samedi 23 juillet 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I will spread it out
I mean, spread it out
With my index finger
It doesn`t matter if it`s too thinly
As long as we square the half mile
We won`t accept any grren notes
Nor the baker`s long loaves
Nor loose euros blowing in the wind
We will tone down any strident calls for blood from DC
We will question and vet
Any petitions to Amnesty and Transparency from Brussels
They`re all talking drums that sound hollow
Because their music is drenched and drowned in sour cheese droplets
And odd bits and pieces of chicken and chips
And left-overs of last night`s burgers.
We want our own voices to rise up and tower and dwarf
We want our young to grow and step forward
We want our on to show us the way
We want our type to rule and govern
But we reject any go-between
We don`t want godfathers
Just let us be
We turn down all mediators and arbiters
Why should we trust them?
They have betrayed their own people
They carry guns wantonly and shoot randomly like Adolf`s underlings
They coldbloodedly strap up humans and inject them to death
They wire them up like some new building and electrocute them
Their stages and arenas are worse than Hitler`s gas chambers
So who are they to stand and give us lessons?
They`re nothing but opportunists who say one thing and mean another
They can be all over the place
They can be everwhere
Yet nowhere
They`re brief
A nine day wonder
So why trust them?

Copyright 2011

mercredi 20 juillet 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

The priest is tired
His silk cassock has gone grey
His hands tremble
His mantle no longer fits
His crook looks too heavy for him
Isn`t it time he went?
Shouldn`t he also get a rest?
Or must it only be the pastor?
Leadership is leadership
Unless Rome thinks otherwise.

Copyright 2011

mardi 19 juillet 2011


(For Marelen)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

The girl in white and purple
That’s who I am today and tomorrow
That’s who I was yesterday
I am my own mistress
I build my own bridges
I trace my own path
I fight my own battles
Life has taught me that the world is inside of us
Not somewhere else
That’s why I’m the girl in white and purple
But the colours are the Almighty’s, not mine
He alone pulls the strings
And I go at his bidding.

My white and purple
Are not bows without their arrows
They are not the valley lily birds fed yesterday
No, they are a new breed of flower sash from the seamstress
But certainly not a re-enactment of Benson and Hedges.
When we read the Wife of Bath
We do so with due regard for her rattles
That’s why my students come here daily without fuss
And my staff work harder than Oscar Wells.
Here at ABCIT where standards are high and far from rubble
We invite all and sundry to come and discover our deep gold mine
If there is anything tied here, it’s certainly strings
That’s why with my verse stringer, I’m prepared to go in hiding.

Copyright 2011


(For Bernadette)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Wao! What a good weather!
Don’t you simply love it?
See how meek and lowly
Yet how sweet and charming it is
Yes, it may change
We all know the weather is fickle
But who isn’t?
That’s life.

For all the exotic readings, I thank the Father
The cumulus, the nimbus, the stratus, they all do it
So does the torrential rain when it rumbles slowly
As a Gemini, I know when the weather is amiss
Like a true child of Babungo, I can measure its full range
So it doesn’t matter whether it’s a down pour or a trickle
Thank God for the splendid weather and the snow it isn’t
After all, without the changes, our Faculty has no real life.

Copyright 2011

dimanche 17 juillet 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

A contribution to the ongoing debate on FACEBOOK about the forthcoming presidential election in Cameroon and incumbent President Paul Biya`s supposed role in it.

Victory in politics comes from action. It does not come from rhetoric alone. It is not enough to simply WISH that Biya goes and you expect to get up from your bed the following morning and find him gone. Elections are round the corner. What have you done concretely in preparation? Apart from Biya, there are at least ten other candidates. Are you throwing in your weight behind any of them and giving that one total support? Or better still, are you running as your own candidate, instead of expressing wishes at the sidelines while the real battle goes on with you only as a commentator. The SDF for instance is `doing something about it`, by being there and challenging and opposing and arguing. They are engaged, they are committed. They may not make it now, but if they persist, they may make it some day. It might not be them as such but their children. . It doesn’t matter. People come and go but the nation remains. Biya is at least present and fighting his own battle. The best arena on which to challenge him and effect change is through the ballot box. Shouting and insults and emotions will not change anything.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I’m not a man to roam
I carry heavy bagpipes
Like the Kilimanjaro poet
Watch my eyebrows
Don’t you see them twitch?
So, what more of the wanton birds at Charing Cross?

Copyright 2011


(For the victim`s of Schindler`s list)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Some inches were unspeakable
Imagine a yarn without fins or spreadsheets
Where on earth would you then begin?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I couldn’t find the gas pedal
Nor the gradient level
So did I have to sip Ukrainian Cognac?
Just because of that?
What about the charcoal trade?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I quenched it
Not with holy water
Nor tears for fear
But with God’s own spirit
It didn’t take long
Although the breath of it was so short
And its Fallopian tubes severed
I did it standing on the Kilimanjaro
Yet, I did it
Don’t mind the band master.

We’re all damned, profit or no profit
Even if we’re offered the best Twin Otter
That’s why for ever our offspring will speak from the rear
Especially for those who know Tikrit
And the scapegoat Washington gnawed and gored for so long
The charge is nothing short of tort
It’s also nothing short of the leader who once was revered
Forget the dirty bodices and shrunken payroll
What really matters is the last candle no one really lit
And the fact that son is equal to father.

Copyright 2011


(For Lydienne Blanche)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Give me an example, dear Lord
And a good one, too
For too long I have groped in the dark
Today I want light
I want sunshine
I want your shoulder
I want your hand.

Give me grace, but of your own accord
I don’t want to stick like glue
I want to run and worship you like in the park
I want to win with you without a fight
Lord, be my grapevine
Be my solace, my fortress and my giant boulder
So that I too can see the Promised Land.

Copyright 2011

vendredi 15 juillet 2011


(For Linda)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I’ll think
I’ll think and grow rich
Just like Napoleon
Just let the tides ebb away
And the bottom line of Ant & Soc, thicken
That’s when we’ll even the scores.

I’m not at the brink
That’s why I refuse to twitch
Instead, I demand brand new dandelions of neon
If you will, that’s my way
That’s why I must think and ripen
And then get rid of all the pores and sores.

Copyright 2011


(For Mayayong)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Every new creation is good
On condition that it doesn’t get stuck in the mud
And in the process
Attract odd bits of iron filings
Or some adulterated God’s bits of wood
Or even get steeped in sour lime wine.
And that’s the plain truth.

Whether I’m called Sandrine or Vera
As long as Spanish is my oyster
And the instructor, this man who makes me laugh
And forever I have this leg in JMC
The world shall continue to spin on its axis
I’m not reinventing the wheel
No, far from it, I’m calling a spade, a spade.

Copyright 2011


(For Agbor Ambang)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

SO what are you going to do about it?
Let all the chickens loose
Or get them pent up for another month?
Do you think that’s fair?
To show a hungry lion meat from the booby
And then abruptly withdraw it?
Is a hungry man not an angry man?

I have come for my search
And I have a torch, just in case
I’m not seeking the heroin
Neither a I seeking the villain
I’m seeking the way to Mamfe
Call me another lotus eater, if you like
I will stand my ground.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 14 juillet 2011


Por Tikum Mbah Azonga

Cuando todos mis hermanos
Se van a la catedral
Me llevan solo a casa
No quieren que ir tambien
De ninguna manera

Cuando regresan a casa
Siempre, sin jaqueta
Y sin comentarios
Y que hay para comer
Me dicen que el vecina esta infermo
Pero cuando hay trabajo para hacer
Me llaman todos
En el mismo tiempo.

Copyright 2011


(For Kelly)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Why don’t I always have what I want
Why is this life this way?
I love my fellow human being
I offer help wherever necessary
But I also want something in return
It’s something for something
Not something for nothing
That’s what I want.

Yet when I move nearer, they move away
When I go in, they go out
When I go out, the go in
When I call, they giggle
I want my presence to be felt
I want to be present
I want to be seen
I want to be heard
I want to lead
I want to rule the world.

Copyright 2011


(For Ngong Bertrand)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Could people still be this good
Or am I dreaming?
Have heaven’s doors and windows
Suddenly flung open and whisked everyone up
With no ticket, no money, no strings?
Why have all the girls` faces brightened up
And all the boys` grips become firmer?
Surely there must be something in the offing.

Cars drive past and I am ticked off as ready food
Amphi 750 is full to the brim and still streaming
All oil paintings I see are like obsolete bows and arrows
Any attempts at changing money simply flop
Science students talk of nothing but concentric circles and rings
When I attempt to walk up the wrong way, all strung
Multiple hands stop me short of the garner
Today, I wonder how so suddenly man can be so much of an underling.

