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Wrecks were common in Cameroon and there was no such thing as a simple fender bender. Every wreck is a tragedy, and a direct result of the overall craziness that characterizes a toxic mix of modernity and stupidity. In America, there is a thin line between dumb and dumber, where it is hardly noticeable, except from close up, to realize that someone may not be ―all there. But in Cameroon, the hunger pains that plague most of the population make it difficult at times for anyone to really concentrate on anything but rash behavior and illogical movement. For those that somehow end up with plenty to eat and drink, it is their drunkenness that makes them buy into their own invincibility, fueling an insatiable aggression toward those less fortunate. Elitism is the ticking time bomb among a population meager in intelligence. And the traffic scene in Cameroon and other such African countries, is the perfect visual to the unlearned eye, as to the vast space between the rich and poor, educated and non-educated, man and woman, adult and child.
Even as a Cameroonian, venturing out onto the city streets, it’s a rat’s gamble when making an American home its home. This was probably the most startling aspect of my arrival in Yaoundé, the confusion of poverty meets city. Speaking of entrance through a narrow gate, Yaoundé is nowhere close to heaven, but harder to get in than hell. With only one way in and one way out, it’s as though we’d arrived and just didn’t know it yet. The van screeched to a halt when a large metal plank with huge pointed teeth was thrown down in front of us at the site of our van driver trying to zoom past the police clothed in ill-fitting, murky green uniforms. Preoccupied with their cigarettes and proud stories of their last conquest whether real or imagined, they had been slow to wave their arms with the indication that they wanted our vehicle to stop. Feeling the jolt of the van slam to the pavement as the air quickly ran from the tires, it wasn’t exactly a warm welcome to city life and we unloaded one by one greeted by the police as they blew smoke in our direction, mumbling under beer breath, something about showing a little bit of respect for our motherland and smirking at having brought our journey to a sudden end. When it was my turn to emerge, I paid close attention not to look any of them in the eyes. Even as a young boy, this incident made no logical sense to me and I was incensed by not having made it to my final destination just on the whim of drunken cowards in uniform.
- Cameroon from the eyes of a Yaounde barman (wearenowhereanditisnow.wordpress.com)