Bayam Sellam

There’s a Cameroonian at the place where I work who used to work in the Computer Department. We grab lunch with every now and then. It’s nice to have someone else to connect with and he teaches me about Cameroonian culture and I get some additional French practice.

A few weeks ago, he asked me to help him improve his English — so we’ve been working through a little English learning book. In this book is a story about a market. We talked about the story and he would ask me what certain words meant. One that was confusing to him was  “hawker”.

“What’s a hawker?” he asked (we had this conversation in French)

“Someone who sells in a market and calls out to you ‘Come! I have things here’.”

“Oh! Like a buy-em sell-em”.

Then I had to stop him and ask him about these “Buy-em Sell-ems”.

He said, “They are the ladies who sit by the site of the road and lay out a mat with their goods. A buy-em sell-em”.

It turns out the French word here in Cameroon is “les Bayam-Sellam”.

A couple days later Shannon was reading a news site and found that word “les Bayam-Sellam”. She didn’t understand what it was referring to until she read it phonetically.