Yesterday as we were driving along, I noticed a man up near the top of an oil palm tree. He looked like a linesman at the top of a power pole or telephone pole. But, he was on far more serious business than that.
He had his machete with him and he was about to make the incision that would allow the sap flow out into a bucket – for the production of some home brew, or toddy as it’s called in some places. Next day I noticed two plastic bottles tied beneath the fronds, gathering the precious juice.
We did some ‘extra curricular’ studies today – Godswill and Esaie wanted to look at Microsoft Photo Story for making up promotional presentations, so we spent a couple of hours working on that this morning. We then headed towards town as we had planned to look at the National Museum and also a small museum at a Catholic Monastery.
In the morning there had been a very big march by the women of Cameroon to try and draw attention to some needs that they had. The event was under the patronage of the President’s wife, Mme Biya. There were women from one end of the city to the other, all in dresses made of special material printed for the occasion, and they were making a great day of it. I don’t know what particular issues were being aired, except for one: The women wanted to show that they could do mens’ work as well as the men could, so a number of them drove tractors along the ‘route de marche’. It struck me as very ironic that when we met them at a roundabout, there was a man on one of them helping the lady to negotiate the traffic. Hopefully she had successfully manouvred the thing along the main street without running over too many people (important ones anyway).
Wherever there was music, there were women gathered in groups, some singing, some dancing and all having fun. At a couple of bars we went past, it seems that the women were also trying to show that they could drink as well as the men, and had more than proved their point. Anyway, I hope that they benefit from the day because I don’t doubt that they have some real concerns about family, about the daily grind of life in this country and about politics (though I’m not sure that that was on the agenda today). We arrived at the National Museum, after several detours, to find that it was being used as one of the points for gathering and feasting after the march, so it was closed.
Continuing on, we visited a high hill that gave a great view over the expanses of the city. On another hill, we could see the huge and opulent President’s Palace. No wonder he wants to continue on as President! While taking in the view, we noticed that Mme Biya was returning home to the palace after having done her duty at the march. Either she’s a very big lady or she likes lots of company – there were about 20 vehicles involved in the cavalcade, all with sirens blaring, screaming along tres rapidement. They’ve obviously never heard of ‘in cognito’. If you wanted to ambush her along the way, you would certainly know when she was coming.
Pressing on, we climbed another hill (Mont Febe), higher than the President’s (I wonder if he’s noticed), this one owned by none other than the Catholics. It really is the perfect spot for a monastery (if that’s what you think you need to be close to God). Hopefully they also conduct ministry within the community. Anyway, one of the monks who was here some time ago, was interested in the history and culture of the various ethnic groups within the country and had collected some interesting artefacts from around the place. They must have had some amazingly gifted artisans as there were some very intricate woodwork and metalwork pieces, (cast bronze and sheetmetal work), so it was well worth the visit. Certainly not a part of Cameroon you see when walking the streets of Yaounde in 2008.
– kim knight