The Reunification monument alone represents yesterday as well as today, a whole symbol: symbol of Cameroon as a State with all its diversity and complexity, but also symbol of the desired attachment of the vast majority of Cameroonians to their homeland.
The project of erecting a monument, a reminder of the events of this part of Cameroon’s history, also matures in complexity; complexity that is expressed in the diversity of the designers and creators of the monument. The former president of the United Republic of Cameroon, AMADOU AHIDJO, launched a national and international competition to make a striking representation of this historical facet to be passed on to future generations. From this contest, three names of people with sometimes astonishing backgrounds are retained: ENGELBERT MVENG, Cameroonian and designer of the spiral tower and of the representation of the cultural eras of the new State. ARMAND SALOMON, French architect and designer of the main monument; he is little known to the Cameroonian public. Very close to the French power and under his advice, ARMAND SALOMON is very quickly chosen by the government of Yaoundé for the realization of the monument of the reunification. GIDEON MPANDO, Cameroonian artist, designer and director of the secondary monument. According to the author, it is on his return from France that he is entrusted with the realization of the monument adjoining the one made in spiral by Salomon. He is assisted by the workshop Arts nègres and the company CETOUBA. ETOLO EYA, a Cameroonian artist whose contribution can be seen in the basement of the main building.
According to some testimonies, it is quite naturally in his childhood in Mbalmayo, a locality located at about fifty kilometers from the capital, that this autodidact learns to carve on wood. His know-how, which has been passed on to posterity, can still be admired on the ceiling of the basement of the spiral tower built by A. Salomon. In fact, the monument is made up of two large ensembles:
The statuette. On both sides of its body are clutched five children who want to go to the flame. This set of symbols has a deep meaning. This statuette, as intended by its author, MPANDO Gédéon, symbolizes the unity around the family: the old man represents the generation of Cameroonians who fought for Reunification; the children emphasize the equal opportunities offered to girls and boys at the same time as a place of choice is given to the girl in particular and the woman in general. This work of genius represents fifty-three tons of concrete for a height of about seven meters.
The spiral. The large spiral tower at the back represents in the first instance the end of the boulevard of the reunification which starts from the crossroads of the EMIA. In a second step, the five different levels of the tower, like the five children of the statuette, represent the administrative authorities of the Republic of Cameroon and the two capitals of the Federal Republic of Cameroon (Yaoundé and Buea) before the Reunification.
Built between 1973 and 1976, the Reunification Monument was erected in Yaoundé to immortalize the advent of the Reunification of French-speaking and English-speaking Cameroon in 1961, and the unification of the federated republics of Cameroon into the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972. Work of the French architect Salomon, the tower is made in three levels: the basement which is a large circular hall made of wall paintings of Father ENGELBERT MVENG, the slab dressed with wooden frescoes D’ETOLO EYA. In the center of the hall, a large pillar that springs from the ground and ends outside with a brush. On the first floor, four pillars made of engravings describing the life of the populations of the five cultural eras of Cameroon and the signature of the designers and makers of the monument. At the top of the tower, the meeting point of the East and West entrances, symbolizing the perfect unity of the two great Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country.
Excerpt from an article by Noé TONYE, Researcher at the History Department of the University of Yaoundé 1.