met our neighbor Caroline’s father today. an intelligent, well-spoken man. chief of port police in Douala. asked me why i was being so introverted as we sat there amongst the men paying their respects at the house. needless to say, i felt like a fish out of water during the whole thing.
the good man basically lectured me on being more proactive about picking up french and learning cameroonian culture. something i really needed to hear, given how i was fairing on both. he said i should inquire into something once, retain it, and then not ask about it again.
like the kola nut he was given to share. according to him (and Chinua Achebe was certainly mentioned over the course of explaining this to me), in Nigeria they say “whoever brings kola, brings peace.”
kola nuts have many pieces and they’re meant to be shared. since you cannot eat your enemy’s offering, if you share kola, you are expressing your satisfaction with the people in whose company you’re in. thus, if you bring kola, you bring peace.