imposed by the Bamileke economic operators
changed the tides as they definitively installed a competitive climate breaking the
monopoly enjoyed by the Lebanese. The reconversion into other activities by the
Lebanese only appeared like the only alternative. Nevertheless the Lebanese put up a
strong adaptation spirit in Yaounde to advance economically since they could not get a
special favour from the administration as during the colonial period when they were
protected and favoured by the French administration (Aerts, 2000:69).

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Besides the continuous national and foreign competition in the face of the
Lebanese, they did not spreading their tentacles in other sectors in Yaounde. They
struggled hard and left no stone unturned (promotion of small enterprises, car renting,
agricultural machines, and electrical machines, investment into office material and
computer accessories).
One of the very first renowned Lebanese enterprise that reconverted and
dynamized in Yaounde was the Hadjal Massad, Azar Sabeh and Co. Limited with
tentacles all over Cameroon. It specialized in the sale of technological tools,
mechanical products, cloths, vehicle spare parts, building and construction materials17.
The publicity card on Diagram 3 represents a new orientation of commercial
dynamism in Yaounde. It exposes the different products sold by the two Lebanese
business limited cooperation of Hadjal Massad and Azar Sabeh.

Diagram 3: Publicity Card of the Hadjal Massad, Azar Sabeh and Co.
Limited in 1971

HADJAL MASSAD, AZAR SABEH AND CO. LIMITED


IMPORT EXPORT
Matriel Electrique Tous Produits du Cru
Ventes d'Armes de Chasse et de Munitions
Tapis Tous Genres
Pices Dtaches
VOITURE ET PICK-UPS-CAMIONS DIAMOND
Tel.47-91 B.P.95
Rue Foch Yaounde

17
NAY, 1AA, 1014, Centre Sud, (Cameroun), economie,1972.

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Source : NAY, 1AA, 1014, Centre Sud, Cameroun, Economie, 1972, p.76.

The Lebanese also got into the importation of luxurious and expensive goods.
The dynamism of the Lebanese permitted them to be involved individually into many
different activities. They still had the quest to dominate in a particular commercial area
an aim of attending and occupying a large market as much as possible and also to
constitute a major monopoly as much as possible. The level of attachment put forward
by the Lebanese to succeed from an economic aspect makes Constantin Antoniades to
comment as such:

As concerns the Lebanese new line of activity in Yaounde from 1970, I will say after the death
of my uncle my father inherited all of his fortune. He became the proprietor of the Industrie des
Oleagineaux du Cameroun (IDO) implanted in Yaounde. He also put to place one of the first
travelling agencies in Yaounde and also a construction firm on avenue Kennedy known as
Grands Travaux du Cameroun (GTC). Which constructed most of the first houses owned by the
Lebanese in Yaounde central town. I had a carpentry work shop and a wood exploitation
company and employed 120 people. I got into partnership with an automobile company in
which I had 200 vehicles which I used for the transportation of my goods18.

The Lebanese put up a construction company in Yaounde town known as


lEntreprise Gnrale du Btiment (EGB) belonging to a Lebanese known as Kaiafa.

Plate 9: Lebanese business diversification and dynamism in Yaounde

18
Interview with Constantin Antoniades, 66 Years, Greek business man in Yaounde, Marche Central,

20 February 2013.

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.
Source:Personal archive of Nabil Abbas, Yaounde, Ahala, 12 June 2013.

It was thanks to this enterprise that led to the construction of most modern
structures in Yaounde Central town in the 1970 1nd 1980s.The Lebanese business
operators equally became shareholders in the Socit Commerciale de Transformation
du Papier (STCP) specialized in the transformation of papers into books and also
major shareholders in the Socit Africaine de Fabrication dArticles de Bureau
(FABUREAU). They fabricated office tools like office drawers, cupboards and office
files. The Lebanese were also the first to have opened up a textile company in
Cameroon. They transformed and commercialized textile products like cloths and
shoes. There also existed the Jaco Enterprise in charge of importation of manufactured
products and in building materials and the commercialization of fertilizers (Medou,
1986:92).
The Lebanese were also shareholders in the first soap factory known as
Compagnie Commercial Chypriote (CCC) initially owned by the Greeks, which also
specialized in the making of rubbing oil, perfumes and bathing soap. The Lebanese
profited from the relationship with the political power in Cameroon, and the rest of the
French community who still maintained a prime political and economic position in
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Cameroon after independence decided to change their activities from transport and
agro-alimentary to move to forest exploitation and other (Marianne,2009:89 ).
In the same light Assad recognizes the fact that Lebanese economic operators
installed in Yaounde were also interested in the exploitation of forest in Yaounde, even
though most of the exploitation was carried out illegally. He reveals that; besides
bakery, I carried out equally forest exploitation, I bought it at the outskirts of Yaounde
and transformed it into planks, based on the dimensions demanded by French
companies, this activity was no legal, I carried it out without official authorization, but
with the support of the French118.
The Lebanese in Yaounde also invested in the opening of wood processing
industries amongst which were Canabois and Khoury processing industry. Khoury
arrived Cameroon since 1980 like a shop keeper. He became proprietor of carpentry
and decorating shop situated in Etoudi. The products were made from tropical wood,
in the European style like tables, beds and cupboards and particularly products
destined for house equipments. He work hard to be an independent entrepreneur and
today he owns one of the biggest forest exploitation and processing company in
Yaounde.

18
Interview with Hadjal Mouawad.

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Plate 10: portrait of wood ready for shipment in Canabois, 2012.

Source: Snapped by Nouridin Melo, Ahala, 18 December 2012.

The presence of the Lebanese in the commercial sector was revalorized thanks
to the new diplomatic relation established between Lebanon and Cameroon in 1964.
The direct partnership relation was established between the two thanks to the
independence of Cameroon in 1960. The focal point of the partnership was the signing
of accords of commercial cooperation between the two countries. The accords
stipulated that the government of the federal Republic of Cameroon and the
government of Lebanon animated the desire to consolidate and developed reciprocal
commercial relationship between the two countries. The two countries signed an
accord of mutual commercial advantages between the two countries particularly in the
sectors of custom duties, import and export modalities and formalities of business
operations (Binet, 1975:92).
The Lebanese of Cameroon saw this diplomatic and economic cooperation as
assuring as was to their favour. The cooperation only legitimized their commercial
operations in Cameroon. The new relationship which opened up between Yaounde and
Beirut was some sort of recognition of the Lebanese action in Cameroon in general
and Yaounde in particular. The signing of this commercial accord continued to affirm

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the position of the Lebanese business operators in Cameroon as a privilege economic


partner of Cameroon. The accord gave the Lebanese businessmen hope for further
reinvestment and to put up a staunch effort to resist the competition of other
expatriates and national economic operators like the Bamileke entrepreneurial group in
Cameroon.

2. Promotion of urban and inter-urban transport system in Yaounde


The introduction of urban buses and truck vehicles was a solution the Lebanese
first came up with so as to move their goods from one market area to another The
Lebanese commercial activity in Yaounde was commonly linked in their type of
commercial activity. The Lebanese have never actually built-up a different liberal
profession completely cut off from commercial occupation. All the Lebanese system
of activity in the capital city of Cameroon turned around commerce. Commerce stood
at the centre of Lebanese immigration and implantation in Cameroon, particularly the
movement of goods from rural areas to the towns (Pouymiroo, 1979:92). Through the
transport system came the creation of related activities and employments, opening of
garages and Cameroonians were trained on the techniques of repairing cars and also
trained and employed as drivers. At first drivers only came from Lebanon due to lack
but also related to the egocentric attitude of the Lebanese in Yaounde. It also showed a
lack of confidence and trust on the part of the Lebanese towards the other communities
present in Yaounde and especially Cameroonians. After all, their having been one of
the pioneers in the introduction of the first inter-urban transport agencies in Yaounde
town is applauded. The corroboration of Drikespoulos Dimitri:

I arrived Cameroon in 1958 at the age of 15 years old, in 1959 I became the shop keeper for
my uncles cocoa and coffee business in Yaounde. I was doing cocoa business and in charge of
controlling the trucks used for transportation of cocoa and coffee. I worked as employee with
my uncle up till 1960. With the sum of money I made I was able to buy over my uncles
business. The shop I owned sold goods like clothes, shoes and school articles. My major
suppliers were major Lebanese and Greek importers from Douala. The trucks I inherited from

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my uncle were used in the distribution of goods and the purchase of cocoa from outskirt towns
like Saa and Obala19.

In 1960 one of the very prominent inter-urban transport pioneers in Yaounde


was called Azar Saleh. He is said to have been one of the prominent Lebanese to have
put into place one of the first inter-urban transport which transported people and goods
from Yaounde and its outskirts. His enthusiasm and engagement was reflected by the
fact that he put members of his family and Cameroonians into its management and
development. Besides Azar, other Lebanese businessmen distinguished themselves too
in investing into the transport sector. Khoury Paul attest that; My uncle gave me two
shops which I managed and finally bought over and paid him within a period of six
months. I had his confidence and partner my business to other Lebanese commercial
networks in Yaounde and Douala, particularly importers so as could have a constant
supply of imported goods. A majority of my customers were Cameroonians and
Africans. Immediately after independence, there were approximately about 70 cars
and transport trucks to assure displacement of people in Yaounde and also to transport
goods between Yaounde and the other towns in Cameroon. Just like the case in the
commercial sectors practiced by the Lebanese, the transport sector carried out by the
Lebanese developed and dynamised into other activities. There was the creation of the
first garages to assure the technical and mechanical repairs and maintenance of the
vehicles in circulation. Michelle Amougou a formal driver in Yaounde attest that :

Accompagnied by his sons, proprietors of numerous trucks and transport vehicles in Yaounde
town and outskirts. Antoine Despotakis was in charge of transporting people and their goods
from Yaounde to Bafia, Mbalmayo. As time passed by they extended to other areas like
Ebolowa and Ambam. The major products which he was in charge of transporting was mostly
agricultural products with particular emphasis on cash crops like cocoa and coffee, transporting
from area of cultivation to Douala for shipment20.

19
Interview with Drikespoulos Dimitri, 65 years, Greek businessman, Mokolo Chinga, Yaounde, June
2013.

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From the interview with Paul Ebozoa, he explained that the phenomenon of public
garages in Yaounde was amplified by the Lebanese who invested body and soul in
implanting garages and mechanics so as to repair the vehicles they had put into place
for transportation of goods and persons. He comments that:
The Khoury family was one of the first Lebanese to have involved into garage business in
Yaounde and inter urban transport. He started with the Obala- Saa road after which the
Mbalmayo, Sangmalima, Ebolowa. Gradually and progressively the inter-urban transport in
Yaounde amplified. It was as a result of the birth of this activity that led to the presence of
drivers and garagist in Yaounde town and outskirts21.

This affirmation makes us to understand that the entrepreneurial activities of the


Lebanese in Yaounde evolved in a mechanical manner and visibly brought about a
multiplier effect through which other activities were generated, like the creation of
garages to train mechanics and the training and employment of drivers. Tezano
Tchoudja a retired driver affirms that:

Bou Zeid after having made numerous successes in the transport sector in Yaounde initiated the
arrival of the first drivers in Yaounde. He remained in this activity and initiated the training of
the first national mechanics and drivers. The coming of drivers from Lebanon was expensive
and costful, so the solution to train and employ national drivers was cheaper. Again the local
drivers were familiar with the major agricultural areas and could communicate well with
producers than foreign drivers22.

In this analysis relative to the entrepreneurial action of the Lebanese in the


transport sector in Yaounde, thinks that the Lebanese contributed in revolutionizing
the transport sector in Yaounde. During the colonial period in French Cameroon,
immediately after independence through their actions road networks were created and
job opportunities came up. Zada Fouad retired Lebanese Cameroonian businessman
affirms that:
We were primordial in boosting the transport network in Yaounde and Cameroon in general I
was involved into transportation in Yaounde. I transported goods like (cocoa, coffee from
Yaounde to Douala for export), and also transported goods like Cement and other consumable
goods like (cloths and building materials) from Douala to Yaounde. I had four vehicles of 9 and

22
Interview with Tezano Tchoudja , 67 years, businessman, Nkolndongo, Yaounde, 28 November 2012.
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12 tonnes, I also had three mechanics who worked for me, and the emanation of transportation
and garages was directly linked to the transportation of cocoa23.

The Lebanese were primordial in promoting communication infrastructure in


Yaounde, as they bought transportation vehicles to transport goods and people. The
regularity of movement increased communication and commerce. This showed the
courage and determination put in place by the Lebanese to succeed in their activities.
There were four prominent garages in the town of Yaounde in 1950, the first and very
popular one was that of Ghossoub which was situated in Mvog mbi. It was used by the
Lebanese, French administration and their firms to man their commercial and
administrative vehicles. Another in Efoulan belonging to a certain Lebanese known as
Zaka, the third was situated on the site where the present Djeuga Hotel is situated and
the last on Rue Forch which is presently occupied today by the Delegation of public
works and contracts24. The putting into place of a politics to boost and develop the
transport sector after independence in Yaounde only followed the path put forward
earlier by the Lebanese business operators. The Lebanese were also instrumental in
putting to place restaurants and bakeries in Yaounde.

3.Investment in Agro-Alimentary Industry in Yaounde


The creation of agro-alimentary industry in Cameroon was possible because of
the decree signed by the French High Commissioner in May 1951 putting in place the
accredited conditions for operating a bakery and in 18 May 1948 that of the creation of
restaurant in the territory (Pouymiroo, 1979:98 ).
Lebanese entrepreneurial activity in Yaounde was characterized by a certain
form of diversification. If commerce stood as their principal activity after

23
Interview with Zada Fouad.
24
Interview with Ghossoub, 48 years, Lebanese businessman, Akwa, Douala, 9 June 2013.

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independence Others distinct themselves into other activities like the creation and
putting into place of bakeries and restaurants in the Cameroon capital during the
1960 to 1970. The investment in agro-alimentary industry was one of the most
classical and recurrent activity. The monopoly the Lebanese gained in the initial state
of their activity was remarkable in boosting the investment in other sectors.
Instrumental Lebanese businessmen in Yaounde were; proprietors of shops, boutique,
vehicle owners and truck. The Lebanese also opened up bakeries when they felt
pushed by nationals in the other commercial activities and diversified into other
sectors, this was the case with the middleman sector of trade in the cocoa and coffee
sector which the Lebanese finally abandoned to Cameroonian business operators, they
also evolved from common trade like retailing to opening of agro-alimentary
industries. They were the principal owners of bakeries in the capital city of Cameroon
in the 60s and 70. They were equally the principal supplier of bread within and
outskirts of Yaounde25. The birth and emergence of agro-alimentary industry in
Yaounde evolved rapidly and dynamised because of the competition put forward by
the Greeks and Cameroonians, particularly the Bamileke of the Western grassfield
present in Yaounde. At first the majority of bakeries operated only in the capital city
before moving to Douala and other parts of the territory.

25
Interview with Dahrouge Samir, 52 years, Lebanese businessman, Marche Centre, Yaounde, 7 June
2013.

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Plate 11: portrait of a Lebanese bakery store on Rue Foch 1960.

Source: Personal archive of Hashem Yacoub, 14 January 2013

The second waves of the Lebanese who installed themselves in Yaounde between
1955 to 1960 obtained licences which permitted them to sell alcoholic drinks in
Yaounde town. They also besides alcoholic drinks obtained permits to operate
restaurants. It is in this light that one of the very prominent Lebanese restaurants in
Yaounde at Rue Foch known as le Marseilles was responsible in the whole selling and
retailing of Alcoholic drinks and also the serving of European style of food. There was
also Elysee wine shopping where most French officials and other white communities in
Yaounde bought their drinks from. In the same light the eminent presence of the
Maronite Hadjal who implanted himself in the heart of the city on Rue Foch and
indulged into agro-alimentary business and building constructions. All the above
activities carried out by the members of the Lebanese community in Yaounde merited
praise and appreciation from an economic and social point of view. By the side of the
parents where their sons, family members and Friends who were present in other
commercial activities like: Khoury Paul, Khoury Miguel, Khoury Elie and Azar Sabeh.
This explains the fact that besides individual dynamism of certain members of the
Lebanese community in the business sector in Yaounde, there equally existed a
dimension of family dynamism practiced by the Lebanese businessmen in Cameroon,
showing the strong influence of family in the embodiment of Lebanese entrepreneurial

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activities in Yaounde. Table 7 shows a list of Lebanese holders of alcoholic license and
the rights to operate restaurants in Yaounde between 1950 and 1955. it equally shows
the places occupied by the Lebanese in the different dates

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Table 7. List of Lebanese Holders of Alcoholic Drink License and the Rights to Operate Restaurants in Yaounde between 1950 and
1955.

No Names Type of License Place of Exploitation Year of Deliverance


1 Michael Zada Off License Yaounde-Centre 1950
2 Nicholas Hachem Soft Drinks Yaounde-East 1950
3 Saadeh, Danny Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde- Centre 1952
4 Courcol Maya Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde 1952
5 Assad Hayeck Restaurant Yaounde-Centre 1952
6 Toufic Seklaoui Canned Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde-Awae 1953
7 Bahia Elias Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde-Centre 1953
8 Hadjal Masaad Restaurant Yaound-Centre 1954
9 Korbage Baladi CannedAlcoholic Drinks Yaounde Elig-Belibi 1954
10 Jihad, Rana Restaurant Yaounde-Centre 1954
11 Georges Tanios Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde-Centre 1955

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12 Seklaoui, Samir Restaurants Yaounde-Centre 1955


13 Jabra Yacoub Restaurants Yaounde-Centre 1955

14 Jean Abtour Alcoholic Drinks Yaounde-Centre 1955

Sources : NAY ; 1 AC, 7899, Yaounde, boissons alcooliques, 1953


NAY ; 1AC 9769, Boisson alcoolique importation, 1950
NAY ; 1 AA 561, Etablissement commerciaux, immatriculation, 1955

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A number of parents or members of the first wave often did well in integrating
members of their family in to commercial activities in Yaounde. This was initially to
promote and advance the growth of family business. Interested in the particular role
played by family members in the evolution of Lebanese business in Yaounde and
also the solidarity amongst the Lebanese business community, Jean Louis Dongmo
affirms that:
Amongst the Lebanese community there existed a certain level of solidarity to assist new
arrivals or people who were less fortunate in business. New arrivals were given out goods to
sell and pay in the future at their rate. Some Lebanese also invested their gains in opening
many shops through which they distributed their family members there as managers and shop
keepers. Some had more than five shops and some served as whole sale to retail some of the
smaller retailing shops. The Lebanese had more trust and confidence in family business rather
than people of other communities, just like the Bamileke who believe very much in family
business too. Dongmo (1981:87) 24

It is with profound interest that we remark the solidarity that existed amongst
the Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde. From the quotation above we
note that the Lebanese community prioritized family business and engaged to aid
new comers to enlarge Lebanese monopoly in Yaounde. The family was seen as a
medium through which the continuity of family business could be maintained over
the different generations.

