The lion is not officially one of the national symbols. Legally speaking, the national symbols are known: the flag, the motto, the anthem, the emblems and coat of arms. Even though the king of the forest is not among them, he has risen to this level in the social imagery and customs.
The President, Paul Biya, is actually known as the “lion-man”. He was consecrated as such in 2011 by the notables of his tribe of origin under the title “Nnom Ngui”, which means lion man in the Bulu language.
Years earlier, particularly in 1992 (after city wide shutdowns), it was with this slogan that Paul Biya launched his campaign for the presidential election. The posters designed for this purpose showed him next to a lion. Additionally, two imposing copper lions decorate the entrance of the presidential palace.
The lion is also present in the collective memory through the “Indomitable Lions”, official name of all the national sports teams in Cameroon, regardless of the sport. A name which comes from the first African Cup of Nations organised by Cameroon in 1972. On the eve of this international competition, the then-Minister of Youth and Sports launched a call for proposals for the name of the national football team. The name Indomitable Lions was chosen. Since then, the national teams have roared or meowed depending on their state of fitness. Just like the country.
Monique Ngo Mayag