It's irritating, but what can you do? It's so common, you just assume it's culturally appropriate. I've simply gotten used to strange men reaching out to grab my hand or stroke my arm in the market. So I was somewhat surprised when Elsie launched into one offender as we strode along the sidewalk the other day in Bamenda.

"Why are you touching my friend?!"

"Would you like if someone did that to your sister?!?"

"Why do you do that?!"

"I can't even bring my friends to town because you people are always touching them!"

"You're sorry? Well, sorry means you won't EVER do it again! Are you really sorry?"

I appreciated her going to bat for me but was taken aback by her vehemence, and, frankly, slightly amused by the whole thing. The crowning touch was a vendor a few stalls over, attracted by the kafuffle, who asked what the problem was. Elsie explained and he--who has like as not done the same thing himself many times--wrote off the perpetrator as "just a Negro".

Interesting way for one black Cameroonian to describe (insult) another.


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