Ahmadou Ahidjo Biography
(First President of Cameroon)
Birthday: August 24, 1924 (Virgo)
Born In: Garoua
Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo was the first President of Cameroon. He was born to a Muslim chieftain and one of his slave wives. Encouraged by his mother at a young age, Ahidjo attended a local religious school and taught himself to read and write French. Although he struggled at first with his higher education, he graduated with honors from the prestigious Ecole Priamaire Superieure, in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. After completing his education, Ahidjo secured himself a job with the colonial postal service. His job duties required him to operate and repair telegraph and radio transmitters, and he was often on the road, crisscrossing his country, where he began to build up a network of contacts in all of the big cities. His experiences during his travel fostered his sense of national identity and provided him the necessary intelligence and erudition to govern a multi-ethnic country like Cameroon. As France relinquished its hold on its former territories, Ahidjo guided Cameroon through its first two turbulent decades of independence. Known today for his surprise exit from politics near the end of his life, Ahidjo's iron clampdown on his nation for a quarter century in the name of national unity continues to echo through modern Cameroonian society.