Copyright 2011


(For Ronard)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

A girl with the fear of the Lord
That’s who I am
No more, no less
And I stand my ground
I do so because I know myself

Each time I fall
I pick up myself promptly
And look up to the source of all life
Instantly my spirits return and I take off
The next minute, I`m hearing from him.

lundi 11 juillet 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Hi All,

Our brother Akaba Ajitum asked whether I am Bambui, as a matter of genuine concern and not a challenge, I must say .I welcome that and below is my response:


I was born in Baforkum (Ala-akubeuh) which according to the beautiful write up posted on this forum by our brother, Tobby Neba, is one of the (five) “sub-chiefdoms of Manju, Mallam, Matula-ah, Fingeh, and Ala-akubeh.” I grew up in Baforkum with my parents who lie buried there today, in our compound currently inhabited by my elder sister, Ma Martina Ncha Mbah (who incidentally was a classmate of Mr Ephraim Amungwa`s, uncle of the present Fon of Bambui, at N.A. School). Our compound is being supervised by my Uncle Mr Victor Mbaku and overseen by the Chief of Baforkum. My father worked at the Agric Farm in Bambui from 1940-1984 when he died. I am his successor and a notable in Baforkum. Pa Geh who has a very large following of Bambui children was an elder brother to my mother.One of my father`s best friends was a certain Pa Forba from either Ntemban or Fulieh. His children and I interacted well with each other. Unfortunately I we lost touch with each other over the years. If anyone reading this knows how I can reconnect, I would be grateful.


When Yaounde hosted the annual jamboree of the Bambui Cultural and Devekopment Association of some years ago with the Fon of Bambui in attendance, I played a key role in terms of organization. I was instrumental in obtaining CRTV coverage of the even as at the time I was a full time employee of the corporation. I also got Bambui onto the TV programme, THE MONDAY SHOW. When in full view of everyone the Fon was given the honour to cut the cake with the Queen who accompanied him, he took everyone by surprise by basically saying that he would like that honour to go to one of his most distinguished sons. And so it was that it went down into the annals of history that it was I who cut the cake with the Queen. I once more thank the Fon for that recognition.


When the Tubah Union of Cultural and Development Associations was revamped some six or so years ago in Bambui with Dr. Mundi elected President, I was elected Publicity Officer and specifically counted as one of the statistics from Bambui. Just before the election took place, Tubah sons and daughter s were given some time to congregate under the canopy of the four main villages and plan their strategy. I was in the Bambui group along with other sons and daughters of Baforkum.


When I was principal of Nacho College in Bamenda from 1999-2001, I offered the palace of Bambui a 100 per cent scholarship so that the palace would send me a child to educate without the palace paying fee for the five years in the first cycle, as a way of returning something back to my own community. The Fon effectively gave me a little girl whom I enrolled in Form One. Unfortunately, relations between the prorpietors of Nacho and me turned sour and I had to leave. As a result, that plan disintegrated.


I am also Baforchu by virtue of the fact that my parents were both born there and I have a large family there on both sides. I am also largely accepted there as a son of the soil. But both the Fon of Bambui and that of Baforchu who is a cousin of mine, know about about my “dual nationality”. In fact, some four years ago or so, when I invited the Fon of Bambui to the funeral of my uncle (father`s junior brother ), HRH did me the greatest honour and turned up heavily accompanied. His presenc e scored high points for me. While the Fon of Bambui sat with the Fon of Baforchu, the former joked by telling the Fon of Baforchu: ” Mokorokah (III), look, you know Mr Tikum has one leg in Bambui and one leg in Baforchu. I accept that but if you are not careful, I will drag him so that he has both legs in Bambui and no leg in Baforchu!” That was a joke that went down very well because we all laughed.


Because of that Baforchu connection, we can bring a lot of good things to Bambui. If we have the fundraisng event as I suggested to Bambui Village Council Chairman, Mr Nchami, as a way of refurbishing the dilapidated Bambui Palace, and I invite my Baforchu family to come and support us, they will come. By extension, I can also invite the Batibo and Metta communities and they will come. This diversity can be a richness for us in Bambui.

Long live our Bambui!

Copyright 2011

dimanche 10 juillet 2011


For Akye

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

You didn`t look everywhere
Did You?
Did you look among the daffodil beds?Di you look under the enamel flower pot?
Did you look between the Tilly lanterns?
Did you look among the rejected ballot papers?
Did you even look on the honours list?
That of the newly elected ASJUB officials?

I have a future cut out like Chinaware
I have no fear of that which is new
If you like, I can spin you new threads
What I hate is leadership rot
That`s why our new team will always carry lanterns
We do not doubt the value of our peers
So that when the time comes our names shall be on the scroll
That`s why the world, this world, needs presidents.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 7 juillet 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) national radio station on the 3rd of April 2003. The paper was broadcast on the occasion of the meeting of the National Monetary and Financial Committee at that time. The piece was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on CRTV, Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.


Whenever the National Monetary and Financial Committee meets, it is an event which economic operators and international donors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank., monitor very closely because the meeting leads to a reading, if not an analysis of the state of the nation’s economic health, as it were. On the occasion, statistical analyses are done in comparison to previous periods and projections duly made for the period ahead. As such, the forum serves as a vital barometer for measuring the state of the economy.

One major revelation that has emerged from the current meeting is that the Cameroonian economy is alive and kicking. Growth rate is positive, standing at 4 per cent, although falling short of the projected 5.3 per cent. Inflation on the other hand has performed better than expected, standing at 3 per cent, instead of 4 per cent as expected. Real term growth which had marked some key sectors in recent years has continued to firm up. The sector includes telecommunications with one major change within it being the mushrooming of call boxes all over the country. As a matter of fact, the speed with which call boxes as a business have taken hold of the country is breathtaking, compared with the abysmal failure that led to public telephone booths being swept away some years ago, almost as soon as they were installed by the State. Not only were the booths shunned by the public, but they were also largely vandalized by them. Call boxes, on the other hand, have literally received a warm embrace from the public. Perhaps this is because as a privatized business in which those who are capable are allowed to operate, and they do so with their personal touches so that the user can pick and choose.

Public transport is another domain that has done well, with more and more inter-city bus companies taking their place on the market. Concerning urban transportation, taxi fares have remained relatively stable for over ten years at the rate of 150 Francs CFA per drop, on average. In the big towns such as Douala and Yaoundé, private bus companies and motor bike taxis are helping to solve the problem of congestion. Agriculture has continued to be the mainstay of the bulk of Cameroon’s active population. The decades-long support from the oil sector oil has continued unabated, even if there have been fluctuations in production quantities. Nonetheless, there is some feeling of disappointment on the part of some observers who feel that President Paul Biya has failed to lift the veil of secrecy his predecessor, Ahmadou Ahidjo, threw over oil production revenue.

Cameroon’s balance of trade deficit was cut from -CFA114.6bn in 2001 to –CFA64.7 bn last year. The overall situation of the world’s economy has been favorable, thus lending the national economy a shot in the arm. For instance, the world economy has grown at 2.8 per cent, better than the 202 per cent growth rate registered two years previously. In the CEMAC region, GDP stood at 3.7 per cent, with projections for this year put at 4 per cent. Inflation is expected to level at 3 per cent. Furthermore, it is expected that once the Douala Stock Exchange goes fully operational, the overall reading of the economy will improve even further.

Even so, it has not all been a bed of roses for Cameroon’s economy. The vexatious question of endemic power cuts from the national supplier, AES Sonel has put a sour taste in the mouth of many a Cameroonian and even businessman. The aluminum parastatal, ALUCAM, for instance, has been so rocked by inconsistent electricity supply that it now functions on only 30 per cent of its normal capacity. What is even more baffling about AES Sonel is that it is largely a “private” sector company which bought over the former SONEL when it was put up for privatization by the government. Paradoxically, many are those who wonder today why in the days when SONEL was owned by Cameroon and run by Cameroonians, power users were never subjected to such “torture”. On another sad note, the national carrier, Cameroon Airlines, has seen its turnover drop by 8.3 per cent to 37.9bn, mainly as a result of stiff competition from airlines such as SN Brussels and Swiss International Airlines. Although privatization has taken place at SONEL – despite the hitch – the same result is still awaited of the national telecommunications giant, CAMTEL, and its water distribution counterpart, SNEC.

The state would do well to address these thorny issues, in order to place the economy on a better footing. Even so, no amount of first aid is likely to yield the desired results unless it is accompanied by indispensable accompanying cleaning up measures such as good governance, including and especially the intensification of the fight against corruption. It is only then that sustained economic growth can have any meaning for the country.

Copyright 2011

mercredi 29 juin 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

It wasn`t worms
At least not another battalion
Weren`t we infested and festooned enough?
Did we still have to be inundated, drenched, drowned and swept away
Like the fish in Pa Muka`s flooded fishponds?
Then what would Dr Oben say in his next peer-reviewed journal
After all he was our specialist in fish farming and aquatic science
This wizard knew all the secrets of the little beast.

