Find out in this post how the Sweet Long vacations in the villages used to be in Cameroon, particularly my village, Babubock. I know there are similar experiences elsewhere. Feel free to share yours in the comments section.
June, July and August used to be some of the most interesting months in my village, Babubock just like the Christmas break. Almost everything sweet and bitter used to happen during these three months. This is because it was time for a long vacation and every student and apprentice from my village came home for the holidays.
Babubock is a small village in Nguti Sub Division, South West Region of Cameroon. It is few kilometres from Bangem, chief town of Kupe Muanenguba Division. Inhabitants from Babubock speak “Akosse“, language of the Bakossi people. You can read more about the Babubock people here.
I loved this vacation a lot. It was time to meet family, friends and reconnect with whatever and whoever you left when you were leaving for school. It used to be very busy. Before leaving our areas of school for the village, we made sure we armed ourselves for the tasks we had ahead. We bought our rubber shoes, “Nchang“, socks, warm clothes and some few household needs for our mothers. It was time to showcase the goodwill in us. We made sure everyone in the house had at least a sweet from the homecoming holidaymakers.
Activities during the Sweet Long vacations in the villages
Head loads for money -” Ebambe“
It was always time to work for money. We used the 3rd term holidays to prepare for our back to school. That is why you will see young people carrying almost 2 to 3 tins of dried cocoa over a distance of 2 hours. We used to call it “Ebambe“. The hustle was real. After cocoa buyers had bought their produce, young people made money out of the poor roads by carrying the cocoa on their heads for an agreed price. It was Babubock to Eyandong or Elah, depending on where the buyer’s warehouse was. The more you carry, the more money you make.
Upon their return to the village, they carried goods bought by traders and small business owners for sale in our village. So, it was a two-way porter business. After the carrying, come and see eating; fufu and soup, plantain and vegetables, rice and stew. It used to be fun because the carriers were many, the road was busy with fun time.
” Broking Cocoa“
We also went for ” Broking cocoa“, a hustling exercise that continues till today. We formed small groups and took contracts from farmers to break and transfer their cocoa to where they had to dry it. It was fun here too. Lots of stories we talked about. We ate food from the host, particularly jollof rice or rice and stew with dry fish (“Mololo”), plantain and ndolle or fufu and soup. These always appeared on the menu. Then, we drank the juice from the cocoa, sachet drinks, “Afofo“, palm wine and beer. After the cocoa gets dry, the farmer pays, we shared and move to the next. We understood that nothing in life comes easy.
We had to work for whatever we wanted. That was why we helped our parents on the farm in order to have money for back to school.
Small marriages (Dating)
Boyfriend and girlfriend issues didn’t let us rest too. There were small marriages everywhere. In fact, third term holidays was renewal of marital contracts for some people. People met their old loves and some started new relationships.
See eeehh, the village is one of the places your child will go astray if not carefully handled. All sorts of things happen in the village. Small boys and girls as young as 12 years had girlfriends and boyfriends with whom they paraded the whole village and brought to their parents. Their meeting points were dark corners, parents’ homes and bushes.
The results were revealed a few months after; pregnancies and eventual end of school for the girls, mostly. The funniest thing was that some parents encouraged these relationships in the name of love and wanting grandchildren. They will do the exchange visit thing and keep fanning the relationships. This has contributed to the frustration of many girls in my village.
Another activity was the football competitions. It was either someone was getting a trophy or inter-village and quarter matches took place. This was mostly for the male category.
Oh! I remember how the girls used to sing for their teams besides the field while the boys exercised their talents. It was always dancing time during halftime. The girls came out to show what they got as they danced at their own corner with every spectator staring at them. Parents and coaches used to pace up and down and round the field, cheering their children and teams as if they will be paid for a job well done. Small boys used to run to the streams to fetch water for the players while the whole village came out to witness them exchange shots.
Sundays and Market days were always extra. Everyone was waiting for them to reach. It was time for young girls to boil their eggs, make ” chin-chin“, fry groundnuts, “puff-puff” etc, and sell at the school compound where the matches took place. Petit traders brought their goods; sweets, chewing gum, biscuits etc, to sell at the field.
Everyone wanted to show their talent during this period. Even the traditional doctors had roles to play. It was either they were standing behind the opponent’s pole or somewhere around the field, disguised as if nothing was happening. It mostly used to happen after the players had spent nights at his place or he had given them some “njansang” to rub. But eerrr, did these things work for real?
The thing is, matches always resulted in fights because some teams always felt cheated. This was the climax of the game as the girls sang insulting lyrics to mock the losing teams. After the games were parties, another avenue for boys and girls to meet and make more babies.
Selling of farm product
Also, we didn’t leave out harvesting some of our natural fruits to sell for money. Bangem was our own farm market. We harvested plums, pears, monkey kolas, picked the bush mango, cashew nuts, bitter kola and trekked long distances to sell in Bangem. The traders left other areas like Ntale, Bangem, Melong, Ndibsi, Kumba, Konye, Wone to come and buy from us during our market days. This was when the roads were motorable. I remember we woke at 4 AM, took our torches and visited our case, njansang and bush mango trees to get some for sale. The competition on who will be first under the tree was stiff. If you weren’t an early riser, you would meet the trees empty.
Imagine after carrying these head loads to the market we still sold the goods cheaply and had to trek back home. No doubt village children are too strong.
And when it was time for back-to-school, as usual, some went back satisfied and others not while others remained back home because of certain decision; pregnancies signs of pregnancies, change of plans, insufficient money etc.
Why the Sweet Long vacations in the villages have gone sour
The current Anglophone crisis have spoiled so many things for us. The villages are the unsafest places in Cameroon now. Either they were burnt down or the inhabitants are being haunted by separatists fighters of the militia. So many people have fled their homes and others have died. That is the life of an African village boy or girl now. So, who is there to make all these happen again?
For fear of witchcraft, bullets, work without good pay, youths are afraid to go home as before. Witchcraft is not something new to us Africans neither are bullets. It takes just a second for someone who hates you to pull the trigger or send the midnight messenger towards you. Cocoa buyers no longer pay as before because the economy is hard. So, it’s better we remain in the cities and make the money than come home for a lesser gain.
knowing where you come from contributes to your destination.
Know where you come from and act accordingly. Most of us from the villages come from very poor homes where we barely make ends meet. We rely so much on cocoa for schooling, feeding, clothing etc. Holidays is not time to make numerous boyfriends or the show business but to help our parents with the farm work they have been doing around the year. If we add our hands to theirs, the products are going to be much and more money comes in.
Dear brothers and sisters, please make friends and create good relationships with those you meet in towns. They can help in a way to make your career grow. If we rely only on those we know from the village, we may not get to where we are heading to.
No pain, no gain
Hard work pays. There were some of these poor kids who lived like rich kids while in school. Why? They used their vacation to do the necessary stuff that will give them money for schooling. We are hard- “Kwakoro” because our parents taught us nothing in life comes easy and if we had to get anything in life, we needed to work for it. That is the mindset most of village brothers and sisters have.
Until you taste bitterness, you won’t know sugar is sweet.
We didn’t know the difference between peace and war until the crisis broke out. We used to enjoy peace and sweet life before now in the villages and didn’t know what war looked like. I had always wished to witness life in a war zone when I was a kid. But since the crisis began, my mindset has changed and it is not something I will ever want to see in life. So, let’s make use of whatever is at our disposal at the moment because you never know what tomorrow may bring forth.
Dear village readers, the village girl has said what she remembers of how the Sweet Long vacation in the villages used to look like, can you add some village stuff at the comments’ section?
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