Thursday, March 8, 2012
Cameroon's National Women's Day
Happy Women's Day! "Happy Happy" (that is the proper response). Today women all over Cameroon celebrate this national holiday. Ndu had a celebration much like other towns and villages across the country. Fabric was made months ago for women to have special dresses made just for the day. Since we wanted to experience as much of the Cameroonian culture as possible, Ellie and I had dresses made in Ellie's favorite color -PINK! The other option was a bluish/green with the same picture on it. The women's march was scheduled to begin at the grand stand in town at 8am this morning (March 8, 2012). Knowing that nothing starts on time around here we waited until 840am to walk across campus and through the main gate (that has brand new cement). We felt like our own little parade as we walked on the rim road towards the grand stand with shouts of "Happy Women's Day!" thrown our way. It felt a little awkward as we realized we were the only people around with our bright pink fabric on. Circling around we went to our favorite store (Providence) to find out what we could about the festivities for the day. Both the women that worked there laughed when we asked why it hadn't started yet - "Black people here don't follow any type of time schedule" was the reply these 2 black women gave us. We continued our little parade of 2 right back to our little house to wait it out. Finally just before 10am we headed back up to the grand stand and discovered many different women's groups lining up to begin the march. Again, we felt really out of place because the groups were being divided by subdivisions and we didn't have a group that we belonged in. Finally, one of the ladies shoved us into the line, close to the front where we joined other women in pink, marching and singing "Oh When The Saints Go Marching In". I just kept thinking "It's all part of the experience". Ellie and I then went and took our seats in the grand stand to watch some of the women's groups perform their dances and sing. One of the groups was from the CTE (tea plantation we had toured early on in Cameroon). They sang the song "Shine the light of Jesus Christ" but changed the words to "Shine the light of CTE"... it kind of bugged me. Everything I have heard about the man who bought this place just 4 or 5 years ago is that he doesn't treat his workers very fair. Who knows what the truth is? We listened as several speakers shared on different topics (through a bad sound system): Women's rights, education, cancer (cervical and prostate), Agriculture and a male doctor talked in detail about person hygiene. The main theme of the day was ending hunger and poverty... finally, I could stand it no longer - I had to go to the bathroom and I was hungry. So Ellie and I did our part to end hunger (even if it was just our own) and we headed home to eat... and use a flush toilet. A few hours later Drew and I headed up to the MoneyGram place (for the 3rd time without success) and we could see that the Women's Day performances were still going on. No offense, I love being a woman, but to me this was Women's suffering!