Anyway, the house, all of it
Didn`t leak, it just stank
And that was better, if you know what I mean
No amount of perfume from Pretoria
Or dollars from America
Or incense from the Orient
None of those could change anything. None
So we were all hemmed in, trapped, cornered, caught
I felt rotten as my body touched hers in the darkness
But there was no way I could get onto Facebook
And tell Bridget about it
All about it.

Copyright 2011

lundi 27 juin 2011


Par Tikum Mbah Azonga

Nous sommes en juin
Et entre copains et copines
Nous ne vivons pas dans la plénitude
Mais nous côtoyons la fameuse voie lactée.

Pour ceux qui méconmnaissent le Roi Baudouin
Ceux-là ignore grossièrement leurs orignes
Le jour où ils mourront purement et simplement de lassitude
Toute surface trouée sera vite bradée
Alors, vivement que la fête soit belle!

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I won’t wait
For, why should I as if I was just a kid from Lower Mississippi
I won’t wait for the grass to grow under my feet
Neither will I look back at the Delaware rack
For fear of turning into a pillar of salt
Like Lot’s wife.

Isn’t life already enough of a bait?
Unless you competed for ten hamburgers without a tie?
It would be crazy to go from Texas to Los Angeles by fleet
Because it’s only a short walk with a single track
Hide away your Green Card, unless you’re carrying Virginia’s basalt
Only then will you know whether you wield an axe or a knife.

Copyright 2011


For Vicky, for the good times

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Dignity can not be bought
Neither can it be sold
Try it and you`ll see, I bet you
You do so at your own risk and peril
It may not be quite Humpty Dumpty
But it will all hell let loose
No Kaiser will come dressed in a kimono
And no palm wine will flow
Not even a drop.

Are you, just because of that, so distraught?
Then spare a thought for the Lord Mayor’s days of old
When he turned the municipality into one big zoo
I won’t forgive you for calling me, `Beryl`
Because I’m not just Vicky, but Victory
The big `V` sign, that’s the vocation I choose
I’m a born fighter, even only with my bow
And never, even for a kingdom, would I stoop low
For the last thing I want to do is hop.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 23 juin 2011


(A la seule et unique Eyenga)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Je ne sais pas, Monsieur
Franchement, je ne sais pas
Et je ne mens pas
Etant donné que je ne sais pas lire dans les pensées des gens
Il n'y a que vous qui puissiez me le dire
Le soleil,
Oui, je veux bien. Mais je préfère celui de la Solex
Ma beauté, me dites-vous. Oui, mais je préfère vous envoyer là-haut
Regardez la lune. Comme elle est belle!
Moi je suis quoi par rapport à elle?
Rien. Le néant.

Digne fille de la Lékié qui brille de toutes les couleurs
Je ne mâche pas les mots, peu importe le fracas
Voilà pourquoi personne ne peut me secouer à Obala
Ni maintenant, ni même dans cent ans
Alors, pour éviter le pire
Je conseille à tous mes prétendants de ne pas franchir le Niveau Seuil
Sauf s'ils sont en mesure de contenir le vortex
Sinon ils seront tous accusés de faux et d'usage de faux
Comme toi tu dis que je suis ton Journal Elle
On verra si je vivrai comme telle
Autrement c'est toi qui en sortira béant.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I’m inspired each time I see you
It’s not your eyes or even your smile
Neither is it your looks
No, it’s something else
It’s your aura, your body chemistry
You make me feel good
You make me feel high.

With you around me why would I ever want the loo?
Unless we were both sailing down the Nile
And me holding tightly to all my books
Regardless of wherever are all the Earls
Should anyone mention the registry
Then Ill remind them of my hood
And the fact that Cynthia is high.

Copyright 2011

mardi 21 juin 2011


Par Tikum Mbah Azonga

Il est trois heures et je m’ennuie
Je m’ennuie à mourir
Alors, pas de poissons fumés, pas de saucissons
Ni de truffes, ni de salade
Allons tous à la prochaine fête
Les mains vides
Bras ballants

Que ce soit pour un jour ou pour une nuit
Qu’importe ? On finira tous par courir
Avec ou sans hameçons
Mais si Monsieur le Curé ose partir seul en ballade
Rappelons-lui tout de suite sa dette
Peu importe la mine qu’il affichera ou ses vieilles rides
Seuls compteront nos vieux anciens combattants.

Copyright 2011


Par Tikum Mbah Azonga

Je te crois, crois-moi
Alors, ne perds pas la tête pour rien
Il n’est pas encore minuit
Ni à Bonn, ni à Anvers
Et les rideaux sont tirés.

Est-ce donc ton chemin de croix
Ou simplement le jour de la fameuse fête des Haïtiens?
Et on n’est pas encore induit ?
Alors, pourquoi parle-t-on à tort et à travers
Et toi, tu me dis qu’on n’est pas à couteaux tirés ?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Did grandpa’s cobweb lie
I mean, did it lie through its teeth
Blatantly and unashamedly
While Kamanga was still rising in Lusaka?
And did she notice it at all?
Or was she too overwhelmed by its
Multifaceted tentacles and web-construction prowess?

Did the comb-footed spider therefore pry?
And spill the beans as proof of sleuth
Or did it once again, like the Palace Clock of Lusaka
Box itself into a corner and refuse to walk tall?
Then why didn’t the rest of us fetch the stilts?
Or were we still waiting for the ill-fated princess?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I didn’t wet the bed
No, I didn’t, I bet you
I just did the pie chart thing
I did it to map out my country
But it came out as Africa
But I did it, remember?
Surely that isn’t bed wetting, is it?

I didn’t pool it with Ted
I don’t believe in tango for two
But I’m wary of the wasp’s sting
That’s why for the right circumference to comply
One must junket from Luanda to Lusaka to Pretoria and Accra
Must you be a member?
Well, those who live will know it.


vendredi 17 juin 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Will the end lines cross at last
Or will they like the forsaken lap dog
Bark at the wrong target and pop up uninvited for dinner
Letting loose the molten crow bar and cursed smoke-coated lips
Like another loose canon?

Will the Fon`s whistle blower finally blast
Or will the folded window blinds refuse to twitch
Making Mary’s Christmas puddings look like
Half baked cake for the outgoing Moderator?
Surely, that’s why our dining lines will never intersect.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 16 juin 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

There have recently been repeated calls on FACEBOOK for Paul Biya to go. Someone even wondered whether his armed forces could treat him the way Ivorian Laurent Gbagbo`s armed Forces treated him. Below is my reaction, strengthened by my experience in the many African countries I have been to.

My answer to that question is: No, Biya is unlikely to be treated by the Cameroonian military the way the Ivorian military treated Gbagbo. The Ivorian president was not in control of his military; Biya is in control of his; Gbagbo did not have a good synergy with his military, whereas Biya enjoys one with his. Besides, the armed forces of Cameroon are well treated and respected, compared with those in a good number of African countries. And in any case, Cote d`Ivoire`s first president never really gave his armed forces the importance Ahmadou Ahidjo gave his own here in Cameroon. Perhaps it was because Ahidjo`s action was guided by the guerilla war of the time. But Houphouet was definitely not interested in building up a strong army. Comparatively, in the Cameroonian armed Forces, hierarchy is respected and cohabitation of the disparate and heterogeneous elements has been more or less harmonized. Biya has a mastery of his country in terms of knowing what is going on at all times in his country. Gbagbo was very much a stranger in his won country and even considered Ouattara who had once served in government as a foreigner. Again, comparatively, Cameroon has enough to eat within the country. The problem may be with getting it into every needy mouth. But within the country, there are supplies. Cameroonians have also always had their beer whenever they needed it, even in the thick of the economic crisis. Such conditions are not common in many African countries.

The talk that “Biya must go” does not stem from any solid foundation. It is only an expression of emotions and wishful thinking. It`s mere rhetoric. It`s talk.. Proponents of that thesis must ask themselves the tough questions and find answers for them: How will he go? When will he go? Who will make him go? Why should he go? Only because he has been there for too long? What does the constitution say? 0r does the constitution not matter? The best mind set to have here is that of the football coach whose team is losing. He needs to maintain a level and objective head and plan a strategy for reversal. It is not shouting slogans, chest thumping and saber rattling that scores goals. Another point to be made is that it is not even because someone expresses angrily his wishes for Biya to go that it will not happen. Anger will not solve the problem. Again, the analogy of the embattled and embittered and beleaguered coach would fit in here. What has happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc, is not necessarily a pointer to what may happen in Cameroon. That is my view.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 9 juin 2011






By all accounts, turning back the clock can be a daunting experience. This is so for several reasons, one of which is the reluctance to voluntarily take a walk along memory lane and be confronted with some ugly and unwanted happening from the past. Another reason is obviously the pointlessness of the retrospection on the grounds that not much is remembered or ought to be remembered from such a “distant” past and that besides; one ought to let bygones be bygones.

