,, The people of Cameroon live in much poorer material circumstances than we Europeans, and yet they’re much happier. The more prosperous live in concrete houses, but most people live in simple mud-brick dwellings without glass in the windows. Few have bathrooms, and most people wash by the riverside.
Public safety is not good. The impossibility of predicting the future means that they live for today – there is no culture of prudent financial management, while ambulances and medical care (if they exist at all) are of the most primitive kind. Paved roads are a rarity outside of the capital, there are no sidewalks, and driving standards are a world away from Europe: you’ll often see four cars driving side-by-side on a two-lane road. Public transport doesn’t exist, only taxis, and eight or more people are often crammed into a five-seat car.
What do exist, however, are mobile phones, the internet, and tv broadcasts. Everyone wears beautiful and clean clothes, and has their hair done neatly on public holidays or if they go to church. The two most popular occupations appear to be tailor and hairdresser. Their joy in the simple pleasures of life is enviable
Among the gastronomic delicacies we sampled were cola berries, which are fresh and invigorating, and Gabon viper, which we tasted in a guest house. They prepare this venomous snake in a sort of stew, and we ate it in the humble but welcoming home of our host. We ate off plates balanced on our laps, and not everyone got cutlery. All quite natural here.
Most families have many children, but childhood mortality rates remain high. The average family in the capital has four children, while in the countryside the number is more like six or seven. In the countryside it’s usual that children only receive a name at two or three years of age, when it becomes more probable that they will live. Nobody celebrates birthdays, and many are unaware of precisely how old they are. During our visit, however, the government launched a campaign encouraging families to officially register children with a name as soon as they are born.
In Cameroon many religions live side-by-side. About 40% are Christian, and another 40% follow local animist religions. The remaining 20% are Muslim, or some other faith. Often beliefs and superstitions regarding the spirit world are intermingled with more established religious beliefs. It is quite common for children to be given an ugly name, as it is believed that this drives away bad spirits. When someone dies, the funeral is not a cause for mourning, and it is not uncommon for someone to be buried in the grounds of their house, or even under the house itself. On special days friends and relatives dance on the grave, so the deceased can sense and take part in the festivities. (2019)