We are Tourists in each other’s live’s!

People come into our lives daily. People leave daily. We hold on to some, we let go of some. Sometimes we do not even notice people came and left. Sometimes we do not notice we’ve been in and out or still in other’s lives. It’s like the people in the background of pictures we take who do not know they have become part of an immortalized digital moment. But for those that we do notice, what do we do about them? How do we treat them? How do we come in? How do we leave? How do we make them feel? The answers to these questions are the fundamentals of the most basic human interactions.

Some of you/us are the cathedrals we long to step into and be left in awe at the design and level of detail and precision that went into building them up. But then we look deeper, below the floor of this marvelous building and there’s the crypt, the sarcophagus of the dead. The things we have buried, some ashamed to go back to, some excited to visit again and again. For they represent a story of growth, of strife, of pain when times may have been very different yet simpler. But it’s led us here, and others too, so we can tell our story.

We let you come in and leave as you please, but we make sure we’ve left a long standing impression on your senses.

Some of us are the landscapes, the mountains, the forests, the rivers and oceans. Too big to be understood, too rough to be controlled. We stand there in awe and we will always invite you in, there’s room for everyone. What we offer you is a place of peace and calm, a place to let your thoughts run, a place to dump all your baggage, we’ve been collecting them for billions of years, what’s a few more? We give you the space to figure yourself out, to pump out the stress, a place to run, to camp, an escape from your busy lives. To see new things, experience nature in all it’s colors and for you to realize you too are part of it. But we have a breaking point too, one which even us do not know when it’s around the corner. We explode sometimes, in a terrible and ghastly accident, we move, we bleed lava, we cry tornadoes, we detroy and we renew the process and we start all over again. We are inseprable and we will be here when you need us.

Some of us are the transports. We take you from one place to the next. We spice things up. We introduce other people to you. Some as challenges, some as lovers, some as companions for the duration of the trip, some just for that brief moments. We show you places but only briefly, because we are only meant to get you to a particular spot. Once there we bid you farewell, the rest of the journey is yours to complete. We’ve played our part. If you are ready to walk this path again, you definitely can come back.

Then there’s some of us who are there today and when you return we’ve moved on to someplace else – like art. We take ourselves wherever we are appreciated the most. We will stay as long as we feel needed or wanted, but will pack up and go when it’s time for us to.

Our lives revolve around people. How we treat them really does matter. We really are tourists in each other’s lives. Let us treat each other with love and respect, and then maybe we can collectively change the world.

WAKANDA FOREVER: CAPTURING THE GLORY OF MAMA AFRICA!

BY SPENCER NJOYA

EDITED BY KENNETH FOMUNUNG

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So we are just a few days away from one of the most anticipated movies of all time–at least for most black folks. I don’t think there’s ever been so much hype around a film in my time that resonated very deeply with the African community. Maybe not since Chaka Zulu. I was just a kid then, and yet I still remember when my dad brought home the VHS tape; it was a family screening day, and we were not disappointed. So here we are again with another banger–a black superhero. Scratch that–a family of black superheroes from an incredibly wealthy nation in Africa fighting other black superheroes or supervillains if you will. Read that again!

While most of the movie was shot abroad with an almost all-black cast, it nevertheless tells the story of a wealthy nation (as most African countries are), which managed to own and control its own resources (as most African countries should), with internal power struggles (as most countries in the world do). However, besides the exalted action, the movie has borrowed several cultural aspects from across the continent, some of which I would like to highlight. This article is an effort for non-native audiences to understand why distinct visual features in the movie are the way they are. As an aside, the fact that I am promoting the African elements herein doesn’t mean that I am against their Western counterparts. I merely feel it is imperative to understand and respect the African cultures the latter has borrowed from for generations. I also urge you to read with an open mind and refrain from judging the culture from just your cultural standpoint.