Conclusion
To round down this chapter on Lebanese entrepreneurship consonant in
Yaounde, it is important to note that from the colonial period and after independence
the Lebanese primordial activity in Cameroon was commerce. All their
entrepreneurial activity in Cameroon rotated around commerce, it was through
commerce that they diversified into transportation in Yaounde and later brought in
drivers and created the first garages and mechanics of Cameroonian origin. The
activities carried out were important as contributed to the edification of Yaounde
town. The Lebanese also enforced a social and a collaborative life in Yaounde so as
to enhance a proper success in their commercial activities without a tensioned
atmosphere. It was as a result of this that the Lebanese established social relationship

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with Cameroonians on one hand and with the other foreign communities present in
Yaounde, as it shall be seen in the chapter that follows.

CHAPTER THREE

LEBANESE AFFILIATION AND BUSINESS STRATEGIES IN


YAOUNDE

Introduction
The Lebanese community after their arrival in Yaounde assured a substantial
and durable implantation not only in the economic sector, but they also put in place a
considerable social network influenced by their culture and inherent to them. Rapidly
they established a social network amongst the members of their community in
Yaounde, Cameroonians and the members of other foreign communities living in
Yaounde. Initially the objective of this chapter is to study the social affiliation of the
Lebanese communities present in Yaounde tracing through the mandate period and
also to study the strategies which the Lebanese put in place in Yaounde in other to
compromise the social and economic challenges they faced.

A. Lebanese Social Affinity in Yaounde


Once in Yaounde, the Lebanese community were faced with a number of
obstacles particularly that of adaptation. They needed to integrate and to accept the
reality of the Cameroonian society. These challenges were more after independence
and will lessen as the years passed by. It was from this delicate socio-political
situation that the relationship between the Lebanese and other communities
established themselves in Yaounde.

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1. Intra-Lebanese relationship in Yaounde


The idea of consolidation amongst the Lebanese community in Africa as a
whole and Cameroon in particular was very eminent amongst the Lebanese during
the colonial period and the period after independence. The notion of solidarity with
recent migrants has a different connotation as compared to members of the first
wave. They saw it as a milieu to seek individual protection of their business activities
rather than with a feeling of fraternity and consolidation. The first migrants belonged
to the large Syro-Lebanese group which had two principal representatives composed
of the Douala and Yaounde branch. At the top existed a president, a vice president, a
secretary general, an adviser and essential members1. Diagram 4 is a Hierachical
representation of Lebanese social structure in Yaounde. The diagram shows the
different post occupied in the union. Ranging from the president, vice president,
secretary General, Financial Secretary, adviser and members.

Diagram 4: Hierachical Representation of Lebanese Social Union In


Yaounde

PRESIDENT

ESSENTIAL VICE SECRETARY FINANCIAL


ADVICER PRESIDENT GENERAL SECRETARY
MEMBERS

Source: By author, from 1AC, population Libano-Syrienne, controle, 1956.

1
NAY, 1AC, population Libano-Syrienne, controle, 1956.
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They had as mission to assemble all the Lebanese living in Yaounde and
within Cameroon (welcome the newly arrived Lebanese, promote the Lebanese
culture beyond its borders, preserve and give birth to a purely Syro-Lebanese identity
in Cameroon and to create a strong feeling of Lebanity). It is worthwhile remarking
that the Lebanese social community in Yaounde offered a forum for exchanges,
discussions, sharing and solidarity amongst its different members. It was in the
course of the meetings that decisions were taken to assist members financially
particularly newly arrived members with insufficient money to start up a business
and also with members who had financial misfortune2. It was an excellent place
where the action of the Lebanese could be evaluated and perspective on the economic
development and social action could also be made. Another important union held by
the Lebanese in Cameroon was at the level of the family which stood at the centre of
all social activity of the Lebanese in Cameroon. The members of the Lebanese
community in Cameroon also maintained relationship with their home country
Lebanon from a social, economic and political point as seen on table 8. Table 8
shows the relationship the Lebanese in Yaounde maintained with their homeland, the
relationship ranges from economic or financial, political and social-cultural.

Table 8: The relationship maintained by Lebanese with Lebanon

Lebanese Homeland Relations Networks


Economic/Financial Political Social Cultural Religious
-Remittances -Overseas -Social Cultural Building religious
-Businesses branches of main remittances festivals edifices
-Property investments political parties such as ideas Educational Religious
-Property and movements and values exchanges pilgrimages
improvements -Funding political -Family Internet Religious
candidates or associations websites ceremonies
groups . -Philanthropic Blogs and

2
Interview with Hadjal Mouawad.
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Charitable other internet


projects discussion
groups

Source: By Author, from Bhachu (2001:71)

Its worthwhile remarking that the majority of the Lebanese that arrived
Cameroon during the colonial period and after independence were principally under
family care and protection. A large number of the youthful Lebanese particularly of
the second generation who arrived Cameroon after 1970 was thanks to family
members and friends. We note that there existed a strong cohesive force amongst the
Lebanese social organization in Yaounde before independence and after. It was
within the family circle that the newly arrived Lebanese knew Cameroon better. Plate
7 is the portrait of a Lebanese community in Yaounde (Odza Quarter).

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Plate 12: Members of the Lebanese Community in a Family Union in


Yaounde, 2012

Source: snapped by Nouridin Melo, Odza Quarter, Yaounde, 25 November 2012.

The family represented the principal entrance hub through which all the newly
arrived Lebanese in Yaounde had to pass through. It was also within the family circle
that the Lebanese felt free and relaxed. Yaounde during the colonial period and after
independence was just an administrative capital in quest of modernity which made it
difficult for the newly arrived Lebanese to distract themselves beyond family
community. There were no entertainment centres, amusement parks or game halls.
The Lebanese families in Yaounde organized themselves to offer launch every
Saturday to attract members together to eat and feel free amongst each other3. The
absence of leisure made family gathering a challenge that everyone stood to conquer.

3
Interview with Mohamed Daher, 63 years, business man, Odza, Yaounde, 23 June 2012.
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Each Lebanese member had the capacity to host the Lebanese in Yaounde and even
from other towns like Ngaoundere, Maroua, Yaounde and Douala.
Dahrouge Samir corroborates that Yaounde was just simple urban
agglomeration developing during 1955 and 1960.

At that period there was no organized area for leisure. There were no cinema halls or game
halls either in Yaounde town. The members of the Lebanese community decided to meet every
Saturday in a members house to dine and dialogue and amuse themselves, sometimes within
Yaounde and sometime outskirts or in Douala which also had a large Lebanese community.
The Lebanese social organization was also very important in orientating the newly arrived
members. It was also a forum of communication of information either from the administration
or from Lebanon4.

Other Lebanese in Yaounde profited during their period of rest or vacations to


visit other family members out of Yaounde like the members in Douala, Bafoussam,
Garoua and Maroua. They moved with the financial means at their disposal but what
was it that facilitated their free movements and liberty. A comprehensive study
shows that the backbone of the special liberty attributed to the Lebanese in
Cameroon particularly those installed in Yaounde could be examined from the point
of view from their social status. The social status attributed to the Lebanese whether
official or not was attributed arbitrarily to white residence in colonial Cameroon and
after independence. Being whites they were considered as civilized, intelligent and
strong. The Lebanese benefited the same advantages and prerogatives which other
Africans did not benefit from, like the French citizens and other Europeans present in
Yaounde before and after independence. They could move from one area to another
without any special authorization. The French citizens were particularly favoured
with the liberty of movement. The Lebanese also profited from the same liberty and
rights of movement since they were also whites. Moreover during the colonial period
the French administration had taken a firm resolution to protect and to accord rights

4
Interview with Dahrouge Samir , 2 years, Lebanese businessman, Bastos, Yaounde, 7 July 2012.

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to the citizens of the members of the League of Nations on the international territory
of Cameroon (Messi, 2005:87). Onambele Menduga affirms that:
To us there was no difference between the Lebanese and the French, they were all considered as white
people because they shared the same privileges. They could consume alcohol, move where ever they
wished and could be spared if they committed an offense. We had not the chance to buy bread in
Lebanese shops. Certain foods were only considered to be consumed by the Europeans and we were
considered inferior, and consuming meant we were measuring up with the whites5.

Amougou Emerand a retired police officer in Yaounde holds that the image
the blacks had for the whites was revealing of a privilege status which was that of
the Lebanese. His witness affirms the sufficiently leverage position the Lebanese
community had in Cameroon. This position gave them the chance to implant
themselves economically and socio-culturally not only in Yaounde but in all parts of
Cameroon before and after independence. On the contrary, arbitrary movements and
liberty to nationals of Cameroonian origin was restricted.

The Lebanese preferred to pass their vacation in a calm area within Cameroon in most cases
instead of going to Europe or in the Middle East due to the right of movements they had.
Some preferred going to Ngaoundere because of its calm climatic condition. The freedom of
movement they had in Cameroon gave them the chance to visit and take adventure and
business trip to which ever part of Cameroon they desired, whereas Cameroonians hadnt any
of these privileges. being whites gave the Lebanese entrepreneurial community
significant advantages on the social plan. It became clear that the Lebanese
profited from the superiority position accorded to the French to establish
themselves firmly on the socio-economic plan.6

2. Lebanese and Cameroonian Relationship


Its worthwhile remarking that the very significant link between
Cameroonians and the Lebanese was with the Lebanese of the second generation.

5
Interview with, Onambele Menduga, 64 years, retired businessman, Bastos Yaounde, 11 August
2013.
6
Interview with Amougou Emerand , 69 years, Retired Police Officer, Mendong, Yaounde, 15
November 2012.

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This was because they were numerous and more awaken. They maintained and kept
relations with Cameroonians on the economic and social plan. From a general view
point the relation between the Lebanese and Cameroonians was often presented as a
very exemplary one. The view point of Khoury who is a Cameroonian of Lebanese
origin affirms that there were no better relations than that of Cameroonians and the
members of the Lebanese community in Cameroon. This affirmed statement was
based on the historical relationship which linked Cameroon to the Lebanese. The
fact that both countries had been administered by the French under the League of
Nations. The Lebanese before independence evidently favoured the decolonization
process in Cameroon they sympathized and accelerated the independent process in
Cameroon (Medou, 1986:25). Once colonized by the French the Lebanese could only
be in favour of the colonized African people. It was this feeling of sympathy that
animated the relationship that existed between the Lebanese and the Africans. It
made some members of the Lebanese community to learn some local languages like
Ewondo, so as to better integrate into Cameroon7. It shows the level of closeness and
willingness which the Lebanese expressed to be close to Cameroonians. The learning
of the local language was interesting to assure a durable integration in the society.
The mastery of the Cameroonian dialects to an extend showed the level of proximity
and a feeling of sympathy which existed between the Lebanese community and
Cameroonians.
From the interview with Daher Youssef, a Lebanese businessman the practical
framework to evaluate the relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonians was
at the level of commercial activities and interactions. The occupation of the majority
of Lebanese implanted in Yaounde was commercial activities8. Through commerce a
regular union or meeting point between the Cameroonian buyers and the Lebanese

7
Interview with Dakour Raja.
8
Interview with Daher Youssef , 68 years, Lebanese business man, Bastos, Yaounde, 23 December
2013.
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sellers was created showing a level of rapprochement. The relationship which existed
between the Lebanese economic operators and Cameroonians was very good to a
level which the Lebanese businessmen took upon themselves to initiate, guide and
play the mentor role in putting Cameroonians into the business line from the colonial
period and after independence. From the point of view of Jean-Louis Talla a
businessman in Yaounde town, it is no secret that the Lebanese model of business
largely at many levels influenced the commercial activities of Cameroonians and
singularly that of the Bamileke traders and economic operators9.
There is no point talking of an excellent relation or link between the Bamileke
and the Lebanese because the principal relationship between the trader and the client
is profit. This was the principal motive of commerce developed by the European
system in Africa during the colonial period and the Lebanese presence in Africa and
Cameroon in particular was no exception. The establishment of commercial activities
was more beneficial only to the French colonial masters. Meanwhile there was no
participative division of profit with the indigenous Cameroonians or local
producers who were at the heart of provision of cocoa and coffee for exportation. If
the relationship between the Lebanese businessmen and the Cameroonians were
excellent at a certain level it was essentially to the advantage of Lebanese economic
operator and the entire business machine initiated into place by the French in colonial
Cameroon (Madou, 1986:78). The Lebanese had every advantage in the relationship,
but who profited from this excellent relation? Certainly not the Cameroonian
clients and producers who on the were found on the foot of the economic ladder.
OnduaCelestine a businessman in Yaounde testified and recognized the
transformational role of the Lebanese in Yaounde during the colonial period and
independence. He also emphased on the fact that the sense of profit motivated the
relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonians. He backs up this argument by

9
Interview with Jean-Louis Talla, 75 years, Businessman, Melen, Yaounde, 12 September 2013.
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mentioning that; The relation which existed between the Lebanese was an excellent
one particularly at the commercial level. Business men of Cameroonian origin were
given goods to sell on trust and also loans. The major Cameroonian business men
before and after colonization were introduced to the European market thanks to the
assistance of the Lebanese, all was the fruit of friendly relations between
Cameroonians and the Lebanese10.

Another instant in the relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonians


was evident in the relation between the Lebanese cash crop purchaser, Cameroonian
agricultural producer and commercial controllers. On this point there were irregular
and malpractices within the market in Yaounde and outskirts besides the friendly and
fraternal link between the Lebanese and Cameroonians. The link between the buyer
and seller were based on favouritism and corruption.
In the same light a group of Cameroonian businessmen wrote a complain to
the French High Commissioner in 1955 complaining of the privileges accorded to the
Lebanese businessmen. This revandication put to light the fact that the Lebanese
were directly responsible for the misery of the local producers11. Their negative
action in most cases installed a climate of injustice, tension which considerably
hindered the progress of the Cameroonian businessmen. This situation only created
an atmosphere of tension and developed a sentiment of suspicion that led to hatred
between the Lebanese traders and business operators of Cameroon origin.
The Lebanese traders before independence were having privilege positions in
the commercial sector in French Cameroon. After independence they still maintained
a traditional privileged position from the French firms, which still controlled the
import and export trade in French Cameroon. Through this action, they were under
the cover of the Cameroon government because they were considered as agents of

10
Interview with Onduoa Celestin, 68 years, retired civil servant and businessman, Etoudi, Yaounde,
12 June 2013.
11
Ibid
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development to the newly independent administration in place. An embodiment of


these privileges only opened up more growth, advantages and enrichment
opportunities to the Lebanese entrepreneurial community implanted in Yaounde and
generally all over the territory.
Besides the professional and commercial link that existed between the
Lebanese and Cameroonian community there equally existed friendly and intimate
relationship between members of the Lebanese community in Yaounde and the local
population. The very common of this link was that which existed and still exist
between the Lebanese men and Cameroonian women. The fact that a majority of the
relationship was ephemeral today there are many metis residents in Yaounde town as
a result of this union. During the colonial period the condition of a majority of the
children were precarious because in most cases their white parents often did not
recognize them, whereas, their mothers manifested joy of haven had a child with a
white man (Benga, 2000:45). From 1954 to 1970, the number of metis only kept
increasing due to the increase number of Lebanese present in Yaounde and also with
the rise of prostitution in Yaounde. The Lebanese community also had a significant
role in the birth of metis children in Yaounde. Besides the increase number of metis
children in Cameroon French Cameroon toppled the number of metis as compared to
British Cameroon. During the moment when the young Ewondo girl in Yaounde
celebrated the birth of her white child, the white parent purely rejected his
descendant. Benga Assola (2000:59) puts emphasis on the contrast which existed
between the joy manifested by the mothers of the metis and the disengagement which
characterized the white parents: Plate 8 shows a portrait of unserious relationship
between the Lebanese and Cameroonian women, the end result of most of such
relationship have often been a metis child just like the one in plate 8. The metis child
often appeared as a humiliation to the Lebanese but taken with appreciation from
Cameroonian families.

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Plate 13: Ephemeral relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonian


women.

Source: http://etudescameroun.canalblog.com/?article23, communaute metis,


consulted , 16 November 2012.
In Yaounde when a woman lived a concubinage live with a European it was a mark of
honour to the family. It was a contrary feeling to the European, who saw it as dishonor
and shame. It made the European parents not to acknowledge in most cases the metis
children they had in this relationship. It is clear that the principal cause of this
irresponsible comportment was because of shame and fear which followed such acts
which were considered as unclean from a European perspective. Besides such
unfruitful relationship, there existed serious relationships in some rare cases between
the Lebanese and entire white community and the Cameroonian women. An example
was the relationship which existed between Azar Sabeh and Ngah Ebogo. Plate 9 is the
portrait of Azar Sabeh and his wife Ngah Ebogo. This portrait shows that besides
illegitimate relationship which existed between the Lebanese and Cameroonians there
also existed genuine relationship.

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Plate 14: Portrait of Azar Sabeh, early Lebanese settlers Yaounde and wife.

Source: Personal archive of Hadjal Mouawad, Yaounde, 17 January 2013.

