Rhyme Time

Walk down any Anglophone town’s road, in sight of the local pikin dem, and you will hear it. I should know, I’ve been on the receiving end of it twice in 24 hours:

Whiteman, Whiteman
With the long nose
Never since my mami born me
Have I ever seen a man
With such a long nose

Firstly, you should be aware that it doesn’t much matter what your nose looks like, so long as you are white and in possession of one. I, myself, am not exactly nasally inclined. In fact, should you graph the proportions of the world population’s sniffers, I’m not sure I’d break out of the bell-curve. But it is no matter; my tiny ski-slope of a nose doesn’t deter the chanting of children. Despite my decidedly porcine snub, they continue to sing as though my schnoz reached far ahead of me, greeting others before I had a chance to.

You may have also noticed above that the song in no way, shape, or form rhymes. This is non-issue here, as I’m currently unaware of a song produced in Cameroon that does rhyme. I’m unsure if it’s something they skipped in school, or what. Perhaps the page was torn out in every English book Cameroon possesses, because rhyming is mysterious and unsure territory with every local I’ve tested. During a round of King’s Cup played with a mixed group of Host Country Nationals and Volunteers, the card indicating ‘rhyme time’ was chosen. Normally the person drawing the card picks a word (provided it isn’t orange) and the group continues around the circle, each person offering a word that rhymes in turn. Repeat a word or act too slowly and you drink. No mattered what we presented as a starting word, be it cat, dog, bed, or any other basic, minute word, drinks were hoisted all around as Cameroonian after Cameroonian gave up, unable to think of a word that rhymed. We tired after a while of explaining the concept, and switched games.

But that doesn’t mean their songs aren’t full of life and passion, displaying of the twists and turns life may throw at us. In fact, just take this ditty gifted to Postmate Kate and I from our Community Health Group in last year’s class. It’s a little tune warning against HIV/AIDS:

One day as I was walking,
I met a handsome man,
I did not know who this man was
I just went in for love making
A minute of sexual pleasure
A minute of sexual pleasure
A minute of sexual pleasure
Caused my life to end.

Poignant, no?


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