Cameroonian Life

In the last two posts I wrote about visiting Cameroon.  Here are some other things I found interesting while I was there:

  • People eat animals that it would never occur to us to eat: bats, cane rats, what-have-you.  We saw a boy standing beside the road, holding up a pangolin by the tail, hoping someone would stop and buy it for their dinner. 
  • The women carry their babies in slings on their backs.  This is often done fashionably, with the sling matching the mother’s dress, possibly even sewn into it.  The babies are used to sitting back and watching the world go by, sometimes getting into mischief.  I enjoyed watching a mother scolding her baby for the pulling the kerchief off her head.
Notice how the baby sling matches the mother’s dress.
  • Cameroonian men pee in public, wherever, whenever.  My husband and I were taking a walk on a very public road and stepped around a military man taking care of the matter.  (I’m not sure what the women do.)
  • You see few white people, but you do see some Chinese.  They are doing business there.  A Chinese-owned hamburger joint opened in Yaoundé while we were there, with a man walking around on stilts to draw attention to the new venture.
  • There are also people whose skin is white but whose features are very African.  These are African albinos.  I have heard that they are more accepted in Cameroon than in some other African countries, where they are regarded with suspicion and superstition.
  • Western-type whites like me tend to get swarmed by people selling things.  We went to an artisan market with my daughter-in-law.  On a previous trip there, she and my son had told the vendors that Americans don’t like to be pressured to buy.  This time around my daughter-in-law reminded the vendors of this dislike.  Okay, fine.  Then the vendors started in relentlessly with, “Come, madame, no buy!  Just look!  Look! No buy!”
  • As I mentioned in my previous post, the people re-use stuff all the time, sometimes in some pretty creative ways.  Want some Cameroonian peanuts?  Go down to the corner, and there you’ll find a guy selling them in old whiskey bottles.
  • We saw very few old people on the streets, and the overall population struck me as young.  But some of the people may be older than they seemed.  I met a man who looked young to me, but he is 45 and has 12 children.
  • A sad fact of Cameroonian life is that it can often be too short.  Sickness is very common, and people often don’t seek medical help until it is too late.  A Cameroonian woman explained that when people there get sick, these are the usual steps:  1.  Ignore being sick.  2.  Try an herb.  3.  See a witch doctor.  (In Cameroonian tradition, all sicknesses are explained as stemming from some problem in your life, like not getting along with your uncle.)  4.  Buy whatever remedy is cheap at the pharmacy.  5.  As a last resort, go to a medical clinic.

    At Kribi on Cameroon’s west coast

 

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