Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today I go for my walk early, in the cool (maybe 85?) of the day. Although Yaoundé is a big, noisy city, when you get a few hundred feet off of nearly any secondary road, you find yourself in what resembles a village. The pavement ends and the road diminishes to a web of paths that wind among small, mud brick houses. I walk through such a neighborhood, happy to be out of the traffic, the noise and the pollution. White people don’t often walk here. People stare, and sometimes a man will call out, “Hi, White lady!” I smile, wave and call out, “Hi Black man!” This gets me a laugh and sometimes a handshake from anyone who happens to be nearby. (Note: Do not try this in Detroit.) Eventually my “village” ends near the large Catholic University, and I find myself in a neighborhood that has come of age with television and the Internet. In a country where women my age are just beginning to be seen wearing pants in public, it is startling to find myself among trendy university students. One young woman is wearing white pants that have large horizontal slits cut all the way down the legs, forming stripes of white cloth and black skin. She reminds me of the time we traveled to the States when Lexi was about three. We were changing planes in Germany, when suddenly she clutched my hand and said, “Mommy! Look at that woman! What’s wrong with her?” I saw an attractive woman wearing a skirt and black tights. Lexi went on, “She’s half Black and half White!”

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