About the Author: Mignon Turner serves as a Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The stars and stripes smiled proudly on the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon, on July 2 when over 400 guests, from Ministers of State to Heads of International Organizations, joined together to celebrate America's Independence Day. A medley of patriotic tunes lulled attendees down a royal blue carpet lined with an “America the Beautiful” paper show towards a formal welcome by Ambassador Janet Garvey. Once the greetings were received, guests were ushered onto the embassy lawn overlooking the Yaounde City Golf Course. As invitees mingled, embassy staff served American-inspired hors d'oeuvres under tents decorated with historic quotes from U.S. leaders.
The ceremony began with an official presentation of colors by the Marine Guard Unit, followed by a special musical surprise. The award-winning artist originally from Cameroon, Prince Eyango, rendered the American and Cameroonian national anthems. Best known for his hits in the 1980s and '90s, Prince Eyango still remains a musical legend on the radios throughout Cameroon. His presence honored America's birthday as well the partnership shared with Cameroon since the first diplomatic presence was created over 50 years ago.
Ambassador Garvey reflected on the values of patriotism. She began her speech by evoking the achievements of two patriots from her birthplace in Massachusetts, John Adams and John Hancock. She went on to define patriotism as the ability to transform “loyalty and commitment into concrete actions for the benefit of the country.” The speech also observed America's historical setbacks towards a “more perfect union,” and reminded Cameroonians that although there may be challenges, they should remember President Obama's words in Ghana that the United States stood beside them as a partner and a friend. The remarks concluded by asking Cameroonians to “…reflect on the future of the country and remember those who were instrumental in its formation.”
The ceremony was a culmination of efforts led by Consular Officer Aaron Martz together with the help of the entire embassy community. The light showers throughout the evening were not enough to turn the crowd away, and many high-level guests remained until after sunset. This Fourth of July celebration granted another opportunity to celebrate the history of America as well as strengthen the partnership between the United States and Cameroon. The patriotic theme infused the entire historic occasion and left each guest with a greater hope for tomorrow.