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The queue was filled with different calibres of people. The old and wrinkled, the middle aged, pregnant women, young girls, young boys and children all basked involuntarily under the hot sun. Everyone waited for a chance to get into the American Embassy and the scorching heat from the sun was not going to stop us.

The security guard kept making sure the long queue was respected just like a nursery teacher arranges her pupils for morning assembly. Nearby on that quiet street in Cameroon’s capital city, Yaounde lay a baronial building which served as home to another country’s embassy. Not a single soul was seen on the premises. The only motion sighted there was that of the country’s flag swaying in different directions as the wind beat it.
Yet the American embassy was flooded with souls, most of which had arrived earlier than their stipulated appointment time. The “African time” mantra lost it’s potency in the face of immigration appointments. On this day, we were not just on time, we were before time.
Finally, the security guards started shoveling us in for check-in. It was there that I got the visas for my family and I to journey into this much-storied country. We landed here in the month of October two years ago. It has been quite a journey and here are some things about this country fascinate me.
1. When something is sweet it is really SWEET. The first sweet snacks we bought at the airport upon arrival branded America as the “land of sugar”. I felt the sugar beating my teeth, penetrating my gums and causing instant cavities. I wonder how other human beings eat so much sugar at once and do not cringe. I think they basically cook sugar and add other ingredients. High-fructose corn syrup is added to a lot of things. I have learnt to check labels to make sure the ‘devil’ is absent before purchasing products. Sugar is added to the strangest of things. Imagine sugar in baked beans or lunch meat. Americans are like:

2. I have seen jaw-dropping kinds of fat people. Blame it on the sugar as noted above. Back in Cameroon, I only knew one exceptionally fat person who happens to be my aunt. She often wears Kabbas (large gowns) to cover the multitude of sin. In America, there is one too many of such people. And nope, they don’t hide the layers of fat under big gowns (kabba). They rock jeans, t-shirts, stylish tops and wait for this… even hot pants! In the summer, you will find hotties on the big large side with hot  cold pants. Some bellies are so sagging and layered that I wonder how the carriers survive. When we just got here I used to stare in shock at the ‘brands’ of fat people I see parading hallways. They seem to be so enthusiastic about the sweets:

3. People are unbelievably polite. Even the immigration officers at the airport. I heard an officer tell a traveler , “You may want to go back and put that in your luggage” referring to an unapproved hand luggage item he was carrying. She spoke as though it were a suggestion meanwhile she was not going to let him go through check-up if he failed to do that. I experience people holding the door open for me as I get into buildings regularly.

4. Then there is the signature plastic American smile. When I get into public places, the people I go to see always light up smiles. Some come on and quickly go off like a flash light. There are smiles everywhere; some plastic, others organic but they are always there. 

5. I discovered that ‘work’ to Africans here is almost synonymous to working in houses called “group homes” or “nursing homes” where they care for mentally ill and autistic or old people. Most of the Africans I’ve met here do this kind of job. I have heard stories of how they clean the poo and pee of people in the houses they live in. Some left flourishing careers back home only to end up in one of such houses. These homes are like hospitals without doctors. See what they have to deal with:

6. Americans don’t keep secrets. I get into a bank to open an account and the banker tells me about her pregnancy which is not even showing yet. By the time our transaction is over, I know her due date, I know that she has a son and I know that her mother will babysit for  her while she works. Most people here seem to have no problem with disseminating detailed information about their lives to complete strangers.

7. All babies are so cute and so adorable and random people will keep telling you that. I can not count the number of compliments I have received about my girls. When I had my third baby and went for Postpartum check-up, the nurses almost while cried saying, “she is so cute”. They kept ‘awwing’ and ‘ohhing’ as though they had never seen a baby. Meanwhile, they see lots of babies all the time. If I had to be paid for each compliment I have received about my girls, I will be so rich right now.

8. Calling 911 brings a very fast response. I wonder if the police already know you will get into trouble and are ready to help you at that particular time. My young nephew got off his school bus and went to another apartment instead of going home. After searching to no avail, my brother-in-law called 911 to inform the police. In about 5 minutes the police invaded the building to search for him. My mbanya (sister-in-law) had a fast labour at home and called 911. In 5 minutes a team with paramedics, fire fighters and police men stormed her house. In 15 minutes she gave birth at home with all the medical help she needed present.
There are so many fascinating things about this country and I will share more in the days ahead. If you left Africa for the United States, please share the things that fascinate you about America below.
I love you and you and yes, even you too. Have an awesome weekend!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.

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  1. Hahaha there is really so much to write about on this topic. I know a few grandmothers here who are doing their undergraduate studies. There are so many opportunities for those who are searching.
    Yes, when you work hard here, you make it. You need to sow hard work in order to reap good results. The lecturers also evaluate you based on what they teach. In Cameroon sometimes a lecturer teaches X and asks you about Y during exams.
    Looks like Akatas are not as ambitious as us. I can't equally live in their neighbourhood even if I'm given a million dollar home there. The crime rate there is alarming.
    Here, having car is a necessity oo. It's not a luxury at all. When I came here, I was amazed at how almost every Tom, Dick and Harry had something on wheels. Now I know we all need those cars. No okada. lol
    That one for animals eh. My neighbour 'adopted' two cats. They don't say bought. They say 'adopted'. Here animals are well treated and yes, even more than some humans. Could this be misdirected charity? Hmmm

  2. Interesting post Precious! I just bumped into this. Here is my own two cent; On the "group home" and "Nursing home" job thing for Africans, i don't personally have problems with African's starting their "American dreams" this way, especially when they are in school and hoping for something better. On the other token i become a little bit apprehensive when folks play the complacent game and stay on this path forever…
    This country (USA) was not originally designed for Immigrants, but immigrants from all over the world have made this nation great. Once you're here you must search and discover what works and what don't. The realities in Africa and here are completely uneven. Trying to integrate and fit into the US domain can really be challenging. Alluding to your point again, I have met folks who are well educated, had very good jobs back home, who immigrated here for whatever reason with high expectations, but before you know it the system quickly humbled them.
    I can spend time unearthing some more specifics of these challenges faced by us all who come in here from the other side of the Atlantic, but i choose not to on this blog.
    We should all work very hard like the others have rightly mentioned. Failure should not be an option. Let us continue to teach our kids Godly values. We should concentrate on the good. There are a lot of African success stories out there!
    Keep up! the good writing.


  3. Amen! Failure should not be an option. My mother often says, "A lizard in Africa will not become an alligator in America. " This is so true. Success doesn't come by simply being on American soil. It comes by working hard and smart. I believe when most of us concentrate on finding our purpose on earth and accomplishing it, we won't crowd the "group/nursing homes" for a very long time. We will leave that for those who are cut out for that.
    Thanks for your intelligent viewpoint, Josh!

  4. Nice. Probably an old post but I’m only seeing it now. I like your post, not too many things to talk about (though I am sure there are more), not too great detail, just enough spice too keep you going to the next and leave you feeling just full (not bored) when you are done.
    You are a good writer- not that I am an expert on these things, I just like reading your stuff and not much else.

    1. Timmy, you are too sweet. I’m glad you love the way I write. Thanks so much for the encouragement! God bless.