Nonetheless, as far as yours faithfully is concerned, there is one incident in my past life that has stubbornly refused to go away. It keeps invading my privacy and disrupting my free moments to. That incident is indelibly engraved in my mind like the giant door knob of some Gothic church door tucked away in the now hidden bowels of Europe. That episode happened to me when I was in Class Three Primary at St. Michael’s Catholic School, Musongmabu, Bambili, today Government Primary School, Musongmabu.


My teacher in that year was Mr. Michael Chibikom, whom I remember was he only teacher of mine to have visited each and everyone of his pupils at home. The day he came to our compound in Baforkum, I spotted him from afar, ran to him and collected his bag as he entered the compound. After he had sat down with my parents, my mother offered him roasted cassava with ripe pears which he ate with gusto. Mr. Chibikom was also the only teacher whom I remember shared the money our school won during the march past that was part of celebrations marking the annual feast of St. Peter and Paul’s feast day. This took place down at the Bambui Parish compound and brought together all the Catholic schools in Bambui, Bambili, Kejom Keku (Big Babanki) and kejom Ketingoh (Babanki Tungoh). It was always great fun for me to travel down to St. Peter’s and Paul’s Primary School and join in the feast. I had the singular honor among all of us who went down from my school in the sense that the wives of my uncle, Pa Geh A.A. who brought food to sell to participating pupils, would feed me and my friends heavily and free of charge.

Back at school when the feast was over, Mr. Chibikom would use the money given our school to buy and cook food which we ate in the classroom with him, he helping himself at his table, after having asked one of us to clear the table of his books. While eating he would converse with us in a most accommodating manner. At some point he would start giving out the pieces of meat that were left in the bowl next to him. It was to the brightest girl, the brightest boy, the best behaved boy and the best behaved girl, the neatest boy and the neatest girl, the most punctual boy and the most punctual girl, etc. I got a piece for being the “quietest boy”, although to this day, I still do not know whet he meant by “quietest boy.”


So the sad incident I alluded to took place one day in Mr. Chibikom`s class. My seat was the fourth on the first row as one entered the classroom. I shared a desk with Lucia Mubatu who by far had the best handwriting in the class. Her handwriting was so good that I did everything to copy it during writing time. Unfortunately for me, while her graphics were purposeful, well conceived and well articulated so that they had an imposing symmetry and architecture, mine, on the other hand were rushed, uncoordinated, poorly thought out and poorly executed. Consequently, the result in my book was a heartrending rendition characterized by amateurism and disgust. Behind me sat Esther Nkwenti who was incidentally the daughter of my mother’s Goddaughter. I had always thought that blessed with such company, I was on safe ground until Esther did something to me that did not just annoy me but left me embittered and with the strong feeling that she had betrayed me. So, it was not just friendly fire or “l`ennemi dans la maison”. No, far from it!


On that fateful day as the lesson was going on, I felt a hand reach out and touch the back of my neck. Turning round, I found it was Esther. Her right hand was held up at me and she screamed at the top of her voice: “My Mami, eh! Lice!” Heads turned and I heard sighs and gasps of sympathy, some for joy, from my peers, especially the girls. I noticed that what Esther was holding up was a live head louse still desperately moving its legs in all directions as it struggled to break free. I froze and regretted how such little unnerving animals could let one down so irretrievably in public. Just imagine the ungrateful idiots of creatures! They are just like mosquitoes. They come to you like humble visitors and once you give them shelter and they are comfortable ensconced sucking away your blood for free, they still stir up the world against you.

Bewildered, I looked at the teacher. He understood my predicament.

“What did you say, Esther?” he asked as he came nearer.

“Lice, Sir. Lice. I caught it on his neck.”

“Then drop it on the floor and crush it with your foot. There is no use holding it up there as you are doing.”

Turning to me, the teacher said, “When you go home, make sure you have a hair cut.”

“Yes, Sir.” I replied with the confusion and shame of a boy who had been caught doing something awfully wrong.

“What was I saying? Oh yes, I remember. It was how to work out the Lowest Common Multiple. Let’s come back to the lesson”


When I think of that incident of so many years ago and the grief it caused me, I draw comfort from a similar one I witnessed in a post office in Britain some years ago. The victim this time was a British man of West Indian origin. The man was wearing dreadlocks. We were inside the post office and had, as usual, queued up waiting for our turns to approach the service counters. Suddenly, a White woman who was behind the man reached out and quickly extracted something from the back of his neck. Then holding it up triumphantly, she cried out as if she had shot an elephant,

“Take this! It’s from your body”

The Rasta man turned round with pride and dignity. The rest of us held our breath, not knowing what would be his next move. But we suspected he would rain insults on her. But no, he proved us wrong. Instead he rebuked the woman roundly and loudly,

“Put it back! I say, put it back where you took it! It’s mine, not yours! That’s how you White people are. When you see a nice thing with a Black man, you take it. You always take and take but never give!”

Overwhelmed, devastated and crushed, the woman placed the louse back on the man’s neck and as if cognizant of what game was going on, the beast crawled slowly but steadily back into the man’s long hair.


Having read this account so far, you may be full of sympathy for us victims. But hold your horses, because the tale is far from over. And I should know about lice because I grew up in a large compound where several of us children slept on the same bed and thereby facilitated the transfer of head lice from one person to the other. This usually happened at night while were asleep and our heads touched each and probably stayed in touch for hours while we snored unaware of the fact that were facilitators of cross pollination. As if enough was not enough, it was not only head lice that harassed us. We also caught body lice specialized in invading and inhabiting our clothes, especially pants, so that while head lice fed on the blood in our head, they fed on the blood on the other parts of our bodies and had as their natural habitat, our clothes.


Body lice were incredibly resistant to treatment and could hang on to one’s clothes for fairly long periods despite the stringent measures that were taken to flush them out. In fact, in extreme cases of resistance, owners of infested clothes had no choice than to throw the clothes away. The best treatment our parents found for body lice consisted of boiling the infected clothes in water stood in a “head pan” on the fire, and stirred with long wooden sticks so that the heat should reach every part of the garment. But even when the lice were dead, it was difficult to extract them from the clothes and discard them.


Treatment for head lice was different in approach. It was also more expensive, more painful to the body and lasted longer than for body lice. Parents made sure they administered the therapy after children had finished all other chores such as house work and homework. Then the mother would get a number of camphor balls and crush them, mix the powder with kerosene and rub it vigorously throughout the head of the “patient”. After that, a loin was tied tightly around the treated head so that no part of it was exposed and so served as an escape route for the lice. The idea was to quarantine the them, get them poisoned with the improvised concoction and allow them to then suffocate and die.

Such was a very uncomfortable position for the infected person because whenever the hair product came into contact with any head sores that might have been caused by scratching since lice bite and leave a lot of itching on the body, this hurt.

The following morning, the loin would be removed and the head washed thoroughly with water and soap. Even so, the danger of re-infection still loomed if the treated child again slept on the same bed with untreated children. The best treatment was really to shave off all the hair in order to deprive lice of their natural habitat.


This story is part of current research I am carrying out on a relatively new branch of journalism called LITERARY JOURNALISM. This is in a nutshell, a combination of journalistic expertise with literary techniques (my definition). Lan J.To (2005) cited in Hester (2005:112)puts it this way: "The literary journalist is the writer who is sufficiently journalistic to sense the swiftly changing aspects of the dynamic era of our times, and sufficiently literary to gather and shape his material with the eye and hand of the artist"

Lan J. To (2005), `Beyond Reporting`, in Handbook for Third World Journalists, The Centre for International Mass Communication Training and Research, Georgia, pp 112.



samedi 4 juin 2011


(For Welle)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Is love real
Or is it just a hollow sham?
Is it papered over cracks
Or yet another act of shoddy contrition?
Why does our church pastor think it`s all sweeping under the carpet?
What, for God`s sake, is this love?
This demon I can neither touch nor see
Yet daily it blows in the wind
If it be a flower, then which is it?
Is it the rose, the daffodil,the carnation?
The tulip? The anemone? The gladiolus? The Iris or the rhododendron?
Tell me then; tell me all about it. Will you?

Shall I then never strike this deal
In a world where everything tastes like ham?
Can I blur the writing on its tracks?
Or must I first blow the moderator`s trumpet?
I thought I had hit the treasure trove
And so I quickly wrote to Basel
But look what I have got on the hind
Surely not enough theories or hypotheses to posit
So, when shall I find my long lost love and hold it without frills?
Does it mean I`ll never dance tango for two?

