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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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Thanks everybody for checking out my blog. The need for  flexibility in covering different topics prompted me to move to a new site. Please follow me to the new venue by clicking on:


You can also follow me on twitter: ebede20,
or on facebook: Ebede Ndi

Thanks. Peace and Blessings!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are We Humans or Animals?

Let's all take a moment and reflect on our humanity.
An 8 year-old child was arrested at a public market in Iran for stealing a loaf of bread. He was punished right on the spot in the name of Islam. His hand will be crushed by a car. He will lose his hand for ever! What is wrong with us, Humans?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

French Army is colonizing Africa a second time!

This is modern days colonization. A highly ranked French Colonel is threatening a journalist in Togo (West Africa). Speaking of civilization, judge for yourselves who behaved in a  more civilized way between the Togolese journalist and the French Colonel.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why is grass greener on the other side?

I was invited to a spiritual workshop today. The theme was about self-compassion. The coach explained that in the 80s and 90s, most researches focused on self-esteem, but nowadays, the trend is about self-compassion. Basically, the lesson was about how to love ourselves first before loving others and how to accept the predicament we are in, in order to change. We had a couple of exercises. On the first, we were given a piece of paper to write our harshest judgment; on the second, we were asked to write three things that we appreciate the most about ourselves. At the end, people were asked to read what they wrote if they wanted to.

Hundred percent of the people attending the workshop read their harshest judgment on themselves. Only thirty percent read the three things that they appreciated about themselves and seventy percent, either didn't want to read their positives, or didn't find anything positive about them. I was intrigued to see how people chose to focus more on the things that were negative in their lives than those that are positive. I thought that it was our human condition to blame ourselves. To think that the worst things happen only to us, that the others are always better than us, that we don't deserve anything good, that the neighbors are happier than us, that grass is greener on the other side. Then I tried to play the same scenario in my head and projected it onto Africa. If the same scenario had taken place in Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular, we might have had a different result.

The African child is raised to love himself and bring happiness to his family/community. He knows that his community depends on his achievements. He understands the role that he has to play to make his family proud. He is aware that the only way to accomplish big things is to find that inner peace, love and compassion. He is more focused on being happy rather than sad; on appreciating what is positive about him; on living day-to-day rather than worry about tomorrow, which he has no control over; he is raised to be honest, genuine, loyal and truthful. He is convinced that grass is greener in his heart and not on the other side.

As the only African in that workshop, I tried to understand why most people there were so prolific about negative things in their lives? Why didn’t they want to read their positives? Why did they look so unhappy and miserable? Why were they so pessimistic? Why did they look like prisoners of life? What could explain their predicament? Then, I began to receive some answers to my questions, which I will talk about in my next post.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This is America!

As usual, thanks again for your constructive feedbacks. Some of you have suggested that I should post shorter articles. I appreciate your suggestion and think it is a good idea.

There is one thing that I am struggling with. I don't know if I should call it politeness or hypocrisy. One day at work, I had a misunderstanding with a female colleague and she went to complain to our supervisor. A male colleague came to warn me about that female colleague and said that she was a bad person. He told me that the female colleague had been telling lies about me behind my back. He informed me that he and the female colleague have been smoking weed at work in front of the clients (we work with developmentally delayed kids). He suggested that if the supervisor ever called me to ask about what was happening at work with the clients, I should not hesitate to mention what he had told me.

A couple of days later, the supervisor summoned me and the female colleague to settle our issues. When I was asked to say what was going on, I said exactly what my male colleague had told me. The situation got worse and my male colleague got furious and very mad at me. He blamed me for having mentioned his name while he had asked me to do just that in the first place. I reminded him that he was the one who suggested that I should mention his name. He said: "this is America!" When I asked him to tell me what that meant, he retorted that I still had a lot to learn. He said: "In America, they raise us to be polite. They ask us to never be rude even if you have to lie. If you hate somebody, or you don't like something, or you are mad at someone, you should not show that. You must laugh and pretend that everything is fine, in that case you don't hurt their feelings." I was really surprised and shocked, because that was against my nature, besides, it possessed all the features of hypocrisy. When I protested that I was raised to be honest and tell the truth about my feelings, another friend told me to collect all my African values and dump them in the garbage, because "this is America!" and those values don't work here. I began to learn more about that phrase: somebody is shot: "this is America!" A child is kidnapped: "this is America!" Everything that is stunning or that looks a little weird: "this is America!" Now I think I am beginning to understand what that means.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome to America

I hope all of you had a great weekend! Thanks again for checking the blog. Today, I want to talk about a personal experience. Most immigrants would understand what I am talking about. You know that feeling you have when you dream that you will go to America.

It began with a dream. My friend and I used to think that going to America wasn't something that could happen to people like us. When we were younger, we thought that America was a country from outer space. We imagined that Americans were super humans who would blow up the earth and go live in the moon. I remember when Reagan was president; my friend told me that Americans would never let their president die, that they could replace everything in him; his heart, his brain and his body parts to make him immortal. The idea we had was that there was nothing Americans couldn't do. Not to mention the great movies, the terrific music, the splendid beaches and above all, opportunities. In the mind of the African that I was and still am, America was Heaven.