The irresponsibility on the part of the Lebanese towards their children could be
explained by the lack of interest and sincere love for the Cameroonian women and
their children, once their business expanded they preferred to go back to Lebanon to
get married. There was no real love between the Africans and the Europeans. To a black woman,
a metis child was a sign of honour and not shameful12

The above act proves that the Lebanese were egoistic, this shows that the
Lebanese belonged o the community of the superior race, that of the untouchables.
This shows the distance the Lebanese had from the blacks. Though the friendly and
intimate relation between the Lebanese and Cameroonians was not an excellent one,

12
Interview with Hadjal Mouawad.

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how was then the relation between that of the Lebanese and other communities
established in Cameroon?

3. The Lebanese and other Foreign Communities in Yaounde


The relationship which we are referring to here is principally presented from a
commercial and social plan; two communities will be studied: the members of the
Greek community and that of the French community. Right from the colonial period,
the Cameroon market was opened to many economic operators, this led to the
emergence of many different competitors. One of the very famous competitors to the
Lebanese or commercial rival were the Greeks who put up a tough competition with
the Lebanese from the 1950 to 1960. They claimed to be the major actors of the agro-
alimentary industries and urban transport in Yaounde. The Lebanese continually felt
threatened each time a bakery or restaurant was being opened by the Greeks in the
Yaounde central town. That was because they felt pushed in the commercial sector
they considered their prime area of investment. Helou Habib and Haydar Mohamed
agreed on this point, affirming that:

The reposition of the Lebanese was due to the presence of other Non African communities like
the Greeks. The Greeks put up a very tough competition with the Lebanese. They invested in
similar sectors like the Lebanese (agro-alimentary, inter-urban transport and building
materials).As a result the Lebanese needed to put up additional efforts to maintain their
dominance in the market place in Yaounde in other to avoid playing the second role13.

One of the reasons which made the Lebanese to seek for other sectors of
investment or to reposition themselves in other commercial activities was due to the
pressure and the competition imposed by a new generation of Greek businessmen in
constant expansion in Yaounde: The Lebanese largely oriented themselves to other

13
Interview with Helou Habib, 61 years, Lebanese businessman, Akwa, Douala, 28 November 2012.

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sectors when they felt pushed on the activities they thought were theirs; particularly
in the bakery and building material sector. Meanwhile during the colonial period they
were considered the rightful owners of these activities. After independence the
business tide seemed to take a different direction, as many competitors moved into
Cameroon to carry out commercial activities14.
From a business point of view the competition which was born from
opposition between the Lebanese businessmen and the Greek was due to the
sentiment of a commercial monopoly that the Lebanese wanted. This was because
they were pioneers in putting in place urban transport and the opening of bakeries
and shops. The Lebanese claimed to have personalized these sectors of activities in
the capital of Cameroon. It is worthwhile remarking from the point of view of Paul
Ebozoa that the Lebanese commercial monopoly in Yaounde was highlighted at the
eve of independence. A wind of competition blew in the relationship between the
Lebanese and the other foreign non-African communities, carrying out commercial
activities in Yaounde town, right from the period of independence and after. In fact,
besides a historical mastery of the commercial system in Yaounde, the Lebanese
businessmen in Cameroon in general and Yaounde in particular were well implanted
in the territory. The first Lebanese pioneers laid a commercial foundation which
permitted their compatriots who came later to forge a real commercial empire that
was constructed on a solid foundation. These pioneers were incontestably the
conceptors of the future commercial and social relations of the Lebanese in Yaounde
and Cameroon as a whole.
There also existed a relationship between the Lebanese and the French in
Yaounde during the colonial period and after independence in 1960. The relationship
which existed between the Lebanese and the French was not on an individual level
14
Interview with Bittar Hilmi.

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but was important in understanding the link between the two which was on a social
and commercial level in Yaounde. The French and the Lebanese made a friendly and
respectable relationship during and after the colonial period considering that both
belonged to the white community. Even though aspects of jealousy often emerged
between the French administration and the Lebanese businessmen whose business
were continuously expanding. Ghandour Ghazi a Lebanese businessman in Yaounde
explained the relationship between the two as such;
if the relation between members of the Lebanese communities established in
Yaounde and other communities remained peaceful and respectable it was because
the Lebanese culture and its sense of religion made it possible. It was eminent that
the fear of God often influenced the social comportment of the Lebanese in Africa
and Cameroon in particular15.
Mbarga Clement who is a retired cocoa farmer also indicated that right from the
colonial period and after independence the Lebanese often worked in line with the
French. He explained that this proximity gave the Lebanese a leverage position to
carry out their commercial activities without fear and menace from the colonial period
and after independence16. which was presented as a real process which consisted of
first establishing a commercial link to be followed by a social relationship. The
commercial organization led to a social relationship which interwoved the different
communities in Yaounde. At the same time there existed a tough commercial
competition between the Greeks and the Lebanese community in Yaounde. There
equally existed a friendly relation between the French and the Lebanese installed in the
capital of Yaounde. From the period after independence in 1960 to 1990 the Lebanese
commercial activities witnessed a profound mutation in its activities. The importance

15
Interview with Ghandour Ghazi, 65 years, Lebanese business operator ,Odza, Yaounde, 17 January
2013.
16
Interview with Mbarga Clement, 76 years, Retired shop keaper and farmer, Mballa II, Yaounde, 21
July 2013.
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of the Lebanese in Yaounde could be evaluated on two principal plans at the economic
level and at the socio-cultural level.
An account of the Lebanese economic action in Yaounde and the Lebanese
activity in Cameroon was principally based on the mark they left on economic
activities. The principal economic activity was at the primary stage first at the
commercialization of agricultural products such as coffee and cocoa. They were not
at the origin of the agricultural products which they exploited and commercialized17.
The Lebanese middlemen and French exporters focused particular attention on these
products for commercialization in Yaounde town and were not responsible for its
input.The engagement manifested on this activity during the colonial period made it
to be given much importance after independence as the principal agricultural product
for exportation. One of the principal merits that could be accorded to the Lebanese
was the fact that they valorized these products for exportation and linked Cameroon
to the international market. Zada Fouad, admits that:

Besides the fact that they were not the direct producers, it was thanks to the Lebanese that
these sectors were developed, through the credits they gave to farmers and loans to encourage
them, and today these products constitute one of the most principal agricultural products
which contributed to national income and balance of income payment in international trade.
They also boosted the farmers purchasing power by buying cocoa and coffee from the farmers
and as a result they were able to have access to medication, constructed houses, feed
themselves and send their children to school18.

Damashki Hassib admits that one of the principal Lebanese business operators who
were much renowned in the cocoa sector was Abou Sabah with members of his family.
He admits that: Abou Sabah was one of the major Lebanese businessmen who
contributed in the development of the cocoa sector not only in Yaounde but all over
Cameroon. The Lebanese were amongst of the principal precursors in the exploitation
and exportation of cash crops in colonial and independent Cameroon. Mavromatis was

17
The introduction of these agricultural products of cocoa, coffee and banana in Cameroon was during
the period of German annexation during the end of 19th century (1884).
18
Interview with Zada Fouad,
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one of the major supplier of cocoa in Yaounde. He became millionaires in this sector
and left enormous fortune to be inherited by his children19.
Another person who also affirms the explanation of Abou Sabah in that same
line of thought was constantin Antoniades who was a Greek businessman20. From the
above confirmation, we can only ask certain questions, at first sight it is difficult to
understand the rapidity through which the Lebanese activities evolved in Yaounde. It
is only through the spirit of entrepreneurship that, the Lebanese could have
successfully evolved as facilitators and middle men within the frame work of French
enterprises to become independent and autonomous businessmen and successfully
operating in Yaounde with a dual nationality. Should we be talking of a Lebanese
miracle in Cameroon? If not how do we understand the rapidity at which the
Lebanese made themselves rich in Cameroon considering that they were not the only
actors in this sector? What was it that made the Lebanese entrepreneurship to be
more efficient than that of the Cameroonian business operators? Besides their
incontestable spirit of dynamism and determination, the velocity of their enrichment
in Cameroon and Yaounde was facilitated by the French colonial economic system.
The commercial system put in place in Cameroon during the colonial period was like
a chain through which each member made its own profits as fast as possible and was
politically covered by the colonial authorities.
The Lebanese businessmen who were the middlemen played an
important role in this activity and benefitted from the commercial exploitation. The
Lebanese had to purchase and commercialize the agricultural products in Cameroon
considering that nothing was spent as cost of production. It was a system in which no
revenue was invested as input. The Germans had left large spans of field which the
Lebanese just exploited seasonally from Cameroonian farmers and thus made
enormous profits. The Lebanese middlemen bought the agricultural products for

19
Interview with Damashki Hassib
20
Idem
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exportation at very low prices to resell at very high prices to the major warehouses in
charge of exportation. As a result, they made exorbitant profits since they operated in
lesser faire and with almost no taxes. The prices at which they purchased cocoa and
coffee from Cameroonian producers were far below the prices fixed by the colonial
authorities. Dongmo (1981:98) is critical about the scandalous profits realized by the
major warehouses and middlemen during the colonial period in Africa. He presents
his arguments as such; The most scandalous was in the coffee sector. The Europeans
bought at 20francs CFA per kilogram or 42.50 metro and sold for 174 francs per
kilogram. They also bought banana for 18 francs from the producer and resold at 72
francs to consumers. Even if the cost of transportation and other expenditures put
aside the Europeans still made enormous gains (Assene, 2008:67).
As compared to the revenues of the Lebanese commercial intermediaries, the
revenues of the Cameroonian producers were particularly small. After harvesting
season they made a less income whereas the Lebanese businessmen made surplus
profits. Such a difference in profits was advantageous to the warehouses and
Lebanese middlemen who made hundreds of thousands of profits a year in the cocoa
and cocoa sector. This shows that the commercial system put in place before and
immediately after independence only favoured the rapid enrichment of the different
chain of the colonial system in which the Lebanese played a primordial role.
The Lebanese were also pioneers in Yaounde and its outskirts in the urban and
inter-urban transport. From 1955 to 1960, out of 422 transporters censured in
Yaounde, 26 percent were of Lebanese origin. A majority of their activity was
practiced in the Nyong and Sanaga region21, it was as a result of this that led to the
introduction of the first garages and the first mechanics in the capital city of
Cameroon. The Lebanese also made Cameroon to be known on the international
scene. Constantin attest that; By selling Cameroonian cocoa out of the country, I

21
Idem

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made Cameroon to be known on the international market, I paid taxes and custom
duties. I created a chain through which employment was created. 22
This explanation of constantin is worthy in the sense that the principal activity
of the Lebanese in Cameroon was commerce right from the colonial period and after
independence. The Lebanese communities in Cameroon were instrumental in
promoting commerce in the capital city of Cameroon and its outskirts not because
they were pioneers in the practice of commerce in Yaounde town but because their
incursion into the commercial scene in Yaounde abundantly contributed to the
transformation of commercial activities in Yaounde. Jean Louis Talla a retired
businessman in Yaounde comments on the enterprising attributes of the Lebanese
and the professionalization of commercial activity in Cameroon. The incursion of the
Lebanese into the sphere of commercial activities in Cameroon contributed to
ameliorate the style and image of the Cameroonian commerce giving it an
international outlook. He affirms that:

The Lebanese business operators by their rigour and courage made the Cameroonian
business men to understand that commerce was passion; they made Cameroonians to
understand that commercial activities was a real profession that evolved like any other thing in
life. Concretely I will say the advantages with the Lebanese were that they transformed the
commercial sector of commerce in Cameroon. The Lebanese considered commerce as a
respectable and prestigious profession. The office of the Lebanese was his shop and market
place; they hadnt any other profession apart from commerce. They saw the commercial
activity as a gift of nature, though not very intelligent amongst the other foreigners in
Cameroon, their fortitude, hard work, tenacity and commercial knowledge made them one of
the most successful people23.

The social importance of the Lebanese community in the capital city of


Cameroon was pronounced by the promotion of the salaries paid to Cameroonian

22
Interview with Jean Louis Talla.

23
Interview with, Fakhoury Joseph 43 years, Lebanese businessman, Odza, Yaounde, 14 June 2013.

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workers who collaborated with them or provided services such as; shop keepers,
managers, drivers, stewards and errand boys.
From the point of view of Fadileh Kobaysi who is a Lebanese businessman in
Yaounde.He comments that The employment of Cameroonians was from a human
point of view or friendly relationship which existed between the Lebanese and
Cameroonians. This was significant and remarkable in the relationship between the
two communities. He admits that
The Lebanese communicated well with the Cameroonians and confided their
shops and stores to them for management, the essence being to discover the
responsibility in handling commercial activities. The Lebanese women also in a way
taught their house maids the secret of Lebanese cooking and the art of organizing a
modern home. The Lebanese were also responsible to have trained and employed
numerous drivers in their transport firms24.
In the same light the Lebanese implantation in Yaounde contributed to
modernize the commercial sector in Cameroon. They were also instrumental to have
trained Cameroonian in the European style and technique of commerce. Constantin a
Greek businessman in Yaounde reveals that the majority of major Cameroonian
businessmen during the colonial period and after benefitted from the advice and
orientations of the Lebanese who were more informed and versed in the European
and Asian technique of commerce. Numerous renowned businessmen of
Cameroonian origin like the Bamileke, Haoussa, Douala made their first
advancement into modern commerce with the aid of certain Lebanese business
operators. The Lebanese were like mentors and advisers to many renounced
Cameroonian business operators25. The Lebanese business men largely contributed to
the edification of the Yaounde commercial area. The first selling points and shops

24
Idem

25
Interview with constantin Antoniades.
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that existed in Yaounde central town were constructed through the personal initiative
of the Lebanese. A majority of construction on rue Foch during the 1970 and 1980
were owned by the Lebanese and also some storey buildings on Mont Ann Rouge
and Avenue Kennedy. Amongst the many renounced investors in construction were
Hadjal Massad and Azar Saleh. They constructed on Rue Foch and close to the
Yaounde Central market.

B. Lebanese strategy of wealth accumulation


In order to have resisted different multifaceted competitions from foreign and
national competitors the Lebanese entrepreneurial community needed to put forward
proactive technique and smart strategies to outsmart their competitors. The Lebanese
in Yaounde decided not to engage into all business activities probably because of
shortage of capital or were prevented from, like the case during the colonial period
where certain activities were reserved for the French. They were also prohibited from
importing directly from France without passing through the French companies in
Cameroon. These reasons conditioned the Lebanese entrepreneurs to put in a strategy
to invest in certain commercial activities and to neglect others because of the socio-
political structure and economic factors.

1. Sloppiness in other sectors of activities


The Lebanese in Yaounde decided not to own cocoa and coffee farms for fear
of openly clashing with agricultural producers and decided to remain like middlemen.
On the other hand the Lebanese in Ivory Coast and Guinea were directly involved
into the cultivation of groundnuts, cocoa and coffee. This started with the first
immigrant Lebanese in Yaounde who were much angled towards commercial
activities in Yaounde to avoid open confrontation in the quest of farm land with
farmers of Cameroonian origin (Abomo, 1994:95). They evolved like functionaries
and middlemen in French firms. They later owned shops and finally to full

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entrepreneurs after having acquired sufficient capital. They diversified their


businesses in other regions of Cameroon like Douala, Maroua and Ngaoundere. It is
the present generation that came with sufficient funds to invest, or look for areas to
invest excess profit. The hard work and prudent live style carried out by the first
migrant made it possible for the present generation to be able to diversify into sectors
like forestry which demands a huge capital and are able to carry out import and
export in hundred of tones without the financial assistance of the French as formally.
Today their children are better up than what they went through.

The Lebanese were not directly involved into direct cultivation but gave out
finance through trust means to local producers to only receive produce during
harvesting period. The absence of the Lebanese have also been noticed in the energy
sector and mining because of lack of political lobby. This is different from the
Lebanese in Sierra-Leon, Gabon and Congo Democratic who invest in gold, diamond
and the mining of other precious metals. The first Lebanese immigrants in Cameroon
or durables did not venture into this sector because it was privilege and reserved for
the French. After independence, the situation was still complex in that besides the
rich financial capability; they also needed a political lobbying intricacy in other to be
awarded an exploitation contract (Joost, 2006:113).

All these have made them to preferably remain in the commercial sector of
economic activities. Another sector in which their presence was noticed was in the
forest sector. They owned processing machines which they used in transforming logs
and timber for shipment through the Douala port to France, other European countries
and newly established markets in Asia. They faced competition with the French,
Italian, Chinese and Cameroonian companies operating in that sector. Though they
have been accused of malpractices in the sector they still operated and made
enormous gains due to the schemed strategy that was put in place.

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2. Payoff and insecurity


After independence the Cameroonian business class or nationals had a strong
leverage position but were not yet sufficiently equipped with capital and funds to
threaten the long established networks of Lebanese investments in Cameroon. The
Lebanese had to shift from certain sectors like retailing to much more complex and
luxury trade to avoid confrontation with nationals. The wealthier members of the
Lebanese community or group that owned super markets, wood processing industries
and importers appeared politically safer or secured in their business than their
average business compatriots.

Perhaps the most notable advantage that the Lebanese had in business was that
they had turned their vulnerability and potential political weakness to an economic
advantage by exploiting progressively every available opportunity for earning short
term profits. The financial contribution that the Lebanese community made to the
economy was not commensurate with the profit they earned an incidence that did not
go unnoticed by Cameroonian business men (Levine, 1970:115). Many of them had
no accounting system which made it impossible to access their asserts for tax
purposes, they were notorious for involvement in fraudulent customs and excise
practices. The workers they hired were none permanent so as to avoid payment of
social security. Finally the amount of capital lost through the expatriation of profits to
banks or investments in Europe and Lebanon was considerable, though impossible to
access directly (Franois, 2009:23). This was explained by a system of protection
through civil servants and politicians who also profited personally. The system of
payment of the Lebanese operated up to the highest level in public life. It was
actually very difficult or almost impossible to track down the culprits since those
who were involved were senior bureaucrats, politicians and civil servants who
perpetrated such activities or were the brain child behind such corrupt actions
Lebanese business men subsidized their luxurious standard of living thus the
Lebanese contribution had become essential to the network of corruption which
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operated amongst politicians and civil servants. The wealthiest entrepreneurs were
able to purchase protection and security at a high level while the payoff by the rest of
the Lebanese community was usually made in the form of adhoc payment. For
example, a favour such as the deliberate neglect of an official rule ( Kenmogni,
1989:92).

