People --- some reflections
Besides our students and the faculty members in our respective departments, we have worked with quite a number of people during our stay in Cameroon. During our life time, various people have crossed paths with us, but many of them we forget quickly. This year in Cameroon, we met a lot of people, some of them we have already reported to you on our web pages. Today we have chosen to share pictures of a few more people with you. They have made such an impression on our life there that we shall remember them forever. The University of Buea - UB - was established in 1993, so it is a relatively new university and it has a lot of growing pains. The people working in the Vice Chancellor's - VC's - office must adjust to the changes every day. While there are ambitious plans for the expanding school, it is clear that they have a lot of realistic difficulties to overcome. We hope that the progress is continuous and that they will not forget their focus and their stated missions.
Our living compound has four houses. One is still under construction and the three other houses are quite close - only about 20~30 meters apart. Our house is in the middle, we shared it with a French couple. Unfortunately they do not speak English and Tom had no hope of understanding what they tried to convey. Therefore, we know very little about them. The man works for the road construction company, Razel, and the lady was an animal lover - which kept her busy most of the day. The second house is occupied by four people who span four generations: the grandmother, Mrs. Effange, her granddaughter Elvira, and Elvira's two babies. The third house is occupied by five Chinese men at the moment. They moved in recently and they are the advance team sent to remodel a hospital for Buea which is being totally donated by the Chinese government.
The Chemistry Department has quite a number of faculty on study leave, i.e. they are somewhere trying to get a PhD degree. (This is true about many of the departments at UB.) So the university is short-handed all the time. Therefore the University hires quite a number of part time temp teachers. While this situation is not going to be changed in the near future, there are things the university CAN do to make the overall picture a bit better. For example, the Chemistry Department part timers have not been paid since they started to work in September - for the whole academic year, as of the day we left Cameroon on July 15th. We feel sorry for these instructors, and do not understand the reason behind the situation. You can imagine that if an academic institution is not taking care of it's people, other institutions will be even worse!
Besides the two of us, here to support the Chemistry and Math Departments at UB, there are two Commonwealth Professors, one in Computer Science and one in Accounting. We got to know them well. Not only did we eat our lunch together most of our working days, at the staff canteen where we could share our joys and frustrations, but we also would frequently go out to Limbe, a small town on the beach 30km away, for a drive or dinner just to get a change from our routine. Professor Oniberi is from Nigeria, and Professor Ahuja is from India. We become friends as our paths crossed at this time and place. We have shared some experiences that may only occur in Cameroon. For example, while driving us all to Limbe once, Professor Oniberi was stopped by the police because his insurance papers were out of date. After much talking, he had to give them a "bribe" to get out of the situation. Professor Ahuja and his worker Susan were the ones who introduced us to the beach and to the fresh roast fish in Limbe.