Whether it is economic hardship or sheer dishonesty, the business climate in Yaounde , in particular; and Cameroon in general, leaves much to desire. The gap between quality and quantity keeps widening at an alarming rate.
After a long period of critical investigation, I have realized that business in Cameroon survives more on dishonesty than truth. Well, by truth, I am not insinuating the implementation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in business. People may not have to tell buyers the real cost prices of their goods.
However, there is need to tell the truth in terms of the quality and quantity of goods a customer is paying for. What we observe with some business persons in Yaoundé is the complete reverse.
It suffices for a buyer to lose a bit of concentration for the seller to package the worst of their items for them.
Last month I went to one of the most popular markets in Yaounde called Marche Mokolo to buy some foodstuff.
After buying a few items already, I went to buy tomatoes from a certain lady who was in her mid twenties. She had displayed very fresh fruit in front, which caught my attention.
But when I tendered CFA 200 to her, she gathered a heap of rotten fruit and dumped them into a black plastic material and held it out to me. I tried to feel them, and to my greatest dismay, none of the fruit was solid enough to merit the money I had given her.
Instantly, I revealed to her that she had given me bad fruit. Like a sheep to the slaughter, she took the package and changed the fruit, without uttering any word, as if to tell me that she knew what she was doing.
This reaction of mine came after a series of similar misfortunes had kept me wondering several times back. Previously at the same market, another woman had given me terrible fruit because I was rather inattentive.
There are many more instances where I have personally been duped by business persons, especially women.
These so-called “buyam-sellam” have such dishonest tactics of taking advantage of the carefree nature of some men in doing shopping.
This show is not limited to foodstuff. More frequently, people are duped by their compatriots selling clothes. You bargain for a nice pair of blue jeans, for instance, and they package a piece of tattered rough cloth for you.
Another group of dishonest business persons in Cameroon are shoes sellers. Not only do they use their intelligence to make old shoes new, they also make sure that the naïve buy what they did not intend to buy.
They paint fake Chinese shoes with such dexterity that a less careful observer would get the just the stark opposite of what they wanted. I got this insight from a close friend who sells shoes in Yaoundé.
However, if you are vigilant enough, nobody deceives you, for fear of being caught.