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Christelle Ngounou

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The HIV-AIDS virus is spreading epidemically in Africa more than in any other continent. Many reasons have been given for the rapid spread and different initiatives dedicated to stop the spread have been started. One of the basic topics in connection with HIV-AIDS is educative information on sex.  Due to lack of sex education, apart from the spread of the deadly virus, the rate of teenage pregnancy is also very high in Africa. A young Cameroonian woman, Christelle Ngounou, speaks about her experience as a teenage mother, sex education in Cameroon, the attitude of her community to teenage pregnancy and her personal goals.

 

In many African countries, sex education is still a taboo. It is very much so in the little town by the name Baha near Bakoussam in western part of Cammeroon, where I was borm in 1981. As a teenager, I never had any information about safe-sex, contraceptives and venereal infections. I was not aware of the epidemic HIV/AIDS. There was no course in the school that tackled the subject and information or explanation from parents was practically unimaginable. The result is high rate of teenage pregnancy and spread of diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. The reality is obvious. Still teenagers do not have access to helpful information about sex. I wonder why parents avoid any discussions relating to sexual issues in particular among teenagers. I have a feeling that they do not want to accept the reality of teen’s behaviours and practices. In the area where I lived in Cameroon, it is very sad to see how pregnant teenagers are treated as if they are “from another planet”. These teenagers are looked upon as “bad girls” without any future. Most of them are left to struggle for survival on their own. This attitude even makes things worse for the girls; in worst case, they are forced into prostitution. The lucky ones might get support from their parents or relatives and have the chance to get her life back to normal.

I did not escape teenage pregnancy. I was 16 and my boyfriend was 17 years old. My world fell apart but I was lucky to have a mother who cared for me. She had the same experience. She was 15, when I was born.

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Christelle Ngounou
 

I received all sorts of insulting comments not only from neighbours but from some of my school mates. Some neighbours suggested that I should forget about schooling and become an apprentice under my mother, who was operating a small local tailoring business. This was not an option for me because I wanted to complete the high school.  But the pressure became too much to bear and I had to leave the school. However, I was determined to go back to school sometime later. With the help of my mother, I was able to cater for my daughter and make new plans. I applied to a secondary school, got admission and set my goal to pass the high school certificate examination.

Many people in the neighbourhood were surprised to see me going to school again. They could not believe that I would be able to cope with the school work. Meanwhile, I was gaining self-confidence and healthily aware of my status as a mother. One day, I decided to take my daughter with me to a workshop organized by the school. Those who did not know much about me were inquisitive and asked whether the little girl with me was my sister. They were all surprised at my answer that she is my daughter. While focusing on my school work, I took time to educate my daughter and let her be conscious that I am her mother. I wanted her to call me “mother” and feel my parental relationship to her. I wanted her to be aware of the difference between me as her mother and my mother as her grandmother. This clarity is very important to me because in my community children that are being cared for by their grandmothers generally call and accept their grandmothers as their mothers.

I worked hard and eventually passed the secondary school certificate examination. I was happy with my achievement and thought to myself, “If I could make the high school grades, I should be able to study at a University”. I knew that it would be very difficult for me to attend a University due to the financial burden. But, I made my intension known to members of my family and relatives. Luckily, my uncle living in Germany offered to help me and invited me to Germany.

I have been living in Germany with my uncle and his family for a year now. I am learning the German language, which I find difficult especially the pronunciation of some German words. Apart from my Cameroonian mother tongue, I speak French and English. But my French is far better than my spoken English. A French-speaking country would have been a better choice for me. But to learn the German language and be good enough to study in Germany is a challenge I am ready to take on. I would like to study business management with marketing as my major subject. I believe that I have aptitude for business and I am blessed with marketing talent. These natural skills have helped me to earn some money by offering services in the beauty sector.

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My experience with the Germans has not been very good. It is quite difficult to have good contact or develop friendship with the Germans. I socialize with other Africans and participate in organizing cultural events as a member of the African organization in my area. We recently organized a festival that was attended not only by Africans but also by a relatively large number of Germans. At the festival, some typical West African food and music were presented to the delight of all attendees. I am of the opinion that such festivals should serve as a platform to present African culture and communicate African views to people from other continents. The relaxed atmosphere at festivals could make communication a lot easier and thereby foster better understanding between cultures.

I have applied to Universities in Germany for admission although I am aware that the number of applicants doubles the number of available places. I hope I would be lucky to have a place. However, if it proves difficult to gain admission for business management due to high demand or restrictions, I would try to gain admission to other courses such as linguistics. Whatever happens, I am determined to have a University education, build my own business and take up the responsibility for my daughter.

Afritopic 2004

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

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