Yesterday on my way home from work I passed one of my coworkers sitting amongst a flock of chickens. Since this is a fairly abnormal sight on our missionary compound, I asked him what he was doing. He told me he had just purchased the chickens in town as food for the upcoming Labor Day celebrations on Friday. Labor Day is a hugely popular holiday here in Cameroon complete with downtown parade and an employee dinner.
I cringed at the thought of the massacre, preparing chickens isn't as easy as going to the frozen food section of the local grocery store. Each bird is first slaughtered, then boiled, plucked, beheaded and disemboweled. The macabre affair began that afternoon as the men dispatched of their unsuspecting victims and delivered them to the women. The rest was up to the ladies. As I left for prayer rounds in the hospital around 6:15 that eve they were hard at work, making their way through a pile of about 50 birds!
When I returned from the hospital, there they were in the dark, surrounded by piles of feathers. I thought to myself that if I can learn to drive a stick shift and speak a little Fulfude, I can certainly pluck a chicken. So to the great amusement of the ladies, I spread out a towel, took off my shoes and sat down with the group. I made them a deal, if they would teach me the ropes, I would help out.
Plucking was much easier than I thought and while I didn't much like their skinny little necks, I had tossed three corpses into the pot for braising over the fire before the pile was finished. I helped to sweep up basins full of feathers and carry them to the burn pile before retiring for the evening. I don't suppose 3 birds out of 50 was much of an accomplishment, but I felt quite bold and the ladies appreciated the show:-)