Friday 10 September 2010

Sometimes You Have to Eat Your Body Weight to Be Well-Cultured

Welcome to Eid ul-Fitr! This holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holiday which requires individuals to fast for a month from dawn to dusk. Fasting symbolizes the cleansing of the soul while multiple prayers occur throughout the day. The month is believed to be when the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Muhammad, the Islamic prophet.

And in Cameroonian culture (as well as many other cultures), it’s customary to eat…A LOT. In fact, if you don’t eat a lot, it means that you have not enjoyed the food and thus, you have insulted the cooking of the host. Hence, you must eat!

A few days ago, my neighbor Dali and I had discussed visiting the Lamido Palace for the grand celebration. And this is what happened:

10:30AM-Always be prepared with a book here in Cameroon! Though I’m ready at 9AM, Dali shows up an hour and a half later and says the celebrations won’t be until the afternoon. However, the Lamido is supposedly coming down the main road, so I wait at her salon until everybody starts running to the street to see the local chief and his horses. My neighbor’s kid, Abdul, runs after the Lamido for a good ten minutes!

11:00AM -I attempt to leave the salon, but Dali reminds me that I agreed to go to her Uncle’s house. I remind her that’s no problem as Iong as I’m back at 1:30PM to eat with my host father’s friend (we’ve never met, but I was commanded by my host father to eat with him for the holiday). Naptime.

12PM-We go to Dali’s house as she needs to get ready and her little sister sings my name. Why I love the singing, I don’t really know.

My neighbor, Dali!

12:30PM-Dali and I take a moto to bring a basket of food to someone. I don’t really understand what’s going on, but such is life.

1:05PM-We arrive at Dali’s uncle’s house who lives out by the Legion d’Adamaou. Dali’s two little sisters are there too and we enjoy chicken, hibiscus juice, and cake with her aunt. So good!

1:25PM-I jump on a moto back to my apartment while my host father’s friend calls saying that he is sending a moto to search for me.

1:35PM-The moto and I head back down the same road I just took. This time, instead of eating with all women and children, I’m eating with all men! It’s almost symbolic because as a foreigner and guest, I get placed with the men.

2:45PM-Moto boy takes me back and Dali, Kim (another PCV), and I all head off to the Lamido Palace. Well, first we end up at Dali’s aunt’s house and run into the two little sisters and Abdul again– you never really know where you end up here in Cameroon. We head off to the Lamido Palace, but they are just praying at the moment, so we visit Dali’s mom.

Dali's extended family - cute, no?

Close by Lamido Palace

4PM-In the random crowd at the Lamido Palace, we run into my sidekick Abdul again! Because we are foreigners, we get taken to the VIP seats on the steps of the Palace and sit with the Delegate for the Ministry of Tourism.

Praying in front of the Lamido, the traditional chief

4-6PM-People pray to the Lamido and people play with the bulls.

Traditional festivities

Long day, but home sweet home with a stuffed tummy!

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