Travelogue Part 2: Of Wanna-be-Bushfallers and Bushfalling



This might sound like a rant, but if you are a follower of this blog you should be used to it by now. 

Some months ago the G.C.E  results were released and successful candidates from all  around the country traveled to Buea (though not immediately necessary) to apply for admission into the University of Buea. The application procedure is now done online after paying the application fee to the schools bank account from any region in the country. It was not necessary that they come, yet they did. Thousands of young applicants came excited, anxious and completely clueless. They didn’t know how to access the application forms online. They didn’t have email addresses, and those who had email addresses had forgotten how to access that because they’d had help creating it just so they could have Facebook accounts. So they paid some fast boys who had set up along the road to apply for them, 1000frs cfa each. They will NOT pay to learn on their own. Heck, if you offer them free classes  to learn they would not show up.
That is not all. These aspiring scholars could barely fill out bank deposit forms because they have been told “do this, put that there” all their lives so find it difficult to reason independently  that though their surnames come first on their documents, it is not their first names. Oh let’s not forget, most of these kids passed through “Computer Science” classes for at least five out of the  seven years of the secondary and high-school, some even took Information and Computer Technology (ICT) as a paper at the GCE A levels and passed with B’s…
Yet this is not a rant about the lack of pragmatism in our educational system (though I am sorely tempted to start that). This is about the fact that most of these applicants as well as most of those already enrolled at our universities are wanna-be-bushfallers. They are literally itching to leave the country. Apart from those playing the Green Card lottery with the regularity of their birthdays there are those hoping to snag a bushfaller during December when they come home like birds to the nest. I’m referring to the many that watch Nollywood movies and believe that if one prays enough a rich guy would come along and take you out of the country or … well you get my point.
We all know at least one of them and we love them even as we shake our heads at their naivety, at how easily impressed they are, how much they believe leaving the country will solve all their problems and some and more at how little effort they put in despite their dreams of luxury.
Why am I bringing this up in travelogue? A few months into my trip here I can’t stop myself from imagining one of the wanna-be-bushfallers in my place with every new situation. Every time I encounter some new digital process or anything less manual I keep thinking. What would (insert name here) do if she finally got the visa she always wanted, she cannot even remember her password to one email account. Imagine handling the pin codes for seven different cards, passwords for at least three email addresses (personal, school, and office).  I was considered addicted to my laptop and crazy about the internet back home, yet it is obvious WiFi is a one of the pillars of life this side of the Atlantic.
 Let me give a rundown of the thoughts going through my head as I try to imagine those wanna-be-bushfallers in my place throughout the day.
  •   Isabella should just forget about falling bush! Chai! She wants to study Policy here when she could not finish the small handouts we were given to read as undergraduates? What would she do when she sees more than one prescribed reading of 161 pages per class for just one out of three courses?
  •   Martha should just stay where she is. She is dreaming of falling bush to meet Mr.  Right.  Tsuiiip*. Who has time to even notice Mr. Wrong when you leave home early and come back late at least five days out of seven?
  •  Honore should just remain where he is. His father’s money can make him look like a “posh” guy back in Cameroon but here he would be struggling to afford a monthly travel card unless he’s on scholarship. In fact he would be begging people to pay with money here when everything is bough online or with some card.
  •  What will Aunty Anye do if they actually give her that visa eh? She barely manages to use the phone that was sent to her. Just thinking about her struggling to make sense of Google map makes me laugh my lungs out.
  •   Imagine Steven who calculates Black Man Time religiously. I’ll like to see how he will cope if he actually leaves Cameroon. Clocking in and out, leaving the house at least one hour early just to make it on time? Sigh, he’ll likely flunk for missing two more than two classes per semester.
  •  Imagine Esombi who skips class because of heavy rain. What would he do when faced with this winter?
  • And then I think of the majority of graduates who blindly used Wikidepedia as a reference on their final year projects, are ignorant of plagiarism, who do not understand what ibid. means who do not understand that the tiny numbers alongside sentences on the Wiki pages correspond with the source of that information. I think of the number of graduates who complain that the Process of filling out applications for grants, scholarship or even jobs is “too difficult” and then give up. I think of the graduates who never really did a thing during their internship placements but place that on their CV’s boldly. How will they defend their being called a graduate?
















