Work here in Africa is very different from back home in the U.S. Just preparing a meal takes many hours, and depending on the meal, preparation can begin days in advance. A good way to explain this is through a scene witnessed on Thursday. Mrs. Ngwane, “Momma” (the matriarch of our compound) is heading to the United States on Monday to visit family for a few months. She has been preparing food since the day we arrived in the country. This includes, drying bitter greens, smoking barracuda and pork, making cassava, and tons of other things just to be able to take some food with her to her relatives.

Momma and her friend preparing greens to go to the U.S.

While there is city water, that is expensive, so every day they pull water from the well to do all the washing in the compound. This could be a few trips a day, or on a heavy cooking day, many many trips to bring clean water as needed.

Carol draws water from the well for evening cleaning

Jayden carries water back to the house as the sun sets behind him

When we arrived home Thursday night, Momma had traveled to Douala (about 5 hours round trip on a bus) to bring home loads of barracuda to smoke before her trip to the states. The fish had to be cut by machete because it was frozen, remove the scales, clean it, and then prepare the smoker to be set over night.

Just an evening meal takes a very long time to prepare. With so much time on peoples hands, there is no surprise that a faster way has not become a way of life.

Preparing the fish for smoking

Preparing the Smoker for the night

Slow smoking over night