I’m back in Cameroon again.
If you know me, you know I move around a lot. It’s both something I appreciate and something I wish I didn’t have to do.
Moving around a lot means I’ve been fortunate with regards to exposure, it means I have had multiple opportunities, considering the cost of moving around and the restrictions on Africans when it comes to travel, I also appreciate that it means certain degrees of privilege.
But it also means I have struggled with belonging for most of my life. It also means that I often wonder what to list as my ‘address’ when filling out a form. It also means that I struggle with settling into a routine (and I direly need a routine). It means I’m often lonely, living through my phone because that is where all my favourite people are. Finally, it means I am constantly struggling to feel at home.
One of the most recurrent comments/questions I get when I am back home is “why you cam back eh? You really like this country!”.
Recently I have been thinking about that. Do I like Cameroon? I don’t know. I know I love Cameroon- yes you can love something/someone without liking them; the former means you get on well, and the latter means you have a stronger bond than just how they make you feel.
I know I love Cameroon because I feel belonging – relatively- in Cameroon. I know I feel a responsibility for it (who exactly do we think will come save us and fix this mess of a nation?). I know that even though other countries might offer me better services – maybe even better human dignity- it is only in Cameroon that I can demand it (even when it is not given).
I think Cameroon is home not because, I’m most comfortable here (material comfort) but because I’m most understood here. I don’t need to explain what “ashia” means irrespective of what side of the Mungo I am. Here I am familiar with what ails most of us, I have learned to navigate our -isms as much as they frustrate me still. Learning how to dance around new -isms and the complexity of social problems in new countries… well I feel like a boomer navigating Tiktok.
In an interview I gave in 2019 I recall explaining that my education and career have been geared towards addressing problems I identified at home; how then can I feel comfortable in a place where I’d be just another drop in the ocean, not addressing the problem that weighs in my heart. It sounds dramatic, right? Perhaps life never does me enough reach side wey I go wash foot off Cameroon follow “soft life”. But till then, I call Cameroon home for all the reasons- good or bad- that make it home.