Thursday, June 25, 2009

First glimpse of Douala


I visited Douala, Cameroon, for the first time in 1980, for a short stay. Both Bob (future husband) and I had just completed our degrees in Paris, France, where we had met, in school.
Bob’s uncle had a car – not a regular occurrence in Cameroon, even nowadays – and took me for a tour of the city, which had about 1.5 million inhabitants at the time. At one point, we drove by some rundown-looking buildings, and I commented: “Oh, look, tenements!” Uncle looked shocked and retorted: “That’s the housing for Customs employees!” That was the first time I realized what a disconnect there was in my understanding of Africa.