Joyeux Noël: My Cameroonian Christmas Experience

Hello everyone, I’m back! Thanks for joining me!

So we just finished that special time of the year, the Christmas season. My program ended December 16, but I stayed in Cameroon to spend the holiday season with my family. I left Yaounde on Monday, December 17, for the city of Douala, which is basically the Cameroonian version of New York. I was there to stay with my uncle, aunt, and cousin. We stayed there until Friday, and then we left for the village of Eseka to visit and spend the holidays with my grandparents.

When we arrived in Eseka, my grandmother greeted us warmly and my grandfather was waiting with anticipation. They immediately became excited when they realized how much my French skills improved, and when I spoke with them in the languages of their villages. The next day the preparations for Christmas dinner began, and to my grandmother’s dismay the refrigerator began to malfunction. She began to exclaim such phrases as “Oh Lord, I am dead. What am I going to do?!”, while there was a man at the house fixing the refrigerator. What I found really interesting and amusing was how her dramatic response to the situation was identical to the behaviors of my father and I, and it truly showed me where we both get our mannerisms from.

Also later that evening, I began to look at old photo albums, and I was able to see the history of my family in a way that I had never experienced before. It revealed to me the past history of my grandparents and my father. I recognized that it made me who I was, and I felt a more personal connection to them because of it. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we visited my family’s church in the village, and the services were in the languages of Bassa and French. This being the case, I understood very little of what was said, but what I did recognize was the sacredness of me being there, in a place where I had no history of the slave trade in my legacy and lineage. It is because of this reason that I am forever grateful for my father’s side of my family, because they have given me a gift of knowledge concerning my roots that are not known in the African-American community.

On Christmas Day, we left Éséka but before that we had a huge and festive feast with family and friends, and it was an experience that I will never forget. The next day, we visited the town of Limbe, Sème Beach, and my grandmother’s village, where we were able to visit the graves of family members who had passed away on. I was able to meet many family members and make new friends in my time there and in Douala, and I have pictures of some of them below. I will forever be grateful for that experience.

Another thing that I realized being with my family, and speaking with other Cameroonians about my family is the unique dynamics that we have within our heritage. We are progressive and open-minded, and we tend to take the paths that are less traveled by. We are spread out all over the world, and yet we all are deeply connected to our roots and traditions. I am grateful for this, and I am also grateful for the fact that my grandparents were progressive and open-minded enough to let my father leave home and marry someone who was a foreigner. My grandparents allowed for my story to become and to exist, and it is for this simple reason that they will always be my reason why.

X.O.X.O.,

-L.M.

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