Friday, February 13, 2009

Youth Day

Wednesday was Youth Day here, the 43rd such annual event. I went north-east from Bamenda to Babungi, passing through Ndop (which does not mean “No Development or Progress” despite what some wag said). An amazing part of the day was a visit to the annual parade for Youth Day in Ndop. Readers in Wales might like to think of it as a combination between the Urdd Eisteddfod and a county sports event. Young people from four to eighteen marched in their school uniform into the arena in front of the local dignitaries, while judges with notepads, looking just like the judges at a small eisteddfod in Wales, gave them marks – for smartness, marching in time and so on. It was a bit too militaristic for my taste, but the children and their beaming parents and grandparents seemed to enjoy it.

Then on to the Fon’s palace at Babungo. I’m becoming quite an expert on the Fons of north-west Cameroon – I think I could answer some Mastermind specialist questions on the topic! I met some of the Fon’s wives. “There are too many (wives) to count”, said one of his younger ones.

On Friday I held another workshop on the Management of Change, this time for long-term volunteers, from Australia, Canada, India, the Philippines and Uganda as well as two local people. It was like a miniature United Nations Assembly.

The pictures here, from top to bottom, show:
  • Pigs at the Fon's palace in Babungo
  • One of the Fon's wives
  • Muslim pupils
  • Trying to win the big prize - a bottle of coca cola
  • Boy pupils prepare to march
  • The latest workshop. It's a challenge to present to such a multi-national group. Note that the Welsh flag has pride of place!


sec said...

Your description and pictures of Youth Day reminded me of 'Children's Day' - an event that used to take place annually in Leeds in the 1950s. I never participated but I remember seeing pictures of my brother in it. It seemed to consist of a mass maypole dance so at least it wasn't militaristic. I think it must have faded away in the 1960s.

Bill Chapman said...

Thanks for that, SEC. I think that I moved on before the dancing. I think that the aim here in Cameroon is nation building. Participating young people hear the national anthem, see the sacred national colours and the range of notables on the podium, while submitting their wills to a corporate will.

lucy said...

Having seen the photo of the muslim girls at Youth Day, it lead me to wonder from your experience how the different religions co-exist.
I looked on wikipedia and it said "40 percent of the population is at least nominally Christian, 20 percent is at least nominally Muslim, and 40 percent practise traditional indigenous religious beliefs."

Bill Chapman said...

The different religions rub along pretty well compared to parts of neighbouring Nigeria. Some Cameroonians who are nominally Christian also practice traditional beliefs such as consulting with ancestors.