But then I discussed this with a girlfriend of mine, and we came to an agreement that this whole bushfalling thing is a trap. Those here know how it really is. They know the job was not easy to come by. They needed training for even the menial of jobs and it cost, and in some instances they still needed connections. Those here know a typical Cameroonian with the laissez- faire/ Augmentez les pris / chop broke pot attitude would not cope here. But they encourage those back at home to aspire after bushfalling anyways because they know the trick.
Here’s the trick: something almost magical happens when that typical Cameroonian arrives here and sees just how hard it is, sees that “making jest” gets you nowhere. When it sinks in that there is no neighbor to beg for salt if you lose your job or to ask to babysit your child if you are careless and get pregnant unplanned, yes, when this sinks in the magic happens. What magic you ask? The magic of maturity, of self-responsibility, discovery of purpose, birth of ambition and generally growing up.
  Yes, growing up, the thing we aren’t encouraged or sometimes even allowed to do in a society where at 30 a man can still shamelessly be dependent on his parents, siblings etc. Or at 21 a girl could have had three kids with irresponsible guys accepting that her mother will of course take her grandchildren in (with chiding of course but never the less). I am not condemning these cases. I am very aware things are hard; surviving in Cameroon is a struggle. Progressing and flourishing is nothing short of God’s grace and a more than one life’s share of hard work. But, and this is a big BUT it is not really different elsewhere. 

There are people abroad who live on 1 pound a day. There are people who beg even for the place they sleep, there are people who have their dignity impinged upon every day because they aren’t legal residents and the person housing them knows it. But yet they are here and they survive. They strive to flourish.
Where am I going with this? Simple. I think we give up on our country too soon. I think if the “magic” of maturity, of self-responsibility, discovery of purpose, and birth of ambition and generally growing up could happen while IN Cameroon we wouldn’t be under developed much longer or find a need to lie about human rights abuses to leave the country. I think we need to realize the fact that the things like the London Tube system were not built in a day and democracy will not come if we all run away and we can’t fix a country by clicking a like button for foreign aid.
 We need to fix our own.

Maybe I’m being idealistic; you may think I don’t know what I’m saying. I’ve had an argument with someone who said I only have such views because I’ve been lucky to get a scholarship; I responded that it was no luck. You see watching Cameroonians in the diaspora proved the old saying “Na condition make njanga e back for bend” (loosely translated: tough situations makes tougher people) when pushed hard enough, when enough is demanded from them and their back is against the wall, we can do extraordinary things to survive. But since we don’t demand enough from ourselves, from our communities from our leaders in our own habitat, our country, you see us drinking at the bars which serve as starting points for every other road cursing while watching football and declaring “Augmentez les pris, on va toujour bois”.
I’m just shaking my head.

Comments

  1. There is more than enough for dreamers! America would not have been founded if everyone sat at home.
    Due to constant disappointment people have given up on the system. Now what you see with your naked eyes, complain and provide solution. Is not the root of the moral erosion and lack of compassion for Cameroon.
    Most people in the 60s-80s gave up or didn't intend to pursue their western citizenship because they believed Cameroon was the land of promise. They returned back home.
    Yes people will adapt to life overseas.. Dream big and pursue your dreams. If you have lost hope for Cameroon another visionary will rise up.
    Are you aware if Obama was the first black person to pursue presidency?

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  2. Hmm i get your point so well. To some extent if we were given the opportunity to experience certain things on our own, we will get more mature and responsible. we need to sit up and help ourselves rather than get discouraged bu our system. Hey! you can't stop people from dreaming...

