Days 7 and 8 - Rest, Relaxation, and Shopping

Day 7 initially had been scheduled as a day with a few activities, but many of us were starting to nod off during events.  The combination of the heat (which has gone from unbearable to "I don't want to leave!") and road travel (nearly 19 hours) have really taken a toll on everyone.  With this said, our group leaders decided to give us Sunday as a sabbath day.  The only organized activities were a church service and a night out at a cabaret.  Both events were optional.

I opted for staying in because I was one of the people nodding off during the concert on Day 6.  All this loud music and here I am, dead sleep.  I even fell asleep in a chair before we left for the concert.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that this is RARE, but it did happen.

Me, Regina, and Jean spent some time helping Dr. Aubrey with her presentation that will become one of the keepsakes for the trip.  It includes facts on the slave trading patterns in the area, as well as the history of the ARP program and reflections by selected members of the group.  Dr. Aubrey was going to be presenting some of the findings during our conference on the next day.

Day 8 began with a breakfast reception at a local church.

Those who are Bamileke were blessed with the ability to meet another Bamileke queen (center) while at this location.  

Nicka with the Bamileke queen

We haven't had a lot of time to shop outside of the hotel.  So, at this location, some shopping was brought to us.  One vendor had some unique, hand painted apparel.

From there, we headed to the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation facility for a tour and another conference on slave trade and Cameroon.  Our panel was the exact same panel that we had for the previous conference.

We were told that a trip similar to ours was being planned for those from Sierra Leone and is scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of independence for the country.  We were also told that 2011 is the "Year of People of African Descent" as per United Nations Resolution 64/169, so we are considered trailblazers due to our trip to Cameroon.  In addition, providing a reverse trip (where Cameroonians are taken to the US) is now being discussed.

The best part about the conference was the DNA test reveal for the Howard students.  They have spent the entire trip with us having taken a test, but not knowing the results.  Results for Nigeria and Guinnea Bassau were among those in the group although we have all (both Cameroonian and Cameroonian American) have claimed them among us.  A number of us were in tears when the results were read.

One of our group leaders was contacted by a local chief who mentioned that he had some slave memorabilia from his tribe and that he wanted us to see it.  Viewing actual chains that this man's ancestors used to send their brethren to the new world was both sad and hard to deal with. Questions like "How could they do this?" and "How could you save this?" came up for me.  I had to quickly remind myself that he and the items were needed and should be shared.

Finally, we headed to a local market place for shopping!  I noticed a number of other foreigners at the same place, so it appeared as though this was the go-to spot for tourists.

The Cameroonian way of shopping involves lots of negotiation.  The seller provides the potential buyer with a price.  If the buyer isn't happy with the price, they then go back and forth with the seller until they can come to a consensus.  Due to the language barrier, our group leaders admonished us to find what we liked first, and then to involve them in the negotiations so we would get the best price.  In my opinion, the whole process is sort of stressful.  I guess it's because I'm so use to seeing and acknowledging a set price and not negotiating.  I also felt like I should just pay the price the vendor asked for because they need the money considering some of the conditions here. Yep, quite a conflict if you ask me.

I was able to walk away with a few gifts for family and friends although I'm nowhere near done getting what I'd like to get. 

We will move to the resort town of Kribi and then back to Douala for our remaining days.  Some of us are ready to go home (in a good way) while others of us are not ready.  There is a lot of dialogue that is happening amongst us about what we'll do once we get back to the States.  Should we push for dual-citizenship?  How will we help some of these communities?  What will we give back?  How can we share about our experiences?  Will we be able to mobilize ourselves together?  The verdict is out on all of this.


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