Those in the forestry sector exploited beyond the level expected or above the
contract signed. following independence, national politicians seemed by design to
have been more interested in letting the Lebanese operate their system of protection
rather than support the rise of local bourgeoisie which might have been politically out
spoken or challenging. The system continued to operate at the detriment of peasant
cash crop producers and the economic development of the country as a whole. Even
though the payoff system is not only an issue of the Lebanese entrepreneurial
community. Its a cankerworm that has eaten through the hearts of other national
communities doing business within the various towns of Cameroon. The question
remains however, how safe are their investments in Cameroon? Positions in the civil
service in the past were blocked to Cameroonians of Lebanese origin in Cameroon on
like; the Lebanese in East Africa, Latin America, united states. Business therefore
became the only fields left opened to young Lebanese Cameroonians (Tchana,
1978:57). The Lebanese would have presumably entered the civil service but they
preferred to travel to America or Europe for highly paid jobs or preferred to continue
doing family business. From their own personal point of view, a local civil service
job carried low prestige in the community. Most Lebanese business men I spoke to
were convinced that, the best future for their children laid in their acquisition of
sufficient education for professional qualification and skilled career rather than one
in business. As shop keeper by name Fahat Moussa put it to me; if my son is clever

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he will go to the university if not he will stay in the shop with me 26. Young men
with professional qualification usually left Cameroon to settle in the Middle East in
petroleum producing countries like Abou Dhabi, Saoudite Arabia and Qatar where
their career could be much more lucrative and where they did not need to safe a
stipulated portion of time in government service as it was for the case for qualified
civil servants.

In Cameroon for example the sons of wealthy families in particular easily


maintained contact abroad as they often left Cameroon for their education. Elite
families were much more cosmopolitan than their poorer compatriots who remained
enclosed. Young Lebanese who chose to remain in Cameroon might have either
entered the business of their family or operated personal enterprise on their own.
Some had done moderately well in the retail clothing trade or transport but thought
perhaps of going to invest in other region of the country. The Lebanese in most cases
hold dual nationality always retaining the side to reclaim their Lebanese citizenship.
This action has reduced the seriousness of this gesture in the eyes of Cameroonians
and made their total visibility as Cameroonians difficult.

3. A complex supply network


One of the strategies put in place was the ability to have multiplied its distribution
points in major regions. They distributed manufactured goods into semi-wholesale and
retail to people with small capital. like Yaounde, Maroua and Garoua. In minimizing
the risk of investing in one point or one particular product, the Lebanese diversified
and not only invested in one quarter in Yaounde but invested in many regions and
towns of Cameroon. Investing in Bakery, Cinema and general commerce. In some

26
Interview with Fahat Moussa ,55 years, Lebanese shop keeper, Avenue Kennedy,Yaounde,12
July 2012.
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cases some decided to invest in other regions for fear of competition amongst one
another and for fear of confrontations and problems.

The Lebanese in Yaounde before and after independence had often played the
rule of middlemen or go between in terms of supplying. They supplied raw materials
to French companies and the other way round supplied finished goods to local
producers and petit retailers. After independence, the Lebanese left French
companies and became directly involved into direct import. The Lebanese were also
fond of indulging into black market which appeared complex and risky so as to avoid
taxes. This was usually at the transit ports in Douala where they treated with corrupt
officials and port authorities. One of the reasons that accounted for the early success
of the Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde was that, they diversified
their economic activities, and some decided to settle out of Yaounde where they
established themselves as monopolies. Since few people particularly during the
period after independence were involved into commercial activities, a good number
of people like Lebanese settled where they indulged mostly in cattle rearing and
agriculture. They were not so skilled in commerce and lacked interest. The long
presence of the Lebanese into commerce instrumented other enterprising
communities like the Bamileke of the grass field who after independence put up
powerful competition with the Lebanese.

4. The voluntary reclusion of the Lebanese community


The infiltration of a foreign community into a different country imposes a
functional strategy or the acquisition of the culture of the milieu in other to live
amicably and avoid a tense atmosphere with original inhabitants. A very glaring
example was that of the Lebanese who easily adapted to the inhabitants in Yaounde.
Lebanese integration was not motivated by socio-cultural reasons but for
economic motives they did not see the economic potential of opening up to the
general population (Fimigue, 1999:76). They voluntarily involved themselves into
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humanitarian actions which was some form of a way to be accepted by the society so
that their business could continue to prosper without opposition and also to ironical
gain the love of their customers in Cameroon. The felt that they had more to give
than to share or receive from the community. They feared the degeneration into waste
of their money in the cause of integration and enlarging a relationship with
Cameroonians in Yaounde which was to accelerate the loss of their profits. The
Lebanese entrepreneurial community in Yaounde refused the African culture (Ibid).
The rejection is from a racial point of view as un-adapted to modern evolution, in
other continents like America and Europe the Lebanese have fully integrated to the
societies and adapted their cultural values. during the colonial period they were prone
to the European social values and assimilated to them than that of the Cameroonian.
Their attempt to integrate into the Cameroonian society was biased and profit
motivated than naturally motivated like the case in America and that of Europe.
Besides this some have contracted married with Cameroonian women, which
is a sign of integration even though they still remain so attached with relationship in
Lebanon. Such actions have made them to easily accept the community in Yaounde
and made them to carry out their activities safely.

Conclusion
This chapter was focused on the social affiliation of the Lebanese
communities in Yaounde and the strategies the Lebanese put in place in other to
compromise the social and economic challenges they faced. The chapter that follows
examines the significant aspects of Lebanese professional entrepreneurial activities
through their impact in Yaounde, from a social and economic point of view and also
focuses on the challenges they faced in Yaounde as entrepreneurs.

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CHAPTER FOUR

IMPACT AND CHALLENGES FACED BY LEBANESE


ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Introduction
This chapter focuses on the impact of Lebanese entrepreneurial activities in
Yaounde from an economic and socio-cultural perspective, with an accentuation on
the challenges their activities encountered in Yaounde. One of the most significant
aspects and determining presence of the Lebanese in Yaounde was the mark they left
through their activities. The Lebanese were not at the origin of most of the economic
changes in Yaounde, but they focused particular interest in the valorisation and
commercialisation of the major products in Yaounde giving them a certain level of
worth. They contributed to the development of internal and international commerce;
they were dynamic in destroying the French monopoly and initiating nationals into
the international commercial chain in Yaounde. The agglomeration of Lebanese
enterprise stimulated a rapid spirit of competition and challenge amongst the other
Cameroonian business operators and expatriate business actors in the capital city of
Cameroon, posing a challenge to Lebanese activities in Yaounde as shall be seen in
the subsequent paragraphs.

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A. The Economic Impact of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde

One of the most significant aspects of Lebanese presence in Yaounde was the
impact of their economic activities. The Lebanese were not at the origin of the
creation of cocoa and coffee plantation in Cameroon, but Lebanese traders and
middle men within French firms focused particular interest in the valorisation and
commercialisation of these products in Yaounde giving them a certain level of
worth. The Lebanese could be acknowledged for the commercial engagement and
interest manifested in the cocoa and coffee sector which remained firm today as an
important pole of economic activity in Cameroon.

In another way the action of the Lebanese could be appreciated from an


economic point of view as well as social, on the economic plan, the Lebanese had
contributed to the development of external or international commerce, they were
dynamic in destroying the French monopoly and initiating nationals into the
commercial chain in Yaounde. The French shops sold expensively in relation to the
Lebanese products (Sakou,1982:35). They came with competition which reduced
prices and improved on good quality before which the Cameroonian customer
hadnt a choice. Lebanese competition caused the French to change their system of
trade particularly the reduction of price. They were instrumental in training the first
business elite class of Cameroonian origin who were composed of the Bamileke
and the Hausa.

1. Determining presence of the Lebanese in Yaounde


The Lebanese were instrumental to have contributed and provoked certain
business entrepreneurial phenomenon which was beneficial to Cameroon before and
after independence. Valorization and enhancement of major exporting cash crop
products which still constitute a pillar in Cameroons exporting products. Today cocoa

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and coffee are the major goods of export in Cameroon and constitute the major
primary products for the embryonic industries of the country. Lebanese interest in the
commercialization of the major cash crops (cocoa and coffee) cultivated by farmers
in the outskirts of Yaounde ameliorated and enhanced farmers knowledge on modern
techniques of farming such as the use of pesticides, insecticide and fertilizers27. The
farmers gained a great experience from the commercial relation with the Lebanese.
Their knowledge on cultivation, transformation and commercialization widened. This
activity further developed due to the commercial aid the Lebanese traders and French
colonial firms attributed to farmers in the cocoa and coffee sectors. The
commercialization of the principal cash crops expanded rapidly, enriching the rural
society as farmers purchasing powers were boosted after sales28.
After the independence of Cameroon the cocoa and coffee filial developed and
became the major pillar of exportation. It therefore contributed to the reduction of
poverty in Cameroon and also acted as a source of revenue for the peasants. The
realization of rural infrastructures and road networks was cardinal as a result of the
movement in and out of major farming areas to purchase cocoa leading to the
development of rural areas (Nyambon, 1987:89). The income from these activities
was important in sponsoring children in schools, payment of hospital bills, increase
standard of living and further reinvestment into related subsistent farm activities like
the cultivation of maize, plantains, fruit trees and cassava. Lebanese commercial
activities intensified and gave weight to the cultivation of coffee and cocoa by local
farmers in Yaounde.
The impact of Lebanese entrepreneurial action in the cocoa and coffee sector
could not be minimized today. Their entrepreneurial realization was accompanied

27
NAY,1AA, cacao et cafe : condition et contrle,1958

28
Idem.

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with real geographical development. The construction of roads and bridges linking
zones of production to major towns like Yaounde. The major roads that were opened
up after independence were based on the first roads established during the colonial
period with connivance with the Lebanese entrepreneurial activities (Dzune,
1990:76). Even though the roads and infrastructures were not constructed for the
benefits of nationals today they are of great importance. Other aspects could equally
permit us to consider the actions of the Lebanese entrepreneurial activities as
positive. Their actions created an economic awakening and a market economy. The
birth of the spirit of creativity, the putting in place of financial and credit institutions,
mechanism to fix and stabilize prices (mercurial), the organization of production and
sell were the immediate results. The spirit of creativity permitted men to think, react
and to transform their natural habitats (Portes, 1995:76). This was the sine qua non of
all durable and long term development. Even after independence the Lebanese
activities were still primordial because the colonial administration initiated a system
to support the spirit of creativity amongst enterprising Cameroonian. The P.A.I.B.
(Programme d'Aide aux Initiatives de Base), the financial institutions constituted in
their conception and structure facilitated the promotion and the development of
different economic operations such as micro-finance and credit of different types
(Tardits, 1960:85) The revolution brought loans for different purposes such as (loan
for habitation, commerce, investment and social action) which constituted one of the
pillars of development. It is worthwhile noting that the system of price
uniformization was not inherent of the African commercial activity. It was one of the
concepts introduced with the arrival of the Europeans and promoted inland by
Lebanese middlemen.
Lebanese commerce was primordial and favoured economic growth and
organization of production and marketing. All this idea was introduced with the
Lebanese commerce which was alien to Cameroonian. There was the acceleration of
production from subsistent production to mass production. The liberalist theory of

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capitalism affirms that a society that disposes a powerful logistic and capacity to
produce and sell in a large quantity predisposes the arsenal to assert itself in the local
and international market (Assoumou, 1977:936).

2. Valorisation of the Major Cash Crops


Again one of the most important merits of the Lebanese entrepreneurial
activity in Yaounde, was the contribution of the Lebanese to the valorisation of the
major cash crops which linked Cameroon to international trade. Besides the fact that
they were not direct producers, we acknowledged the fact that it was the Lebanese
who permitted the giving out of credits to farmers in the cocoa-coffee sector to boost
production. Initially if the Lebanese gave out credits to farmers it was because they
also benefitted from the cocoa and coffee trade in Cameroon.
The Lebanese community were important in the role they played by promoting
micro commerce in Yaounde and initiating Cameroonians into their style of
commerce. A glaring example being the members of the Bamileke community who
practiced similar strategy of doing commerce just like the Lebanese, with priority
focused on family entrepreneurship (Bopda, 198:85). In sum the activities carried out
by the Lebanese during the 1922 and to 1990s were directly related to commercial
activities (Assidon: 1989:87). The Lebanese constituted a strategic commercial chain
in Yaounde.
In the course of the colonial period they played an important role between
local producers and the major exporting firms. The Lebanese in most cases often
received financial support from the French firms during the colonial period because
they were major buyers in the villages and through, currency was distributed to the
least level. The French commercial firms and administration used intermediaries in
inaccessible areas to buy and stock agricultural products before they were sent to the
European factories. The Lebanese intermediaries received advances, remunerations
and commissions to supply products in the firms after which their payments were to

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be completed. The Lebanese took all the necessary risk and were the ones who
financed the intermediaries with the loans they got from the French and their major
buyers. The Lebanese remained one of the first precursors to have indulged into the
exploitation and exportation of cocoa trade before and after independence. Firstly in
line with French firms after independence and eventually continued the activity on an
individual bases29.
The commercial system put in place in Cameroon under the French
administration was in form of a chain where everybody benefitted from. Even though
the Lebanese traders and middlemen played a very primordial role in the chain. They
proportionately benefitted more advantages than Cameroonian agricultural producers
in the coffee and cocoa sector. The Lebanese traders bought from the local farmers at
very low prices and resold very expensive in the international market. The prices
offered by the Lebanese traders were far lower than what the French colonial
administration had made available for buying from local farmers. This action of the
Lebanese made them to be remarked by farmers as corrupt and fraudulent buyers.
This was one of the reasons which led to the creation of marketing boards after
independence30. It had as objectives to check individual and foreign buyers and to
harmonise buying so that farmers could not continue to be cheated all the times. The
Lebanese entrepreneurial community came to Cameroon with the same notion like
the French colonial masters to enrich themselves and accumulate wealth as much as
possible for themselves contrary to the famous principles of valorisation and
development (Slogan of civilisation and modernisation). The Lebanese
entrepreneurial community in Yaounde had so far contributed enormously in setting
up transport activities in Yaounde (Njike, 2000:87). They were amongst the first
alien non-European to have introduced the development of urban transport in

29
NAY, 2AC, 1603, Cafe, exportation 1941.
30
NAY, 2AC, 741, Caisse de Stabilisation des prix du cafe ; 1956

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Yaounde town and outskirts. It was thanks to their entrepreneurial determination that
urban transportation developed in Yaounde. The availability of buses in Yaounde
gave room for the creation of jobs in that drivers were needed and it also created a
chain of related activities like garages, car parks, restaurants, inns and major
relaxation spots.
The commercialisation of cocoa and coffee gave a positive image of
Cameroon as a prospective country for investment throughout the world and attracted
other foreign investors to invest in different sectors of the economy in Cameroon
such as energy, agriculture, agro-alimentary industry, mining and forest exploitation.
That was particularly during the period after Cameroon gained its independence. To
this effect we would not fail to recognise the fundamental contribution of the
Lebanese in the promotion of commerce in the capital city of Cameroon and in the
outskirts of Yaounde31. Initially not saying that they were pioneers in the commercial
practice in Yaounde but it is important to identify their commercial sphere in
Yaounde which abundantly contributed in transforming the commercial practice in
Yaounde (Ibid).
The merit of Lebanese entrpreneurship in Yaounde resided on the real
professionalization of commerce in Cameroon. The incursion of the Lebanese in the
commercial circuits in Yaounde contributed to the amelioration of the style and
image of commerce in Cameroon. The Lebanese by their tenacity and frugality and
courage made Cameroonians to understand that commerce was a passion to be
handled with a lot of interest so as to grow and evolve. Again seeing commerce as a
respectable profession just like any other bureaucratic or office job. The Lebanese
saw commerce as a gift which anyone could be part of whether white, colon, black ,
European and Asian. All the above encouraged and initiated the first Cameroonian
bourgeoisie class into business. Their dynamic activities progressively assisted in the
31
NAY,2AC,6649,Yaounde,impot commercial 1958.

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transformation of commerce in the Cameroonian capital. The 1960 and 1970 years
were very remarkable as concerns Lebanese entrepreneurial dynamism in Yaounde.
This was the year when the Lebanese moved into different sectors like, agro-
alimentary and restaurant industry32.
The 1960 years marked the increase in the number of agro-alimentary industry
in Yaounde like bakeries the Lebanese entrepreneurial community registered an
increase of 25 percent and the Lebanese also owned about 60 percent of the bakeries
and restaurants in Yaounde. Cameroonians of Lebanese descent played a primordial
role in the establishment of the agro-alimentary industry in Yaounde most of the
commercial activities they introduced were less developed or not known in Yaounde
town. They were instrumental to have contributed in the initiation of an organise and
a convenient atmosphere for trade and commercial activities. But besides the
primordial role played in the opening of shops and stores for commercial activities in
Yaounde, the Lebanese also contributed in the socio-cultural transformation of the
Yaounde capital.
In their positions like commercial agents between firms and agricultural
producers the Lebanese constituted a strategic commercial chain in Yaounde. The
Lebanese community were important in the role they played by promoting micro
commerce in Yaounde and initiating Cameroonians into their style of commerce. A
glaring example being the members of the Bamileke community who practiced
similar strategy of doing commerce just like the Lebanese, with priority focused on
family entrepreneurship (Bopda, 1985:76).
In the course of the colonial period they played an important role between
local producers and the major exporting firms. The Lebanese in most cases often
received financial support from the French firms during the colonial period because
they were major buyers in the villages and through them currency was distributed to

32
Interview with Kouam Colbert,64 years, Retired Driver,Melen,Yaounde,13 January 2013
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the lowest level. The French commercial firms and administration used
intermediaries in inaccessible areas to buy and stock agricultural products before they
were sent to the European factories. The Lebanese intermediaries received advances,
remunerations and commissions to supply products in the firms after which their
payments were to be completed.
They took all the necessary risk, the hard work and prudent live style carried out by the first
migrant made it possible for the present generations to be able to diversify to economic
activities and invest in sectors like mining and forestry which demanded a huge capital.
Cameroonians in Yaounde also admired the Lebanese hard work and prudent life style of
doing business; that was the case with members of the Bamileke community who practiced a
very prudent style of doing business.