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  3. I think that we all go through a period in life where the joy of the moment throws away everything; a period where attending classes is not so much of importance, we find "better" things to do during class hours, etc. There are who will cross that period with no major sequels because they went though it with success, but there is another majority that will question their past actions because of the sequels of that period of their life. Although students are responsible for their negligence and immaturity, the education system as well as society in general contributes to what they turn out to be. This brings me to questioning the education system we have back home and even in UB. I am a graduate from UB. I spent a good time of my life in UB memorising texts and giving it back to the lecturer as he offered and I had As and Bs. Yep. But have you witnessed lectures “abroad”. Yes of course you have. I still cannot believe that I completed a Master degree and cannot show an exercise book that I used to “copy down notes” as we said in UB. But I can share with you the tones of literature and books I had to read in order to complete my assessments in class and final evaluation. Yes, my computer was my all. This is not to say that everybody ought to have a computer but to say that our teaching style back home needs to change. What is sometimes amazing is that UB lecturers have all had a taste of the education system offers out of Cameroon. I am not selling foreign style of education but when something works, we should appreciate and learn from it.

    Of course people will always say that “you have such views because I’ve been lucky to get a scholarship”. Some will even say that you have such views because you went there and now you want to discourage them to experience the same feeling. I was told those same words. Well I strongly believe the people show be given the opportunity to strive for the good. If falling bush is what is “good” for you, if that is your dream and you can work hard to achieve it, fine and good. Every action has its own consequences. The consequences can be positive as it can be negative. They say you can only pull a Carmel to the stream but you cannot force it to drink water. No matter how loud we shout about challenges of life abroad, this will not discourage that guy who is bent on falling bush.

    Yes! It is true that tough situations make tougher people. That is why I think that those who dream so hard to fall bush would do anything to succeed when they get there, even if it entails reading a 161 page-long document or memorizing pin codes or the password to their email, they will make the effort. I may be wrong but many of those who will fail when they fall bush would be the self sufficient ones who think that the comfortable life they had back home will continue to be when they fall bush - forgetting the particularity of their new environment.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Your opinions rhyme with mine. Our educational system needs reforming. And yes, as you said the problem is not in "falling bush"; people should pursue what makes them happy. The issue is in the possibility of our growing, our maturing while at home as best as we possibly can so if and when we leave the country we do so not out of desperation and not ill prepared.

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  4. I absolutely love your ability to honestly analyse Cameroonian people and circumstances as you genuinely perceive them. Some people frown at critical analysis of this sort... most would rather hail Cameroon for what it is not and never will be as long as our mentality does not change to progressive. I was rather shocked to find out that UB has no system to monitor plagiarism... like seriously?! Kids here have no clue how well they've got it made because they don't have to work full-time, pay rent, utilities, insurance etc, and pay their way through school like some of us had to. Most kids don't see what a blessing the opportunity to get at least an undergraduate degree in Cameroon before leaving for other shores can be. Thanks for sharing. Valid points all through, and funny as well ;-)

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    1. Thank you oh Ma Bedie! We only have to try to open their eyes. Imagine the reasons UBSU strikes for now. Then if they really had something to do those reasons would change i bet you!

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  5. Your write-up is bang on. I remember being a judge at a science fair while i was in undergrad - and the creativity of the kids simply blew me away. We need an educational system that moves away from "cramming/knowing" to one that teaches kids to have strong analytical skills and allows kids to be curious. In addition, your depiction of the typical camair sense of entitlement is bang on. Everything is handed to them - and they take it for granted. For years I used to tell friends in Cameroon about the Quebec/Cameroon equivalence program where you can go to school in Quebec and pay fees as a Quebec resident..which is cheaper than what other Canadians pay. Send link, send forms...but they want you to spoon feed them. If you have time to surf facebook and check lindaikeji surely you can find a way to do some research about your future. Its a terrible system of dependency that we've created and unfortunately a lot of parents support.

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    1. Thank you! I know exactly what you mean when you refer to the science projects. Our students have only heard can write essays on theories on physics but are unable to do one basic illustration of that theory. I am currently studying for an MA in Education, Gender and International Development. Hopefully when I go home next year I find a route to advocate for change.

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  6. I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    www.boycottamericanwomen.com

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