The fictional African nation of Wakanda is a country rich in resources, one in particular called vibranium, upon which its citizens built the realm itself. This notion is pure speculation as I have not seen the movie yet nor have I read the comics, but I assume this is how they leveraged this unique, scarce resource. Today, in the real Africa, some of the rarest and most precious metals lie in abundance throughout the continent, but ironically, many citizens of the nations that contain these gems are living below the poverty line. There are countless debates on how this could be improved, but I digress. The richness of the continent cannot be measured, but if you take a moment and explore or do some research, you’ll notice a few things. Your phones and laptop work efficiently because of a particular rare metal called tantalum, mined in the Congo. Moreover, bananas, timber, cocoa, coffee, and many similar raw materials and natural resources all come from this beautiful but often inaccurately depicted continent. Now, let’s dive into my cultural highlights from the sure to be blockbuster flick:

Face Paint

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Considered primitive in the Western world, for most tribes in Africa, this is an indication of beauty and also a status that conveys a strong cultural message. In some tribes, the men elegantly wear face paint to attract their female counterparts. It is slowly disappearing in the regions that are becoming more ‘modern’ but can always be spotted worn at cultural celebrations and by families or people with a distinguished lineage to protect.

Scarification–as seen on Erik Killmonger.

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Another rarely seen feature, this practice is a core part of African history and tradition. Depending on the pattern or location of the scars on the body, you could easily deduce from which tribe the bearer hails. Sometimes, the scar bearer viewed his marks as a rite of passage, and proudly so. In some West African countries, it was considered an indication of one’s life stage, such as adulthood/puberty, and marriage. You could also identify what social class a person belonged to by their scars. Sometimes, the bearer acquired these marks as a treatment to a particular type of sickness, wherein the traditional doctor or “medicine man” scarred the skin and placed the remedy just underneath the surface.

Spirituality and Ancestry.

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Ancestry is one of the most notable aspects of the many diverse cultures across Africa. Why is this spiritual? Well, because in African culture, there is ultimate respect for the people who came before you, your elders; more so, those who have passed away ahead of you. Till this day, people often speak of their grandparents and great-grandparents as though they were gods; their names are considered holy, and their descendants take much consideration before naming a child after them. People also made pacts in their names, and some people were cursed in their names as well. Their names carried power and near-deity status. In certain places, if your father placed you at the edge of a cliff and asked you to jump, the only question you could ask in response was, “How high?” While this might seem harsh, it is not; it is considered an exercise in building strength and trust in the leader preceding you, a leader you would become someday. In such a culture, you inherit what your elders created, and you build upon it, protect it, and ensure that it is respected, just like young T’Challa inheriting the kingdom from his father, T’Chaka, in Black Panther.

Spirituality and Masks–as worn by Erik Killmonger.

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Here is another rich, vibrant, and a diverse cultural feature that is also–unfortunately I might add–often associated with primitiveness. On the contrary, in Africa, it is associated with spirituality. The person who wears the mask loses their human identity and transcends into the spirit represented by that mask–commonly known as juju back in my place of birth. They become superhuman, not bound by the natural laws of the human dimension. Some of these jujus rarely surface in public view and, when they do, something remarkable is unmistakably up. You can say both the Black Panther and Erik Killmonger transcend into a different realm or higher plane of being by wearing their respective masks. They become superhuman, fittingly.

Architecture.

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While the most common representation of Africa by the Western media is one of safaris and huts in the wild, Africa possesses some of the oldest structures on earth, built long before the Colonial Era. For example, there are pyramids in Sudan we never see pictures of, Stone Town in Zimbabwe, which is now a world heritage site, the Nubian pyramids, just to name a few. Believe it or not, I could go ahead and write more, but I felt that these represent the few most famous African cultural traditions I could bring to your attention from watching the trailer. I imagine the full-length movie will reveal a host of other such intriguing cultural elements worthy of a follow-up article. At any rate, I hope you found this write-up useful and join us in celebrating this glorious work of art that is soon to unleash the glory of African lore and heritage all across the big screens nationwide and take Hollywood by storm. In conclusion, I have just one more thing to say, “WAKANDA FOREVER!

The corporate and urban hippie!

