Back to Cameroon, end of my break!
I have taken a lot of long trips alone before, but this one is slightly different. Most of the other trips were going to new places, to meet with new people a certain excitement was always there. This trip back to Cameroon after the Christmas break is to come to an place we just taught for three months, and most likely I will not meet a lot of new people any more. With the elegant and beautiful grand daughter Meghan( see pictures corresponding to this story) just reached one week old, I could fully understand why Janice decided to stay behind "just" to "help" out Franco and Margaret. She will join me in later part of February when Steven is going to take a vacation to come along with her. Steven and I will try to climb the Mountain Cameroon and three of us will try to travel some in the country when we have our semester break at the University.
As we drove from Douala Airport to Buea on the now familiar road and scenery, several thoughts came to my mind. The one kept coming to me was that now I begin to learn about Africa, I start to know how much I do not know about Africa.
Oh, yes, I know that Africans can carry almost everything on top of their heads, they dress well, I am getting better with their English, they depend on and value their large family ties, they respect authority and power, and the most puzzling item to me is that they are always late. I felt that I do not know them; I do not know what do they think and what do they value. My experience with Americans and Chinese do not seem to help me to understand Africans, at least in Cameroon. Maybe the last item on my list, I conclude, is just an indication of their behavior that created my handicap in understanding them --being late-- it makes them unpredictable. I do not know if this is caused by the fact that they do not value their own time or they do not value other people's time. To me, the fact is that being late they are wasting everyone's time. It is not that they do not know that certain things must be on time, such as coming to lectures and labs, or getting to the airport to pick me up, they do not seem to have any problems with these appointments. It is just applied so dramatically different on different occasions. I am sure that they must be thinking why I am so inflexible, I should be more relaxed and not be so serious about wasting time. I am sure that they do not know me neither, just like the boys around the corner from our house, they would call me a "white man" whenever I passed by their shops. Clearly the boys and I have something in common, we are ignorant to and about each other. There is just so much for me to learn --- I should get more excited about coming back!
I hope that we will make more friends in Africa, which will help us learn more about Africa.