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International Women’s Day: Flashback

My, how time can fly… As I sit here typing at my computer, it can be easy to forget the significance of something as seemingly redundant as International Women’s Day… until I remember where I am.  All things considered, we women in the United States are pretty valued – though, obviously, room for improvement remains. 

Six years ago today, I was studying abroad in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where the ladyfolk take immense pride in celebrating Women’s Day. Seamstresses are booked-out months in advance as everyone has a custom kabba made from that year’s Women’s Day fabric. Men spend the day finding out exactly how much work goes into maintaining the household on a daily basis as many women eschew their traditional roles in favor pure revelry. The culmination of the daytime festivities is a giant parade through the city center, where nary a man is to be found among the parade’s participants. 

International Women's Day - Yaounde Cameroon 2005 - Sarah Brumble

My dear neighbor Anita and me.

In a particularly fitting International Women’s Day anecdote, my friend John ended up decapitating a chicken for the night’s dinner while his host mother paraded around the streets in her finery. While standing on its feet so it wouldn’t run away, it took him several whacks with a machete before the deed was done. Ultimately, he couldn’t bring himself to eat dinner so easily that evening. 

Honestly, the experience is best conveyed visually. Therefore, please enjoy the selections below, featuring a very young (and later very sunburnt) version of me.

International Women's Day 2005 - Yaounde Cameron - Atlas Obscura Blog

The view of the city as we marched through the streets. (And GASP! a MAN in the foreground.)

Yaounde Cameroon Women's Day March - Atlas Obscura Blog The tail end of the parade disperses as everyone heads to the celebratory feasts.

Women Day Feasting - Celebrating Women's Day in Africa - Atlas ObscuraOne of the aforementioned feasts. All that talk of sisterly love went out the window
as the ladies bum-rushed the buffet. 

International Women's Day in West Africa - Yaounde Cameroon 2005The aftermath. I think it was also the first time we’d touched grass in a long time.

From all of us at Atlas Obscura, happy International Women’s Day! Wherever you are, we hope its as memorable as the above was for me.