When I saw my driver being held up by a policeman at a check point leaving the village, I immediately got out of the car and started walking toward them.. Within seconds upon seeing me, the police waved him on. Last week our potholed, rocky road was finally smoothed down with a huge Caterpillar. But when I got back to the house, the water pipes had been cut to flatten the road. I was agitated and worried. My neighbors added to my fears, telling me that the lines would be out for days or weeks. But I swore we would have water by the next day. Since I was donating the funds to bring water taps to the market, the mayor, a friend of mine, immediately sent out the plumber and the taps were flowing the next day.
Life is not easy here but being involved in development and infrastructure gives me a position of power that makes it easier to deal with all the mishaps. In most parts of Africa that I have visited, the white man seems to command a certain awe and gets preferential treatment. Is it reverse racism; they see us as better than themselves. They definitely were treated this way under colonial rule.
One element from the outside world that is changing the way Africans see themselves is technology and the internet. The students who use the internet are becoming part of the outside world. Their English is more proficient, their minds are being challenged and they have opinions. One of the few if not the only high school, GBHS has an internet lab. Sadly it is used by less than15% of the students, mostly boys. And a strange phenomenon is that the teachers at the school think technology
Is dangerous and distracting and dissuade kids from learning how to use it.
Since newspapers, and television are government controlled, unless you have a shortwave radio or cable television, your world extends to the next village. Outside of the a few large towns, the only entertainment is alcohol and sex. Almost all of the movie theatres in the country were closed down years ago. There are four or five in the three big towns. If you are middle class you may have a DVD player but most of the cheap DVD copies are Nigerian trash or our crash and burn flicks.
Whenever I ask students if and what they read, they always reply their text books.
The Peace Corp guys and gals have better books in their houses than the libraries in the schools or towns.
After interviewing the students at the high school, I was shocked to find out that class 1-4 (7th -10 grade) has to take 14 subjects. Class 5 (11th grade) gets a small break, only 11 different classes. If you are still in the game by the 12th year, you take only 5 subjects, selecting either science or literature. Since half of the kids entering high school can barely read or spell in English, I asked a few in our remedial English class how they can pass anything. They could barely make a sentence using the word but. It seems all the teachers do is have them copy off the board and memorize the notes for exams. Ah yes, teachers are public servants and public servants in Cameroon cannot be fired unless they commit murder and then, since they go to jail, they cant show up to teach.