By Tikum Mbah Azonga
This article is an adaptation of an earlier one I broadcast on the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) National Radio Station on the 26th of November 20024. The paper was motivated by the death of Archbishop Andre Wouking of Yaounde and Statesman Sadou Daoudou of Ngaoundere. It is one of many I broadcast on the same channel between 2002 and 2005, on the early morning prime time national and world news broadcast.
There is a saying that when an aged person passes away it is a library that has been consumed by what one might call voracious flames. That theory is lent credence by the many aphorisms that make elderly people, let alone elderly statesmen, temples of knowledge or wisdom, for is it not said that what an old man can see sitting down, a young person cannot see standing on the top of a tree? And so it is that today, in Cameroon, we are mourning the demise of two libraries, namely Archbishop André Wouking and the Politician Alhadji Sadou Daoudou. Yet, the two men are not the only ones who have departed from this world. We all remember others who preceded them such as the other archbishop Jean Zoa and the politicians Solomon Tandeng Muna, John Ngu Foncha and Dr E.M.L Endeley.
The question is, when these public figures die and are mourned, and time passes, to what extent are they still remembered, if not only occasionally and sporadically, more or less, as an after thought? Yet, they could have helped us to remember them on a longer term. How this can be done is through memoirs which the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, defines as “ an account written usually by somebody in public life of their life and experiences’’.
Famous world people who have had such records published include Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and General De Gaulle and Winston Churchill, to name those. Back here in Cameroon, memoirs have been written by people such as Garga Haman Adji, Ndeh Ntumazah, Nemerius N. Mbile, Christian Tobie Kuo and Samuel Eboua. Even so, the written legacy does not necessarily have to be in the form of memoirs. In fact any publication whatsoever is still useful. That is why today, we still avidly read the books ‘’To Every Son of Nso’’ and ‘’The Genuine Intellectual’’ by the late Dr. Bernard Nsokika Fonlon. It is in that same category that we would place, the books ‘’Communal Liberalism’’ by Paul Biya and ‘’Politics a Call to Serve” by Paul Enyi Atogho. Incidentally, an article published in a journal many years ago by the literary man and educationist Patrick Sam Kubam has made its mark so indelibly that today and in years to come, hardly can any scholar talk about the history of Anglophone literature in Cameroon without citing that article. So, as we can see, it is important to write and share experiences. That is why today, many centuries after Shakespeare died, we still read his books and act his plays as if they were written only yesterday.
Even so, one cannot help wondering why most of our public leaders still do not write. One possible reason could be that some people view writing as a daunting experience. But it does not have to be so. In fact many people think they need to be fully prepared before they write, but they could in fact start by just making random jottings. Besides, help could be sought from others in the writing process. People who have something to write but for some reason can not do so themselves, can always seek the services of the ghost writer or a writer who will publish the work as his or her own.
Whatever is the case, it must be remembered that the longest journey begins with the first step. Over and above everything, our leaders owe it to posterity to leave something behind. They must not create a vacuum as they leave us.