My first visit to an African country was a month-long trip in Cameroon a couple years ago. I had no idea what to expect nor any solid plan for my time. I was visiting a friend, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, and left everything up to her. By a twist of fate, she contracted typhoid while I was there. She went to the hospital and I joined two other volunteers on their trip to Foumban. That experience was a highlight of my trip; Foumban is a place that is just teeming with culture.
While not making major international news, there have been recent splashes of Cameroon making headlines in the past few months. A very simplified explanation is that Cameroon has two official languages, French and English. The majority of the country is francophone, and the capital is solidly in the francophone area.
This had lead to discrimination against the anglophones in the country, particularly when it comes to dealing with government bureaucracies that may refuse to accommodate them. But where did this language divide come from in the first place?
I had the opportunity to take advantage of some extraordinary experiences and participate in some wonderful cultural exchange this past year. It was truly wonderful and I cherish these memories, and as this is the time of year to look back and plan ahead I want to share some of those memories and cultural experiences from around the world.
When most people think of the African continent, one of the first things that springs to their minds are images of the fauna that inhabit the continent: lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos and monkeys. All of these animals have a home in Cameroon, including a wide variety of apes than many people refer to as “monkeys.” Perhaps most prominent among the apes that live in Cameroon are chimpanzees.
Chimps are classified as an endangered species, with population estimates ranging between 170,000 and 300,000 and some of the biggest threats to their existence are habitat destruction and poaching for the bushmeat trade, the latter of which is a particular problem in Cameroon. I had the opportunity to visit a sanctuary for chimps that have been orphaned by poachers and the experience was truly exceptional.
Things have been quiet here on my blog lately, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been on my mind. I arrived in Cameroon late on May 10th, and 3G arrived only about a month before me, so connectivity is a bit sparse and pricey. I’ve also been going “up and down the country,” as they say here, and along the way I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things. And I still have a week left! For now, here is a list of some of my favorite things about Cameroon.