The Indomitable Lions is the Cameroonian national football (or soccer) team, but the real national sport is drinking at a bar. There are more bars in Cameroon than any other type of enterprise. Even if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no food in sight, there will likely be a shack selling bottles of Castel, 33, or other Cameroonian favorites.
This national sport ties in conveniently to the celebration of any holiday here in Cameroon, no matter the occasion. Christmas? New Years? Bar. Youth Day? Bar. So it was no exception that this past Monday on International Women’s Day, the celebration took place at? yes, bars.
As the name indicates, International Women’s Day is suppose to be the day that honors women. Last year, I attended the parade where women were told to obey their husband. I figured, seen it once, seen it all. This year, being the bien intégrée volunteer that I am, I joined the majority of the women by skipping the parade altogether and headed straight for the party.
Mama Chantal, my favorite bar lady who also serves as my village mom invited me over for a homemade meal at her house. After filling our tummy with food, we headed for the bar. In theory, Women’s Day is suppose to be full of activities that empower women. But in village reality, women get outfits made out of this year’s Women’s Day pagne and have a wicked good time into the wee hours. It’s the few occasions that they can be free of their house duties and have a good time.
And good times we had! Dancing with these village mamas is definitely one of my favorite moments of Peace Corps. I will dearly miss these “holidays” in the future. The party went on well into the night, but unfortunately I had an early meeting in Bafoussam the following day, so I had to wrap up my share of party not long after the nightfall. Nonetheless, good times were had by all!