“His mother sells fish off the sidewalk”

The description of the family’s financial affairs was something to that effect in an article on young football players in Cameroon.

I read it unblinkingly, conjuring the usual thoughts of “oh the destitution! That she should be consigned to that for survival.”

Then, it hit me. Wait a second, I know better than that! All these years journalists have been creating these sob stories—and don’t try to tell me it wasn’t on purpose—around a perfectly normal way of living.

EVERYONE sells fish, or plantains, or even shoes off the sidewalk. That the way their whole microeconomy works in Cameroon. It’s not a sign his mother is poor or unable to find a proper job, it’s a sign she’s a normal woman with an entrepreneurial spirit!

It’s just another example of how we in the West picture “the poor Africans needing aid”—which is one of the reasons the poor Africans are still needing aid after all these year and nothing is improving.

They’re people, just like us. They have their seemingly bizarre, culturally based customs just like we do. And just like ours, some of their customs make no practical sense; while others, though they appear stupid to the outsider, evidence well-reasoned survival skills adapted to the environment in which they live.


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