‘African fire’ is Googled around 12,000 times per month globally.
Aside from each of us just trying to make it on our own, there were times of communal progress where we could at least all agree that we were hungry and wanted something to eat. At these times we would click into place like a well oiled machine and assume our individual duties to scrape together a meal that would get us by until the next time. My job as one of the youngest was to gather small sticks for starting the fire. A menial job but nonetheless important because should everyone decide they were too good to fetch firewood, our modest cuisine would go uncooked.
In African villages, I think it would be safe to say the fire is the cornerstone of everyday life, around which you might eat, sleep, play, gossip, fight and even grieve a lost loved one. There’s always something that makes home seem like home, an aroma that even if blindfolded, lets you know you’re there now. One of the first things you’ll notice when arriving in Cameroon and any other country predominately characterized by underdevelopment, are fires of every size lining the landscape, lighting the way. I’ve heard that if it’s your first time visiting such a place, the fires can seem daunting, unwelcome warnings about the dangers of flippant sight seeing. But for me, upon returning home, the bright flashes of fire just sideline what I always see first—a mom earning her day’s wages cooking seasoned fish fried to perfection, a young boy standing in the shadow of its light trying his best to win over the affection of his life’s love, or a father drinking the last sip he can afford in hopes of washing his cares away.