The Struggle To Travel Abroad When You’re Cameroonian.

If you’re like me and you love to travel but frequently meet road blocks that make you upset, then this is for you. Or maybe you just want to put yourself in my shoes; that empathy will serve you well so just read on.

International travel planning can easily shift from a pleasant, mind enriching learning experience into a bundle of negative emotions.

I like to think of myself as a true travel enthusiast. There are numerous international trips planned in my head that will get accomplished someday. Traveling gives me a feeling very similar to fulfillment. I love learning about new places, meeting new people and experiencing cultures different from mine.

But what do you do when you have to jump several hoops to make one trip happen? The visa application process for Cameroonians is typically over-demanding.

I was intrigued to learn about the Hensley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index . This is an annual report where countries are ranked according to the total number of countries which they can access visa-free.

Germany tops the list with a score of 177 to which they have visa free access. This is closely followed by Sweden. Afghanistan is at the bottom with a score of 25.

Want to know where Cameroon falls on this list?

# 45

Cameroon ties with Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Wonder about the USA?

Keep reading …

If you’re from Cameroon or anywhere in the developing world you know that tourism isn’t generally perceived as something easily affordable for people of our origin. There is always a high degree of skepticism with which the application for travel is scrutinized for most low and middle socioeconomic class members of developing countries. I also understand that there are immigration laws, reciprocity matters, national (and international) safety and security reasons behind this, but it does not change the frustrations I’ve experienced as a traveling Cameroonian.

I am writing this piece on an airplane to Sint Marteen after extreme scrutiny at my departing airport checkpoint. This is maddening to say the least but doesn’t negate the fact that I still have the blessing to make the trip.

The most striking thing about this very moment is the mind shift I just had after something I read out of a book. As I marinated in negative emotions after settling into my exit row seat, these words offered me a change in mindset.

The book is titled “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.

In a discussion about the Dalai Lama’s experience being in exile from Tibet ( in India) he says:

” … Many of us have become refugees … there are a lot of difficulties in my own country and when I look only at that then I worry, but when I look at the world, there are a lot of problems… When we see these things, we realize that not only do we suffer, but so many of our human brothers and sisters. So when we look at the same event from a wider perspective, we will reduce the worrying and our own suffering ”

Now, let’s clear the air. A small amount of required scrutiny prior to traveling for pleasure is NOT suffering. A momentary challenge of collecting documentation to prove your credibility to gain access into another country is not to be compared with fleeing death from your home country. In essence I will not make light the plight of a leader in exile or any refugees across the world. But, from his narrative I am able to extrapolate that not having an easier travel experience is not enough to cause me physical distress displayed as anger, sadness or a sense of inferiority.

I choose to transform my view of traveling as a West African from a struggle or an achievement. I know a lot of Africans who can afford to travel who would just want traveling to be what it is supposed to be —fun and adventure.

wanderlust!

I acknowledge that with my passport, international travel requires effort beyond just purchasing a ticket but that isn’t enough to justify a legion of negative emotion such as stress, anger or frustration. The ability to travel is icing on the cake of life. Many of our brothers and sisters are indeed suffering greater troubles than these restrictions. I am not propagating schadenfreude, but the encouraging lesson here is —maintaining proper travel perspective in every circumstance is key.

If you’ve previously found it annoying to always require a visa even to cross a bridge; don’t let it stop you from your wandering. Save ahead, hustle for your visa and never give up.

Partner, it is okay to be consumed with wanderlust!

Because I live in the best country in the world right now; the great U. S. of A… here are the stats; the United States scores at 174 countries with liberty of entry. It ties with Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain.

For more info on this liberty clickhere .

This post was originally written in June 2017 before hurricane Irma hit the Lesser Antilles and also prior to the decision to end DACA in the USA.
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12 Comments

  1. 10/08/2017 / 4:48 pm

    Omgosh your blog posts give me life! I can totally relate. I was going to actually reply when you told me about visiting Montreal “someday…when I get a J1 waiver” as traveling during residency means not only getting Canadian visa but a repeat US visa. The struggle.
    But the quote you shared is a good perspective to help us not complain or feel sad or feel inferior, like you said.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and enlightening us!

    • ninotswalk
      Author
      10/08/2017 / 4:52 pm

      Ah! I hear you on the waiver. I applied for one of those 2 years ago. The struggle !! But anyways it could be worse; I’ll share on that process a little more too. Been typing something on it.

  2. franklin
    10/08/2017 / 7:18 pm

    Oh mehn! Visa applications can seem to be like you are applying to go to heaven. But for some reason it now goes well with me, atleast 3yrs now, when i see for example an American passport holder (i wish i applied for anyone paying taxes in America) coming to my country without any need of a Visa. Why? Because Uganda gets a lot of american taxpayer’s money for alot of things. Health care is closed to me so i will talk about that.
    That aid makes HIV drugs free, makes mother and child Health more accessible, etc. I can really see that isn’t fair for you Nina to give me your money and you come to my country and need to pay for a Visa.
    If we had universal human equality, we wouldn’t ever need this segregation on who travels where.

