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Bamenda, Cameroon

Based on my last couple of posts, apparently this week I’m a little hung up on privilege and position.

I’m in Cameroon to support staff and partners with some training. Today we drove from Bamenda out to the community where we’ll be working. We needed to do the last bit of the arrangements, greet the community notables and school principal, and see the center where we would be having the training to get a sense of how we would set things up for Monday.

Ride out to the community, near Bamenda Town

The community is about an hour’s drive out on roads that curve through green mountains that cover over with clouds and fog from dusk until the sun burns them off mid morning. This part of Cameroon has got to be one of the richest, most fertile places I’ve ever been to.

Our meeting was at the school, and I knew once we drove up and I got a peek through the school windows, that I was going to have to sit up front on the stage at the important people’s table and give a speech. Damn. There was no way around it.

This is what it feels like when you have to sit up there:

On the plus side, experience tells me that after a couple days at the training it will feel more like this:

The kids and the community are super excited about the workshop.  The youth sang a choir style welcome song that gave me chills. It took me back to the days when I used to spend a lot of time accompanying foreign delegations to communities. This welcome was one of the finest. It’s easy to see why visitors feel so special when they go to communities in places like Cameroon.

On the drive back we stopped along the road, near the palm wine huts and kola nut sellers, for fresh boiled peanuts in the shell and roasted corn. The sun set and the fog settled in for the night as we carefully made our way back to Bamenda in near zero visibility.

I can’t wait till Monday when we move from town out to stay in the community at the training center.

On days like today I wonder what, exactly, we are talking about when we say ‘development’.

On the surface it sure seems like people up in these mountains have it pretty good.

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