Thursday, November 24, 2005

the Wouri cinema

I will now submit to what is becoming a rite of passage for anthropologists by saying a few informal words about going to the movies in/near the field. Last night in Douala, I saw a double feature of American romantic comedies dubbed into French. The First was Sa Mere ou Moi - that one starring Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez - the second - Black/White - starred Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac. These are both films about meeting the parents-in-law for the first time and not getting along.

As I'd been taught to expect, there was much participation from the audience. People yelled out advice to characters, and reacted loud and long to outrageous and unexpected events in the films. My two companions were greatly amused by the fact that the character played by Ashton Kutcher has the same name as me. One of them - among others in attendance - took calls and had conversations on his cell phone during the films. As long as one is not in the mood for formal contemplation of "'high' art", this is a a fun way to watch movies!

The cinema is named after a major river which runs from the Atlantic ocean quite a ways Northwestish through Cameroon and possibly into Nigeria. I wish I'd consulted a map before writing this.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

equity strikes again

It's final now: Liberia's next President will be a woman. Her name's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and she's to be the fist female head of an African state (I think!).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

more consumption of stuff

No, I hadn't forgotten about my blog; there are just phases of blogworthy action. I was in the city of Bafoussam (pop. ~200,000) recently and went to a supermarket, which a Peace Corps volunteer I know calls a "white-guy store." It had a lot of props and reminders of North American and European shopping. There was imported cheese, for example. Actual cheese is not easily come by around here; all I can usually find is processed. There was also a large selection of Pringle's potato chips. In all, it was a fun, disorienting experience. And I did splurge on the chips and some decent chocolate. I also, in Bafoussam, finally found a bakery selling whole-wheat bread. I had been missing that.

Last week, I started learning a xylophone-like instrument which you find around here. The keys are very large - the biggest ones as long as my arm - but you hit them only on the edge with the mallets. My instructors were very impressed at how quickly I could assimilate the first lessons. I think the similarity to playing the drum-kit helped me. This instrument is featured in a style called ndanji. Just as the reunion I go to regularly focusses on the style mangambu, some reunions focus on ndanji and, in turn, make extra money playing at funerals.