Red Tape

Visa renewal in Cameroon is a perfect example of this countries insanity. Visa to enter the country are expensive, but the cost and process of renewing a visa while in the country is like something out of a bad movie.

First you need to get a small pile of papers prepared for your 'file'. A copy of your passport, a letter from your employing organisation requesting an extension, the registration of that organisation, etc. Then when handing in the papers you might be requested for a copy of someone else's ID, maybe a letter from you previous employer before coming to Cameroon - the more irrelevant the better.

The office of course defies belief. Crowed and dirty, with huge sacks of paper lining the walls, broken doors and windows, various people milling around the corridors. The person I was to see today had a Che Guevara T-shirt on and surprisingly spoke excellent english. He explained how in Cameroon there was only yes or no, that there was no way my friend from Belo could get a three month extension (even though I had got one, and another friend has got one two weeks ago), that now only two months was available at the three month price?

Of course the ultimate excuse was soon brought forth, that it wasn't his decision, it was the directors. Her hideout was across the way and was a completely baron office, except for the large desk, cell phone, and of course one random friend to chat to. She was dressed in the most outrageous pink, complete with a lot of pink eye liner.

Listening was not her forte. It would seem that rising to her position must have involved a lot of shouting and refusals, as she was very good at it. Clearly no logical progress could be made here. So, plan B, head to another office on the other side of town that turns out to be able to do the same thing, take some money and stamp the passport.

The really frustrating point though for me is that it is a prime example of Camroonians shooting themselves in the foot, over and over. The logic they try to use in so many situations is so twisted that it should be funny (but isn't) - visas are difficult to obtain for Cameroon citizens to visit developed nations, so Cameroon should make them hard for visiting tourists and workers; car safety is a serious safety issue, that's why its important for policeman to take bribes from overloaded taxi drivers at random; road rules slow down the traffic, traditional medicines just haven't been discovered by the west yet, the list goes on....!!!


Anonymous said…

Really enjoying your writings. You have a very resilient nature, and it shows through your writing. The sense of humor (perhaps permitted from volunteering in Belo for a brief time) is spot-on!

Please continue the fun writings, and the pictures are great.

Best wishes,
Lance French

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