Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to get yourself kicked out of Youth Day

February 11, 2009

Today is the National Fete de la Jeunesse: Youth Day. So, Makala closes down, and we all troop to the stadium to watch young people in matching outfits parade past the Prefet, Sous-Prefet and anyone else deemed important in the Cameroonian government. Tonight, all these youth that would be excluded from drinking in countries that have minimum-age requirements are going out drinking. I plan to join them, and find out if there’s anything more to the Fete de la Jeunesse that I am missing. So far, not so bad…

So this morning my post-mate Thea, the French volunteer in town Fleur, and I got invited to sit in the special shady area of the stadium to watch the proceedings. I think I watched every school-age youngster in the Mayo-Tsanaga department of Cameroon parade past me this morning. I am happy to report that there are many, many young people in school here. So many in fact, that after several hours, Thea and I were brainstorming ways that we could get ourselves officially kicked out of our priority seating, since just getting up and leaving would be rude. One guy seated near us was listening to his radio. Another dame was reading a magazine, and a third listening to an iPod. Our list of expulsion-worthy acts including throwing ourselves onto the sand, blurting obscenities (any language) or stripping. Sadly, we had a lot of time to make this plan evolve, and the fact that I was wearing a button down shirt could have even meant that it would be so gradual, no one would even notice until… bam, you’re out! Of course, however, being representatives of your US government, we all kept our clothes on.

Truly, the events truly were so long that Thea started to get motion-sick from watching the troops/students march by. They really did look military at times! I thought she was just hallucinating in the heat at first. But then I started to get a little woozy too; it seemed like the sand and people in the background were moving in the opposite direction of the marchers. On the fun side though, some of the schools even sang and danced—added bonus! The teachers got to blow whistles, and really get down.

Fleur apparently got herself drafted to coordinate another halftime show at the next upcoming fete, so she promised me that I could get the whistle-blowing job :)

Here’s the Cameroonian equivalent of cheerleaders! About six of the schools had them!

School number 81… about the time the stripping idea came along.

Moral of the story: I applaud the youth of Cameroon. Next year, I think I will do so from the comfort of my living room!

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