Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crime, Grime and Cameroonian Time

Well, it’s happened. I’ve become a victim of crime. On Thursday, when I was returning back from work to my accommodation, I was beckoned into a yellow taxi. There were already three passengers in the back but only one – a young man probably in his twenties - in the front passenger seat. I squeezed in beside him. Soon the young man began complaining that he didn’t have enough room. He and the driver suggested that I help them to push the front seat back. Some energetic pushing by me and the young man did not achieve anything – or so I thought. The driver suggested that I get out and catch another taxi. Ever helpful, I got out, only discovering as my feet touched the pavement that my wallet was missing from my left pocket ... I shouted out as the taxi disappeared at speed. Too late. Someone was a richer man by about ten thousand Central African Francs, 20 Euros, and my plastic cards, and I had to walk the rest of the way home in the heat and dust.

Those ten thousand francs were not as much as they sound, and I’ve cancelled the cards, but it was an unpleasant experience. I was angry with myself as much as with the driver and young man who had obviously spotted a likely victim. I’ve had plenty of learning experiences since I arrived in Africa, but this was one I had not sought.

Commissioner Michael Ndjok, Commissioner of the 4th district, came to take my statement. I don’t think I’ve met a Police Commissioner before – it’s certainly a grand title. He was sympathetic, but described my experience as a frequent one. Ah well, c’est la vie, as they don’t say here in Anglophone Cameroon.

There are frequent power cuts here in Bamenda. It seems that there is loss of power more often here than in Douala or Yaoundé. There is an unexpected consequence. If you are just a few yards away from the main road, and away from car headlights at night, the darkness has an intensity I have never seen before. At the same time, the stars are intensely clear and bright against the utter blackness.

On Friday afternoon, I was invited out to a wake in a village called Ngyen-Mbo - more of that tomorrow. On the way there conservation NGO director Penny showed me some of the local wildlife and a tree nursery and a tree planting project she had set up. The countryside was beautiful and everything was in bloom.

I've decide I've been a bit negative, so I'll save the crime and Cameroonian time for a later blog.

The pictures here show:

1. a frequent wild flower. Does anyone knows its name?

2. Penny examining a recently planted cashew nut tree.

3. The local cattle - for the farmers in the choir!

4. A man from the Mbororo trible looking after the cattle. People like him drive this animals along dirt roads for many miles


llysmeirion said...

I claim the prize! The plant is Thunbergia alata.

Thunbergia is a genus of flowering plants native to tropical regions of Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia. Its members are known by various names, including thunbergias; Thunbergia alata is often known as Black-eyed Susan vine or just Black-eyed Susan.

I had one as a house plant when we were in Barwell. The flowers with the black centres are very attractive.

Bill Chapman said...

Thanks, Pat

I thought you'd know.

You'll be receiving your prize on March 3rd.