This chronicle tagged a Douala is really about the things I learnt and/or experienced about Douala and the people therein!
Lets start with the fact that Cameroonians are party goers; as a matter of fact on weekdays (including Mondays), they will throw parties, go clubbing, hit the bottle and then resume the next day ready to work (for those of them that value their jobs that is). The flipside to that is a whole lot of alcohol is consumed here. It is not uncommon to find people sitting to drink form around 10am; this will go on till midnight or the wee hours of the next morning. It’s so a part of the people that on public holidays, the government stations ambulances in most parts of the country so that accidents caused by drunkenness can be attended to promptly (talk about a government caring for its people)!
Ok, what else did I learn? Most husbands here are barely educated (for whatever reason0. Out of the few families I came in contact with, a typical scenario would be a Masters or B.Sc degree holder wife and then a husband who would have only the First School Leaving Certificate. One particular lady I met is the daughter of a Chief Surgeon dad and Senior Lecturer mom but baby girl’s husband didn’t finish Primary 6. Still on marital issues, young girls here are encouraged by their families to ‘have children at home’ (before they get married) so they can leave a replacement of themselves with their parents. Seriously?
Moving to food (yay), Douala and other French speaking parts of Cameroon have more baguette (long bread rolls) than sliced or bromated loaves. Move to Buea (pronounced Boya), Bamenda, and other English speaking areas and the reverse would be the case.
What else? Cameroonians are warm, very hospitable people. I must say I got a really warm welcome almost everywhere I went, with loads of air kisses, pecks, etc (the normal form of greeting here). They are also very inquisitive (in a very funny kind of way). For example, a couple of days after I came in, a lot of people came into the office just to see my father’s daughter. One of them said, ‘ah she looks like you sir’ and I thought, ‘before nko? Did they tell you I was adopted? (Forgive my mouth).
Cameroon is fighting corruption like everyone else; at least watching the news twice I was told the President said he would deploy all the resources in his power to combat corruption. It’s funny however that though elections hold sometime next year, most of the populace believe the incumbent will win and not because he’s a Mandela, Gandhi, and Nyerere rolled in one! It is also worthy of note that Cameroon’s democracy is amazing. The president is elected quite alright but he (the President) appoints everyone else. Here they have regions and provinces instead of states and local governments like we do so from the Ministers to the Delegates, the President appoints. Imagine what Nigeria would be like if the President could appoint the State Governors, Ministers, , Commissioners, etc. is it any wonder that Paul Biya (President of Cameroon) has been running their ‘democracy’ for the past 28 years? I rest my case. There’s also something in Cameroon known as the ‘Presidential Decree’ – anything Mr. President says by presidential decree, has to be done, and regardless of what it is. Yes, regardless of what it is!
Moving on (and back to food), in fairyland we were taught that most times if a man comes to you complaining of a myriad of problems, feed him, and very well too. You will notice that when he’s relating his woes to you again, they will appear smaller and less life threatening, to him and to you; that should tell you how much we in Fairyland regard food! It also means that if I didn’t sample the foods here, this chronicle would be grossly incomplete!
First and foremost, Cameroonians are good farmers and they provide at least 81% of their food themselves. It is on record that Chad and Libya come to Cameroon to buy food for their people; same way Nigeria goes everywhere else but within to source food, food that we can actually produce for exportation! That however is not the thrust for today so let’s leave it alone.
In the first chronicle in this series I said Douala was full of cheap food and fruits; I wasn’t exaggerating, there’s actually a lot here! Driving home from the airport was a long line of people selling mangoes and bananas. Bananas such a bright shade of yellow I literally needed sunshades! The mangoes are really large too, one mango could serve as a meal, and you’d truthfully say afterwards, ‘I’m stuffed’!
For dinner the first night I was here I had rice (known as parfum du riz because of its particularly beautiful aroma) with vegetables (another thing in abundance here) and roast fish (roasted by our darling nanny)!
The pawpaw here is different too; it’s a lot smaller than what we have, looks like a nig grape and is called. It’s also very sweet (hence the name), tastes like it has sugar sprinkled in it. I’m normally not a big fan of pawpaw but after the first time I had some, my ‘sweet teeth’ didn’t stop calling for more and who am I to deny my teeth?
From my eyes, with love from Douala…
- Gay Cameroonian wins asylum in Switzerland (thelocal.ch)
- Cameroon’s president marks 3 decades in power (sfgate.com)
- Agricultural Policy in Cameroon: a brief overview (fortheloveofland.wordpress.com)
- Merry Christmas from Cameroon on Christmas Eve (27monthsincameroon.wordpress.com)
- The Family Takes on Cameroon (27monthsincameroon.wordpress.com)
- Amnesty International wants Cameroon to grant Gay Rights. (lebs295.wordpress.com)