Copyright 2011


(For Jacqueline)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Is that what I want to be
Or is it just a mirage of it?
Am I between a rock and a hard place
Or simply at the end of my tether?
Nay, for a Gemini and a Lesan to boot
I surely deserve better than that
So, tomorrow at midday and unprovoked
I will rise with the falcon
And hedging my bets as best I can
I will with one giant leap but without a single spring
Land on God`s dining table
To him in private will I state my case
And make my point
I`m sure he`ll nod and smile
And lift me back to earth
This time with feet of reinforced steel
No longer molten clay.

Copyright 2011

lundi 30 mai 2011



(Reminiscences of holidays in the village)

Dedicated to my mother of blessed memory, Abu Prudentia Azi Mbah nee Tamo




This story is set in Baforkum in Tubah Sub Division (Mezam). Baforkum is a small `Baforchu` village that came from Santa Mbei and settled in Bambui over a century ago. Baforkum is hemmed in between Bambui proper and the Agric Farm (today IRAD Bambui), more or less. Baforkum is one of three sub villages in Tubah Sub Division, the other two being Finge (still in Bambui) and Sabga which is in Kejom Ketingoh (Babanki Tungoh). We of Baforkum speak our own language, have our own Ngumba Juju, and our own Chief, HRH Boma who fought in the World War for Britain and still has memorabilia of that golden period adorning the walls of his palace to this day. For the record, the other villages of the Baforchu family include Banjah which shares Bamenda III Sub Division with Nkwen, Ngyen Mbo in Mbengwi Sub Division, Santa Mbei, Baba II and Mbu (the Mother Village of the entire Baforchu clan), the last three all falling under Santa Sub Division. My parents moved from Mbu in 1940 and settled in Baforkum when my father was employed at the Agric Farm. We have a large compound in Baforkum where I was born and bred and where my parents lie buried. But I belong to both Baforkum and Mbu.


I wonder which part of the long vacation when you were in secondary school you would say is the one you miss most. For me, the answer is unequivocal. It isn’t `back to school` as you may be thinking. No, it’s rather the last two weeks of August and the first two of September, just before I packed my bags to start another term at my cherished boarding school, Sacred Heart College, Mankon. In those days, that period was the peak one for nocturnal crickets. I mean those small insects which wear the glisteningly black pairs of wings and sometimes deliberately raise them and make them rattle a piercing piece of music. The said crickets use bored earth holes for their natural habitat. Wikipedia has a more graphic description of their physical features (or morphology): “Brown to black , front wing varying in length, covering half to entire abdomen; antennae about as long as distance from head to end of abdomen; wings held flat over body; hind wings folded and hidden under leathery front wings .” For the science-inclined, the phylum of crickets is Arthropoda; its class, Insecta; and its order, Orthoptera.


Once darkness fell, a host of crickets leapt into action. They would scamper out of their holes, I suppose backwards, and once they felt their body was just about out of the hole, they would stop and raise their famous wings and let out the music which could be heard from a considerable distance. Usually, many of them came out for this ritual. So it was like some chorus; no, a choir, a whole choir. The `rattle and hum` could go on interrupted for hours. Yet, I always wondered whether the poor creatures never grew tired. Then again I thought they were probably created and destined to sing themselves to death like the ill-fated birds in Australia’s Colleen McCullough’s award-winning novel, The Thorn Birds. But perhaps for the crickets the non-stop hissing was copulation language used to woo the opposite sex.

The crickets` song which keeps coming to me even today as I write, like The Ancient Mariner’s memories of the tough life at sea, served as my wake-call for the night’s catch, or better still, kill. I knew it was time to go out, to venture out in the dark, to take a bold leap in the dark, and catch as many crickets as possible. The more, the merrier, and besides, there’s safety in numbers, as the saying goes. After all, my mother was waiting for them in order to cook the following day’s meal.


These were simple: a bush lamp, a knife or cutlass and a container for holding captured crickets. A bottle was the most appropriate container on this occasion because its walls were slippery and therefore unsafe for a cricket to stage a surprise escape by crawling out. Another advantageous aspect of the bottle was its narrow neck, which limited the potential escape route.


When the choir was on in full swing, I would advance “gingerly” as James Hadley Chase would put it. As there were so many crickets screaming at the same time, I would select one, perhaps the nearest, or the one at the safest distance, and go for it. With the knife in my right hand and the lamp in the left, I would move forward on tip toe, ensuring that I didn’t abruptly scare the target away by stepping on the grass. This was taking place in the compound farmyard on which my father grew coffee, plantains and bananas, and my mother farmed groundnuts, corn, yams, Irish potatoes, cocoyams and beans. Sometimes some of the crickets were too close to each other for my liking. When that did not happen, it was therefore good news for me. For the untrained ear, the noise they made could be deafening and disconcerting. Not for us the adept. Our kinds were no novices or neophytes. Far from it! This was an exercise we had repeated year in year out. So when these adversaries attempted to blow up our ear drums with their din, we knew exactly how to resist and put up the good fight. We knew just how to shut off all other crickets and concentrate on the particular one that interested us at that moment. So at such times, we heard only one of those multitudes of sounds.

The best way to approach the beast was to hold the lamp forward and already raise the knife or cutlass before getting closing in.


Typically, once as I approached and spotted the cricket’s raised black wings, I held my breath so that the insect would not speed back into its fissure. At close range, I would quietly raise my weapon even higher, in order to gain momentum, and then at the speed of lightening, strike a wall between the crickets head and the entrance into the hole. As it responded to the stimulus, it found itself blocked by the heavy and cold knife. At once I would hand the knife to one of my junior brothers and reaching out with the skill of an expert, grab it by the scruff of the neck. The first thing to do was break its neck. It was necessary to do so in order to incapacitate it, for, it had claws that could injure human flesh and in the process, cause grief and even put an undue end to the hunt. This was my happiest moment, one of victory, which I immediately turned round and shared with the junior brother who was with me at the time. It could be Eva, Muma, Eric or Festus, usually.

Despite the merry catch, this was so far, only a single cricket. To boast that we had caught enough, we needed to fill the bottle. On a not-so-good night, filling it three quarters was tolerable, But if we did less, we grew disappointed with ourselves and probably started crying before returning home, so that our mother would pity us and not rebuke, or worse still, beat us. This was a trick we always played if we were sent to the stream and to fetch water and we inadvertently broke the calabash we went with and had to return home with no water and no calabash. The trick always worked for me. But if on the other hand, on being sent to the stream I expressed reluctance and then later broke the calabash, there was no way I would escape retribution because my mother would conclude that I broke “her” calabash deliberately because I did not want to go in the first place.

If it was a good night, we would catch more and more crickets and feed them into the bottle. It was always interesting to watch then as they struggled for dear life in the bottle. I often wondered how they could still be alive when “living conditions” in there were so untenable. But somehow or other, they survived and none would die before we handed the bottle to our mother.


How long could it take for us to start and finish a hunting session? Well, hours. Perhaps, four or so. However, since there must always be an end to anything that has a start (except God, the Alpha and the Omega. of course); there had to be a dividing line with the hunting exercise. My mother always knew when to blow the final whistle of the match: “Children, come back to the house! It’s late! Come home with the little you may have!” Back at home, we handed her the booty. We had finished our job. Now it was time for hers. One thing we knew and relished was that the following day our mother would cook a large pot of fufu corn and cricket soup. Her `cricket soup` was made with egusi, and I liked it thick. In that way, I could transport a large quantity of it on my lump of fufu corn into my eager and waiting mouth.


After I had eaten my share and my father returned from work (he was a Night watchman at the Agric Farm) and was eating his, I would pass by him several times, pretending to be busy looking for something. He was one man who understood me very well and knew my intentions at every moment. So he would look at me and with a smile, say: “Would you like to eat with me?” Being the biggest of the boys, I suppose that was my right, my privilege and my prerogative, although the others thought my father “favored’ me. But to be fair to the old man, when we were all present, he would let us all finish his food. On such an occasion, it was never given to me alone.


This story is part of current research I am carrying out on a relatively new branch of journalism called LITERARY JOURNALISM. This is in a nutshell, a combination of journalistic expertise with literary techniques (my definition). Lan J.To (2005) cited in Hester (2005:112)puts it this way: "The literary journalist is the writer who is sufficiently journalistic to sense the swiftly changing aspects of the dynamic era of our times, and sufficiently literary to gather and shape his material with the eye and hand of the artist"

Lan J. To (2005), `Beyond Reporting`, in Handbook for Third World Journalists, The Centre for International Mass Communication Training and Research, Georgia, pp 112

Copyright 2011

samedi 28 mai 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Sat, May 28, 2011 at 8:44 PM

FON FON wrote, "Rather than questioning the source I think what
is proper is that each and every individual could use this
as an eye opener then try to locate any of the elders still
living to get their own version. You can then write your
version on the site."

