Welcome Back Bantu Woman
Christiane Abuimama Endeguele
Marilyn Monroe once said: “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”
Abuimama, my last name, is a Bantu word from the African nation of Cameroon. It means “a lot of things”. Indeed, I was a woman with many resources, able to overcome whatever difficulties I encountered. I am the oldest of my siblings, so I had to be an example in terms of behaviour and academic achievement. I worked very hard. After several years of challenging experiences—at school and in my personal life—I became a physician.
I loved being able to help people and put smiles on their faces. Everything pointed toward a bright future. However, my new goal at this time was to move to Canada to live with the man I loved. I know that I am too passionate sometimes, but I was ready to face any obstacles to be with him. When I opened my computer one morning in June 2016 and saw an email confirming my permanent residency in Canada, my joy was indescribable. I started dancing. I called my husband immediately to share the news. We were so excited. My body was in Cameroon, but my mind was in Canada.
After one month, I was ready to go with a travel companion—I was seven months pregnant. I was exhausted from the pregnancy but felt confident that I had all the wisdom I needed to travel from the known to unknown. When I arrived at the airport, I was totally serene, walking in my stylish high heels and looking forward to the journey. Summer, 2016: Oh, Canada, here I am! I was so excited to discover this new world. But as the months went by, I had some worries that were growing steadily in my mind. I had left everything behind for my husband, and now he seemed like a stranger. There were lies, betrayals, and verbal violence. I was totally dependent on someone who made me believe I was a person without any value. I fell into a deep depression.
By the time I separated from my husband, I had two young sons and no job. Although their births were the happiest experiences in my life so far, having children in a new country without the support of family can be difficult, especially after two C-sections. I felt completely isolated, especially in the harshness of winter, and I was ashamed of being so weak. I also felt that I was disappearing as a person. That confident woman wearing high heels and working as a respected professional was gone. I didn’t recognize myself.
Fortunately, I met an unforgettable Canadian woman who supported me, encouraged me, and most importantly, reminded me about the resources and qualities I had as a person. Furthermore, the kindness of my children and their pride in their mother gave me the boost I needed to stand tall. I was an example for my siblings during my childhood, and I knew I could be an example for my children as well. I finally felt ready to conquer this country.
One day, I went to a shoe store with my boys because my oldest wanted new shoes. But after a few minutes of shopping, he brought a pair of runners to me and said “Mommy, these would be cute on you.”
I loved the black and pink shoes; they were practical, but beautiful. I felt like I was buying new clothing for the beginning of the school year. Looking at my reflection in the shoe store mirror, I said to myself, “Christiane Abuimama is coming back.”
Christiane Abuimama Endeguele hails from Cameroon where she received her doctorate in medicine. She has been in Canada for six years and is the mother of two sons. She has worked here as a computer skills instructor in the field of employment training. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she volunteered on behalf of the Alberta International Medical Graduates Association (AIMGA). Currently, she is preparing for her qualification exams in order to continue her career as a physician.