Applying for the American visa in Cameroon was like applying for a seat in paradise. Obtaining the American visa was like obtaining a certificate to become a god. That was what happened to me. When I obtained my American visa in 2006, the world instantaneously shrunk and became like a small ball in my head. I was caught by the invincibility syndrome, I thought there was nothing harder than obtaining an American visa. I felt empowered and transformed; I felt like an American, after all, I was going to America, wasn't I? The party and celebration that followed after I obtained the American visa was indescribable. My friends literally bowed to me when they were talking to me. For them, I wasn't like them anymore. I was different; I was an "American" already. My visa was the key to success and life.

On Friday, December 29, 2006 when my plane landed at JFK, I couldn't believe that I was breathing the same air as the people I saw on movies or those I thought were super humans. A couple of hours later, when I was welcomed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the middle of the winter, the cold air that hit me there was the first hint of what my hopes, boldness and dreams were going to turn into.

After two weeks in Atlanta and one week in Nashville, I couldn't recognize my face anymore. My visage was lacerated by the icy-cold weather, it was dry and the skin began to peel off, I was worried, but I survived it. The real baptism was when I moved to California. I arrived at the San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 9:35 pm. My host drove me to San Jose. Two weeks later I was struck by paralyzing sciatica. I was bed-stricken for four months and my best and only friend was loneliness. Loneliness? I never knew what that meant when I was in Cameroon. Well, I soon had to get used to it. Living in the suburb of San Jose didn't help me much. I had an excruciating pain and had nobody to talk to. I had to crawl to get a glass of water to drink. There were no human beings around. When I peeked outside, all I could see were cars going up and down. When I started walking with crutches, I went to a freeway overpass off Saratoga Avenue. I was standing there looking at the cars speeding on either bound of the freeway. I began to think of where those cars might possibly be going in such a hurry. I then called my host and begged him to take me where I could physically see people. He felt sorry for me and took me to a mall at around 11pm. I was so happy to see real people walking and talking, not mirages or shadows.

When I began to shop, I was faced with self-service machines and the other option was on-line services. Everything was setup as a barrier between people. I was shocked to see some people rushing or literally running to do something. Folks gave me their phone numbers or emails, but they never returned calls or messages. They certainly were too busy. Nobody ever had time to talk or socialize. I became slowly disillusioned about everything I read, heard or saw on TV or movies. At work, I always had the feeling that people were talking in parables or behind my back. Even the English language that I learnt back home became totally different from the one spoken in America. I met a guy whom I thought was my best friend, but I discovered that he hung out with me simply because I could pick him up and drop him off. Everything seemed fake and superficial. I became more and more isolated. Back home, I used to have dozens of friends around me every day, but now and here I was looking for only one real and less superficial friend.

I walked on the street, nobody waved to me. Everybody looked sad, stressed or depressed. I wondered if the images of the hungry African children that they showed on the news weren't far much better than those faces I saw. The faces of fear and worry. The visages that were scared to lose their jobs and homes. Those faces that struggled to make ends meet. Those faces that were so cold and distant. Those faces that were so isolated and isolating. Those faces that were restless and looking for a job. Those faces that didn't know true happiness. Those faces that were scared to go back home and find nobody to talk to. Those faces that were afraid to wake up in the morning and realize that they were all alone. Those faces that were anxious about the future. Those faces that were struggling to find the right partner. Those faces that were engaged in improbable love. Those faces that always met people who were emotionally unavailable. Those faces that thought they ran out of time to start a family. Those faces that lived recklessly to conceal their unhappiness. Those faces that couldn't find peace from within themselves. Those faces that went through a painful divorce or break-up and couldn't get over it. Those faces that were hurt in the past and feared to trust again. Those faces that were in good relationships for the bad reasons. Those faces that were in bad relationships for the good reasons. Those faces that were so withered by incessant tribulations. Those faces that cried for help.

I was one of those faces. On Saturday, April 10, 2010, I had a surgery and stayed at the hospital for six days. I had no visits and realized how lonely I was. For the first time, since I came to America, I missed home (Cameroon). Whenever I felt lonely, an echo in the back of my mind would say "welcome to America." I would go to the Emeryville or Berkeley Marina and stare at the water or go to the Oakland-Berkeley hills and walk on the Skyline hiking trail and comfort myself and say "you are not alone".

I love this country for all the opportunities it offers, but sometimes, I wonder if the pursuit of happiness isn't simply a new form of slavery? Am I not slowly being transformed into a cold and heartless robot? Can I chase the wind and catch it, or run after the time and tame it? Why do I feel lonely even when I am in the middle of the multitude? Why should we feel isolated? What has become of our sense of humanity? I am blessed and lucky to be in this wonderful country, but how can we make it a much better, less isolating and more sociable place?