The Lebanese were not directly involved into agricultural activities but gave out finance

through trust means to local producers whom they had confidence on to receive cash
crops from them during harvesting period. Such finances promoted agriculture in
Cameroon and improved on the welfare of the Cameroonian farmers.

3. Investment in Real Estate in Yaounde


The contribution of the Lebanese to the planification of the major popular and
commercial streets within Yaounde town cannot be minimized. A majority of the
building structures constructed in Douala and Yaounde by the Lebanese were given
out for rents and served for commercial purposes in the 1960 and 1970. Some of the
buildings were constructed and sold to Cameroonian businessmen. In most cases
members of the Lebanese community who were retiring to Lebanon sold their
structures.
As a result of that we understood that Lebanese commercial activities were
very primordial in shaping and modernizing the commercial area in Yaounde today.
Its worthwhile understanding that commerce was the first point of convergence
which brought the members of the Lebanese and Cameroonians together. This was in
the path of opening major shops as many as possible and also to have a large number
of customers so as to realize high profits. It was dynamism and the propensity to

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work individually for ones self and personal account which transformed the
Lebanese into real commercial proprietors in Yaounde. By 1959 in Yaounde the
Lebanese owned about 10 percent of selling license in Yaounde urban town they
were far ahead of Cameroonian business men33.
The Lebanese constructed one of the first modern buildings on the streets of
Rue Foch, Avenue Kennedy, lIntendance and Mont Anne Rouge. some of the
buildings were sold, maintained and destroyed as urbanization opened up after
independence. A very glaring example today on Rue Foch still remains the huge
standing Immeuble Hadjal with about 600 commercial apartments, used for offices
and for commercial purposes amongst which are the Kenya Air Ways and numerous
foreign and Cameroonian enterprises. A majority of their buildings were often
concentrated on the major popular and commercial areas.
Many Lebanese shop owners largely made use of members of their
community in most of their shops because they trusted them and had confidence in
their actions. The Lebanese profited from the relationship with the political power in
Cameroon and the rest of the French community who still maintained a prime
political and economic position in Cameroon. After independence they decided to
change their activities from transport and agro-alimentary to move to forest
exploitation and other zones of business (Marianne, 2009:89).
The Lebanese contributed in revolutionizing the transport sector in Yaounde.
During the period after independence road networks were created and job
opportunities came up. Considerably they were primordial in boosting the transport
network in Yaounde and Cameroon in general. The Lebanese were important in
promoting communication infrastructure in Yaounde as they bought transportation

33
Certain informants didnt hesitate to speak of the Lebanese commercial flux all over Cameroon.
Paul Ebozoa for instance, made it clear that he saw the Lebanese as true conquerors in constant quest
of a commercial territory to invest in.
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vehicles to transport goods and people34. The regularity of movement increased


communication and commerce. That showed the courage and determination put in
place by the Lebanese to succeed in their activities. The putting into place of a politic
to boost and develop the transport sector after independence in Yaounde only
followed the path put forward earlier by the Lebanese business operators. The
Lebanese were also instrumental in putting in place restaurants and bakeries in
Yaounde. The aim of Lebanese entrepreneurship was not directly linked to enhancing
development but to serve as a means through which their business activities could be
developed. It is worthwhile remarking that their long settlement in Yaounde made
them feel at home and they felt compelled to invest durably. The question we ask
here is that to find out if the Lebanese business community in Yaounde were just
present to amass fortune or did they feel directly linked or oblige to the destiny of
Cameroonians?
Their commercial activities in Yaounde were the result of population
movements by tribes in the North West region and western region who were
stimulated to move to Yaounde in search of jobs in the cocoa and coffee plantations.
People migrated from the different regions of Cameroon to zones of production
particularly in Yaounde which became a reservoir for job seekers. Just like the
Lebanese themselves who were attracted to settle in Cameroon because of the Cocoa
and coffee which had been abandoned in Cameroon by the Germans after the First
World War. Besides agricultural jobs there were other jobs like sales keeper and
house maid that provoked displacement of people to Yaounde to work in the
Lebanese shops. There were also major projects like, building sites railway, roads,
bridges and warehouses which caused people to move in search of jobs. Some of
these people would later economically make inroads into the major economic
enterprises in Yaounde and would directly compete with the French and the Lebanese

34
Interview with Nassif Francois, 60 years, Retired consul, Odza, Yaounde, 15 January 2013.
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who possessed the much renounced business firms after independence and would
also constitute the first Cameroonian economic class35. The Lebanese through their
commercial activities also left a cultural aspect in Yaounde

B. Socio-cultural Impact of Lebanese Entrepreneurship in Yaounde


The Lebanese community in Yaounde was a strong and durable implantation
not only through the practice of commercial activities. Through the putting into
place of a social organization influenced by the Lebanese culture the Lebanese
organized a model of a social basis which determined the relationship they had with
other communities in Yaounde like the Ewondo, the Bamileke and other stranger
community resident in Yaounde. Be it the Lebanese of the first wave or the second
wave the amicable social relationship embedded in the Lebanese entrepreneurial
community in Yaounde was deeply rooted into their culture. Within the Lebanese
community in Yaounde there existed a feeling of Lebanity amongst them. How
was it important to their installation in Yaounde.

1. The Training and Initiation of Cameroonians into Modern


Commerce.

On the socio-cultural plan the first impact of the Lebanese action in Yaounde
could be noticed on the promotion of the salarised workers. The Lebanese employed
Cameroonians as workers in their shops, middlemen and housemaids. They also
communicated with their Cameroonian employees, confiding their shops and stores
to them. The importance of such actions was that it created into Cameroonians a
sense of responsibility and the task of operating their own individual businesses

35
Idem.
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without any complex. Those who worked as stewards in Lebanese homes leant new
cultures and forms of cooking from Lebanese women36.
The different waves of the Lebanese community played an important role in
the modernisation of commerce in Yaounde and the initiation of Cameroonians into
the techniques and practice of European type of commercial system. It is worthwhile
remarking that a majority of Cameroonian business men during the colonial and post
colonial period benefitted in one way or the other from the advice and orientation of
the Lebanese community who were well informed and tamed in the western form of
commerce. The first known economic operators of Cameroonian origin were
members of the Bamileke and Hausa community who made their first steps in the
world of modern commerce side by side Lebanese businessmen who in most cases
accompanied the first Cameroonian business operators and initiated them to the
European market.
This was the beginning of a long lasting relationship that the different
Cameroonian communities in Yaounde were to gain from. This was like a
determinant of a relationship. Even though some Cameroonians insisted that the
relationship between the Lebanese community and other communities in Yaounde
was based on a customer and worker relationship. This could be affirmed considering
that the Lebanese did not take part into social activities or worship with the other
communities in Yaounde. Even though some of them contributed to the construction
of the houses of worship they still remained sceptical integrating freely with
Cameroonians in Yaounde37.
Members of the Lebanese Muslim community also contributed to the building
fund of the Yaounde central mosque. This became an important source of unity often

36
Interview with Nehmat El Sabei, 66 years, Lebanese dress Designer,Chinga Mokolo,Yaounde 16
January 2013

37
NAY, APA, 10699, dossiers relatifs aux naturalisations, 1927-1945.

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felt to be characteristically absent in relations between stranger-trader community.


Lebanese businessmen did not only give due deference to religious leaders but were
careful to be seen praying alongside Cameroonians on holy days. Whatever concrete
elements of cohesion they fostered with the Cameroonian elite there was above all
the absence of contempt or overt display of racial or cultural superiority. The
Lebanese established an obvious opening to establish a good relation on a personal
and community level with the Cameroonian majority after independence38.
Lebanese investment in readymade cloths was cardinal in providing cheap
available and affordable cloths which was difficult and almost impossible to find.
French shops sold cloths very expensive which was difficult for Cameroonians to
afford for or purchase and Lebanese shops arrived as alternatives. The Lebanese were
also the first to venture into the creation of the first textile industry that went
operational in Douala till 198039. The first Lebanese to be present in Cameroon were
Maronite Christians, Muslims and Druz who met in place, catholic Christians,
Muslims and Protestants. The difficulty of a religious hierarchy forced the Lebanese
Maronites to worship with the other sister revealed religion like the Muslims and
Protestants.
The Lebanese community in Yaounde was a strong and durable implantation
not only through the practice of commercial activities but also through the putting
into place of a social organization largely influenced by the Lebanese culture. The
Cameroonian social status in Yaounde was also upgraded with the training they had
with the Lebanese particularly as drivers, mechanics and managers of garages40.
Some Cameroonians were also recruited as drivers to the urban and inter urban
businesses introduced by the Lebanese entrepreneurial community. After

38
NAY 1AC, 8946, Yaounde centre urbain, 1955.
39
NAY, 1AC, 6459, population libano-syrienne, contrle 1956.

40
Idem.

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independence some of the drivers were recruited as functionaries in the


administration.
The Lebanese of the first wave or the second wave established an amicable
social relationship with the Cameroonian community in Yaounde. Which gave them
the chance to carry out their economic activities without opposition. The good
relationship they had with Cameroonians in Yaounde created a feeling of trust and
confidence as a result they trained Cameroonians and created jobs for them and also
initiated them in to commercial activities.
Lebanese businessmen had cultivated fairly congenial relationship with
Cameroonian nationalist leaders and contributed financially often providing some
source of revenue to their parties and movements particularly the case of the UPC
party (Engongomo:1992). It is also important to note that they accelerated the
independent process in Cameroon. It is perhaps useful to reiterate that they were not
competitors as the case with Lebanese Africans elsewhere and that during the rise of
nationalist feeling they were never the butt of xenophobic propaganda. The Lebanese
also established intimate relationships with the Cameroonian ladies in Yaounde and
from this relationship came Metis children41. It is a reality that a majority of these
children were rejected in Yaounde particularly those with European background.
Some Lebanese were responsible enough to put their own Metis into the commercial
line while some abandoned their children when leaving Cameroon for Lebanon. In
1960 there were about half of a million Metis found in Yaounde and Douala42.
Ondua Celestine though recognizes the transformational role of the Lebanese
in Yaounde during the colonial period, independence and after does not leave out the
sense of profit which motivated the relationship between the Lebanese and
Cameroonians. He backs up this argument by mentioning that:

41
NAY, APA,11283/A,Metis, statut, reconnaisance des enfants naturels, protection des metis
42
Idem.

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The relation which existed between the Lebanese was an excellent one, particularly at the
commercial level. Business men of Cameroonian origin were given goods to sell on trust and
also loans. The major Cameroonian business men before and after colonization were
introduced to the European market thanks to the assistance of the Lebanese, all was the fruit of
friendly relations between Cameroonians and the Lebanese43.

2. Influence of Family Link network and Western Education


Another very important socio-cultural impact of the Lebanese presence in
Yaounde was in the field of education. The attachment and importance the Lebanese
accorded in training their children in Yaounde had a positive influence on
Cameroonians to also send their own children to school. The members of the
Lebanese community in Yaounde gave to their children quality education. They
looked upon their children to consolidate and construct their business in the future so
gave them good education so that they could in the future measure up to the task.
Cameroonians who worked for the Lebanese emulated the Lebanese example by not
keeping their children to work with them but to give them quality education.
In a majority of cases the children of the Lebanese were trained in French
schools (primary and secondary schools) after which they moved to France, Britain
and America to professionalize their training in other liberal fields of study
(engineering, medical Doctors, Lawyer and Management). Even though the children of
Cameroonians could not go that far to study because of financial constrains those who
graduated were easily absorbed into the public service considering that positions in the
civil service were reserved only for Cameroonians and did not integrate the Lebanese
Cameroonians. The Lebanese would have presumably entered the civil service but
they preferred travelling to America or Europe for highly paid jobs or preferred to
continue into family business. Some rejected civil service jobs from their own point of
view as carrying low prestige in the community.

43
Interview with Onduoa Celestin, 70 years, Retired civil servant and business man ,Olezoa, Yaounde,
12 June 2013.

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The impact of such external education was that they ended up having different
nationality or double nationality which made it difficult to identifying instead of
Cameroon or Lebanese44. It was therefore creating a problem of double nationality.
The Lebanese Cameroonians in Yaounde were convinced that the best future for their
children laid in their acquisition of education for professional qualification and a
professional career rather than one in business. After independence the sons of
wealthy Cameroonians were often sent to France to further their education in the
fields of Medicine, Law and business which was quasi-absent in Cameroon. Elite
families were much more cosmopolitan than their poorer compatriots who remain
enclosed. Cameroonians who could not be opportune to go to school took upon
themselves as a challenge to invest as business men in Cameroon.
The religious tolerance practiced by the Lebanese was an emulating factor to
Cameroonians resident in Yaounde particularly members of the Ewondo and
Bamileke communities who were Christians and the members of the Hausa
community who were Muslims. The Lebanese in Cameroon were liberal in their
worship and were not fanatics. So lived peacefully and communicated well with
members of the different communities resident in Cameroon. The religious believe
of the Lebanese made them to establish a durable and solid relation between
Cameroonians in Yaounde, Africans and the other non-African white communities in
Yaounde45. It is therefore worthwhile remarking that the Lebanese socio-cultural
impact in Yaounde offered a forum for exchanges, discussions, sharing and solidarity
amongst its different members and Cameroonians in Yaounde. The exchanges
between Cameroonians in Yaounde permitted as such that Cameroonians could be
assisted financially to carry out investment either in farming or putting in place a
selling point. It was through such gestures that the actions of the Lebanese could
easily be evaluated. The Family represented the principal entrance hub through which

44
NAY. APA, 1116/A, dossiers de naturalisation des Europeeans et assimiles,1916-1939.
45
Idem.
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all the newly arrived Lebanese in Yaounde had to pass through. It was also within the
family circle that the Lebanese felt free and relax. The Bamileke who worked with
the Lebanese copied that system of life and made family members to move to
Yaounde through them so that together they could organize themselves and come up
with a family business (Bopda,1985:89). The members of the Bamileke
entrepreneurial community in Yaounde also emulated the importance accorded to
family business by the Lebanese. Its worthwhile remarking that, the majority of the
Lebanese that arrived Cameroon during the colonial period and after independence
were principally under family care and protection. A large number of the youthful
Lebanese particularly of the second generation who arrived Cameroon after 1970 was
thanks to family members and friends (Ibid: 57)
From the above we note that there existed a strong cohesive force between
members of the Lebanese community and Cameroonians in Yaounde. The positive
relationship which existed between the two in Yaounde had a positive impact on
Cameroonians. They had one primordial objective which was that of spreading their
tentacles as wide as possible throughout the country. They did this by corrupting state
officials at every level. The system of illegal acts committed by the Lebanese was
perpetrated at the highest level in public life with senior politicians and civil servants
being the brain child behind such corrupt actions (Michel de Montaigne,2011:44).
Such actions were difficult to be tracked down considering that senior state officials
who would have discouraged such actions on the contrary favoured it for personal
and not public aims. The wealthiest Lebanese entrepreneurs were able to purchase
protection and security at higher levels while the payoff by the rest of the Lebanese
community was usually made in the form of adhoc payment, for favours such as the
deliberate neglect of an official rule. The system continued to operate at the detriment
of Cameroon peasant and the economic development of the country as a whole, and
for the present at least. conclusively the payoff system was not only an issue of the
Lebanese entrepreneurial community but a cankerworm that had eaten through the

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hearts of other national communities doing business within the various towns of
Cameroon, with particular emphasis placed on the main commercial town of Douala
and Yaounde (Mainet, 1981:90).

