Something that bothers me about relationships here is how, in a way, segregated they are. I have my village friends, my PC friends and my home friends, back in the US.

The relationship that bothers me most is between my village friends and my PC friends. My village friends are people like Aladji, cheftop and other people I see almost every day in my village. My PC friends are fellow volunteers, around 120 of them, all over Cameroon and who I get to see occasionally to rarely depending on the location.

My village friends, are people who always think about me whenever there is a large fete (party), ceremony or cultural occasion, always save me a good chair, good food and always welcome my other PC friends, even if they were not invited. More often than not they go out of their way to invite my PC friends, and then they welcome them as honor guests at whatever party or event we are at.

We always have a table with plenty of food, wine, beers or whatever else we want. My village friends will listen to us speak in our bad French, make our narrow American viewpoints and ask questions that would seem stupid to any 8 year old prepubescent Cameroonean.

By contrast, my PC friends will throw parties where only other PCVs, occidentals or people dating a PCV are invited, you have to pay your own beers or food, and uninvited guests are frowned upon. Sometimes even Camerooneans who are dating Americans are not very welcome, if they do not speak English or are not Americanized enough (you don’t know who the Speaker of the House in the US is?!).

When my PC friends visit my village, my village friends love asking about them, what state they’re from, what they think of Obama, etc. even if they have no idea where Podunk, Iowa is located and the difference between a republic and a democracy.

When we’re with them, we love hearing about their culture, their politics, and their tradition. Their queer festivals and interesting foods. Their art and their poverty and how to appreciate each other from our cultural context.

But what we are missing is that inclusiveness that Africans have overabundance of towards us. Show me an American in an African village and I will show you someone who will never die of thirst or hunger. There is always a place for us when we want to crash a party or event. But invite an African to hang out with us, and you may find yourself at the far side of the bar, talking bad French with your village friend while we forget to invite you to the next fete.

john deere

john deere

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