A Cameroonian christmas feeling for children in Essen by Mrs. Chrystelle Carole Najeme of Afrika Kultur & Wohlfahrt e.V

chin chin (fried croquette)

When its christmas time in Cameroon, the streets and shops aren't lavishly decorated, there is no Lebkuchen (Gingerbread), no smell of cinnamon in the air and no baked cookies like in Germany. Chin chin is the closest to cookies you would fine, flavored with orange leaf or peelings and nutmeg. It is 30°C outside,  sun by day and clear skies by nights, all wrapped in the dust brought by the southerly Harmatan winds.  A visitor from Europe or Germany to be particular, might miss the christmas vibe in the air.
This is because this feeling is mostly within the families and social groups until a few days to christmas when it relocates to the market places: the market places are more populated, the most sought after commodities are rice and chicken usually in "nkenjas" (beautifully woven baskets) . Parents picking out clothes and shoes for their kids, which will only be handed over to them as a gift on christmas morning. Church activities intensify too, to have the best christmas play, concert and recitations on christmas eve. The few christmas trees you will find are plastic and sparingly carry christmas lights.

Christmas eves are mostly spent in the church where a nativity scene is presented, carols are sung, and kids are proud to recite bible verses to proud parents and not at home with family presenting gifts under the christmas tree as in Germany. 
They rush back home after the christmas eve church service to continue preparations in the kitchen for the christmas day meal, go to bed late and wake up earlier than ever on christmas morning. 

It is christmas day, sunny, temparatures are still 30°C so every one is outside. The streets are full with excited kids, each proud to present thier new clothes to thier neighbors and friends; even in church. By midday church services are over. Balloons are present every where and every kid seems to own a pair of decorated plastic sunshades. Some fortunate ones will have more than just new clothes as a gift: dolls for girls and plastic guns for boys. Oh I remember those toy cameras too. 

There is loud music on the streets and christmas is one big party for all: christians and muslims alike. It isn't rare to find masquerades dancing in the crowd too. All doors are open as adults and children take turns in eating rice and chicken stew from one house to the next. It is no wonder that many return home with overfilled discomforting bellies. Atleast it was christmas.

This kind of atmosphere is what Afrika Kultur & Wohlfahrt e.V. in Essen creates for kids and their families who want to experience another kind of christmas at their Kids Children Party in Essen, held every last Saturday before the christmas holidays. A fashion parade, a  dance workshop and other games add more spice to the day. 

And because we are in Germany, Santa Claus makes his obligatory entry with the traditional "oh oh oh" and loads of surprises in his Santa sack. He doesn't need his elves here because the party already has enough little helpers to unpack with excitement. 

Afrika Kultur & Wohlfahrt e.V.  has a tough job maintaining the restricted number of participants to 100 kids because more and more kids seek registration even weeks after the official deadline. There is no sunshine, temparatures are in the minus outside but the spirit of a Cameroonian christmas is warm enough for all inside. 
Mrs. Chrystelle Carole Najeme (CEO of Afrika Kultur & Wohlfahrt e.V) and husband.

In so doing, Afrika Kultur & Wohlfahrt e.V contributes its bit towards interkultural exchange and reinforcement of a cultural identity. 

Similar activities of thiers include:

- assististance to migrants with translations, interpreting and  appointments in government offices
Tutoring in all subjects
Kids crafts workshops
Culinary workshops for children and youths
- Integration through Sports
- Informative forums for parents
- Discussions on development policies and development assistance and the strengthening of mutual understanding between Germans and Africans as well as  between the Africans themselves.