MY REACTION is "Although I am not a spokesman for MBU BAFORCHU, I’m
sure they know what they are doing and will not allow themselves to be
deterred or sidetracked by any adverse comments. They really must
forge ahead relentlessly and unperturbed with furnishing us with these
indispensable bits and pieces of our own history.

What MBU BAFORCHU is doing is new. It is unprecedented and a major
innovation. You may even call it revolutionary because prior to now,
none of us had taken so much time to research and commit our history
to writing. I am sure MBUDCA GLOBAL is not unfamiliar with being
tested and rocked. There is always a price to pay for pioneering a
venture, for getting there first, for being the first-past-the-pole,
because you take some people by surprise and even shock others, simply



Copyright 2011


(For Laurantine)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

May be I did but did not know I did not
That’s life, isn’t it?
It isn’t about Facebook or yellow nectar or the new gold rush
No, it’s the hapless, hungry, stemless sky larks
Who burn their last piece of wood at both ends?
Like the foolish virgins, they walk on their poor heads
And shamelessly dance in the rain on Sundays.

I’m not one ever to blow cold and hot
But as a researcher, I can hypothesize and duly posit
Like the royal broom, I can sweep away any thrush
I know the names of all my brown sharks
And I am an expert at monetary trends
As a Virgo, I can walk on threads
But mind you, I also have my fun days.

Copyright 2011

samedi 14 mai 2011


For Minnette

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I like strangers
Yes, I do
And I make no bones about it
I am prepared to wine and dine with them
Even if it means treading where angels fear to dare
You may say I’m spreading myself out too thinly
So be it
After all, he who ventures nothing, gains nothing
And life is never a bed of roses, anyway.

Do I like debaters?
Of course, I do
Because I firmly believe that to get it you must work for it
Life is not only about Bethlehem
It’s also about being fair and paying one’s fare
Although I may criticize sorely
I do so in good faith for we can’t afford to live life dreamily
Whatever we do must fit
So that for ever we don’t lose the silver lining
If we do, then what on earth will ever again hold sway?

Copyright 2011


(For Musi Jane Nanhyigha)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Who am I, really?
A piece of wood flung at the callous wall?
A rotten chunk of meat thrown at the archbishop’s dogs?
Or a lone candle stood at the altar by Christ’s own successor?
Or am I the next standard bearer to walk up the stairs of the Kremlin?
Even without going to Delaware? Do you care?
Are you even listening or am I left to my own devices
Stood out in the cold to sing out my voice and lungs?

Why can`t I also move and have my being freely?
Why, like the man of Sisyphus, must I always stall?
Yet my wheels are hampered by no clogs
For I know I belong to the protector
Even if I`ve never lived in Melim
Sometimes I wonder why for once, I can`t also dare
And shout to the world that I too am full of devices
Even if what I need badly are a new set of rungs?

Copyright 2011

mercredi 11 mai 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Shall we dig in our heels
Or shall we flee?
What does it matter as long as they don`t show glee?
After all, is anyone of us able to come up with an eel?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Have they crossed it
Or are the poor souls still thinking about it?
If it`s all been used, then let them tell me
Don`t treat me as if I was the world`s ugliest bee.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Are we being hounded
Or simply being rounded
When meat pies become Sunday lunch
Then frankly, we`re nothing but a sorry bunch.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Will the two ever again meet
Or is it just another rotten chunk roasting in the heat?
Even when north and south stand aloof
Why do you quake for sour grapes through the roof?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Did you say, "River bird?"
Or was it "Cattle herd?"
So what about the red jug?
Or would you rather thrust it at the thug?

Copyright 2011

vendredi 6 mai 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I`m a jaded blue apron
But one with no beefed up icon
And no compressed gas chambers
We were three; now we are one.

Copyright 2011


By Tium Mbah Azonga

She is the best
Simply the best, I swear
All with the contours
And the smiles
And the assurances
It`s compatibility at its apex
But it`s not just a union made in God`s house
No, it`s one ordained in God`s bedroom.

So let`s walk abreast
Because that`s where we belong - no wear and tear
Let`s pick a boat and go on a package tour
All of that regardless of the mileage
Regardless of the multiple trances
Even if we are trapped by some entangled latex
Let it be our Garden of Eden
The bride and the bridegroom.

Copyright 2011


Monter avec des gants
Sans être d`un rang
Mais étant très élégant
Pour une soirée de poésie ahan.

Copyright 2011

jeudi 5 mai 2011


For Elangwe Ndingi

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Imaginary doing
And imaginary underlings
That`s what I loathe most
But when it comes to candle light
And the wild roars of the deep blue sea
I surely gird my loins aright
And step into the arena.

Don`t we all love hoeing?
Or do you prefer David`s slings?
And those Achirimbi anemones about which you boast?
If you`re not ready for the fight
Then I`ll write to the Holy See
And request another dinghy by right
If you don`t like it, go to Ndjamena.

Copyright 2011


For Saahkem Nancy Ephe

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

A girl with a difference
That`s what we all are
Forget Margaret Thatcher and her knighthood
I am also a Baroness
Baroness Saahkem
So let`s all go back to the bank
And count all the dormant butterflies.

Whether you pick the conference or the circumference
The light green lace will never be far
And that`s when nothing counts but brotherhood
For delegates like us who are full of prowess
And who yearn daily to go to Bethlehem
Far from being a question of rank
It`s a matter of who first spots the water lilies.

Copyright 2011


For Ma Stella

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Do I go to the net
Or do you just want me to play to the gallery?
I`m not a pretender
Neither am I an actress
I don`t paper over the cracks
Neither do I sweep things under the carpet.

You may very well call me your little pet
But don`t send me to Calgary
Even if like Stephen, I`m an iron bender
All I need is a little recess
So that I can mend the stable in the barracks
That`s when all shows will merge to become one puppet.

Copyright 2011

mercredi 4 mai 2011


For Missline

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Happy and unhappy trousers
That's what I wore yesterday
That's what I'm wearing today
And that's what I'll wear tomorrow
After all, why not?
Is life itself not happy and unhappy?

I fret when mankind flounders
And nothing else holds sway
That's why at all cost I shun the fray
As Sagittarius I also feel sorrow
But as the born fighter I can reduce it to naught
Outspoken? You bet! But I'm also snappy.

Copyright 2011


For Marion

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Tribute to my late dad
That's what I have to say
And I mean it
I say it from the bottom of my heart
Dad, accept this as my Golden Fleece
My sacred bouquet of flowers
My genuine words of thanksgiving
You deserve it all.

Without you, I wouldn't be clad
And I would never have my day
Even if I was fit
You loved me from the very start
Even when you went to Greece
That was when you brought back the louvers
Today that I am here, all alone and grieving
I know you want me to stand and walk tall.

Copyright 2011


For Emelda

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

How great is he, I wonder
He isn't a Fai
Neither is he the Chairman
But e is Lord
The Lord of Hosts
He owns the world, all alone
And all the people therein are his oyster.

Are we his canon fodder?
For always, He is nigh
He may very well not be our nearest pressman
But he perches on the fort
And daily receives a thousand and one toasts
All of them on one phone
Above all,he calls me his daughter.

Copyright 2011


For Emeli

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Oh! If I were God!
I would make this world all over again
I would remake it, recreate it
Turn all men into women
And all women into men
And then watch them play together.

I wouldn't feed them with any cod
No, but I would offer them gifts wrapped and stood in the rain
Never would I think any pastor unfit
For I don`t know how the Almighty made his stamen
So, how would I match his deeds letter for letter?

Copyright 2011


For Comfort herself

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

What really must I do to be herd?
Must I shout from the rooftops
Or kneel before the most high altar?
Must I first of all pray?
Does it really matter?
What happens now that I have a gagged mouth
And bound feet?

Although I am Comfort and not Hird
I do know about top of the pops
And above all, my alma matter
In my life, I have counted more than a sun's ray
Without ever having to batter
This beauty you proclaim is not from the south
It was simply imported in the last fleet.

Copyright 2011


(For Susan)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Beauty and brains, what a combination!Or don`t you think so?
What grabs me most are the contour lines
The missed symmetry and skewed research findings
But not so much the holy water
Or the altar sacrament
Or even the holy rosary.

Aren`t we all products of the great transfiguration?
Even if some of us came in with half a toe?
Nonetheless, we grow our own wines
And bear our own good tidings
Isn`t this also about smartness and the holy Father?
What we don`t want is another peppermint
So that even I, Susan, can boast of a second rosary.

Copyright 2011

samedi 30 avril 2011


(For Sarah)

By Tikum Mbah Azonga

You are the person
You are the one and no one else
You are the apple tree
The one I ran into by accident
I mean by pure chance
Yes, you are the one
The one and lone ideal teacher.

