Return to Cameroun

A missionary station in Cameroun.

A missionary station in Cameroun.

 

Forty three years after the death of my grandparents, Fred and Roberta Hope, I went to Cameroun, West Africa to visit the remote village where they worked and lived as Presbyterian missionaries for 38 years.

On a German freight steamer bound for West Africa, 1928. Top row: my grandmother Roberta Brown Hope (left) and two fellow missionaries. Bottom row, left to right: my mother Roberta, my aunts Winifred and Esther.

On a German freight steamer bound for West Africa, 1928.

Top row: my grandmother Roberta Brown Hope (left) and two fellow missionaries. Bottom row, left to right: my mother Roberta, my aunts Winifred and Esther.

I didn’t know my grandparents — they died before I was born — and my movie “Return to Cameroun” is in many ways a personal journey. A search for emotional legacy. An exploration of the fragile, mysterious fabric of family, memory and emotional connection.

“What is memory?” I wanted to ask. “Something lost or something gained?” How do our perceptions of our parents and grandparents, and consequently our perceptions of ourselves, change as we grow older?


"Return To Cameroun" is the one-hour documentary I finished in 1993. It’s a labor of love – a tribute to my mom Roberta, her four sisters and my grandparents. It played at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco, was broadcast on two cable networks and showed on several PBS stations.

DVD copies are available for $20. Contact me if you’d like to order one.

Please take a look at this six-minute clip. This occurs about 10 minutes into the film when my grandparents, just two weeks after meeting, got married on a German freight steamer en route to Cameroun.