The Safou and Hazel Trees

The storm was doing her frequent incursions in the forest and, like a raptor that rushes on from the sky and only leaves each time with a chick, she uprooted a tree. Each victim was left to his fate. For the survivors, the attack was only the business of the one who had succumbed.  Each closed his door on his blissful quietude.

The safou tree

One morning, the insatiable grim reaper [the storm] stopped in front of the safou tree and started ruffling his hair. Then she [the grim reaper] shook him in all directions to make him understand that his time had come.

The safou tree tried to organize his defense. The storm rushed, retreated to regain strength, came back with more violence, snatched off and dispersed under her breath the hair of the assaulted. Not being able to take it anymore, the safou tree sent out a distress call in the direction of the hazel tree, his neighbor.

  • Here is, he said, the brigand who for many years, depopulates our country. Come help me get out of his claws. I am out of strength.
  • I never get involved in anything that doesn’t concern me, said the hazel tree. I do not deal with either the storm or the wind. Give back to the brigands what you owe them.

This said, the hazel tree closed his door to find the softness and calm of his home.

Turkish hazel tree (Source: Chicago Botanic Garden)

Under the storm’s assaults, the safou tree collapsed. In his last breath, he grumbled that what was happening to him will not miss the hazel tree.

And two days later , it was the turn of the hazel tree to pay the storm the ransom of weakness and individualism of the people of the forest.

Fables des Montagnes de Patrice Kayo, Collection Les CLES de l’avenir, Editions CLE, Yaounde, p. 9 (1998). Translated to English by Dr. Y.,

Les Petits Métiers: la Braiseuse Africaine / Small Trades: the African Braiseuse

Une braiseuse camerounaise / A Cameroonian braiseuse
Une braiseuse camerounaise / A Cameroonian braiseuse

Vous êtes-vous jamais retrouvé(e) dans les rues de Douala le soir? ou les rues des capitales africaines la nuit? Vous rencontrerez certainement la braiseuse ou rôtisseuse ou vendeuse de rôti en tout genre: du plantain braisé, au poisson braisé, au maïs grillé et safous (prunes africaines) braisées… hhhhhhuuuuuuummmmmmhhhhh quel délice! Généralement, ces dames, communément appelées braiseuses, grillent du poisson, plantain, maïs, ou prunes, sur un petit ‘réchaud’ ambulant de charbon à bois.  Chaque soir vous la rencontrerez au bord de la rue occupée à soufflez sur des braises ardentes de charbon pour griller le plantain ou le poisson à soin.  En Afrique, du moins en Afrique francophone, très peu de gens fréquentent les restaurants (qui ont souvent des prix exhorbitants) pour les petits plats simples.  La braiseuse offre des petits repas rapides bon marché ou des delicatesses (tel du maïs grillé). Imaginez-vous un seul instant avec un maquereau entier (poisson le plus prise, car étant moins cher) et un ou deux doigts de plantains braisés en main….  Qu’en dites-vous?  Simplement délicieux!  Savourez avec moi cette vidéo d’une braiseuse dans une des rues de Bafoussam, une des villes majeures du Cameroun… et surtout regardez attentivement tout le processus qui permet de déguster de si bonnes choses.


Grilled fish on a charcoal stove / du poisson braise sur un rechaud a charbon
Grilled fish on a charcoal stove / du poisson braisé sur un réchaud à charbon

Have you ever roamed the streets of Douala at night? or the streets of any African capital at night? You will certainly come across the braiseuse or the grill-maker or barbecue maker or sellers of grilled food of any sort: grilled plantain, grilled fish, roasted corn, or roasted safou… hhhhhhuuuuuuuuummmmmmmhhhhh delicious! Usually, these ladies, commonly called braiseuses (could be translated griller or roastmaker), grill plantains, fish, corn, or safou, on a mobile charcoal stove stall.  She can be found on street corners every evening, busy blowing on embers of charcoal to grill fish or plantain to perfection.  In Africa, or at least in French Africa, few people go to restaurants (which could be quite pricey) for a quick meal.  The braiseuse offers quick meals at affordable prices or delicacies (like grilled corn).  Just picture yourself for a second, holding an entire grilled mackerel with one or two plantains in your hands… doesn’t that taste delicious? Please enjoy this video of a braiseuse in the streets of Bafoussam, a major city of Cameroon, and carefully watch the entire process that leads to such delicious delicacies!