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Memories of Christmas in Cameroon

A good many Cameroonians based abroad love to remember the special moments they spent back home during the Christmas holiday. Bamenda Babe blogging at My African Father is one of them. This budding writer makes an interesting piece of her memories:

I am missing a dry, dusty Cameroon and the holiday season over there. It was always a magical time for me. My siblings and I would torture ourselves with excitement the days leading up to Christmas. We would wake up bright and early that day just to make sure the gifts were there. We would count them quietly, long before the household stirred. We would construct a deep foundation of resentment for those who got the lion's share of presents. We would cry injustice, then crawl back into bed and wait for things to unfold. “Maybe Brother has more gifts than me but mine will be sweeter gifts than his.” There was church on Christmas morning. If we could avoid it, we did, but if Father said it was necessary, then we were (at best) reluctant churchgoers. But the shiny dresses and shoes–the crisp, new Christmas outfits people wore–were always a delight. And we wore ours, too, fresh from the Chinese bubble wrap or the Bamenda tailor's shop. Then the presents and the delicious food were kissed and adored with our eyes, fingers, and mouths.

Bamenda Babe was certainly touched by the singing from a group of kids caught on video by a VSO volunteer based in the town of Bamenda in her native Cameroon who blogs at Our Man in Cameroon. Below you can see the video that he posted on his blog:

In the comments section of that post, Our Man in Cameroon explains a bit more about the kids on the video:

….to clue you in the 2 kids on the right just turned up on that day, and the kid on the left isn’t around much – the rest of them are regulars at my door – where they knock and holler till the whiteman comes to play.

It’s beats a Christmas card anyway.

BB – the kid in the middle is Mimi – quite a little local superstar – despite having just turned 3 on the day I filmed this, she seems to be one of those kids that everyone loves.

I bumped into here, as I normally do, on my way to work this morning and she hugged me around the knees. She then waits till I walk 10 yards away and says bye, then another bye after another 10 yards – until she is hollering it into the distance.

I bought a load of tinsel for the VSO Xmas party so they’ve all had bits of it – that particular piece in the film was the last – they couldn’t decide which of them should keep it – so it was cut into 6 tiny pieces.

Have a good xmas everyone…

From another expatriate's blog in Mbingo, a village in the heart of Cameroon's North West Region, we get another point of view about the Cameroonian Christmas. Christine of Mbingo Was its Name writes about the celebration at the local hospital in which she works:

And yesterday was the party of all parties! It was a combined Christmas celebration / retirement for 9 hospital employees, including our hospital administrator, the fathers of two of our anaesthetists, and the expat physio Pat (here since 1973!). I went down to the kitchen at 7am to see how they could cook (over open fires) for 1000 people. People had been working since 5am, most of them as volunteers. My photos are all blurry because of the amount of smoke in the kitchen! One can only be impressed at what folks here pull off.

In Cameroon it is customary to have an after-party at the home of persons celebrating an event and Christine recounts how she stepped into dancing mood:

There was another great party going on there – huge amounts of food (the women had been up til 3am cooking), and the venacular church choir members were singing their hearts out, with assorted drums and shakers audible from half a mile away. Once again I was ushered inside to greet Pa, and have my coke – and when I went out, the dancing had begun. The singers were now dancing in a circle while the drummers were in the middle, and all the kids (some carrying infant siblings on their backs) were dancing in their own smaller circle in the middle. More and more people joined in, and finally one of the older expat women joined and pulled me in too. It was just so much fun – not much to it except moving your feet and going in a circle, but the atmosphere is what is delightful, just the sheer joy of being alive to recognize the goodness of God. These people really know how to celebrate, and we westerners can learn so much from them!

Back in November 2008, Meenosha of Pink Post was already giving some thought to Christmas. She revealed how she ended up not believing in Father Christmas anymore:

I was about 5 or so, and I just heard about news Mr. HoHo coming to our school. Can you imagine how I felt? I was beaming, like I was told God was coming or something. I remember the day before I didn't sleep. We all dressed up how we wanted, no uniform (I was a Hawaiian princess, with my yellow two-piece outfit and my pink flower stuck in my kinky hard-to-comb hair). We sang Christmas carols on the way to school, and eagerly waited for our hero to come….

So Santa Claus shows up in the classroom…

HE IS BLACK!

HE IS LANKY!

HE SWIMS IN HIS OUTFIT!

And last but not least: He doesn't say “HoHoHo”! He lazily says: “Bonjour les enfants”, and hands over a thin bag full of… candies! Who told him I wanted candies? I got enough of that from my mom! Didn't he get my request list? I wanted a Barbie Doll in a mansion, a princess dress, and a playhouse! My world crumbled down in a few seconds…

Speaking of shocks related to Santa Claus (Father Christmas in Africa) Jess in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon has this to say in her blog Jess does da ‘Roon:

Forgive the pun, but every Christmas in Africa’s a white one for me… just without snow. I just walked into the internet joint and next door they’re playing fantastic hits such as “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and “I saw mommy kissing santa claus”. I’m shocked. Lately my neighbor’s been playing this famous Nigerian gospel singer and talking back to this CD she’s heard a gazillion times. The singer talks on the track, ranting about how people are “enemies of progress” and are jealous, and there’s some long spiel about her getting a pregnancy test… I don’t know. But anyway, my neighbor is sitting there sewing on her foot-pedal machine, just preaching back at the CD, “Hmm-mmm that’s right. Jealous fools. That jealousy will hold you down! Amen!” I’m glad that peaceful Christmas music might be replacing it soon…

While Jess is a US volunteer is living Christmas in Cameroon, Eric Tambe is a Cameroonian is re-visiting how the Day is celebrated in the US in his blog Infotambeblog:

The built up to the day itself is treated differently than say in Cameroon.In the US it is a day celebrated quietly at home with a few friends and family members.People spend money on Christmas trees,including decorating the tree.It is also a cold period in most of the US,so you would not see people dancing in the streets and children moving from one house to the other to visit with their neighbours as in the case in the African countries.People spend a lot of money buying gifts though for friends and family members.This is one period when you do not want to be broke.People will remember you for not providing them with a Christmas gift…

Merry Christmas to all then!

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