“Urban hippie” and “corporate hippie” are just some of the few tags I have been given over the last couple of years. I don’t mind them, I mind that I am reaching out to people in any way possible. People who know me now assume I just got into this way of life. I’ve been on it for half my life! I was introduced into metaphysics when I was barely a teenager to help me cope with issues I had growing up. It hasn’t been a steady course, it hasn’t been easy and I still have a long way to go. It was way difficult when I was younger as I grew up in an environment where Christianity was strongly observed and anything else was heavily frowned upon and you were subject to all sorts of misinterpretation, name calling and shunning. So it pretty much was a very very tight circle without a lot of freedom to speak or express your true thoughts on certain things. But that didn’t deter me from seeking what I consider my truth and my center. Some of my friends say I’m woke, enlightened and lucky and I just laugh. I laugh because I think of myself as a joke and the thought that I am here to save someone else just cracks me up as I haven’t even figured out a way to save myself if I needed saving from. A few sometimes reach out to say thanks and I’m glad I left a positive impact in their lives no matter how small. I don’t know it all, I don’t know much, what I do know is that the enlightened one is the person who pushes his boundaries of knowledge and always eager and willing to learn new things, ways of life and really just to listen to others to get their perspectives. That’s why I love exploring the world, I get to see the world as it really is and not as it is described. There is a huge difference. I’m working on giving back as well in any way I can, I share whatever knowledge I feel I have acquired to whoever is ready to listen and in the process I learn from them too about their mindset and why they see things the way they do not forcing anything on them. A while ago there were things I was certain I knew and oh my how that has changed, that’s the progress I’m making. I am psycho, I am calm, I am wild I am Free, I am chained, I am every emotion there is to feel and experience…

I am you, you are me, we are all in this together and non the wiser. I cannot separate myself from you just like the sun can’t separate itself from the earth and the planets around it, and the galaxies around it and everything that exists, we are the cosmos we are all from it and in it. When this is understood we will all then collectively evolve as our consciousness grows and we will genuinely feel and care for each other and heal and it doesn’t matter if you are a hippie or not it just matters that you are in touch with your consciousness.

2017 – you’ve been magical!

2017! What year you have been, I can’t even write about it constructively because the information download was just too immense and I am still struggling to process it all. It was an awesome year and one which lasted 12 months but I lived through it like it had been 5 years. It was by no means slow, it was very fast, but the amount of things I had to learn in this short time would have otherwise taken about 5 years for me to finally get them. It was another year filled with travel, a one which most of the destinations didn’t matter but the journey to them was key. Like when I was heading to the Everest base camp, reaching there became more and more unimportant as I got closer to reaching it. What was key was me enjoying every other moment on the trek there, meeting awesome people and observing everything around me and taking it all in. A year where I got to process a lot of emotions I had kept in me for so many years, a year during which I purged myself and became this version of myself. It wasn’t easy, removing certain habits or “truths” instilled by me/family/friends/environment was very difficult. I was clinging to many things thinking they were important for me and they only stalled my growth, I managed to get rid of some of them and still working on others. It’s been a year of too much information download, it scares me when I think of all of what I have learnt. A year what I learnt what it really means to be there for another person, a year where I was yet again shown unconditional love and support from the people near and far away from me. A year where my consciousness was dialled up by 10000%!! Life has not been the same since then. It changed me, in a good way. A year in which I think I finally got to understand what my purpose as a human here on earth is and how to go about it. A year where protecting my energy became a primary priority. A year where I learnt not to be a people pleaser but to focus on myself first. A year where I learnt how important it is to keep your word. A year where I learnt to see things just as the way they are and not complicate them further. A year of warmth, love and acceptance, a year of abundance. I also learnt again what gratitude is and how to practice it again, a year where my soul journeyed into other planes and showed me what passion is, what love is, what life is, what purpose is, what friendship means, what support means, what empathy means, what compassion means. A year where many existential questions were answered. A year I learnt not to resist life, to just be, to acknowledge my feelings, to really live! I get goosebumps reminiscing all of these things but I know I haven’t figured anything out yet- it was just the beginning. So thanks 2017 for the accelerated growth and all the lessons, you’ve been really good to me and I truly appreciate that. Now on to 2018 to continue the magic!
Happy new year!

Tell your Story

15542057_10157917102225052_746093461838035424_nUntil the lion learns to write, the story will always glorify the hunter -African Proverb.

This post is not an anti-anything post. It is a pro-african post. Yes, you can be pro something without being against another. That’s the misconception we have bought into so many times it’s become very easy to just feel like we are being attacked or not supported if someone is pro something we are not. I’m going to try to concentrate on what I know, based on my experiences and just try to promote my African brothers and sisters to do more for themselves.

We are in an age where everyone has access to social media, blogs and phones. Everyone can come out and tell their stories but I don’t see that happening enough from my fellow africans. Let me narrow it down even further, I don’t see that enough amongst my fellow Cameroonians. The last 2 years have been terribly bad back home, there have been strikes, uprisings, deaths and massacres due to political unrests and it has barely made it to the news. It barely had any type of international recognition and all the while it was happening, people were being told to take pictures and videos and tag the western media so that they come and report it on our behalf. Well, as you may have noticed, we were not a priority for the western media even after more than 100 people were killed and abducted and not a single finger was raised by the west. They were busy, they were covering the Catalan crisis on the same day- with not deaths. A few of my Facebook friends were obviously appalled by the situation and I asked them what they had done to draw the attention of the western media and they had no answer for me apart from anger  and disgust at the treatment. This usually boils down to us having all the resources and nothing to show for it which is also true.

