Cameroon / Life / Peace Corps

I Know What I See

“Some things you will never fully understand. You can only attempt to understand.”

I have been drinking more palm wine in the last few weeks. I like that it is naturally tapped from trees, and therefore has no carbonation and chemicals like beer does. I like to go to my friend Unity’s bar with Ernest. We sit on the wooden benches and relax over a couple cups that cost no more than a few cents (I believe 1 liter= 100 CFA). We talk about everything and nothing. But a particular day came with surprise that sparked an entirely different kind of conversation.

Ernest stepped out and I was talking to an Anglophone man that was also sitting there with us. He began to tell Unity where to put a stick that she had in her hand. She moved it around on the dirt floor until he decided the spot was just rite. She jabbed the stick there, before closing the door. I was about to yell at him for being so bossy to her, but then he started digging in this spot she had put the stick, and I realized that I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t do anything but watch. He dug for a while, then uncovered a chicken head in this exact spot. He then told Unity to get some red oil, which he poured over and did a little chant-like prayer, before spitting on the head and covering it back up with dirt. Ernest returned in the middle of this, and I immediately started asking questions. What just happened? He told me that Unity had some people on her side of the family, who were not happy with her and wanted to harm her health, and through the ways of black magic, cast some sort of spell that landed a chicken head there spiritually. You should also know, also, that Cameroonians usually eat chicken heads, so it wouldn’t make sense that it just ended up there. I then asked Ernest how did he know that was buried there? He explained that he himself had felt that something was wrong within the bar. Fewer people started coming in to drink her good quality palm wine, to the point that she was even closing early, around 8 P.M. instead of midnight or 1:00 A.M like when she had been closing before. Ernest knew that Unity had family members that were not supportive of her, and this led him to feel that something was wrong, so he called this Anglophone man to do something about it, otherwise known as a traditional healer.

I can’t tell you much else than this. I only know what I saw, and I think what I witnessed was something that is real, but yet beyond me. I am still quite shocked. What really gets me is that they did not know I would be coming there, so it’s not as if they would have rigged this- and why would they? Ernest is my best friend here; he is always honest with me. Maybe the traditional healer was right to say that I would never really be able to understand it!

About Tara

Tara received her degree in French and Communications before jetting off to serve Cameroon for 2 years with the Peace Corps. She has forever since been inspired to serve in humanitarian projects around the world. She's a writer, tour guide, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and traveler. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas, where she's happily married to the tech genius who keeps her website pretty.