You may not be another Pearson
But you are my Oscar Wells
Even if it was all for free
I`d refuse to concede a single dent
Unlike Cyrus Vance
Who grossly tripped before the crown
That`s why with you I`ll always be a sea fairer.

Copyright 2011

dimanche 17 avril 2011



Although we may say we are used to close persons of ours dying, the case of Pa Samson Achu Tayong is a particularly sad one for me. And that is so for a host of reasons:

1. Genesis of a family

With the death of Pa Tayong, we, the Anomah children have lost our family head. The Anomah children are descendants of Anomah, prince to His Royal Highness Fon Nji Angyie of Mbu. Anomah gave birth to Tayong, Ngu, Clement Achu who settled in Muea,
Ndangoh and a sister who got married in Bali. Tayong became a polygamist and had an impressive number of sons of whom Pa Samson Achu Tayong was one. So was my father, Fan Mbah Tayong. Always Grad Pa was popularly known as Tayong that was a nickname that came to stay. His real names were Ndzah Rufoh. In fact, while I have named one of my sons, “Tayong”, my brother, Albert Ndi Mokom has named his own son by the real names of our grandfather, “Ndzah”. The name of our great grandfather, Anomah has also been replicated in the family. Professor Anomah Ngu, a son of Ngu bears that name. Pa Samson Achu Tayong also has a son who bears the name. For the record, once when I visited Pa Clement Achu in his compound in Muea {thanks to Ni Abraham Akum Mbony), he got so moved that he ordered that a cock be killed and prepared for feast. He also went into his ‘”box”, removed four sets of clothes including a “kente” which he said his “son” {Emmanuel Buban Ngu) had sent him from Ghana, and clad me with them! He also fetched a photographer before whom he and I posed for a historic photograph. That was a big honour. The family of the late Pa Isaac Anomah which includes Ernest, Eric, Ufei Nseke, Valentine, Moka, Jude, etc, are also part of the family group.

2. Me, stuck in mud

The entire clan in general and the Tayongs in particular will mourn his passing. That is as far as the family is concerned. As for me, my tears will flow for a long time to come and this will be coupled with a feeling of embitterment in me because there are things I had wanted to share with him, which I kept postponing. I admit that sometimes I am unnecessarily slow in acting, and this has been one of those. However, to be fair, I could not have thought Pa`s time was near. Only a couple of weeks ago, we were together in Santa for Mami Hermina`s burial, and when Pa`s dance ‘came out’, he was full of his usual vigour, gusto and oomph. As usual I walked and danced with him and spoke and joked with him in Lamnso which we often spoke to each other. Little did I know that was the last time I was seeing him.

3. Pa Tayong as my father

When my father (his Nini) died, it was at Pa Tayong`s compound at Atuakom that I was made successor. It was he who handed me my father’s cup and other accessories as part of my installation. It was their sister, Ma Susana Mambo Tayong, under the watchful eye of their eldest sister, Abu Atuck, who organized the grass beads that were put around my neck. It was Pa Tayong who blessed me. Nei Ngu Peter Mokom, the successor of the Ngu`s was unavoidably absent, but “empowered” his “elder brother”, Nei Tayong to go ahead with the ceremony. And he did it, in the presence of my other uncles, Pa Martin Mokom Tayong (the eldest), Pa Mathias Ndefru Tayong, Pa Joe Anye, Pa Damien Nche Tayong, Pa Denis Semeze Tayong, Pa Christopher Achu Ngu; and my aunts, named above, as well as Mami Aggie Alekum Tayong, Abu of Ndop-Babungo and Ma Pauline Achu. The successor of Pa Clement Achu could not be there either, because he was abroad. Pa Samson Achu Tayong is also Peter Ngu Tayong`s father.

4. I take my place among the elders

Since then, in my capacity as my father’s successor, I have been occupying his seat among his brothers and sisters whenever there is a family occasion. I have joined them in making contributions when a death of a family member is being celebrated. In fact, when Pa Vincent Ndangoh Tayong died, I was the treasurer who kept the money collected and I disbursed it as it was necessary. When Professor Anomah Ngu`s wife died, I played a similar role. When Pa Martin Mokom Tayong died, I played the role. When Pa Christopher Achu Ngu died, I was the Master of Ceremonies from the beginning to the end of the event.Here I would like to pay tribute to two maternal aunts of mine who always impressed upon me, the need for me to be "close" to my "fathers", meaning not just the brothers of my father but also his sisters. That piece of advice was pertinent because at the time I was being given it, both my Dad and Mum had passed on.Those aunts were Mami Anna Andze (of regretted memory) and Mami Martha Fri Mbo (thank God, alive and kicking).

4. A friend indeed

Like Pa Joe Anye Tayong once rightly remarked, through his own personal observation, Pa Tayong Samson Achu was more than an uncle or a grandfather to me. He was “a friend”. Often when I was in the compound, I slept with him on his bed and we would chat all night long, again, mainly in Lamnso. Whenever we had any family event, I was usually around him because according to family hierarchy, I was in his immediate entourage, by virtue of succession of my father. My prized items such as my “successor bag” and my traditional wear were kept in his bedroom. And so, I was never far from him. Pa Tayong was father to me in every sense of the word. So, you can imagine the depth of my grief.

5. Unfinished business

1. I was supposed to consult with PA so that I formally “feed” the family to conclude my installation as my father’s successor. That has not been done.
2. He was supposed to lead a delegation to Loum and Bangangte to formally and officially ask for the hand of my wife here. That was not done.
3. I was knighted and red-feathered by the late Fon of Mbu, Fohbolingong II. I never formally presented that feather to Pa Tayong.
4. The same Fon named me Tom Fon of Cameroonians in the United Kingdom. I never formally informed Pa Tayong.
5. When I published my collection of short stories, THE WOODEN BICYCLE, I named characters after Tayong and Anomah, etc. But although I gave Pa Tayong a copy, I did not celebrate the even as I would have wanted.
6. Later, when I published the collection of poems, SIGHS AND WHISPERS FROM WITHIN, I actually had one of the poems in it dedicated to him. Still, no pomp and pageantry followed.
7. Then when MODERN CAMEROON POETRY, Book 3 for Secondary Schools, came out, it carried a poem in it about the famous bicycle when Grandfather Big Pa Tayong owned when he lived in Bamali-Ndop many years ago. That bicycle was unique because he had a ‘driver’ just to carry him around with it. And when he went past his friends, he would say at the top of his voice that he was going ahead; they should follow (on foot).
8. Last year, my book of French and English poems on HIV AIDS sensitisation went on the Government Book List for five anglophone classes and four francophone classes. Again, although I told Pa about it, I did not give him a copy for him to "spit" on it, by way of benediction. Perhaps that is why this first year of the book on the booklist was rather lacklustre.
9. I earned my PhD in Mass Communication a couple of months ago and although I informed Pa Tayong verbally, I did not take the certificate to him so that he could bless it. He never touched it with those hands of wisdom and authority of his. So here I am, some how stranded with it.
10. I had always told Pa that we should, just the two of us, take a photograph clad in traditional regalia which we would enlarge so that he could hang one in his parlour and I hand one in mine. That project never took off. I had the same plans with my other uncle, Pa Martin Mokom Tayong, yet, like in the recent case of Pa Tayong, that photograph was never taken.

6. Pa Tayong and the bright side of life

I. Hilarity

Anyone who knew Pa was eternally happy to have met a man like him. In fact, I have often wondered whether he had any enemies. He was friends with everyone. He was a man to whom relationships mattered so much that when he collected rents from his tenants he would some times sit down with them and offers them beer.

II. Wives and the economic crisis

H e used to joke that when there was no crisis in the country and he had money, it was enough he should call his wife, “Julie!” and she would come running and asking him whether he wanted her to warm water for bathing or whether he wanted her to scratch his back. But now that there was no more, he said, when he called she would bark at him and not come. Instead she would send him a child saying, “Go and see what that man wants”.

III. Pa Tayong and police checks

He used to say that when he was stopped by the police who asked for his identity card, he would ask them why instead of looking at his face which was genuine, they preferred to look at a piece of paper with a lifeless impression of what he looked like.

IV. Encounter with the gendarmes

Once when he was still a public transporter, he carried a corpse from Widikum (I think it was) to Bamenda. Gendarmes stopped him on the way. When they asked him what was in the vehicle and he said what it was, they refused to believe him and proceeded to impound his vehicle. He got out of the vehicle, got some help, removed the corpse and put it before the gendarmes and started his vehicle. The officers literarily went on their knees to plead with him.

V. The prescription from Dr. Kwende

Pa Tayong used to cite the prescription given him by his doctor, Gilles Sama Kwende as “one Tuborg in the morning, one Guinness in the afternoon and one Castell in the evening.”

