How are you all? I hope all is well. I thought I would give you guys more of an insight to life here in Cameroon.
At the moment, I am staying in a small village called Kekem and the lifestyle here is very basic. Most of the citizens grow their crops and they cut wood to cook their food. Everywhere you turn, you see people walking with these long machetes going to cut their crops. There is so much fresh organic food here- it’s lovely. I’ve had fresh plantain, papaya, corn, and salad. A couple days ago we went to the fish market, where we ate grilled fish, cassava, plantain, onions and this hot pepper. I don’t usually eat fish, but this fish was amazing. (I know my mentor, Ian, would like the grilled fish here).
Here in Cameroon, fast food joints don’t exist. What they have here are little cafes that sell pasta, rice, and salad. We went to one place called Pastos Cafe, where I had sauté de spaghetti, which is spaghetti with sardines, carrots, onions, tomatoes and a bit of Maggi seasoning. It may not sound very appealing to people in the UK, but it was good food. I went to another restaurant where I had Senegalese rice, plantain and some beef, and this dish was also really nice. Today I had this strange Cameroonian snack called ‘Cocky'; it was made from grounded white beans with pepper, fried in crispy breadcrumbs. It was an interesting snack.
At the moment I really want a cup of Tetley tea, but unfortunately they don’t have tea bags here; they have this powdered mix, so I guess I’m going to have to hold that thought until I get back.
One interesting thing that I have noticed is that in many of the restaurants it is the men who do the cooking. I was really surprised by this because I generally believed that Africa subscribed to the gender roles stereotypes. My friend Antselm once said that working in the kitchen is a woman’s job, but here in Cameroon that’s not true.
Over here, everything is ridiculously cheap- it is pretty funny. For example, this morning I had a sardine baguette for breakfast and that cost me 500 Cameroonian francs, which is about 75p.
In terms of the work that I am doing, we have been to see the local police and the subdivision office (like the council) to inform them of our project and to ask for their support, and they have been really impressed. I have been given the role of co-ordinating our first big event which is a cultural showcase, which will take place in the village where we will implement our project.
In the last week, 4 other interns have arrived, and we have been preparing our material to deliver our sessions to the local village. This has been a challenging process, trying to delegate all the roles and prepare the material for 3 weeks’ worth of classes. Nonetheless, we have a really good team, so I know everything will be OK.
I will update you when we start classes next week.
Aisha Lolade Idris