Cameroon has half the population of Ghana, but a lot of land mass. It has beautiful greenery and is a lovely country. The only fault I can find is the buildings. Why most African countries don’t maintain their buildings I don’t know. Most of the buildings probably haven’t had a lick of paint on them since the colonial master’s left approximately 50 years ago. I saw one block of flats, it was grey, paint peeling off and it just looked decrepit, I saw the same in Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Senegal and Ghana, not so much, but of course there are the places you would be scared to stop for a leak, but then the same could be said for areas in the UK or US, but in Cameroon, and Nigeria, some places are just eyesores.
It’s been an interesting journey, being an English speaking person you get to meet some very nice people but also it is easier to identify the arrogant ones too. Those that consider themselves French and don’t want to talk to you if you don’t speak the language. It is true that as an English speaking person, I should have paid more attention in French class instead of thinking that English is the International language so why bother, but speaking French at me is not going to make me learn any faster. I’m trying but at the age of 35 its harder to retain any information let alone another language, so work with me guys.
The other day we had a meeting at the factory and my team were ever so nice, introduced me and said that if people could do their best to speak English. In the end we all just gave up and I had a nap while the rest ignored the request and rattled on in French. The most annoying part is one man said and I quote “you’re in a French country, you have to speak French”. I said “I’m sorry, did I take a wrong turning somewhere, I thought I was still in Africa”. I didn’t know France was a continent for one, and had it not been for our colonial Masters we had been speaking several different African languages, most probably dominated by the strongest tribe in our respective areas. So in Ghana, probably Twi, in Nigeria, Yoruba and in Senegal, Warlof. I met another arrogant man today in another meeting, he refused for anyone to speak English. Even making the leader of the meeting call Infant Formula Enfant du lait or however he said it. I call him an arrogant man because had I been an obroni, he would have spoken better English than I do. But it’s all good, I take his negativity to be positive, after I finish this blog, I will read up on my French verbs and phrases.
On Monday night I went out to eat fish. Cameroon is known for having great fish. Baracuda, sole, grouper, whatever you want grilled over a coal fire with a herb dressing. A colleague of mine took me to this bar/restaurant. Before I go on. Douala doesn’t sleep. It was Monday night and we drove into town and you would have thought it was a Friday night around Brixton, the place was booming. The place we went was pretty quiet, although as we were leaving people started coming in. There was a live band setting up when we got there, with a guy singing love songs in French. Now if you have ever watch Friends, there is an episode where Ross plays the keyboard. But he doesn’t actually play it, rather presses on the various orchestral buttons and only plays a few keys. If you have ever watched that episode, this is what I had to endure. Every song that played sounded like Roxette’s “it must have been love” and the guy singing was doing a great impression of Julio Englasius, it wasn’t the best but he was entertaining.
After Julio, it was French Boris Hammond, a guy in dreadlocks sang a bit of lovers rock for the audience, he was very good though, he did sound like Boris, I felt a bit bad though because he was singing to a total of 7 people including a sleeping waitress. I do hope more people came later as it would have been a waste of talent.
I got home around 10.30. I actually wasn’t planning to go out as it was Monday night in on M-Net and Grey’s Anatomy and America’s Next Top Model was on (I know, I’m sad). When I got to my room though, I realised that the channel had been changed to Canel+, I guess the cleaner was chilling out while cleaning my room. I decided the next day to hide my remote, the next night I came back to find one of the drawers had not been closed properly. Guess they didn’t have any joy looking for my remote. I must bring a Nanny Cam the next time I travel, who knows what the cleaner does when they come to tidy your room.
There is so much more to tell, but I have another fully packed day, I really should have made it a week and a half here because there is actually quite a lot that needs to be seen and done but for now its an early night as I have a tele conference with Australia at ridiculously early o’clock tomorrow.
Keep tuned for more tales from Douala.
Until the next time