by Serena Williams, Kribi, Cameroon
Children play in a small pond near my house as well as in the ocean. In addition, I have heard of a river race that is held on the Kengue River, although I have yet to witness the event.
The other day I was walking home from the Lycee de Kribi after a heavy rain. There were still puddles on the side of the main road, and I splashed in them as I went. As I turned into my Quartier, I saw a familiar sight—a dozen children standing on the bridge. As usual, they were preparing to jump into the water. But unlike on other days, they didn't seem to be in any big hurry to do so. In fact, a number of them were dancing to the beat of a drum, the sound of which seemed to be coming from the water. As I crossed the bridge and looked over into the water to smile and laugh at the kids, I noticed the strangest, most amazing thing. A little girl was beating the water! There was no drum, but her hands slapped in and out of the water producing a wonderfully dense rhythm. The children on the bridge began dancing and clapping and singing, while others in the water frolicked joyfully as I've seen them do virtually every day about the same time. A neighbor mentioned the existence of that game, Theiboulli, and the music, which she said was mostly performed by little girls.
by Kathleen Reaugh, Batouri, East Province, Cameroon
Children often splash and play in the water, but no stream or manmade lake is large enough to allow actual water sports. For children, water is much more often a source of work: washing clothes, fishing, soaking cassava tubers, bathing, and transporting water back to the village. Most children do not know how to swim. Many fear the spirit their parents call the "mamy wata," a white woman-beast that is found in the mouth of the Sanaga river near Douala.
by Karen McClish, Belita II, East Province, Cameroon
A few miles from my house there is a river that runs over some smooth rocks and creates a small waterfall. The children often play and slide down the rocks while their mothers are downstream washing clothes. They are supposed to be bathing, but it usually ends up being an hour of play!
by Madhuri Kasat, Garey, Extreme North Province, Cameroon
After a rainfall, pools of water gather in the sandy, shallow ravines along the riverbed. As kids return from a day at school or in the fields, they bathe in these stagnant pools and splash around soccer balls. Because most of the year is dry, however, people are conscientious and use as little water as needed for their daily cooking and cleaning. Children who wait in lines and walk home with heavy buckets on their heads know, firsthand, the pains that result from the scarcity of water. I have never seen a child pump water from the forage or pull a bucket from the well just to play in it. Likewise, he or she would reprovingly gawk at an American child dancing through a sprinkler's spattering waters.
by Lea Loizos, Bati, West Providence, Cameroon
Sometimes, during the dry season, when the current is not too strong in the streams, I find children daring one another to jump in. Occasionally, one might throw an object in and the other is challenged to dive in to find it.
In general, however, because we live far from any large bodies of water, most people don't know how to swim and are afraid of the water. Even though Cameroon has a large coastline, many people in this part of the country will never see the ocean.
by Brooke Levandowski, Buea, Southwest Providence, Cameroon
Most Cameroonians are afraid of water and cannot swim. This is true even in Limbe, a coastal town.