Day 1 - Welcomes and the Red Carpet Treatment

After about an 18 hour flight, the research team made it to Douala Cameroon with a group of over 50 Americans, most of which are a part of the ARK Jammers, Inc. Ancestry Reconnection Program.  (For context, please see this post.)  The plane ride did not seem half as long as we thought it would be and the hospitality has been EXCELLENT!

As we arrived at a US airport to depart with the group, we were given Christmas cards from the Cameroonian Ambassador  Joseph Charles Bienvenu Foe-Atangana that included a picture of him, his wife, President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama. We also had the honor of having a member of the Cameroonian Embassy to take the trip with us.  While in the airport, many of us got a chance to talk about our genealogy research, our test results, and learned of each person's geographic location.  There are a group of students from Howard University, as well as some professors, a physician, and a publisher that are part of our group.

In order to make it to Douala, we had to change planes in Brussels, Belguim.

Then, as soon as we stepped off of the plane in Douala, we were greeted by cameras and press who were there to receive us.  It was almost overwhelming for many of us.  A few of us were interviewed by local newspapers and media as well as by Randy Joe Sa'ah for BBC News Africa.

Britney, Christine, Andrew, Ellwood, Dr. Chouika, Lauren, and Sopheia, from Howard University, along with Regina, and Gina Paige, President of African Ancestry

Jean, soon after we landed in Douala.

From there, the group was greeted by a number of tribal chiefs who are local to the Douala area.  They all took the time to shake each of our hands individually and told us "Thank you for making the journey."  They also said that they had been "waiting a long time for those of us in the US to come back home."  There had to be at least 10 to 15 chiefs there.

Willia, waiting for us to head to the hotel

We were finally able to meet the visionary behind the trip, Avline Ava, president of ARK Jammers, Inc.

Avline, showing her excitement that we had made it to Cameroon.

Upon our exit from the airport, we were greeted with dancers and drummers.  There was also a large crowd amassed to welcome us.  One of our fellow attendees, Brigitte, was even given the skirt of one of the local dancers.  We all danced along to the beat and sang whatever we could decipher in French.

Brigitte, with the skirt that was given to her

A familiar face at the airport in Douala that resembles family members back in the US.

Next, we checked in to our hotel and were given a reception by the owner which included local mixed drinks that featured ginger and fruit that was held at the pool area.

Jean and Nicka, poolside

Septeena and Regina at the hotel

Following this, we took a bus ride over to meet the Mayor of Douala, as well as another local leader from a subdivision of Cameroon and to have our first taste of Cameroonian food.  The Mayor noted that it was historic for the group to enter Cameroon in Douala instead of Yaounde.  He said that this is the case because Douala is most likely the city that our ancestors embarked from when they were taken as slaves to US and other locations.

Gina Paige (center) with Papa Noel (left) and the Mayor of Douala (right)

To cap the night off, we were then taken to a festival and were treated to a concert.  The organizers brought us up on stage to dance with the performers for a couple of songs and to speak with the crowd.  It was an awesome experience!  Tomorrow, we are headed to the ruins of an old slave port and to meet with more dignitaries.  It's been an amazing ride so far!


Unknown said…
I got chills reading this. thank you. Franklin
Unknown said…
Nicka, I am in tears reading this... I know you were blown away! God is doing something, this is the evidence that it's bigger then you.

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