How to Survive in Cameroon in 2018: A 22 year-old’s Guide

June 28, 2018 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

Nicky Rakoto photo



Awanto Margaret



First, let your eyes dance on the sentence and linger on the word ‘survive’. Let the words rise like the sun and settle like dust on your mind. Then, make a mental note to self: This is not about making it big or becoming famous, it is not even about living. This is about keeping your head above water and gasping for breath and shivering from the cold, yet, remaining grateful for life. This is about surviving.


Now, gently close your eyes and relax your shoulders and arms. Take three deep breaths. You can now open your eyes and pour yourself a cup of tea from the thermos. You are going to need it, trust me.


Let’s roll.





You are twenty-two, so you should be rounding off a master’s program or hold a bachelor’s degree or at least be enrolled in uni. Else, you should be learning a trade: hairdressing, carpentry, plumbing, sewing, etc. If neither, you should have a job in an institution, run a business, or be an entrepreneur.





If you are a student in uni, you should study hard to ace all your courses and have a GPA of four so you can apply for that international scholarship. Else, just get by and graduate with a second-class lower or third-class because who cares? It doesn’t really matter. You should be finding ways to fall bush because le pays va Mal. The options should be America, Germany, Canada, China or South Korea. Do not think about Arab countries. Do. Not. Remember that all these are just options, America should be the goal. Keep your eyes on it and do not flinch. Envision yourself taking photos with white folks in winter jackets and leather boots as a backdrop, share it on Instagram with the caption ‘living the dream.’ This should get you sufficient social validation.


If your parents protest to the idea saying something about others who have gone abroad and come back with nothing, act out. Begin keeping company with neighborhood rascals. This should scare them enough and get them to concede to your plans. By all means, see to it that you get a visa, the goal is to travel to a non-shithole-country, to Trumpland.





Call yourself a budding entrepreneur and start a venture though you are legit clueless on business rudiments. Invest money, make wrong moves, fail. Resort to writing business plans and pitching ideas. Seek sponsors, when you become desperate, beg for it, plead for it! When you do not get a favourable response, log into Facebook and make a long post on how ‘big people’ do not support your hussle. At best, start a Facebook page and post quotidian unsolicited advice on it: call it A or B motivates, that should keep you busy and broke for a while. Else remain in a mediocre paying job where you work from 8-6 for a 60k pay. Sign a contract as a graphic designer and end up being a graphic designer-secretary-accountant-editor.


Feel frustrated, complain about how the job is draining you and how your job description is not respected, yet stay. Stay because a thousand other youths are jobless and would gladly have your job, stay because it’s better than nothing, stay because ‘man go do how nor’. Volunteer, work with civil societies and carry out campaigns hoping to build a six-pack CV and land that dream job. Stick around for a few months, get no motivation, quit and harbour resentment. Do a business, design cloths or open a mobile money kiosk, sell tomatoes, roasted fish, anything sellable. Use social media marketing to get visibility.


Take shots of a nice ankara shirt you designed and post with caption: yoyo’s designs, bringing you the best of African styles. Limited stocks, order now and get yours delivered right to your doorstep. Price:8k. Watch your likes hit 1k and comments trickle in like refugees on the US-Mexican borders. There are four types of commenters; the serial ‘wowers’, those who read the price boldly written above and still ‘ask how much?’, those who come and type ‘am interested, here is my number’ as if you are to contact them, and those who slide into DM and ask for discount or outrightly ask you to borrow them a piece. Be sandwiched between getting mad and calling out their daftness, or letting it slide. Expect to make some healthy sales by weekend, but nothing extraordinary, people are just serial likers.





Get yourself a good Apple laptop. No, uhm Lenovo will do. Yeah. So yet yourself a brand new Lenovo laptop and a modem or live box. Live box is preferable. Start marketing inexistent poppies to Europeans. Sell Chihuahuas, plantations, and more. Tell the white you run an orphanage or some cooked-up lie and have him transfer you money. When the klerant pays, take your friend or girlfriend along to cash the money. If you are in Douala, stop by Kwassa-Kwassa, if you are in Buea; Las Vegas, if you are in Bamenda; Njeiforbi. Lavish money on beer and suya and pork. Then there’s always shisha to pump some nicotine-free smoke into your lungs. Faroté the DJ until every music he plays is requested by you and every now and then, he stops the music to shout your name into the mic.





If are a lady, get yourself a boyfriend. He should be six or eight years older than you. Yeah, eight is better. If you are a slay queen or an all-out fashion type of girl, he should be full of swag, wear destroyed jeans slimmed a little too tight for him, and smile in the Tzy Panchack way. Or be able to compensate for his ‘swaglessness’ with money. If you are the I-want-a-decent-man-regardless-of-finances-or-looks kind of girl, he should be caring; the kind that kisses your forehead before leaving for work, helps you into your shoes and cooks you dinner. He should love you with untamed passion and treat you like Harry does Meghan.


Be a dedicated girlfriend but keep your eyes on other suitors. Remember you must make hay while the sun of your youth and beauty shines. When things get rough, end it. You are too young to manage in relationships, there is plenty of fish in the sea.





If you are male, do not bother yourself. Your dating now is just for fun. You are twenty-two remember! Your wife or potential wife is still in form five or lowersixth, probably fifteen going sixteen. Her chest is still learning to hold steady the breast that hangs from it and the leering eyes of lecherous men watch her, ready to pounce on her like a lion. Date for fun, to learn things and not for I-want-a-future-with-you kind of reason. Remember, a man is never too old to marry.





If you are an anglophone, learn to speak French, it is the ruling language of the country. Else, watch you’re being addressed as ‘pauvre ou bette Anglo’ in Kamagola. Carry your ID card everywhere you go, if you get into a rut with the police, keep your eyes to the ground and offer a 2000f note to the officer, then apologize and don’t forget to address him as Chef. Try revoking your Anglophone indigenous names like Enow, Kongyuy or Nwufor, for Atangana, Ondoua, Onana. When you get to an office with poorly translated English words, reign in the urge to mutter something in that regard. Smile, speak when spoken too, yet, watch the administrator’s impatience grow as he has to deal with this Anglo before him.





If you are francophone. Your language is the ruling language, you do not have much to worry about. But if you are Bamileke, you have plenty to worry about. You are not considered ‘pure’ Francophones. At best, you are second-class Francophones. You are nicknamed les envahisseurs. Your obsession for businesses and trading is not reflective of a kingly people.





If the above options do not work for you, write a concour. Wheedle your parents into selling a piece of land to bribe your entry into ENS, ENAM, EMIA, INJS, or IRIC. If you get to work in big offices for the government, become a yes man. Your role model in this field is Philemon Yang, look up to him. If the people rise and complain about a certain injustice perpetuated against them, become Atanga Nji and deny all accusations. Be ready to side with the government like Issa Tchiroma, this is how to keep your job.





Live your youth. Do what pleases you. Party, read, start a business, elope with a lover, leave home, dress as you please. You are only 22, try not to worry about your future. Do not work yourself up. Avoid running your mouth carelessly on political issues, lest you become another Mancho Bixixy. Keep a clear head, work on your goals, emerge and evolve daily, 2035 is not guaranteed.





Awanto Margaret

Awanto Margaret is a Cameroonian. She holds a BA in History and loves to write and read. She has been published in, or has forthcoming stories with Tushstories and The Kalahari Review. Find her on Twitter as @Margaret_awanto

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