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Culture and Safety in Africa

Colonne Pascale

Name of Artwork
Colonne Pascale, 2010

Location and Accessibility
Shell New Bell

Level of Significance
Monumental installation

About the Artwork
The Colonne Pascale is a totem made of superimposed enameled traditional pots rising toward the sky, in the heart of the very busy roundabout of Shell New Bell. The work by Pascale Marthine Tayou, a Cameroonian artist based in France, was produced for SUD 2010. The intention of the artist was to pay homage to African women giving value to the culinary culture of the Cameroonian tradition. Nevertheless, the artwork was the subject of debates and tensions from local residents. People’s controversies depend both on the physical position of the Colonne Pascale, appealing to historical events (the square was the epicenter of the riots that led to the independence of the country), and for its symbolic interpretation, since according to many people the artwork recalls and highlights the poverty of New Bell.

About the location
Shell New Bell is a crowded roundabout of New Bell and an important landmark for citizens’ mobility. Very close to the city center, it allows people to easily reach also the periphery of the city in a reasonable time, thanks to the abundance of taxis and motorbike-taxis available there. This area also functions as a small market for quick shopping at the informal counter sellers of fruits, vegetables, fritters, peanuts, fish, and meat. On one side of the Colonne Pascale, the Municipality of Douala arranged a small park with some benches and a tiled monument with an eagle on its upper end. This green area has become a conviviality and free space for young people who meet there during the evening to chat and to rest under some lampposts. However, during the night, Shell New Bell is almost empty and the risk of aggression increases drastically.