There’s the other narrative of Africa being unable to support itself. We all know that is not true. There is a system which is set up and in place by the corrupt western leaders and African presidents they have propped up there to serve only themselves and not the people. This is a well known fact amongst us yet we allow it to continue happening, we grew up with it and it has become a part of us, to just watch and pray it changes without ever really taking any type of action. I am not saying we do not need help, everyone does in life, we need help to plan our cities better, to train our own engineers, to teach our kids. We need help in training ourselves to become these same people we look up to. We do not need people to come and feed us everything and not teach us how to farm. We do not need people to come and mine all the minerals and not teach us how to do so ourselves. We do not need to be left in the dark. we have sadly left ourselves in the dark and are distracted by everything else.

Wake up people! Who do you think feels better? A volunteer who spends time educating children in a village with no electricity or water or the kid who eventually has to drop out or miss out on that education because they need to support their families from a very very early age- in the form of labor? The volunteer has done their part, they have come in to teach, but the infrastructure is not in place to make this education worthwhile so it really is wasted time for the kid not the volunteer, they have done what they can and will feel good about it.

Tell your story, I am one of many who grew up shielded from a lot of the problems back home and I must say I had an amazing childhood. If there was any such thing as black privilege  then I must have had it. I wasn’t raised by my parents alone, I was raised by a community of loving humans in the form of immediate family, cousins, friends aunts and  uncles and sometimes even strangers. It was amazing, people were looking out for each other. My mom could leave me to go play more than 4km away from my home because she was sure one of the bigger boys will walk me back home. Me returning home safe was guaranteed, apart from the occasional wounds and scars from falling which even if she was there would not have been able to stop it from happening.

Now to the fellows in the diaspora. There’s the issue of foreign remittance. Yes is does help and changes lives back home but the issue with it is that it is being heavily relied upon. Take for instance the person who sends back 100$ every month back home as an allowance to a relative or a dear friend. I know people don’t starve back home for sure so I’ll go with the assumption that half of that money is not used for food (I may be wrong though). Most of that is really excess money for them to spend on clothes and shoes and other fancy stuff. Now hold on an sending that money back home and sincerely ask this person what plans they have for their own future and how you can really help. Most people really just want to start a business and support themselves and they too are tired having to rely on people abroad sending them money in small chance every month or two. Now don’t you think if you saved up that money for a year and sent it to said person as a block amount – and in so doing have helped them have enough to start a business to take care of themselves and family. The responsibility to grow this business is left with them and you are out. Make this a firm commitment to yourself and the person so they know you will not be there again to just send them money if they can’t use this one wisely. This will definitely ring a bell and if the person is any wiser they will stand up for themselves.

Narrow your beneficiaries. Yes you have to help but you can’t save everyone. What I mean by this is just as I have explained above about helping one person starting a business, is that you have to help in the right way. Now most of those abroad support more than five people with little amounts every now and then. That usually doesn’t amount to adequate support because you are stretched thin, they don’t get the right type of help. It’s like a single doctor being in a hospital full of so many ailing patients, he can only do so much to treat them and some of them will not get enough attention. Find a right number and take charge of these from start to finish. Pick that one child and sponsor them from primary school till they graduate from university for example. You would have helped educate someone and he will know the better and be a far better person for his community.

Give back to your community. You have to do this. Communities build nations. Donate your time and energy to a local project and see it through. Most of them don’t cost money, only your time is needed. There are lots of them so please pick one and pour your energy into it. Be part of something being created. Money doesn’t always fix everything. Those abroad look back to your community and see what you can start there, talk to people and see what they need to improve their lives and get involved in any way you can. You can also support anonymously if you wish, but please do something.

We are the lions and we are being hunted because we do not have control of the pen and the stories are being told and written for us. The hunters are being glorified because they have control of the pen. Now let’s rise to be the lions that we are, reach out to one another and get the type of help you seek. There are lots of people waiting to be called and contacted. If you have an idea, share it with someone and build that great community we grew up from. Stop the gossip, start the real talk! Let’s rise and tell our stories through our words and actions.