13 August 2015

Nous sommes arrives!

We are now ensconced in Douala, gradually getting settled in before starting staff meetings on the 17th (school begins on August 24).

As a city that has a larger population of the entire African country I last lived in (The Gambia), Douala is a busy place. We are in a relatively less crowded neighbourhood, although it still pretty built up. Travel within the city is quite easy (we missed some rains that flooded parts of Douala earlier in the rainy season), and within walking distance we have discovered preferred vendors of fruit and veg, hardware, and liquor bottles of nuts.

While French is the official language of most of Cameroon, there are large numbers of English speakers (many from the Anglophone, formerly British-administered west) and many people are bilingual. We are still getting plenty of French practice, though. While Douala was originally settled by the Douala people (fancy that!), urbanization and migration – and Cameroon's cosmopolitan population with nearly 300 different languages – mean that there is no local/indigenous lingua franca. So people in the largest cities tend to speak French or English with one another.

Germany controlled the colony of Cameroon until World War I and the Treaty of Versailles when it was split between Britain and France. Approaching independence, British Northern Cameroon opted to join Nigeria while British Southern Cameroon merged with French Cameroon. This was meant to be a federation but over time the French portion of Cameroon (the seat of national government) has centralized authority, thereby marginalizing Anglophone Cameroon. Many of the school's staff are of Anglophone extraction so I will solicit their thoughts on the arrangement.

Proof that we are “being treated like kings” (with a nod to my friend Alicia):

 We procured a Louis Vitton
individually-crafted wooden ironing board.

Further innovations: Flip-up umbrellas on moto-taxis for when it rains (which is often).

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