zondag 13 september 2009

In search of Hip Hop in Cameroon: Bamenda… locked indoors, part II

I became a bit frustrated, not being able to dwell on the streets of Cameroon to find the music that makes this nation groove. After a day’s work, I sat down in the compound. The nephews and nieces where running around the yard to do the household stuff. Dishes, cooking in the fire kitchen, washing the clothes of the family. While they are ordered around with work to do for the coming hour, I’m ordered to go indoors because of the dangers of thieves, by my mother in law.

“Go indoors. Cameroon is very dangerous.”
“If you are so worried about safety, should the kids not go in?”
“No they still have to do the work. The thieves here, do kill. You have to go in.”
“They will kill me, but not harm the kids? You’re more worried about my safety than the well being of the kids. Because I’m white. Sounds like racism to me.”
“Yes, because your white…”

Around the yard

I tried to force some brains into spinning with a couple of arguments. It was a hopeless case, all was gridlocked. If thieves really want to get to me, they will succeed. No question about it. I only will put up a fight if I have a clear chance to win. I rather defend myself by anticipating any threat. Anything a thieve can get from me, he can get it without being it fatal to my livelihood. My computer is worthless if you don’t have the pass codes and do not know how to use the software. My camera is useless if you don’t know how to operate it. Trust me, without a manual, no thieve will be able to sell it off or use any of my equipment. So it isn’t profitable to steal it. Next to it, if all gets stolen, all is insured. And if it’s stolen, hopefully in will benefit a talent who lacks the means.

If you can’t get in, you can’t get out

Locking myself up behind gates and iron bars like everybody does in Cameroon. My mom in law points out that we are living in a very safe house. “Nobody can get in. Big walls with glass on top around the compound. Heavy duty iron doors with locks.” Overlooking the fact that the roof is made out of a light wooden frame with a thin roof and a ceiling of plaister. The fortification of houses frightens me. “If you can’t get in, you cant’ get out, it’s a cage,” I answer. Luckily thieves never came up with the idea how to open up these houses and force the occupiers to run out of the house looking for safety with everything any thieve wants to have on a silver platter in ten seconds flat. Good thing criminals are not the brightest minds running around. Let us not sparkle their creativity and skills to be more anticipative and tell them how to make a Molotov cocktail.

Simple by chance

To put it simple: the chance that I get killed in a traffic accident are way bigger than the chance I will get hurt by a thieve. Still anybody here moves around like there is no chance at all they become involved in a car crash. Why use a seat belt? Why temper your speed? Why can’t you drink and drive? If you see a crash coming you brace yourself, or don’t you? But what if somebody surprises me with climbing over the wall, jumping down from it, running up to me and putting a gun to my head? It will really surprise me and catch me off guard? To put some perspective to it. In the six weeks I was in Cameroon there where more shootings, and people getting killed in my own neighborhood in Amsterdam Southeast, The Netherlands, than in whole Cameroon. So where is it more dangerous? Enfin. I rest my case.

I’m bound to the house where I’m staying as a guest and should not question my parents in law’s authority. So after eight ‘o clock, lock down. In search of Hip Hop I have to look for possible sources very close to me. What’s direct next to me? Three beautiful, lively quick minded an sharp mouthed 18 year old nieces: Small-Quinta, Kadoh and Adin. I found Hip Hop in Cameroon. Now I needed to find time to have a conversation with them.

Auke VanderHoek

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