Pictures coming soon.
The Kingdom of Bafounda, Cameroon, Africa.
After the chicken episode, I went to leave the compound. I stepped out of the building to hear a woman – Doho’s daughter – call me over. I ended up getting in the back of their nice car with Doho’s mother and the son-in-law drove us to the site. We took lots of photos together to later share with our professor to show him that we met his family in his home village. He now lives in Cleveland.
We returned for a really good lunch together. Per typical meetings, we spoke again with the Water Committee and drank a lot of beer. Then we were told Ahh it’s time to meet the king!
We dressed up in traditional clothes and loaded into the van. We went south from the village a ways before turning left into another village area where the “palace” was. Coming down a bumpy hillside, we stopped and unloaded in front of a building that was not yet finished being built – and looked like it has been that way for quite some time. There were a random assortment of women in the room (wives of the King) of varying ages, plus some important-acting men. They were all sat around the room at awkward distances. We were escorted to chairs of our own and everyone awaited the arrival of the king.
He actually showed up this time, slinking in with his traditional clothes and taking a seat in one of the bigger chairs across from us. And so began a long, stupid, formal process. Kate J. translated. We all had to sit ourselves when he entered by coming into the room, bowing, and clapping 1, 2, 3 times until he nodded and we each took a seat. He went through this ridiculous speech about how we should be grateful that he is letting us stay in his village and that we owe him many favors, like making more projects in his village and finishing his palace building in which we sat. We were like “oh, sure, King, we’ll get right on that”. When we were done BS-ing, he passed out beer. These were typical Africa-sized beer bottles (quite large) and one absolutely must finish it before leaving or it’s rude…so we did.
When we finally were ready to escape, the king went in the back with Tomas and whispered excessively. Apparently Tomas has to pay some enormous bribe to the king and all of his wives for letting us stay, and he does it without question. While we waited, we saw the king had a special stamp with his own seal. When he returned and before we left, we asked him to stamp our passports with the seal. I think he felt important doing that.
On the way back, we passed another site that could be a potential next project since we favor using our resources and continuing work here. We didn’t spend too much time, though, because we were expected to return to a community party at Tomas’s. Indeed, the courtyard was packed. They had us sit, passed out more drinks, fish sandwiches, and brought in traditional dancers in grass-like outfits. A man in a monkey suit ran through past the drummers and various people threw money to him.
We went through a long process where we were called up one-by-one and made honorary queens and nobles of Batoula-Bafounda. We were given traditional outfits which we pulled on over our clothes, then everyone cheered for us to dance. A power outage hit us, and everyone roared with laughter at the irony. An entourage of cars – including Zefere with our van – lined up and placed their headlights on the crowd. The party continued. We stayed around and took pictures and drank until we were exhausted and went upstairs to chat, but of course the party continued without us. We couldn’t do much, of course, due to the power outage, so we packed up a little and were too tired so decided to just go to sleep.