I am finally done with the program and it was a great experience I will never forget. I met people I will never forget. I would do it again if I could…
I printed my independent project paper today – 45 pages long! I am working on my oral presentation. The program is almost over and there is just 5 more days left to enjoy Cameroon.
I did not forget about my blog…it is just that I have been extremely focus on writing my independent study project paper. May 10th is the end of the program…so we are really close! I have to admit that this is a very stressful time! I have done many interviews and surveys to collect data for my project. Ok..let me get back to writing about the wonderful topic of the CFA franc and the French franc, now the Euro!
I am finally back to Yaoundé. I get my allowance tomorrow for my ISP. Independent study is finally here! I need to meet with my advisor as well. My internet key is not working right now. I will have to go to the cyber café. Hopefully I will be able to put some money on my key soon. I have to admit I miss my Ngaoundere host family. I loved it there despite the dust and the heat.
We are leaving the north on Saturday to return to Yaoundé. Apparently there is a cholera outbreak so I am kind of freaking out about that. We were told that we can be removed if it because worst but there have not being any cases in our neighborhood, Bastos. However the American embassy did send a warning email and it has been all over the news so it is scary. I do not have an ISP back-up plan, which would be good to think of as we move back to Yaoundé. On a good note, I am feeling really good about my ISP. I just need to get on the research about it.
I think I like hanging out with my host sister so much because that’s is just what we do, hang out. Even though she has seen my computer, she is not asking me for it when we are hanging out. She is not asking for my camera or my ipod. She is not asking me to buy her stuff or give her money. She just wants to talk to, laugh with, and help her out with her chores. I love doing all that. My host brother on the other hand, who is actually my host sister’s uncle because my host mom is her grandmother, asked me about my music and wanted to copy my music from my computer. I told him all I had was gospel music and he is Muslim so I do not know how much he will like it. I also found out that my host sister’s mom got married when she was 20. In this culture in the north, people get married really young. Today was concentrated on finishing IDI projects but we will finish up tomorrow.
My director approved my ISP title today. Here it is – The French Franc and the CFA: What’s in it for Cameroon? I am actually excited to explore this topic. However, I have to do a lot of work to make it happen. I already have an important political figure and economist that I am going to interview, Hubert Kamgang. He is also a candidate at the Cameroonian 2011 presidential elections that will be held in October. I also have an advisor already, which is super exciting. I need to conduct interviews with economic professors and econ major students. I will be sending out a bunch of emails and making phone calls in the coming weeks. The IDI project presentation is next week and I have two papers to write for that with my partner. One paper is on the methodology and the other one on what we found during our research. I will be staying in Yaoundé during my ISP. So far, I still love my homestay in Ngaoundere. I like hanging out with my little host sister and just talking with the family because they are not acting like they want something from me. I do not know what goodbye gift to get them but I will figure it out. I am glad my host brother is away but he comes back tomorrow and he will start asking me about my SIT group going on a tourism trip with him. He forgets that we are students and not rich tourists.
We have been learning about Islam and today, we got to visit a traditional doctor. He introduced his healing center and was honest about having to send patients to the hospital. He told us that he did not treat AIDS. I do believe in traditional medicine where some herbs are used to heal some diseases because it was around me when I was growing up. I am not sure to what extent I believe that the traditional doctor can heal mental illnesses but he said that he could. Interestingly, during our visit, it was all men who received us but they said that there are women healers as well. The doctor also predicts people’s future through sand so I asked him where he saw me in 5 years. He said that I will be out of my country for work. When I asked about my future husband or children he told me that marriage was far in my plans. However, I will have a little girl. He did not tell me when. I just kept laughing the whole time and this information was being translated to me because the doctor only spoke in Fulfulde. I am not sure to what extent I believe what I was told either but I found it all very interesting. On a side note, I am kind of starting to freak out about my ISP research because I am not finding much yet and it cost money to use the internet. I am referring to the internet because during research in school, it has always being one of my first “go-to” resources. Now that I am in Cameroon, I am going to have to get use to going to paper sources first before electronic ones.
There was only a week in between returning from Kribi and traveling to Ngaoundere. The week flew by and we were able to finish our IDI interviews. I was also able to finalize my ISP project and find an advisor. I will be researching the relationship between the Euro and the French CFA to see how that relationship affects the development of Cameroon. Ngaoundere is in the North and is part of the Adamaoua. There are mostly Muslims here but there are Christians as well. I am in a new homestay with a new host mom, host brother, and host sister. There is an extra family member and the brother to my host mom I believe. He is a Marabout and does consultation in this room in the house. I think that’s pretty cool but his French is very little so I cannot really chat with him and ask questions. I am lucky I have a room and I was even able to set up my mosquito net because other students are not able to do that. My bathroom is also a whole in the ground but it is very well kept. So far, I love my house and everybody, especially my host sister. I admire her very much because she decided to live with her grandmother and help her out. Her mom and dad live in the inner city with three of her younger siblings. I want to try to get her something very nice before I go if I can afford it. However, I have to be careful with my host brother, who is a tour guide for tourists and really struggles with separating his job from his brotherly duties. We are also learning Fulfulde, which is the ethnic language here.
Kribi was super nice. It was great being in the water and living so close to the beach. It was similar to Lome, where I grew up so everything was perfect. I loved the food as well. We got the change to visit the pygmies in their homes. They are really in touch with nature. Unfortunately, they are forced to live by the side of the road but it is definitely still a forest. They live in huts and are totally taken advantage of by the Bantus. During our visit, the Bantu Chief came over asking what we wanted and wanted to take the money we brought for the pygmies. The Bantu man completely belittled the pygmies’ chief right in front of us, the guests. It was horrible to see with our own eyes the discrimination that we have been learning about. We visited two pygmy camps and saw that in both camps, the Bantus came over to take what we have brought for the pygmies. They pygmies did a dance for us. We also brought them rice, oil, and cube seasoning. They answered all our questions as well. To our greatest surprise, they did not know America. Even one of the women was wearing a Barack Obama shirt but had no idea who he was. They are not really aware of their rights. However, development is slowly catching up to them. I was happy to finally meet the pygmies I have read about so much but I was not happy with what I saw happening to them. Nonetheless, I do not think that the pygmies, themselves, are having the change of mentality that is required to help them adapt to development in their environment and get the guts to tell the Bantus to stop being bullies. I think that they are better off in their natural habitat but the government needs to understand that and allow them to do so because they are mostly a group of nomads who hunt a lot.