Day 1 | Reconnection Ain’t Dead...It Lives in Cameroon
|Deborah Boddie, Esq. and Gina Paige
|Fons from the Washington Metro area with
H.E. Foe Atangana (middle)
Me and Regina Jackson, a friend, fellow CamAmerican, and Bay Area native, were greeted with hugs and smiles from familiar faces and handshakes and greetings from lots of new ones as we arrived at Washington Dulles Airport. 20 of the 50 from last year’s trip will be returning. African Ancestry.Com’s co-founders Gina Paige and Rick Kittles, and United States Cameroon Embassy First Secretary, Omaurou Chinamoun, are also in attendance.
As the group headed to the security checkpoint, we were received by the Cameroonian Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency, Joseph Foe Atangana, and chiefs (fons) that reside in the Washington metro area. They each gave the group their blessings for our journey and wished us well. The fons poured libations and also used a traditional broom to perform the ceremony.
Me and Regina had already logged four and a half hours of air travel in order to join the group at Washington Dulles. We then added an additional six hours of time as we traveled from Dulles to Paris (CDG). Despite a snafu with regard to boarding passes and luggage, our group of more than 80 successfully boarded our flight from Paris (CDG) and flew another six and a half hours to reach our final destination, Yaounde (NSI). In all, me and Regina logged more than 18 hours of air travel in the space of a day.
The minute we exited the plane we were met with hugs from members of the ARK Jammers and local media including photographer Claude Badaha, and Randy Joe Sa’ah of BBC News Africa. Each of us also shook hands with Paul McDermott, from the United States Citizen Services, Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Yaounde. Actress and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph and her husband, Sen. Vincent Hughes, were added to our delegation.
At Hilton Yaounde, there was a conference held where attendees were given back their passports and yellow cards, and the ARP 1 participants were united with ARP 2 participants as buddies during the trip. Each of us shared a little about ourselves such as where we live and which tribe we are from. I have four buddies - two from California and two from Michigan. One of my buddies is a woman named Meredith that I have been in correspondence with and who had read this blog about last year’s trip. Dr. Kittles also spoke about his excitement about being part of ARP 2.
By this time, we were very hungry and tired. The 10 hour time difference had caught up to us. Once we were all assigned our rooms, many of us ate and headed straight to bed. There was lots planned for tomorrow and each of us needs to be well rested in order to enjoy it.
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|African Ancestry's Dr. Rick Kittles
|Jerome Minlend and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.
|Eric Chinje and Avline Ava (center)
(c) 2011, AtlasFamily.Org Genealogy Research
Photos (c) 2011, ns2 photography