Life in Cameroon
The extended family is the focus of the social system. It is the extended family and includes grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Members of the extended family are considered as close as the nuclear family is in the West.
Family obligations take precedence over pretty much everything else in life. Individuals achieve recognition and social standing through their extended family. The young are expected to care for elderly members of the extended family; retirement homes are an alien concept.
As with many family orientated cultures nepotism does not have the negative connotation. In fact, hiring relatives is part of the cultural context since it not only provides for the family, but also ensures that Cameroonians work with those they know and trust.
Cameroonians who have a common background tend to organize themselves into small groups commonly called associations. Individual members refer to themselves as sons and daughters of a given community.
Associations handle two major financial activities. A trouble bank is a special assistance fund to which every member contributes money at regular intervals and from which money is given to members who fall victim to a misfortune. A “njangi” is a financial activity similar to a bank based on mutual trust. An unemployed but hard working association member who does not own property or real estate may receive a loan from the njangi.
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. About 40% of the population follows some form of indigenous beliefs, 40% adhere to a form of Christianity, and 20% are Muslim. The various religious groups get along reasonably well, although there have been some problems reported by religious minorities in various parts of the country. The north of the country is primarily Muslim while the south tends to have more Christians.
Life in Russia
Russian families are large and friendly. The meaning of the family in Russia is not limited to the husband, wife and children. It stretches to include grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. The members of the Russian family closely communicate with each other and frequently get together, especially on such family occasions as birthdays and anniversaries. Just like in any family, there might be misunderstandings and even quarrels among family members, however one thing is certain: Russians cherish their families and are always ready to help their relatives in difficult times. The tradition that everyone should love their own home and protect their family is instilled into Russians since the early childhood.
Russian culture is non-individualistic. The power of an individual in Russia is much less than in the west and most deals are pushed through family, friends and acquaintances. Russian saying is, “One is not a soldier in the battlefield”. In Russia, one still needs to know people in power to make things work. This is why they maintain more friendships than an average westerner. They often have to rely on their friends to help them out. You know someone who knows someone who is in power; this is the way they have the things done. If you know the right people, you can have the most difficult things done with little effort.
The majority of Russians consider themselves as Christians, and belong to Russian Orthodox Church. It’s a great achievement for the country where atheism was the official state religion for more than 70 years. Frankly, most of them are not true believers. They appreciate Christian moral values but do not follow them. Religion is not a real part of their life. Russians are more aware of horoscopes than the Bible. Church service in Russia can be attended any day of the week and performed every day 2 or 3 times (early morning at 3 a.m., then at 8 a.m. and then in the evening at 7 p.m.). People usually attend the church just to “light a candle” and quickly pray. They do it to ask for something to happen (a business deal, an exam) or to remember a close person who is dead. People do not have to be a member of the church to do it and they do not have monthly contributions to the church. Church survives selling candles and reminder notes and charging for services such as baptizing, weddings and funerals. Church marriage is not official in Russia. A couple has to register their marriage with government authorities first to be allowed to have church ceremony performed.