3.Empowerment of the Informal Sector


Through commerce a regular meeting point between Cameroonian buyers and
Lebanese businessmen was created and accelerated rapprochement. The occupation
of the majority of Lebanese implanted in Yaounde was commercial activities and it
was through the activity that the Lebanese impact was felt in Yaounde.
the Lebanese businessmen took upon themselves to initiate, guide and play the
mentor role in putting Cameroonians into the business line from the colonial period
and after independence. it is no secret that the Lebanese model of business at many
levels influenced the commercial activities of Cameroonians and singularly that of
the Bamileke traders and economic operators (Binet,1975:89). Analytically there is
no point talking of an excellent relation or link between the Bamileke and the
Lebanese because the principal relationship between the trader and the client is
profit. This was the principal motive of commerce developed by the European system
in Africa during the colonial period and the Lebanese presence in Africa and
Cameroon in particular was no exception. The establishment of commercial activities
was beneficial only to the French colonial masters and their middle men and
assistants who in this case were the Lebanese.
There was no participative division of profit with the indigenous
Cameroonians or local producers who were at the heart of provision of cocoa and
coffee for exportation. If the relationship between the Lebanese businessmen and the
Cameroonians were excellent at a certain level, it was essentially to the advantage of
Lebanese economic operator and the entire business machine initiated into place by
the French in colonial Cameroon. The Lebanese had every advantage on that
relationship, but who profited from that excellent relation? Certainly, not to the

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Cameroonian clients and producers of Cameroonian origin who on the contrary were
found on the foot of the economic ladder (Ibid:89).
All the Lebanese system of activity in the capital city of Cameroon turned
around commerce. Commerce stood at the centre of Lebanese immigration and
implantation in Cameroon. The introduction of urban buses and truck vehicles was a
solution; the Lebanese first came up with, so as to move their goods from one market
area to another. Particularly the movement of goods from rural areas to the towns
(Bigo, 1992:75). Through the vehicles, came the creation of related activities and
employments. Garages were being introduced and Cameroonians were trained on
how to repair cars and also trained and employed as drivers .At first, drivers only
came from Lebanon, this exposed the egocentric attitude of the Lebanese in
Yaounde. It also showed a lack of confidence and trust on the part of the Lebanese
towards the other communities present in Yaounde and especially Cameroonians.
After all, their having been pioneers in the introduction of the first inter-urban
transport agencies in Yaounde town was applauded. The corroboration of
Drikespoulos Dimitri: The Lebanese put into place one of the first inter-urban
transport which transported people and goods from Yaounde and its outskirts. His
enthusiasm and engagement was reflected by the fact that he put members of his
family and Cameroonians into its management and development. Besides Azar, other
Lebanese businessmen distinguished themselves too in investing into the transport
sector; another renounced person of the Lebanese entrepreneurial community was the
Khoury family46.
In 1960 there were approximately about 70 cars and transport trucks to assure
displacement of people in Yaounde and also to transport goods between Yaounde and
the other towns in Cameroon. The transport sector carried out by the Lebanese
developed and dynamised into other related activities. There was the creation of the

46
Interview with Drikespoulos Dimitri,62 years, Greek businessman, Marche central,Yaounde, 17
December 2012.
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first garages to assure the technical and mechanical repairs and maintenance of the
vehicles in circulation. This affirmation makes us to understand that the
entrepreneurial activities of the Lebanese in Yaounde evolved in a mechanical
manner. They permitted fluidity and the promotion of commerce at the local to the
international level. Thereby encouraging uniformization in the different areas of
economic activities such as the circulation of goods and services, persons, liberty and
the facilitation of the process of creating enterprises. with the credit facilities and
trust system they encouraged amongst enterprising Cameroonians.
All these facts only favoured the introduction of Cameroon to the market
economy which automated growth. With the putting in place of economic structures
and the development of certain concepts only assisted the process of entrepreneurship
to a more open up market economy. It gave room for individual hard work and
prosperity and caused members of Cameroonian community to be dynamic and
opened up to new changes of development and principal motivation for production
and integration into the international economy. The liberty to produce and
commercialize permitted the growth of individual entrepreneurship in Cameroon.
initiating Cameroonians to the rights of private property and the respect of justice
hard work and the rule of law. These concepts found their place with the colonial
commerce.
It is a reality that the Lebanese community participated in the edification of
the Yaounde centre commercial town between 1940 and 1980 (Bopda, 1980:91).The
very first shops and stores and selling points constructed by the Lebanese in Yaounde
were done on their proper initiative. They contributed in opening commercial
avenues in Yaounde like the case of the Avenue Kennedy and Mont Anne Rouge
and lIntendance. Their structures in Yaounde are still memorable of the mark they
left and are continuingly living47. Their economic activities continue to be visible

47
Interview with Wakam Alexis, 65 years, Businessman, Mvog Mbi Yaounde, 17 December 2012
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through their diversified investment into different business sectors. Once the
Lebanese successfully installed they constructed houses and sales point. One of the
very first storey buildings in Yaounde belonged to the Lebanese. Their businesses
furnished jobs to Cameroonians in Yaounde and inculcated into them the culture of
the respect of the laws as they duly paid their taxes. Yaounde town remains an
excellent place where the materialisation and investment of the Lebanese is visible48.
The name of the proprietor largely inscripted on, with multiple doors facing
the different directions of the road. The major entrance facing the Anastasie Garden
while another entrance linked to Djuega Htel. All presents a structure constructed
for commercial purpose or to activities linked to commerce. So the mark left by the
Lebanese in Yaounde is an evident one. implying they were eminent in the
construction of Yaounde town. The Lebanese were very dynamic and had sympathy
of sharing their commercial spirit, experiences and dynamism with their
Cameroonian employers. The presence of many foreign and multinational business
and activities in Yaounde today goes a long way to be economically motivated by the
Lebanese community who were instrumental in creating the major commercial streets
in Yaounde49. The Lebanese from a social and partly from a national point of view
are Cameroonians (judicial point of view).
The accumulation of wealth permitted the Lebanese to be assured of an
impressive economic position. This social advancement has put up a jealous mind
Vis Vis the Lebanese and the African. They are accused of frauds, corruption, exist
in clandestine practices and finally, being accused of taking part into illicit activities.
The Lebanese because of their color are looked upon at one point just like the white
man. In Yaounde the Lebanese have faced these problems from colonial and post-
colonial period. The only principal difference which existed between the Lebanese

48
Interview with Biloa Serge,62 years, businessman, Mvog Mbi, Yaounde, 13 December 2012
49
Idem.

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and the colonial master was that they handled administrative functions and involved
into other activities while the Lebanese were only involved into economic affairs.
The first relation that existed between the Lebanese and the blacks was that of the
customer and the client. They stayed out of local political affairs and lived a discrete
and a neutral live.
The financial contribution of the Lebanese community to the present economy
was however not commensurate to the profits they earned and the remittance they
sent back home to Lebanon50. As a community that operated clandestinely many of
their actions went unnoticed by the administration right from the colonial period they
had no accounting system which made it impossible to access their asserts for
taxation. They were notorious for involving into fraudulent customs and practices.
The workers they hired were none permanent so as to avoid payment of their
insurance and respect of the labour law and social security. Finally the amount of
capital lost through the expatriation of profits to banks or investments in Europe and
Lebanon was considerable though impossible to access directly (Hashimoto,
1992:66). The malicious and weird action of the Lebanese business operators could
only be explained by a system of protection through corrupted senior civil servants
and politicians who also profited personally to the detriment of the state
(Boumedouha, 1990:98).

C. The Challenges Faced by Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde


It is worthwhile remarking that Lebanese entrepreneurial dynamism and
commercial action in Yaounde town permitted the Lebanese community to become
important actors in the commercial system of Cameroon. This action did not leave
other actors in the commercial system of Yaounde town indifferent. These
commercial actors stimulated a rapid spirit of competition amongst the Lebanese

50
http://www.destinationlebanon.gov.lb/eng/index.asp/ Remittances a bridge between
migration and development Lebanon, consulted ,19 November 2012.
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business community and the other national and expatriate business actors in the
capital city of Cameroon.

1. Cameroon Business Offensive


There existed a climate of competition installed in Yaounde amongst the
different principal economic operators. The very prominent of these competitors was
the commercial rivalry between the Lebanese entrepreneurial community and the
Cameroonian business operators. Each groups tried as much as possible to conquer a
larger market as possible and also to win the confidence of a majority of customers.
In other to examine the tense competitive atmosphere which existed between
the Lebanese and the Cameroonian economic operators it will be imperative to
understand the genesis of the commercial link which existed amongst the different
communities since the colonial period. The investing in shops and supermarkets by
Lebanese in Yaounde made Cameroonians forcely collaborators, some worked as
assistance in the shops, supermarkets and sometimes played the role of market boys
(Franois, 2009:67). This close collaboration was not without consequences, very
rapidly Cameroonians became caught up by the virus of modern commerce. Seeing
them as models, Cameroonians did not hesitate to imitate their style which influenced
the choice and commercial orientation of certain business operators of Cameroonian
origin like the Bamileke (Bopda, 1985:99). Amongst the very renowned community
are the Bamileke from the Western grassfield who got caught up by the Lebanese
syndrome and also the Hausa business operators (Lecoq, 1998:45). It is with
profound interest to note that the similitude which existed in the commercial
techniques of the Hausa and Bamileke demonstrated the level of closeness which
existed between the Lebanese and their formal employees and clients of Cameroon
origin. Khayyat Hassan a Lebanese businessman in Yaounde affirms that:

At the time when the Lebanese dominated the Cameroonian commercial scene, particularly as
wholesalers, the Bamileke and the Hausa were their principal clients, between this actors in

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Yaounde there existed a parallel relationship in the commercial activities. On the other hand
there existed a similitude between the Lebanese commercial activities and that of the Hausa
and the Bamileke in the manner of management, publicity and marketing of products. It is not
by chance that the Bamileke mode of commerce resembles that of the Lebanese (Franois,
2009:97).

There existed effectively similar numerous selling points between the two
communities which showed the spirit of engagement and the capacity of adaptation
on the part of business operators of Cameroonian origin. This explains the strong
competition noticed in the market in Yaounde from the period of independence to
present date. As independent businessmen the Bamileke and Hausa economic
operators could not hesitate to struggle for commercial hegemony with the Lebanese
in Yaounde town. This was pronounced after independence with the Bamileke and
Hausa taking major commercial spheres formally controlled by the Lebanese. Pierre
Vlachos expresses surprise over the incursion of the Bamileke and Hausa,The major
European firms eventually lost their commercial prestige to the Lebanese and to
national business men, the very reputed being the Bamileke and the Hausa (Edjoa,
1978:115).
The Bamileke appeared to be much renounced competitors, evolving and
dynamising rapidly in commercial activities in Yaounde. They appeared like a group
of commercial athletes implanting in retail, wholesale, importing, exporting and
manufacturing. They also got directly into the same line of products proliferated by
the Lebanese such as; building materials, cloths, manufactured articles and
agricultural products. As a result of that Warnier (1993:67) affirms that; The
members of the Bamileke community present in Yaounde were pronounced in the
agro-alimentary industry, automobile parts, electronic equipments, importation of
manufactured goods, major buyers of cocoa and coffee by the side of Europeans,
Lebanese and the Greeks.
The Bamileke dynamism reserved the mode and order of commerce in
Yaounde town. Some sort of commercial revolution, the direct effect of the

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dynamic action was not only aesthetic but the mastery of modern commerce ceased
not only to be the affairs of the Lebanese but would be black that is, Cameroonian
and African. Today members of the Bamileke entrepreneurial community are
influential actors in the commercial system in Yaounde. This has made it possible for
them to rival with many commercial entrepreneurial groups in Yaounde. Commerce
to the Bamileke was only compared to ones religion. The success of Cameroonians
of Bamileke origin was seen as a commercial miracle, right from the period of
independence they had an incontestable hand in commercial activities in Yaounde.
Tracing right from 1967 and 1978 the Bamileke business community figured
amongst the principal importers in Cameroon (Metaxides, 2003:92). Their dynamism
made them the second important group of importers in the united republic of
Cameroon. The repartition of importers implanted in the country was as on Table 9
which shows the principal importers in Cameroon between 1967 and 1970, it is
categorized into 6 with foreigners topping, followed by th Bamileke of the Western
grassland and Cameroonians from different regions

Table 9 The Repartition of principal importers in Cameroon Between 1967 and 1978.
Category Origin 1967 1971 1973 1978

1stCategory Foreigners 10 12 13 18
Bamileke 1 2
Other Cameroonians 1

2ndCategory Foreigners 3 6 4 9
Bamileke 1 2
Other Cameroonians
3rdCategory Foreigners 4 6 7 8
Bamileke 3 2 2
Other Cameroonians 1 1

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4thCategory Foreigners 12 11 14 10
Bamileke 2 3 3 4
Other Cameroonians 1 1 3 1

5th Category Foreigners 5 8 15 17


Bamileke 4 3 5 11
Other Cameroonians 1 1 2
6thCategory Foreigners 14 84 112
Bamileke 33 40 26
Other Cameroonians 20 28 33

Source: Dongmo (1981:89)

Looking at this categorization it appears evident that the commercial expansion


of Cameroonians and principally the Bamileke businessmen were not proven until the
1970 decades. The erection of these economic operators as major actors in the
commercial system in Yaounde was seen between 1967 and 1978 (Ibid:78). The
Bamileke businessmen presented themselves as the second group of importers in
Cameroon behind the foreign importers who constituted a majority of Europeans. As
such the Bamileke importers emerged to impose their mark in the economic system in
Yaounde and in Cameroonian as a whole many business operators of Cameroonian
origin did not hesitate in investing their capital in foreign enterprises particularly
owned by the Lebanese, Indians, Greeks and other foreigners.
The Bamileke and the Hausa business men were more than ever before
determined to invest in every profitable sector in the major commercial towns of
Douala and Yaounde. The Bamileke businessmen were however present in the
primary sector (production of basic agricultural products for supply in towns and
products meant for exportation, banana, cocoa and coffee). They were also influential
in the transformation sector like artisanal industry, agro-alimentary industry,

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Furniture, printing industry, building Materials. Plate 10 shows economic dynamism


of Cameroonians in 1962.they established their shops close to the Lebanese so as to
compete with them.

Plate 15. Portrait of early economic dynamism to compete out Lebanese in


Yaounde town.

Source: www.Coam.archivesnationales.culture.gouve.fr/ Lebanese immigration to


Africa, consulted, 9 January 2013.

The Lebanese were equally no strangers in the Tertiary sector through


activities like hotel management, urban and interurban transport, repairs and
maintenance of vehicles and the sales of mechanical accessories51. Tables 10 and 11
highlight the names, orientations and capital invested by Cameroonian business
operators to construct an economic pole essentially dominated by business men of
purely Cameroonian origin. After observation, we can judge that the materialization

51
www.Coam.archivesnationales.culture.gouve.fr/ Lebanese immigration to Africa, consulted, 9
January 2013.
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of purely Cameroonian economic dynamic actors was eminent. Table 10 shows the
principal economic operators of Cameroonian origin who invested and ventured with
foreign enterprises during the 1970.

Table 10: Principal Cameroonian Economic Operators who invested in Foreign


Enterprises during the 1970 in Cameroon.

Names Enterprise Capital Origine of principal capital


in
millions
of FCFA
Paul Soppo 1-SICO 300 Cacao Bazy
Priso 2-CHOCOCAM 150 Cacao Bazy /
1-CAMVOYAGE 27.16
Paul 1-SOCCA 50 SCOA,CFAO, SHO, Lebanese
Month 2-SOCAMEX 10 CEAC Capital
3-PECAM 17 Hajj, Toufic and Tomazos
Cameroonians Cambanis
Remoundos
Louis 1-SECAM 49.4 EMC :Mining Sale of
Wambo enterprise and Fertilizers
chemical of the
Oniapecheney
Progil group.
Auguste 1-COCAM 100 Rono-Holding and planches
Njola company and ceiling
boards
Rodolph 1-GPA 40 Import of
toko Sandji pharmaceutical /

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products and
chirurgical
equipments
Arouna 1-SGBC 300 French, Americans, Bank
Njoya Germans, Swiss and
Italians
Samuel 1-PECAM 17 Alfrte Miot Marine
Kouam Fishing

Source: Kom (1991 :205)

As can be seen on table 10, the major investors were the Bamileke business
men such as: Louis Wambo, Paul Month and Samuel Kouam, the presence of other
economic operators of the other regions of Cameroon was also noted like; Paul soppo
priso and Arouna Njoya (Kom, 1991:206). The capital, they invested was significant
in boosting economic operation in Cameroon in due consideration of the period. The
capital varied from 17 to 300 million of FCFA. The sectors of investments were
different from one another: Chocolaterie et Confiseries du Cameroun
(CHOCOCAM), Socit de Crdit Automobile (SOCCA), Socit Generales de
Banques au Cameroun (SGBC), Group des Pharmacies dAfrique (GPA), Socit des
Voyages du Cameroun (CAMVOYAGE) (Waffo, 1994 :98).
The growth and dynamism of the national economic operators to major
significant commercial actors in Yaounde was visibly perceptible from 1967 and
1980. The Bamileke real breakthrough was between 1967 and 1980. The Bamileke
evolved and mutated at a rapid rate and by 1967 had obtained importing and
exporting license which opened them up to play an important role in the national and
international market.

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In other to become renowned and remarkable in the economic life in Yaounde,


a number of Bamileke economic operators did not hesitate to invest capital in foreign
enterprises particularly in Lebanese business or other expatriates. The reason for that
was because they intended to play the first role in the commercial activities in
Cameroon. We realized that the Cameroonian business operator principally the
Bamileke and Hausa were present in almost every commercial sector. The Bamileke
implanted themselves into the major primary sectors of production like exportation of
coffee, banana and cocoa. They also held strong positions in the secondary sector
such as artisanal industry, fabrication of building materials, brewing, printing, bakery
and building. They also invested in the line of hotel structures, inter-urban and urban
transportation, wood transformation or the sales and repair of vehicle spare parts.
Table 11 shows the partial control of business by Cameroonians between 1962 and
1967 with names of renowned economic operators like Paul Monthe and Kadji
Defosso (Kom ,1991:206).

Table 11: The partial investment and quasi control by Cameroonian economic operators
between 1962 and 1967.

Enterprises Year of Capital in Principal


foundation millions of Shareholders
FCFA
SACC (Socit Artisanale 1965 26.2 1. Hassan Tanko
Camerounaise de 2. Paul Month
Chaussure) 3. Michel Yebtchou
Lescarrires 1964 22.5 1. Paul Ambassa
camerounaises Dikoum
SOCECO (Socit 1962 12 1. Mathieu Tchuisse
Camerounaise dEtudes et

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de Construction)
SOCODAM (Socit de 1966 20 1. Samuel Kouam
Fabrication et de Transport
des Boissons)
SICAB (Socit 1962 22.5 1. Pierre demen Nana
Camerounaise de Bois) 2. Andr Goueter
Essola
3. Joseph Nguembou
CSA (Socit 1963 30 1. Daniel Djuinmo
Commerciale) 2. Kadji Defosso
3. Jean Wouamko
4. Abraham Youmbi
SOCONORD (Socit 1962 8.1 1. Paul Month
Commerciale du Nord) 2. M. Tidjani
3. Bouba Bam
4. M. Nascourou
IGDET (Groupement 1962 13.5 1. Pierre Ngayewang
International pour le 2. Thomas Nembot
Dveloppement 3. Joseph Kamba
Economique et Technique) ((Bandjoun chief)
Source: Kom (1991:206)

If the Bamileke occupied the first position amongst Cameroonian investors it


was worthwhile remarking that their dynamism played a catalyst role for the other
Cameroonian investors. The names of the following could be mentioned Michel
Yebtchoue, Paul Ambassa Dikoum, Nascourou, Daniel Djuimo, Tidjani and other
familiar names like Paul Month or Kadji Defosso. The investors also invested in the
forestry sector and wood transformation, brewing enterprises, bank groups and

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artisanal industry (Menkam, 1994:5). Plate 11 is the portrait of the first major
Cameroonian economic operators (Paul Soppo Priso, Kadji Defosso and Arouna
Njoya.

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Plate 16: Portrait of the first major economic operators of Cameroonian


origin Paul Soppo Priso, Kadji Defosso and Arouna Njoya

Source: http://etudescameroun.canalblog.com/ Les grands acteurs de lconomie


camerounaise consulted, 29 july 2012.

