My Douala Diary: Day 1

The idea that I am here is still wild to me. Africa?!Although, I know it’s very real, the birth place of civilization, my ancestral homeland. For many of us, there was always this “fairy tale” feeling. Wakanda is real. The fact that I am here to train young civic leaders is even more unreal. The opportunity to engage and empower young people across the globe is nothing short of a blessing.

“You can change the world!” How could I not believe that now?

Never saw this in my 5 year plan. That’s why I threw that logic out of the window years ago & just followed God’s plan. At least, I try. I detour from time to time. It’s natural. Once step at a time kid.

This morning I woke up late. Long day of travel wiped me out. Still recovering as I write this. The sun was shining. Motorcycles and cars fly up down the Main Street. Drums & singing drown out the traffic. It’s Sunday. Church is in full swing. Apparently, there is a Church right next to my hotel. I text my wife. Send her some pictures of the view. Then try to get going. Finally make it out of my room & downstairs for lunch. Totally missed breakfast. Eh’ they say breakfast is overrated anyway. Lunch was good, fish & chips and a community beer. I sat on the patio, soaking up the sun & still listening to the church service that went on for hours. Sort of reminds me of home & the days of those long Sunday services. I couldn’t understand it because it was mostly in French but I got the idea. A church boy knows what’s happening even if it’s in a different language. We have more in common than we allow ourselves to think.

After lunch, I made it back upstairs to take a nap. It’s Sunday. Rest. Finally, my guide came to pick me up and show me around Douala. We didn’t see much because everything was closed. However, I did make it the Supermarket to pick up a couple of things. A beautiful place. It was surrounded by a Hugo Boss, a Tech store, a restaurant & some other boutiques. I ran into the lady who sat next to me on the flight from Paris. That was cool. We talked for a minute. One of those moments where my son would say, “You know everybody.” Wish he was here to say just that. He would love Douala.

On the ride home, I just observed everything. No traffic lights, no signs, nothing. The streets filled with people driving cars, riding motorcycles, running, walking… somehow in all of that chaos, there is a system. Haven’t quite figured that out yet but let’s just say you won’t see me driving in Douala. Everyone is selling something. Everyone is ultra busy. Even the kids. From fresh nuts in old beer bottles, to bottled water, to fruit, to other roadside cuisine, things were being sold. I’m still interested in finding out how much the kid wanted to sell his puppy to me for.

Fast forward.

Made it back to the hotel for dinner. Back on the patio. It’s raining, somewhat of a nice breeze every now and again to break up the humidity. Talking to some of the doormen. I understand their English. But they found it difficult to understand mine. We still managed to have great conversation about Africa/America. Of course, New York was a topic. We talked about the idea of making the distance between America & Africa a little shorter. This should not be a once in a lifetime trip. Coming to Africa should not just be a fantasy. CyHi The Prince’s “New Africa” comes to mind. We need each other. Small to some, but the idea of seeing young black faces on currency is everything. I didn’t even want to spend it. I just wanted to look at it. I am a young black kid from New Jersey. That’s not our reality. The closest thing we’ve seen is when Mr. McDowell gave Lisa the bill with Prince Akeem’s face on it. How empowering. I plan to use that in my first class on Tuesday.

Sort of rambling now. Soccer is on. Soccer is on every channel. Did I mention soccer is on? I mean football. It’s life here. I’m winding down for the evening. Getting ready to for whatever tomorrow brings. It felt good to get this out. Can’t wait to share more.

Feel free to follow my IG: @keith_jonesii for more pictures.

Good night.