There was total celebration, expressions of joy, singing and dancing as over 1,500 people filled the main residence of the Unity Palace in Yaounde on January 10, 2019 to wish Happy New Year 2019 to Cameroon’s First Lady, Chantal Biya. The New Year wishes ceremony that came at the start of the new seven-year term of office of President Paul Biya following his re-election during the October 7, 2018 presidential election was a veritable occasion of conviviality, celebration between the First Lady and her guests and a moment of sharing among the invitees.
The crowdpulling event effectively started at 1:30 p.m. when the First Lady Chantal Biya came out, walked about and waved at the cheering guests. This was an innovation because in previous years, she walked, danced, shared with and waved at the cheering guests towards the end of the ceremony. In all, First Lady Chantal Biya shook hands, hugged, chatted and took memorable photographs with each member of the 28 delegations that came to wish her happy and prosperous New Year 2019. The wives of members of the diplomatic corps, led by Annie Biffot, the wife of the Ambassador of Gabon to Cameroon set the ball rolling for this phase of the event.
Her husband Paul Patrick Biffot is the dean of the diplomatic corps in Cameroon. After the hand shakes, hugs and expression of best wishes, Mrs Chantal Biya took group photographs with the ladies after which she shared a glass of wine and other communing drinks with them. The second and longest phase of the ceremony was dedicated to wives of national dignitaries and members of other socioprofessional groups who were grouped in 27 delegations. The wife of the President of the Senate, Niat Marcie opened this phase of the event as she led the delegation of wives of the Bureau members of the Senate. The second delegation was that of the wives of the Bureau members of the National Assembly led by the wife of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Fadimatou Cavaye.
The main innovations were the fact that the delegation of the wives of members of government and persons ranking as such was led by Dr Grace Dion Ngute, the wife of the new Prime Minister, Head of Government, Joseph Dion Ngute who was appointed on January 4, 2019. Also, for the first time, there was the delegation of wives of members of the Constitutional Council led by Hélène Atangana, wife of the President of the Constitutional Council Clément Atangana. Equally for the first time, the delegation of wives of senior military officers in the second section wished the First Lady Happy New Year led by Madam Semengue. Contrary to the practice in previous ceremonies, First Lady, Chantal Biya took group photographs with members of the delegations such as that of wives of bureau members of the Senate, National Assembly and members of government.