The three pictures above are presented respectively as such; Paul Soppo Priso,
Kadji Defosso and Arouna Njoya showing some of the renowned Cameroonian
economic operators in the 1960 to 1980. After a careful observation we can deduce
that the commercial conquest put forward by the Cameroonian businessmen was
backed by a smart commercial strategy. This strategy could be examined at three
levels: Spatial level, sector of activity and the level of commerce.
At the spatial level the technique put forward by Cameroonian businessmen in
Yaounde consisted of pushing foreign businessmen so as to force them to liberate
commercial sectors which were judged strategic by Cameroonians. This strategy

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proved worthy and efficient during the 1970 to 1990 years52. The commercial centre
of Yaounde as a result of this action became less dominated by the Lebanese.
Progressively, Yaounde town has been colonized by Cameroonian business
operators like the Bamileke, Hausa and Ewondo53.
Jaber Hassan a Lebanese businessman also argues that physical terror was one
of the means through which Cameroonian businessmen used to destabilize and
deconstruct Lebanese dominance in Yaounde:

Initially no physical confrontation or friction existed between the Lebanese business men and
business men of Cameroonian origin, especially the Bamileke business men. The strategy of
terror and fear was used; some whites were frightened to drop major sectors of commerce
which gave the nationals the chance to immediately take over such sectors. This method was
intentional so as to make the Europeans and the white community in Yaounde to give out
certain commercial sectors54.

The commercial action engaged by economic operators of Cameroonian origin


in Yaounde only further kept evolving and amplifying to other sectors. Sectorial
strategy here implies the importance the Cameroonian business operators put in
widening their commercial activities to sectors owned by the Lebanese. The first
target was the retail sector which was to open the opportunity for the whole sale
sector. After independence the first competitors opened selling points side by side
that of the Lebanese business operators in Yaounde. The conquering of this
commercial sector in a progressive manner permitted Cameroonians to definitively
take control in this sector of activities. The last and not the least important strategy
was commercial conquest technique based on a very precised commerce. This
strategy consisted of making use of the retail trade before eventually conquering the

52
http://etudescameroun.canalblog.com/ Les grands acteurs de lconomie
camerounaise consulted, 29 july 2012.
53
Idem.

54
Interview with Jaber Hassan , 69 years, Greek businessman,Odza, Yaounde, 12 June 2013.
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whole sale market. The above strategies and techniques gave access to Cameroonian
business operators to fully interpret into commercial activities in Yaounde but didnt
push out completely the Lebanese in their core activities. The Lebanese are still
active in the proliferation of luxurious and semi-luxurious goods like building
materials, modern housing equipments, Forest exploitation and wood processing
industries and major shareholders in commercial activities in Cameroon.
Many Lebanese economic operators account for the success of Cameroonian
business operators to be backed by the state. They accuse the state of favouring
Cameroonian nationals to their detriment as follows through fiscal privileges, the non-
payment of custom duties or preferential treatments in payment (Aerts, 2000:96).
Rigour in the payment of fiscal rights imposed on non-Cameroonians like the
Lebanese, Asians and Europeans. The easy access of investment reserved only to
nationals of Cameroon origin. In reality there were signs of proper Cameroonisation
from the point of view of the Lebanese. There was a certain level of marginalization of
other actors present in the Cameroonian economy from the view point of Joumaa Ali:
It was just natural that Cameroonians manifest the wish to dominate the national
commercial scene. The government had to put in place a politic of favouritism so as to
flush out or reduce foreign businessmen to the advantage of Cameroonian
businessmen55. It was this phenomenon of Cameroonisation which made Fakhoury
Joseph a Cameroonian of Lebanese origin to recall the CCC event with reference to
the first ever soap factory in Cameroon.
The CCC Company was the first soap manufacturing company in Cameroon, with major
shareholders being the Greeks and then the Lebanese. The president of Cameroon then demanded that
2 percent of the shares of CCC be given out to M. Fadil who was a renowned business operator from
the North of Cameroon. As the members of the Cyprus community and the Lebanese backed down as

55
Interview with Joumaa Ali, 52 Years, businessman, Bastos, Yaounde, 23 October 2012.

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time passed M. Fadil finally bought over the whole share of the company. He then changed the name
to Complexe Chimique Camerounais (CCC)56.

The policies of Cameroonisation initiated by Cameroonian authorities in the


commercial sector was to evolve and be deployed in the industries and enterprise
sector. The Lebanese commercial actors in the midst of these changes were short
sighted to understand that the favour the Cameroonians received from the government
was likened to that which they received during the colonial period from the French
administration. It was clear that power had change hands and the support to economic
operators had change hands. Cameroonian business operators justly needed favour and
protection over the Lebanese who were protected in the commercial system before
independence.
The success of the Bamileke in Yaounde was based on their adaptation
capacity, enterprising culture, spirit of entrepreneurship coercive and social
organization (Kengne, 1991:1991). Besides the politics of Cameroonisation operated
by the authorities in Yaounde during the 1970 and 1980s on political and
administrative posts, there were also important revolutionary measures taken in the
economic sector (Lecoq, 1998:99). Cameroonisation stood as the principal route map
of the two presidents; Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya. They put strategic measures to
guarantee the success of enterprising Cameroonians. Economic operators of Cameroon
origin were open up to investment loans whether long or short term. there was an
embodiment of financial operations initiated to facilitate business growth such as
Banque Camerounaise de Dveloppement (BCD) with principal mission to finance the
development operations of Cameroonians. There was the Fonds de Garantie pour les
Petites et les Moyen Entreprises (FOGAPE) or the Fond National pour la
Dveloppement Rural (FONADER) which were public and Para public organisms to

56
Interview with Fakhoury Joseph, 48 years, Lebanese business operator,Bastos, Yaounde, 14
January 2013.

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facilitate the economic insertion of Cameroon (Kom, 2001:13). They had as objectives
to guarantee loans and credits from banks to facilitate national investments.
Through these measures one finds it difficult to reject the notion that a real
mechanism was put in place for the movement of Cameroonian economy. It was as a
result of these measures that the first Cameroonian monopoles emerged. This
framework of affairs fostered by the government was going to exacerbate an already
existing competition between the nationals and expatriates in the capital city of
Cameroon.

2. Non Cameroonian Economic Operators in Yaounde


The Cameroonian capital between the 1960 and 1970 was compared to a vast
field of commercial activity between nationals and expatriates. As seen in the above
analyses the Lebanese had occupied a privilege position in the sphere of commerce in
Yaounde. But the presence of other competitors in Yaounde could not be left out, the
Greeks, the Ibos of Nigeria, the Pakistanis and the Indians. The commercial
competition between the Greeks and the Lebanese drew its origin right from the
colonial period through the 1960 with independence of French Cameroon. The Greeks
had strongly rival the Lebanese in Yaounde through these periods. The presence of
Nigerians, Indians and Pakistanis was not yet felt in the commercial sector in Yaounde
even though their presence was limited in the commercial sector in Yaounde. In the
1970 their impact could not be left out in the retail trade. There was the opening of
Pakistanis shops as well as Greeks, Indians and Nigerians in Yaounde, they mostly
sold goods coming from Asia. The Ibos of Nigeria also played a non-negligeable role
in the commercial activities in Yaounde though operated clandestinely from the point
of Jean Louis Dongmo. The relationship the Nigerians particularly of the Ibo made
with the Bamileke in Francophone Cameroon gave them a breakthrough in
commercial activities in Yaounde and Douala. Together they both as Africans put up a
strong force against a common commercial enemy who were the Lebanese. The

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Nigerian businessmen were involved into building materials, car spare parts and glass
cutting (Ibid:101).
The Nigerian businessmen contrary to other investors moved into peripheral
quarters in Yaounde such as Mvog Ada, Mvog-Mbi, Essos, Mimboman, Tsinga,
Emombo and Anguissa. Besides all odds, the businessmen of Lebanese origin
continued to manifest a strong hold in the commercial affairs in Yaounde with their
style of activity similar to that of the Greeks. Bittar Hilmi remarks that: In Yaounde
there was a tough competition between the Greeks and the Lebanese because both
invested in the same line of activities. The two enterprising communities put up a hard
struggle to compete with the Indians who were moderate in their commercial
activities. Most of the goods proliferated by the Indians came from Asia and often
through illegal means57.
The period when the Lebanese were favoured had been revolutionized and it
was out of question to consider the Lebanese as pioneers in a particular commercial
sector in Yaounde. If considered as pioneers in the commercialization of cocoa and
coffee. What do we then say about the Germans who developed the cultivation of
banana, coffee and cocoa? The debat on monopolization of a particular sector of
commerce was an out of question issue in Yaounde. What was it that justified the
affluence of the commercial investment in Yaounde? The entrepreneurial engagement
manifested by economic operators in Yaounde was as a result of the existence of an
ever increasing market in Yaounde. The social evolution of the Cameroonian society
represented an interesting clientele and particularly attractive for the numerous
commercial operators in Yaounde. Yaounde represented a promising market through
which goods could easily be distributed. The populations of Yaounde are considered
one of the most important because it is ethnically mosaic. Which is potentially

57
Interview with Bittar Hilmi, 50 years, Lebanese business operator,Mvog Ada, Yaounde, 17 January
2013.

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favourable and strategic for commercial activities. It is as a result of this that the
ethnologist, Marguerate qualifies Yaounde as a priority zone of attraction for
Cameroonian population as well as the numerous strangers residing in the capital city.
The two decades after independence led to a remarkable flow of population into
Yaounde particularly people from the western grass field and northwest region of
Cameroon in search of jobs in the cocoa and coffee fields. This evolution is propelled
by economic growth in Cameroon during the 1970. From a political point of view, the
country of Amadou Ahidjo between 1971 entered into a phase of political stability as a
result of the final disappearance of the UPC combat elements on the territory (Joseph,
1989:77). This phase of stability gave room for the amplification of commercial
activities and favoured both national and foreign investors in Cameroon. This relative
economic good health in Cameroon drew its origin since the state of Cameroon had its
autonomy and sovereignty. Table 12 traces the historical evolution of Cameroon GDP
from 1958 to 1967. Table 12 shows the evolution and growth in the Gross Domestic
product of Cameroon between 1958 to 1967.

Table 12: Evolution of Gross Domestic Products of Cameroon between 1958 to


1967 (in billions of FCFA

Y 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 P
ear 958 959 960 961 962 963 964 965 966 967 ercent

F 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
igures 11 13.2 26 38 44.9 50.6 62.2 70 76 86 67.5

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Source: Kom (1991: 183)

In 1977-1985, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Cameroon increased


rapidly, as a result of the increase the World Bank placed Cameroon as an
intermediary revenue country. The rhythm of growth could be translated into the
increase in purchasing power of Cameroonians. By 1977-1978 to 1980 the growth of
the GDP tripled due to the discovery and exploitation of petroleum (Bondoma,
2010:115).
It is worthwhile realizing that the positive signals registered by the Cameroon
economy between 1965 and 1985 was at the origin of increase consumption in
households, boosting the buying power of the population, Yaounde inhabitants
transformed into clients. Right up till the end of 1970 Cameroon constituted a model
of economic development in Africa. The discovery of petroleum products in the gulf
of Guinea gave a new hope for Cameroon to the point where others talked of a
Cameroonian miracle, Cameroon was seen as a sacred oasis of prosperity situated in
the middle of a continent hit by poverty and misery. The international economic
community counted Cameroon amongst the first twenty countries in Africa that was
favourable to foreign investment (Messi, 1991:98).
To win the trust and confidence of the different inhabitants of Yaounde the
multiple commercial actors in Yaounde made many publicities of the quality of their
products so as to better control the market and have a privilege position. The Lebanese
who often sold luxurious goods mostly consumed by Europeans and senior civil
servants soon discovered that the tide had changed and ever one was opened up to
consumption. The economic realizations of Cameroon between 1970 and the
beginning of 1980 considerably aided in the development of Cameroon. The
purchasing power of Cameroonian increased due to the exploitation of petroleum
therefore making them potential clients. It was a little to make a clear difference

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between senior civil servants and ordinary civil servants. Cameroonians almost at
every level could confidently get into European shops to purchase whatever they
needed58.

3. The Lebanese and Economic Crises Dilemma of 1990s.


Prior to 1986, Cameroon sustained a very high economic growth rate partly
because of its rich diverse agricultural base coupled with petroleum production. The
average annual growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP) was 8%( Aerts,
2000:73). The Lebanese who worked in line with French companies ripped enormous
profits. This permitted the country to maintain a high level of per capita income
despite the high population growth rate of 3%. Cameroon experienced an economic
boom from sectors like the exportation of agricultural products (Coffee, cocoa and
cotton). The Lebanese who played a major role in the distribution and supply chain
were equally not left out. The Lebanese were directly involved in the main chain of
exportation of the principal agricultural products. But with a fall in world prices for
primary products, Cameroon experienced serious crises (Anonymous, 1992:89). After
its budgetary year of 1985-1986, its economy went into serious recession. An
evaluation during this period revealed that the economy had experienced a brutal drop
in revenue from exportation.
The Lebanese who constituted an important chain in the commercialization of
the main agricultural products lost their position in the commercial chain. In total the
Lebanese were going to experience a setback considering that a majority of the
activities they carried out was directly linked to commerce. Lebanese activities during
the 1990s came to a standstill since the banks had run out of liquid cash and could not
instantly give out investment loans since people had lost confidence in the banking

58
Interview with Yewoh Forchu, 60 years, MINREX, Yaounde, Rue Foch, 14 June 2013.
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system and withdrew their money from the banks (Warnier, 1993:66). The majority of
the Lebanese enterprises which were in charge of importation and exportation were
weakened by the economic crises. This drop was estimated at about 329 billion FCFA,
this being about 8.2 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Degradation of the
economic sector increased further between 1986-1990 due to the persistent drop in the
price of the main products exported (Petroleum, coffee, cocoa). Economic growth rate
was henceforth negative making the Lebanese commercial activities to take a
downward turn in 1990 (Thioub, 2007:89).
The situation exacerbated for the Lebanese when exchange rate drop by half by
1990. To cope with the crisis the government in a first place put in place a policy of
internal adjustment in which salaries of civil servants were reduced and other costs of
production, the purchasing power of Cameroonians became weak and further
weakened Lebanese business setups in Yaounde, the influence of the state did not
seem to be making things any better for the Lebanese. The reduction in the standards
of living and the influence of the state in the economy did not seem to be making the
situation any better for the Lebanese investors who were found in almost all sector of
the economy. Economic indicators did not stop emitting negative signals in Cameroon.
A continues decrease in income induced a 40% drop in consumption per Cameroonian
between the years 1985-1986 and 1990-1993. External debts incurred increased from
less than half to more than three quarters of the GDP between 1984-1985 and 1990-
1993 (Guiffo, 2003:74).
The economic atmosphere was not favourable for investment both to the
Lebanese and nationals. The investment rate decreased from 27% to less than 11% of
the GDP. To cope with the situation marked by rising tensions at the treasuries in
1990, the government opted for salary cuts in the civil service in 1993 which further
accelerated the downward trend of Lebanese activities in Cameroon. Considering that
there was an increasing interest in the relationship between export and economic
growth when the prices of agricultural products fell in the world market the growth

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scale of Cameroon dropped. The whole chain of production which comprised farmers
and Lebanese in the supply chain was affected negatively (Ibid). The Lebanese were
forced to drop employment; they were forced to restructure their enterprises which led
to the closure of some of their enterprises on the one hand and the freezing of
recruitment which led to increasing unemployment. Between 1984 and 1990, the level
of employment decreased by 10% and reached 17% between1990 t0 1995(Kom,
2001:47). In effect, living standards dropped considerable during the 1990s years over
which Cameroon experienced economic crises. The availability and access to basic
social services provided by the state were seriously affected during this period and
very little could be done at the time. The Lebanese were forced to curtail investment
due to poor profit margins made.

Conclusion
This chapter was consecrated on the impact and challenges encountered
by the Lebanese entrepreneurship in Yaounde. The impact was examined from two
perspectives, firstly from the economic aspects with emphasis on the Lebanese
investments, secondly from the socio-cultural aspect with particular attention on the
importance of family business practiced by the Lebanese. It also examined the part
played by the Lebanese in the initiation of Cameroonians into modern commerce. The
last part of the chapter focused on the challenges faced by the Lebanese in Yaounde.

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General Conclusion
An analysis of Lebanese entrepreneurship in this study has permitted us to
conclude that the Lebanese community took up the challenge not only to reside in
Cameroon, but simply generated an income stream that replaced the traditional
economy and form of employment. They were successful in creating substantial
wealth typically in excess of several millions of profit through which they assured a
successful and durable implantation in Cameroon. They were willing to share their
economic knowledge contrary to the formal colonialist. The process of Lebanese
implantation in Cameroon was divided into two major stages. The first contingents of
Lebanese arrived Cameroon during the mandate period in 1922, though insignificant
numerically were primordial in the subsequent arrival of other Lebanese in Yaounde.
The reason for which they came was numerous but the primary motive was the quest
for social and economic well being due to the political turmoil in Lebanon. Family
members also expressed willingness to settle with either parents or uncles already
established in Cameroon.
This first wave of Lebanese implantation was composed of commercial agents
employed by affluent European firms in Yaounde exploiting cocoa and coffee for the
European market. They later dynamised and oriented into retailing of manufactured
goods within and outskirt of Yaounde and into opening of multipurpose commerce,
they were instrumental in the construction of the Yaounde commercial area through
the commercial activities they innovated and initiated.

Between 1950 and 1960 the Lebanese businessmen were renowned in


Yaounde town because of their dynamic commercial activities. Their activities
widened very fast and expanded into many sectors such as urban transportation, real

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estate and agro-alimentary industry in Yaounde. The introduction of urban


transportation brought about related activities like; increased garages, mechanics and
increased the number of national drivers in 1950. Lebanese activities were also
important by the initiation of the payment of salaries to the people they recruited to
work either as drivers, servants and shop keepers. Their economic life was animated
by the socio-cultural relationship they had with Cameroonians in Yaounde, either as
customers or employee. The particular relationship they had with Cameroonian
women and the metis children they had was also remarkable.

The year 1970 marked a great economic evolution amongst the Cameroonian
business operators who put up a strong competition to outweigh the Lebanese in
Yaounde. There was a business reformation in the Cameroonian business class
principally composed of nationals from the Bamileke of the western grassfield and
the Hausa implanted in Yaounde. Amongst these economic operators were notably
formal agents and shop keepers in Lebanese shops who decided to engage directly in
the commercial life of their country. Besides the national competition the Lebanese
were also faced with other commercial adversity, particularly the Greeks who
practiced almost the same line of activity like the Lebanese and also Pakistanis and
Indian competitors.

