Poor but Sexy.
Berlin is the city where I met the most incredible people. The weirdest too.
I’ve met people who don’t care about what society think of them or expect them to be.
A lot of people come and go every year as it seems that the city is like a crossroad where the lost souls land. And the city gives you the space and possibilities to find out what you want, and who you are before you leave to somewhere else.
You can be a punk for a day and listen to classical music the next day and then, go to a Hard-Rock concert for the first time.
You can live in a bubble if you want to. Like a lot of French people here, live in the French community, only stay between French people, only speak French, eat French, party French.
Or you can meet people from other communities, improve your English, and German, learn Spanish, and a bit of Greek or Polish.
No commitment needed. Just pick whatever makes you happy or curious on the moment. You can go to an art exhibition, even if you don’t know anything about art.
You can also party nights and days and get a little bit more lost.
Or you can like me do a little of everything. And chose to become a blogger and write about every little amazing things of your life.
Here, you can meet big companies CEO and anarchists.
I partied with people of every age. Which made me rethink my definition of growing old. This notion doesn’t really exist in Berlin. I’ve befriended people of different social categories, backgrounds or origins.
Everyone talks about their home country, and, for the luckiest who are able to go back several times a year, they always bring something from there. That’s how I tasted specialties from all over Europe.
The city organizes once a year a big event where almost every community is represented (well except the west Indies…) to celebrate diversity, music, food from everywhere : the Karneval der Kultur. But in summer you can find a lot of small festivals, usually for a week end highlighting one specific country.
Berlin makes you think that everything is possible and meeting so many people from everywhere with so different life journeys make you want to do something special with your life too.
So, I danced,
And so I laughed
And so I loved.
The first year in the city have also been a dive in francophone Africa for me. After I met Brinda, she introduced me to the Cameroonian community of Berlin.
Most Cameroonian I’ve met in Berlin came here to study, they grew up in Cameroon, left their birth country generally a year after high school diploma, the time for them to learn basic German and to apply for the visa to Germany.
When they arrive in Europa they have to pass a German proficiency test which they usually prepare in one year. And after finally, they can start study in the universities or superior schools.
So while I was already working for some years, my Cameroonian friends were mostly students. Usually juggling with one or two student job to support themselves and fighting to follow their classes in a language completely different from their native language.
Many of them told me that their family had to fight to send them to Europa. The visa, German lessons, flight ticket … are very expensive. So failure is often not an option. And many of them chose to study fields that they know will make their family proud or will be useful for the day they eventually return home for good like medicine, science, or economics.
Fortunately, there is a big solidarity in the Cameroonian community. In every city of Germany or of Europe they go, they always have a cousin, or an auntie or an uncle to host them and to help them the first few months after their arrival or in case of difficulties.
I learned to recognize their accent or expressions mixing French and Cameroonian language, their culture, their history.
Moreover I developed great admiration for their courage as I could see that beeing an immigrant in Europe is not easy, and they adopted me into their community as the black “mekat”.
As every person coming from elsewhere, they talked a lot about going home. Describing Yaounde or Douala, their different ethnics. Evoking the memories, the food, the music.
I will always think about this year as a big, beautiful party. They make me rediscover and love African music. Afrobeats, Azonto, Bicutsis, Afrohouse… I love dancing and Berlin definitely offered me the opportunities to do so.
This city is unavoidable on the electronic music scene, but offers a lot of other choices including Afrobeat, Hip-Hop and Dancehall parties.
As we were having another conversation about Cameroon, I told them that I wanted to come with them the next time they would go.
They didn’t really believe me because people always say things like that, without doing them.
And I had to admit that it was true. I said the same thing to my Senegalese friend in Paris when she talked to me about Dakar. And she has been there twice since, and I never did.
I said that also to my Nepalese friend in Munich. And I never did and we lost contact.
How many times have you told yourself «I will do this one day » And let life, work… get in the way? You always put what you want to do behind until your « I will » becomes «I wish I did ».
But, this time it was different. I wanted to go to Africa for some year now, and I had the perfect occasion to do so with friends I love and who grew up there. I just had to buy my plane ticket, housing and food wouldn’t be a problem. They invited me into their family so I could really immerse in the local way of life, but in a safe, protected environment.
I strongly advise you to listen when friends tell you about their birth countries. And if it makes you feel like you really want to go, tell them. They are usually so happy that you actually are interested in discovering their country that they make perfect guides. They gladly offer tips, connections or like me, invite you into their family.
3 months later my friends informed me that they wanted to go to Cameroon at the beginning of 2015. The same night the dates were fixed and we booked our plane tickets from Berlin to Yaounde.
The 21st of February 2015, I landed in Yaounde-Nsimalen international airport in Cameroon, for my very first time in Africa.
Click here if you want to read the other parts of my story :
- Introduction – Part I
- So where do I come from?- Part II
- Discovery of Africa – Part III
- Search of Identity – Part IV
- Africa is harder than expected – Part VI
- Sweet Cameroon – Part VII
The Return To Salone