I spent most of May and June in West Africa with an extraordinary group of study abroad students on a five week journey through Cameroon and Ethiopia led by my friend, colleague, and Cameroon native S. Ekema Agbaw. Leaving my family, my home, and a host of research and teaching obligations for five weeks was painful. Returning exposed me to unanticipated grief (departing from a landscape I love, leaving behind children who remain in orphanages where conditions are far worse than questionable, setting aside an inchoate study which requires additional field research…).
It’s taken weeks to recover from the gastrointestinal challenge of Cameroon, and I’m still behind on reading, writing, teaching, administrative stuff (not to mention mundane house chores). Some of the more intensely emotional facets of the journey – witnessing extreme poverty, illness, lack of hygiene, absence of running water, hunger, violence, discrimination – will long remain with me, as will our encounter with the Baka (‘pygmy’) tribe living in the forest along the Lobe River.
(in progress…. and really difficult to finish, but more to come as I find time to sift through and assimilate my photos and journal entries)