    I would for sure trade ma passport for Germany 😊 that is if its even worth it to them.

    • ninotswalk
      Author
      10/08/2017 / 7:19 pm

      Hahahaha so you want to be German? Though I do side eye their liberty to travel!

  3. NGONG Bertrand
    10/08/2017 / 9:51 pm

    This is interesting… Thanks for this Dr Nina, this is very interesting…

  4. Bee
    10/09/2017 / 10:41 am

    I knew it was going to be difficult…So I somehow managed to get the French passport during the 10 years I spent there. Just to realize later that in my case, my lack of travelling journeys was going way beyond the visa limitation I used to claim. It’s been 2 years since I’ve got that opened entry ticket to the world, but I’ve not traveled that much outside from my comfort zone (Cameroon, USA, UK…France since I don’t live there anymore)…Which I plan to change in 2018, God willing. Bottom line is it is easy to make excuses for not travelling…It is easy to scroll various destination just to finally close the pages and sit there thinking that “this is way too complicated to plan”.

    For those who really aspire to discover the world, I think it’s important to break free from the limitations that we have built in our heads over time – for example,
    – now that I am finally planning that trip to Japan, my mom asked me “who do you know there?”…A question that I used to ask myself very naturally before deciding that a certain destination was not reachable for me
    – the idea that our dream destinations are necessarily too expensive…now that I took the time to review the options, I’ve discovered that there are many deals available out there when 1) we plan in advance 2)we are somehow flexible (which is easier when we plan way before hand lol); I found a ticket at 200€ round trip from Amsterdam to Dakar in June 2018 (and my dad asked me how come I KNOW that I will be able to travel in that period…LOL. Truth is I don’t know…But at this price, I can take the “risk”);
    – the conviction that we don’t really have that kind of time…Personally, I used to think that I was way too busy with work to travel. Now, I am learning that it’s my responsibility to make the time/ work with what I have…I have 30 days off by year; it’s up to me to split them into trips of 10 days each vs. going to Cameroon for 3 whole weeks.

    I hope that by this time next year, I would have visited:
    South Africa (around Cape Town),
    Senegal (I spent 3 years there as a student and just really want to go back for few days),
    Japan

    And since I live in Europe (for now), I also plan to use some of the long weekends ahead to visit:
    Portugal,
    Rome (Italy)
    Greece (Santorini)

    • ninotswalk
      Author
      10/09/2017 / 12:06 pm

      Cheers to you! You should definitely go on all those trips!!! You need to carve out time to enjoy your life. It will never just happen. PLus I hear vacation days are a must in Europe!
      I also agree that we shouldn’t give up because “it’s too complicated to travel”. Gotta boss up (put some courage on) and go for what we want in life.

  5. Bee
    10/09/2017 / 10:44 am

    I forgot to say “Cheers to all (aspiring) travelers! Let’s do this beyond the so called limitations !!!”

  6. SG
    10/12/2017 / 11:13 pm

    Thanks Nina for sharing. Came in your page as you Always have a word if wisdom in your writeups. I was so upset and thought to my self let me check out her page. And the extract from book and explanation I could relate. This helped me.

    • ninotswalk
      Author
      10/12/2017 / 11:15 pm

      I am glad to hear this. Whatever it is that’s troubling you today; I pray for peace over your heart. You can add your email to my email subscription list and every time I write it’ll come straight into your inbox.

  7. Dave
    11/24/2017 / 10:32 pm

    I can totally relate. I used to live in T&T, and I love traveling too. There was a time I visited Barbados, and was returning to my place of abode on the island of Trinidad/Tobago. I became a subject of focused scrutiny, solely because of the origin of the travel document I had with me. Every one was allowed to board the plane, except those of us carrying a Nigerian passport. We had to answer additional questions–where we lived, how long we’d been there, what jobs we were into, etc. etc. Never mind that we had T&T re-entry visas prominently displayed in our passports!
    Luckily, I wasn’t the only one subjected to the indignity. There was another guy with me at the time; a colleague, actually. Surprisingly, he took it more calmly than I did, and that helped me make some sense out of the humiliation.
    In the end, I had to admit that it really wasn’t their fault; it all goes back to my home government.
    And of course, I can blame my mom as well. She could have crossed into the US from the Mexican boarder before having me, and made me a “Dreamer”, long before Trump’s walls are erected-;).

    • 11/25/2017 / 12:10 pm

      Haha, Dave I enjoyed reading our story and your sense of humor is great! You’re right; our governments carry the origins of our travel problems. But, Sounds like you haven’t allowed that to come in the way of your love for travel and that I think is remarkable!

Tell me what you think.