Chantal Biya of Cameroon
By Adeola Fadumiye (December 19, 2011)
If you are yet to hear of the Banane, then you read about it first on Afrikan Goddess Online. Meet Chantal Biya, Cameroon’s First Lady, and her show-stopping hairstyles. She is popularly known for her flashy hair-dos and flamboyant wardrobes, but at Afrikan Goddess, we will be introducing you to the heart and soul behind Chantal Biya.
Chantal Biya was born in Dimako, Cameroon in 1971. Her father, Georges Vigouroux, was a French expatriate, and her mother, Rosette Ndongo Mengolo, was a Miss Doumé pageant winner. Her teenage years were spent in Yaounde, and she later married Cameroon’s President Paul Biya in 1994 after the death of his first wife.
Flamboyantly adored and all, Chantal Biya is passionate about alleviating the suffering that rises from poverty and disease, specifically HIV/AIDS. She founded African Synergy to provide education, health treatment centers, subsidized antiretroviral drugs and better care during blood transfusion to patients. Her effort is building unity in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a unity we all know is much needed in Africa. In 2009, she led a team of Africa’s First Ladies to the African First Ladies Health Summit held in Los Angeles. The event was co-sponsored by African Synergy. The focus of the summit was maternal health, girls’ education and HIV/AIDS related issues throughout Africa.
Under Chantal Biya’s vision and leadership, African Synergy continues to synergize the HIV/AIDS efforts of first ladies both in Africa and other continents with the work of scientists and HIV/AIDS agencies.
The reputation of her hair and fashion styles sure precedes her, but her focus and passion to alleviate the suffering of the poor and destitute is much to talk about. In response to issues of rural and urban poverty in Cameroon, she launched The Chantal Biya Foundation to provide care for mothers and children, the elderly and for families. The foundation bridges the gap between the people and much needed social services.
It is well established that no one outshines Chantal Biya; she is the talk of the media, and several internet sites and blogs are asking “Who is Chantal Biya?” From her meeting with the pope to sharing laughs with Carla-Bruni Sarkozy, the beautiful French first lady, Chantal Biya takes the stage and runs with it. She is definitely leveraging her popular style, passion and skills to create and walk her own stage in the international arena. She is obviously a woman who owns and enjoys her space. There is no backing down for her, whether in fashion, hairdos or in speaking up and against HIV/AIDS. In Cameroon, The Grand Prix Chantal Biya is a professional road bicycle racing stage named after her and sponsored by the Fédération Camerounaise de Cyclisme/Ateba Koungou.
Her fiery style is yet to be disputed, and at Afrikan Goddess Online, she is Africa’s flaming first lady. So, what is the Banane? It is Chantal Biya’s signature hairstyle reserved for formal occasions; it is her trademark blow-dried big red hairdo.