The Way you Make me Feel. It was July eleventh ninety eight five when we first met. You welcomed me into this world with love, warmth and tenderness.
Little did I know that our paths would cross numerous times over the years. We were separated much too early and much too quickly. It was only 14 months after that first encounter, and my parents whisked me away and introduced me to another. He was rough, much like a savage… He did not share the finesse you had. He was loud, and lacked the love and compassion I needed. But it did not matter; we were forced together for the next five years and he gave me a home. He gave me friends that I no longer know today, he gave me my first real education and cemented the foundation for the person I soon became… for that I am eternally grateful. In the time that I spent with him, I went from baby steps to travelling on my own – I grew. I admit, I often ran away to see you… as always you welcomed me with open arms, you made me dream of the possibilities and every time I came back to him, I wandered when we would be together again.
It was June nineteen ninety two when I laid eyes on you and was cognizant of the feelings bottled up inside. We were reunited – I will never forget that feeling, I had ran away, for good this time. There was no way I was going back to him. I snuck out of the house one summer with my aunt and never looked back. He would never see me again, and he had no idea. I was in paradise in your arms and nothing felt more natural. I was young and vulnerable, everything about you impressed me – your warmth; your tenderness and your sweet embrace.
A year later, in the summer of nineteen ninety three, my parents did not appreciate all the time we were spending together. They believed I still had a lot to learn, so, this time they introduced me to a woman – she would teach me the greater things in life.
They were prepared to let me explore the other side of things; they needed someone who would help me become a woman. I was older, still vulnerable but very curious. I remember her embrace: it was cold and sombre. We met in the middle of the night, or was it the early hours of the morning?…. dad was the one who introduced us; I was sceptical. I missed you and I wanted to come running back. But alas, this was my path now and I had to accept it. She took me in and as always gave me a home. It was weird for me, it was a whole new experience… she commuted with public transportation, she had huge big homes, and large green gardens… she spoke English and a foreign dialect; they called it Swahili – but to me it was gibberish. Her people where cold. They hardly looked at me as I walked the streets, I could not expect a simple hello. Daddy told me I would have to get used to her, he enrolled me in one of her best schools, he told me she would teach me to become a woman, he told me she would bring me utter joy – and because he was my daddy, the man that brought me into this world; I believed him. I put my fears aside and I plunged.
Eight years I gave her, eight years. I don’t regret it; she taught me the best things I know today. I was naughty, I was delinquent, I was good and at times I was just darn right insufferable. I matured here – she allowed me to develop and she pushed me to explore my potential. At times, I thought I was at my peak, the best I would ever be…she was preparing me for my big wedding, I did not know it at the time but they would send me millions of kilometres away to wed. In those eight years I saw you FOUR times, I could never seem to forget you. Every so now and then (every two years to be exact) I took time off to re-fuel… I came running to you, expecting you to understand why i was there.
The wedding was a year from now; far far away. My Parents knew I wouldn’t be coming back soon and allowed us to spend three glorious months together – there was never anyone like your first love. I discovered your inner core. I was here and we would make the most of it. We discovered the lands, and travelled the waters. We climbed mountains and sailed rivers. We were in unison. We learnt the languages, I perfected my French and we become one with the locals. Paradise I tell you. I was a young woman; you knew this because you offered me your best. I was ready for all and any challenges; if only I could stay with you, if only.
But as faith would have it. There was someone else waiting for me; the man who would severe the umbilical cord. We married in 2002. This is the man who would make me suffer like most adults do, who would teach me the true meaning of life. My big wedding was synonymous with “get out, be brave and conquer the world”. I met my best friends here but I never forgot you.
It took me six years before I saw you again. I often thought about you. Today, I am here; but nothing is the same. We have grown apart – our relationship has deteriorated and am still trying to figure out why, I stayed honest to our love. You have changed, I have changed. But in spite of all your faults and weaknesses I still want you. You are my one true love; and no amount of time will change that. I am leaving you again; my divorce is not yet finalized. But, as soon as that part of my life is over – I will come running back, we will start again.
But know this, It often felt like I was cheating on you because I enjoyed the company of others; but my heart was always home. You have to understand, my life was not my own to live (for the first eighteen years) – they had already chosen a path for me, but now that I know the world, I know what I want…. Until we meet again; I remain rightfully yours.
Nota Bene: This is my Ode to Cameroon. My first love. The first man I met was Nigeria, the woman who made me mature was Kenya and the man I married was Canada. My love for Cameroun, my nation, and my hope that we can one day become a great nation is like a romantic dream. I believe in better social security, a more active citizenship and a responsible government. Just like that romantic dream, my dream for Cameroun has become illusive and sometimes feels unattainable. But don’t get me wrong, just like a hopeless romantic, I still dream and hope. Because hope is the most powerful tool for change!