By late 1970 and early 1980 the Lebanese dynamised to the commerce of
luxury good that needed much capita like, building materials, furniture and designing
shops with particular attention on the wood and processing sector. Besides the
important role they played in the transport sector, agro-alimentary industry and
modern commerce Yaounde commercial centre grew thanks to the business activities
of the Lebanese.

In relation to all these realizations the entrepreneurial activities of the


Lebanese in Yaounde merits figuring in Cameroon History. Their commercial
enterprising spirit was instrumental to have awakened the first Cameroonian

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economic actors. The contribution of the Lebanese in the construction of the


Yaounde commercial area cannot be neglected, equally on the economic plan their
material and immaterial contribution cannot be minimized. The training they gave to
the first Cameroonian economic class who today constitute the back born of the
national economy cannot be left out.

ANNEXE

IDENTIFICATION OF RESPONDENTS

Name..

Nationality

Religion

Sex..

Age.

A-Implantation of the Lebanese

Where do the Lebanese in Cameroon come from?

Who are the Lebanese in Cameroon?

What is the origin of the Lebanese?

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How and When did they implant themselves in Yaounde?

What are the reasons that motivated their implantation in Yaounde?

What strategies did they use to install themselves in the region?

Was their installation pacific or marred with troubles?

How was the relationship between the Lebanese and Cameroonians?

B-Type of Business activity practice by the Lebanese in Yaounde

How did the Lebanese survive in Yaounde?

What kind of remunerating activity did they do?

Were they dependent or independent in their activity?

How did they get starting capital?

Which they key sectors that the Lebanese invested in?

When did they open the first business plant?

Who are your major customers (buying and supplying)?

Why did the Lebanese change their sector of activity?

C- Social relations and business strategy

How was Intra-Lebanese relationship in Yaounde organized?

What was the objective of intra-Lebanese relation?

What was the importance of a Lebanese social gathering in Yaounde?

What relationship prevailed between the Lebanese and Cameroonians in Yaounde?

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Was the relationship between Cameroonians a genuine or real Cameroonisation?


What relationship existed between the Lebanese and other foreign communities

in Yaounde?

D- Impact and Challenges faced by Lebanese entrepreneurship

What was the importance of Lebanese implantation in Yaounde?

What was the economic and social importance of their activity?

What challenges did the Lebanese face in Yaounde?

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Revue Europenne des Migrations Internationales, Vol. 9, n 2, pp. 91-112.
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Leighton, N, O., 1979, The political economy of a stranger population: the Lebanese
of Sierra Leone, in William A. Shack and Elliot P. Skinner (eds), Strangers in
African Societies Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lessinger, J., 1992, Investing or going home? A transnational strategy among Indian
immigrants in the United States', in Nina G. Schiller, Linda Basch, and
Cristina Blanc-Szanton (eds), Towards a Transnational Perspective on
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Libenstein, H., 1968, Entrepreneurship and Development, American Economic


Review, Papers and Proceedings, vol. 58.
Loasby, B. J., 1982, The Entrepreneur in Economic Theory, Scottish Journal of
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Marianne, M., 2009 Afrique : la longue marche des Libanais, Jeune Afrique
Economie, No 10754/4321, 15 Octobre 2012
Metaxides, N., La prsence hellnique en Afrique. Le cas des Grecs du Cameroun,
Histoire de la diaspora hellnique, Laboratoire des Etudes Interculturelles et
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Michel de Montaigne, 2011, Hellenic diaspora in Subsaharan Africa:


Entrepreneurship, culture and development of Greeks in Cameroon, Editions
Universtaires Europeanes.

Morrison, S., 2005, The Syrian-Lebanese Community of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Journal
of Muslim Minority Affairs,Vol.3, no.9
Olufunmilayo, A., 2005, The Culture of Entrepreneurship, North Western Searle
Centre, no 45.

Oswaldo Truzzi, 2002, Libanais et Syriens au Brsil (1880-1950) , Journal of


American Ethnic History,Vol.5, no.23

Payne, P. L., 1990, Entrepreneurship and British Economic Decline, in B. Collins


and K. Robbins (eds), British Culture and Economic Decline, London
Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Portes, A., 1995, Economic Sociology and the Sociology of Immigration: A


Conceptual Overview, In A. Portes (Ed.), The Economic Sociology of
Immigration: Essays on Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship. Russell
Sage.
Razin, E. and Light, I., 1998, Ethnic entrepreneurs in Americas largest
metropolitan areas, Urban Affairs Review,vol.3

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Sawsan Abdulrahim, 2009, Pathways to Social Mobility Lebanese Immigrants in


Detroit And Small Business Enterprise, a multidisciplinary research
publication , volume 11 issue 1.

Schaper, M. and Volery T., 2004, Entrepreneurship and Small Business: A Pacific
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Review.
Yinger, M. J., 1985, Ethnicity, Annual Review of Sociology.

C. Internet Sources

Abdulkarim, A., 1991, Les Libanais en France : tradition migratoire et activits


conomiques http://www.lebanonpanorama.com/IOP/Pdf, consulted,23
November 2012.

Corm, G., 1989, La diaspora libanaise, http://www.worldnew.com/lebanon.html,16


November 2012.
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Hertlein, F., 2006, Remittances A bridge between migration and


development Lebanon?, http://www.destinationlebanon.gov.lb/eng/index.asp,
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Kiwan, F., 2008, La Migration dans les agendas politiques libanais,


http://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/CARIM/AS/pdf?,consulted 15 January 2013.

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http://www.muslimhope.com/Alawites.htm,11 October 2013.

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www.Coam.archivesnationales.culture.gouve.fr, Consulted, 11 October 2013.

184
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Labaki, B., 1992, Lebanese Emigration during the War in Africa: The Lebanese
Community in Africa http://info.Lebanese.online.fr, consulted, 5 November
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Safa, E., 1960, L'migration libanaise, http://www.arab.net/lebanon, consulted, 5
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Thioub, I., 2007, Les Libano-Syriens en Afrique de lOuest. De la fin du XIXe


Sicle nos jours , http://www.histoire-afrique.org/article159.html.
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II. UNPUBLISHED SOURCES

A. Theses and Dissertation

Theses

Bopda, A., 1985, Le dynamisme de lespace urbain Yaound. Reconstruction et


expansion post coloniale du Bati, thse de Doctorat de 3me cycle de
gographie, Universit de Yaound.

Kamguia, J., 1996, Evolution des marchs de produits de base et son impact sur
lconomie (application lconomie camerounaise), thse de doctorat 3me
cycle en conomie, Universit de Yaound II.

Metaxides, N., 2009, Esprit dentreprise et dveloppement en Afrique subsaharienne,


thse de Doctorat P.H/D en Science conomique, Universit de Thessalie.

Ngango, G., 1971, Les investissements dorigine extrieure en Afrique noire


francophone : statut et incidence sur le dveloppement, thse de doctorat en

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Science conomique, Universit de Lyon II ou Editions de lA.G.C., Lyon


(3).

Dissertation

Abah, M., 1973, Le site de Yaound : tude de gographie physique, mmoire de


matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound.

Abomo, S.H., 1994, Le cacao en pays bti : 1945-1960, mmoire de matrise en


Histoire, Universit de Yaound I.

Akono, F., 2010, communautaire Hellnique a Yaound 1921-1960, mmoire de


DEA en Histoire, Universit de Yaound I.

Assene Atemengue C.L., 2008, La politique fiscale de la France au Cameroun 1945-


1960, mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de Yaound I,

Benga Assola, A., 2000, La communaut mtis au Cameroun sous administration


franaise : le cas de la subdivision de Yaound, mmoire de Dipes II en
Histoire, Universit de Yaound I, ENS.

Bopda, A., 1980, Les transformations du centre ville de Yaound, mmoire de


matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound I.

Dzune, 1990, Les transports routiers Yaound et destination dEbolowa, mmoire


de matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound I.

Edjoa, F., 1978, Lapprovisionnement de Yaound en denres alimentaires, mmoire


de matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound I.

Engongomo, S., 1992, Linvestissement public au Cameroun sous administration


franaise 1922-1930, mmoire de DIPES II en Histoire, Universit de
Yaound, ENS.

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Kenmogni, P., 1989, La chambre de commerce au Cameroun sous administration


franaise de 1921 1955, mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de
Yaound.

Medou, C.J., 1986, Yaound lpoque coloniale, (1917 1960). Essai de monographie
urbaine, mmoire de DES en Histoire, Universit de Yaound.

Menkam, R., 1994, Le systme bancaire au Cameroun sous administration franaise


de 1945 1955, mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de Yaound I.

Messi, Y.L., 2005, La France et le dveloppement urbain au Cameroun : le cas de la


ville de Yaound 1911-1991, Mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de
Yaound I.

Mouandjo, J.D., 1991, Linvestissement public franais au Cameroun de 1945 1960,


mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de Yaound.

Njike, Y., 2000, Yaound, une ville en pleine expansion : 1922-1959, mmoire de
matrise en Histoire, Universit de Yaound I.

Nyambon, A.J., 1987, La route, son impact socio-conomique au Cameroun sous


administration franaise 1919-1939 le cas du Sud, mmoire de matrise en
Histoire, Universit de Yaound.

Sakou, J., 1982, Le march central de Yaound et son impact sur le centre
commercial, mmoire de matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound I.

Tchana, S.J.P., 1978, Le bois Yaound. Approvisionnement et commercialisation,


mmoire de DES en Gographie, Universit de Yaound.

Victoire Fimigue, 1999, La communaute libanaise de la ville de Ngaoundere de 1941


a 1998, mmoire de matrise en Histoire, Universit de Ngaoundere.

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Waffo, D., 1994, Evolution et rle des magasins de supermarchs dans la ville de
Yaound, mmoire de matrise en Gographie, Universit de Yaound I.

B. Archival Data

Yaounde National archive

Affaires politiques et administrative (APA)

APA,1116/A, 1916-1939, dossiers de naturalisation des Europeeans et assimiles.

APA,11283/A, 1918-1948, Metis, statut, reconnaisance des enfants naturels, protection


des metis abandonnes-cite Enfantine,recasement des metis, affaires diverses.

APA,11894/C, 1926, Yaounde,statistiques annuelles.

APA,10699, 1927-1945,dossiers relatifs aux naturalisations.

APA,11377, 1932-1934, Rapport sur lactivite du Cameroun.

APA,11894/C,Yaounde, 1937-1938, statistique annuelles.

APA, 11894, 1943, Yaounde,statistiques annuelles

APA,12236, 1943-1953, Metis, origine et conditions,salaires,Cite metis de la


circonscription de Yaounde.

APA,10344, 1946, Correspondance de 1946,relative a letat civil europeen.

APA,11819/C 1946-1947, Yaounde,statistique annuelles.

APA,10923, 1948-1949,demographie.

APA,11819/D, 1950,Yaounde rapport.

APA,11283 /A, 1955, recensement des Europeens a Yaounde.

Affaires Administratives
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1AA,5958, 1937,entreprises,implantation.

1AA,cacao et cafe : 1950, condition et contrle,

1AA, 1783, 1952-1956, importation-exportation

1AA,124, 1960-1965, centre-sud, rapport,Nyong et Sanaga,Lekie,Nyong et soo,


Mefou,Nyong et Mfoumou, haute Sanaga.

1AA,1384, 1965,Ahmadou Ahidjo : politique et programme economique.

1AA,1273, 1965, Afrique Centrale,Cameroun economie.

1AA, 1966-1968, provinces,economie.

1AA, 1967, immigration,relementation.

1AA,454, 1967,Centre-Sud,(Cameroun), Economie.

1AA, 456, 1967,Cameroun(anglophone),economie,1967, rapports


economiques mensuels de Victoria et de wum.
1AA,247, 1968-1969, Etate civil pour les etrangers.

1AA,1014, 1972, Centre Sud,(Cameroun),economie.

Archives Coloniales

1AC, decision N0 841 du 20/05/1926 du governeur allant des secours mensuels aux
enfants metis des circonscrptions de Garoua,Yaounde et Maroua.

1AC, 278, 1934-1951, renseignements divers sur les colomnies et limmigration dans
les colonies.

1AC,7899, 1953,Yaounde,boissons alcooliques,commerce.

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1AC,7902, 1953, commerce general.

1AC,8946, 1955,Yaounde centre urbain.

1AC,1394, 1956, chambre de commerce,biens immobiliers.

1AC,6405, 1956, cafe,prix et stockage.

1AC,3256, 1956, interets economiques, representation.

1AC,6848, 1956, caisse de stabilisation des prix du cacao.

1AC6459, 1956, population libano-syrienne,contrle.

1AC,2800, 1959, Obala,rapport economique annuel.

2AC,4809, 1900-1959, rapports annuels du Cameroun britanique.

2AC,3029, 1930,rapport commerciaux du Cameroun.

2AC,1702, 1941, Etrangers,Familles,immigration.

2AC,1603, 1941,Cafe, exportation.

2AC,5637, 1944, marchandises importees,contrle.

2AC,9191, 1949, commerce exterieur du Cameroun.

2AC,990, 1949,Yaounde,centre industrie.

2AC,3933, 1950, Cameroun :Europeen.

2AC,9812, 1951, estimation des investments prives au Cameroun.

2AC,9831, 1951, mouvement commercial au Cameroun.

2AC,9830, 1951-1954, rapport annuel de la ville de Yaounde.

2AC,9866, 1953-1954, cacao,commercialisation.

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2AC,9830, rapport de la ville de Yaounde,1954.

2AC,1303, 1954,lettre relative aux autorisations de sejour au Cameroun.

2AC,1324, 1956, etrangers : naturalisation.

2AC,632, 1956, etrangers: prolongation de sejour au Cameroun.

2AC,741, 1956, Caisse de Stabilisation des prix du cafe.

2AC,502, 1958, rapport annuel la subdivision de Yaounde.

2AC,6649, 1958,Yaounde,impot commercial.

2AC,6006, 1959, cacao,commercialisation.

3AC,3317, 1950,situation de la region du Nyong et Sanaga.

Oral sources

Names and
Age Profession place Date
Surnames
Amougou 65 Formal driver and business Yaounde- 19 March 2013
Michelle man Melen
Angula Martin 64 Businessman, assorted Yaounde- 12 Janary 2013
houseware from Europe Nkolndong
Abdel Jalil 46 Lebanese Yaounde- 13 January 2013
Businessman,Transit Avennue
company(import and Kennedy
Export)
Amougou 69 Retired police officer Yaounde- 15 November
Emerand Mendong 2012.

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Abass Hussein 55 Businessman Yaounde 12 July 2012

Biloa Serge 62 Formal Lebanese shop Yaounde- 12 June 2013


manager Bastos
Bou Hadir 58 Lebanese businessman Yaounde- 18 December2012
Nassar Mikhael Business man ,Wood and Ahala
processing Industry
Canabois
Bittar Hilmi 63 Lebanese Yaounde- 17 January 2013
businessman/Decoration Odza
and House blinds and
luxurious textile materials
Chidiac Ghazi 55 Lebanese businessman, Car Yaounde- 23 October 2012
spare parts,Transit Ominsport
Constantin 66 Greek Businessman, Yaounde- 20 February 2013
Antoniades Construction company, Mokolo
import building materials Chinga
Damashki 66 Lebanese Businessman, Yaounde- 12 December 2012
Hassib construction materials Carrefour
Lintendant
Daher Youssef 68 Lebanese businessman, Yaounde 23December 2013
Sumaya Fadiyaa 55 Arabic Fashion Yaounde- 16 June 2013
Designer/Decor Odza
Drikespoulos 65 Greek businessman, Yaounde 2 June 2013
Dimitri Importer of multipurpose,
printing, computers and
office equipments,
Yaounde and Douala.
Dahrouge Samir 52 Businessman, Plastic bag Doauala- 7 July 2013
and chair fabrication Bonaberi
Fahat Moussa 55 Lebanese businessman Yaounde- 12 July 2012
Avennue
Kennedy
Fakhoury 43 Lebanese businessman Yaounde- 14 June 2013
Joseph Odza
Fadileh Kobaysi 59 Lebanese businessman Yaounde 14 June 2013
supply of chemicals and
fertilizers
George 55 Greek Businessman, office Yaounde- 12 January 2013
Kyriakides and house electrical marche
appliances central

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Gilbert Zee 65 Businessman, Yaounde- 12 January 2013


multipurpose shopping Mballa II
Ghossoub 67 Lebanese businessman, Douala- 16 July 2013
Importer and Car rental Akwa
Ghandour Ghazi 65 Lebanese businessman, Car Yaounde- 28 November 2012
rental and importer Odza
Jean Louis Talla 70 Businessman, building Yaounde- 12 September 2013
materials Melen
Kouam Colbert 64 Lebanese businessman Yaounde 13 January 2013
Khoury Paul 57 Lebanese businessman, Yaounde- 18 December 2012
Wood exploitation and Ahala
shipping

76 Businessman/ cocoa Yaounde 21 July 2013


Mbarga producer in Mbalmayo and
Clement formal shop keeper in a
Lebanese cocoa exporting
firm.
Mohamed 63 Businessman,Building Douala- 23 June 2012
Daher, materials and Bonapriso
Agroalimentary industry
Nassif Francois 60 Formal Lebanese high Yaounde 15 January 2013
commissioner in Douala
and presently export
forestry products
Nehmat El 66 Lebanese, Dress Designer Yaounde 16 January 201
Sabei Yaounde
Onambele 64 businessman Yaounde 11 August 2013
Menduga
Onduoa Celestin 70 Retired civil servant in the Yaounde 12 June 2013
ministry of commerce and
industry. He served in
Yaounde, Mbalmayo and
Obala
Wakam Alexis 65 businessman Importer of Yaounde 17 December 2012
Pierre multipurpose printing,
computers and office
equipments, Yaounde and
Douala
Yewoh Forchu 60 Civil Servant (MINREX) Yaounde 14 January 2013

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