Ludovic: Adaptation

ludo By Ludovic Langlois-Therien

Here I am, living in Yaoundé, Cameroon, at the pace of the local bit rate.

Adaptation. For the last week, it has been the main theme of my way of life. After the usual awe before everything that is tossed in your face as soon as you step your first foot on African ground — tropical fumes, warm music and a lot of red dirt, I found myself completely paralyzed by what I have come to experience. Indeed, after a hasty end of term and 14 hours of flight, I had forgotten the scale of my trip. As if during all this time, I had been climbing a gigantic tower wearing blinders, and now that I was at the top, the blinders had suddenly fallen off. I think I have vertigo. My first week has been all about resisting the urge to put back the blinders, and trying to appreciate the new sensations.

Yaoundé is 1.7M people in a largely spread-out city. It has been built on a hilly landscape. There are lots of trees and a comfortable weather, with temperatures around 25 degrees pretty much all the time. The fruits are insanely delicious, most notably pineapples. And the beer is insanely cheap. Local food is very diversified, centered around fish and meat, it also includes many vegetables such as plantains, makabo (a bit like potato, more flaky), manioc, ndolé (some kind of super bitter spinach) and zom (another kind of super bitter spinach). Every dish is also very spicy.

Lors des trois prochains mois, je travaillerai à la Coalition des ONG et OCB du Cameroun travaillant dans le Domaine des Établissements Humains, aussi connue sous l’acronyme moins pompeux de “CONGEH”. L’organisme s’occupe à trouver des solutions pour les gens qui sont évincés des bidonvilles lors de leur transformation par la ville. La plupart du temps, ces personnes ne sont pas prévenues et voient leur habitation, parfois le résultat d’une vie de labeur, réduite à néant sans pouvoir faire quoi que ce soit. Il faut dire que les bidonvilles existent souvent dans l’illégalité, sans égard aux réglementations foncières. Ces gens n’ont donc essentiellement aucun recours juridique. Du jour au lendemain, ils se retrouvent à la rue. Ainsi, la CONGEH finance et organise des initiatives de relocalisation, soit la construction de logements sociaux dans des quartiers plus appropriés.

Personnellement, je m’intéresse à comment sont menées ces évictions, qu’ici on appelle “déguerpissements”. Si les causes fondamentales de la situation trouble des bidonvilles, soit la pauvreté endémique et les faiblesses du droit local, sont hors de ma portée d’agir, mon travail vise plutôt à rendre le processus de déguerpissement plus “humain”. Par exemple, une meilleure planification et la coopération des autorités avec des organismes comme la CONGEH permettraient au processus d’être plus respectueux des droits fondamentaux.

One response to “Ludovic: Adaptation”

  1. Nandini Ramanujam says:

    Hello everybody!

    I have alraedy heard from many of you about your safe arrivals. Do use this page to share your expereinces and adventures. Ludovic’s blog is a great beginning to what I hope will be a page which will keep us connected across the the world. Keep safe and stay tuned! Nandini

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