VI. Pa Tayong`s famous oath

Pa Tayong always swore on his Identity Card. He would speak and in order to show that he was speaking the truth, he would say, “Vraiment d`Identité!” which is how he came to be known as “Pa Vraiment”.

VII. What you probably didn`t know about Pa Tayong

Despite the large number of sons Grandpa Tayong had, he did not designate a successor before dying. He asked his children to meet and choose one of them to be successor. It fell on Pa Vraiment. And it was unanimous! If you are wondering how family could be so democratic back then in 1962 {because that was when grandpa died}, then it’s because you do not know the kind of man he was. He was the type who when preparing for a court case, he would sit before his family and ask them to ask him the kind of questions they felt he would be asked in court. So when he appeared in court, he had been tested enough.

Copyright 2011

mercredi 13 avril 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

The founding fathers got it wrong
They got it all wrong
And all of that in the name of political correctness
So let not those of us standing here and now
Claim that our cats were cleaner than theirs
If all we care about is a feline beast
Then what shall we say about
The numerous virgin gifts
Which were all of a sudden
Thrust at the Sultan of Foumban?


mardi 12 avril 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I saw him kiss her
He may deny it now, but I saw him do it
He thinks he`s God`s gift to the world
Just let him wait until the soldier ants start biting her.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I don`t know if it`s here
But I know it was sent
So, check again and have no fear
If you still can`t find it, the caretaker must repent.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

An impromptu reaction to the massive group of charred bodies Funge Diffang posted on Facebook today.

Those bodies aren`t bullet-riddled
They`re charred
They`re lined up
Arranged, massed up, jumbled up, shuffled, and reshuffled like a Pack of cards
See how bare they are!
Betrayed objects of base value.

Yet they`re human
Even if
They too are to someone, somewhere, some how
Uncles and aunts
Sons and daughters .
Nephews and nieces

So, whose greed is it?
Whose shame?
Whose disgrace ?
Whose humiliation ?
Whose betrayal?
If not ours
We who still live and behold and ponder and contemplate and wonder
We who still have it all on our laps
Partners in crime
We live to be haunted for ever
By those sordid image
By those macabre images
By those
By this heinous crime
By this dastardly crime
Man`s inhumanity to man
It`s all so disgusting
So repelling
So repugnant
So low
So below-the-belt
So squalid
So foul
So grubby\
So chilly
So horrid
So ghastly
So grisly
So ghoulish
So gruesome
So grisly.

But we`re all guilty
We all have blood dripping
From our pens
From our mouths
From our ears
From our nostrils
From our private parts
From our breath
From our very being
From our space
From our world
From our very being.

When the time comes
The moment of atonement
We shall all give an account
All of all
Singly and collectively
We shall answer questions
Searching questions
Answer for ourselves and for them
Right or wrong
For we are responsible
We are also responsible
This world is one, global
And echo one of us
Is his brother`s keeper.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

It isn`t normal at all
No, forget the packed lunches
For once, pick up your Holy Bible and walk tall
That`s the only way you can avoid the trenches.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

(For Ola During)

I need a man
Wherever I can find one
I need him so that the boss can lift the ban
In that way, I`ll be his Number One.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

Let`s not talk about it now
Let`s leave it for the evening before
When you hear the Queen Mother vow
Then wheel out all the pregnant girls to the fore.

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

All the swan birds have flown
Taken off before the Fon has sneezed
It has happened before the young have grown
So how shall the lone widows be quizzed?

Copyright 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga in Buea

A maiden workshop on culture and arts reporting in the South West Regional Headquarters of Cameroon opens up novel vistas for practitioners in the field and students in the classroom

Something has happened in the Cameroonian arts and culture world recently. A little over a week ago, some stakeholders in the arts and culture journalism sector met for three days here in Buea and came up with what can be regarded as a blueprint for the take off of art and culture reporting courses in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea.

A congregation with a difference

The composition of participants was quite appropriate because it consisted of members of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication led by its Head of Department, Henry Muluh and honored by the presence of Prof Enoh Tanjong, the architect of the department and its pioneer. But the professor of mass communication also came to the workshop as the representative of the Vice Chancellor of the University, unavoidably absent. Also present were a fine crop of practising journalists from various news organs, all of them as it were, united by the love for culture and arts reporting and the consensus that if ever that branch of journalism needed a push, it was here and now.

Mirrors of culture

In the invitation letters that went out to participants, the workshop convener, Mwalimu Gorge Ngwane who is the Executive Director of AFRICAphonie, said: “ The main objectives of this workshop are to expose lecturers of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department of the University of Buea to the possibility of introducing art and culture as either a separate or integrated module in their curriculum and to help journalists adopt more innovative ways of approaching coverage in the area of art and culture.” Even before the workshop began, Ngwane had set a cultural tone to things by saying in the letter of invitation: “We recommend that you dress in any cultural wear on Day 1 but AFRICAphonie will provide you with workshop polo shirts and baseball caps for you to wear on Days 2 and 3.” And so true to form, that was how we all turned up.

Orators of sterling worth

The list of speakers was in itself, another bouquet of flowers for culture and arts journalism. There were two main guests, Suzy Bell who is a Founder/Member of the African Arts Journalists Network in South Africa, and Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Journalist and Communications Consultant as well as Programme Coordinator of the Cultural Initiatives Support Programme in Accra, Ghana.

The Cameroonian top brass speakers who joined them included South West Regional Delegate of Communication, Eno Chris Oben, and Professor George Nyamndi who is President of Africa for Africans and who is widely referred to as “Mr. President”, as not only has he run twice for President of Cameroon but he is also girding his loins to run again for the same position this October. Professor Raymond Asombang who is a lecturer of archaeology at the University of Yaounde I was another speaker; so was the South West Regional Delegate of Tourism, Peter Elangwe and Prof Kashim Ibrahim Tala, director of the Centre for African Literature and Cultures and Coordinator of postgraduate programmes in the Faculty of Arts of the University of Buea. Other speakers included Telesphore Mba Bizo, Founder Member of Arterial Network, Cameroon and Dr. Donatus Fai Tangem who is a lecturer of drama and performing arts at the University of Yaounde I. The moderator for the three days was Dr. Cheo Victor Ngu, a lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea.

Defining the modus operandi

The workshop lasted three straight days, each of which was packed full of challenging but exciting activities. In his opening remarks, the organizer, Mwalimu George Ngwane highlighted the importance of culture but regretted that coverage in the media was inadequate. One of the reasons for this, he said, was that the university curriculum does not give arts and culture the weight they deserve. He gave a foretaste of the three-day event by saying that the first day would be devoted to a theoretical overview; Day 2 to the reporting of art and culture and Day 3 to looking at how to include the subject in the curriculum of the University of Buea Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.

For Communication Delegate, Eno Chris Oben, the quality of participants spoke eloquently of the high standards of the workshop. He stressed the importance of art and culture journalism and urged the young journalists and others to take full advantage of the golden opportunity offered by the workshop. The Vice Chancellor`s representative, Prof Enoh Tanjong expressed the wish to see the lessons leaned at the workshop trickle down into the Journalism and Mass Communication curriculum of the University of Buea and urged the department`s journalists there present to ensure that they wrote articles, news stories and did documentaries that would bear witness to the knowledge gained at the event. He said the department`s programme was broad based and flexible and could easily accommodate new programmes.

Now, rise for the resource persons

Speaking on the topic, CULTURE AS IDEAOLOGY, Prof George Nyamndi affirmed that it was time to hoist the African flag of culture at raise it higher, at full mast. He rejected the view held by some observers that the arts and culture should not be taught because they are self evident. According to him, not only should these aspects of society be actually taught, but the organizers of the workshop should have been more assertive in their programme content by going the full length and talking about culture being “life lived”, “muscles flexed” and “the brain activated”. Citing the ideological aphorism that, “everybody is alive but only those in control live”, Prof Nyamndi citing telling examples of ideological icons such as vodka for the Russians, NASA for the Americans, and the MIG for the French, as well as Toyota for the Japanese and the Rolls Royce for the British. He argued that culture which he presented as a “set of ideas constituting ones goals, expectations and actions, not someone else`s”, is related to ideology, which he said was in turn :subjective”. As a result, he said, Africans must write their own history because if it is left to Europeans, they will write it from their own view point. ‘We must know who we are and be convinced that our existence has its own validity”, he opined.

Copyright 2011

mardi 5 avril 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

I won`t spare any
All must come down
Down with a bang
So, don`t bet waste your bet.

My club licenses aren`t legion
But my chips are down
So if want an orang outang
We must be ready to pay the fee.

Copyright 2011

dimanche 3 avril 2011


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

The question of a healthy environment is currently one of great concern here in Cameroon. The problem is so intense that I believe that if a rigorous scientific study were to be carried out to see how clean the environment is, the result would be a disappointment. So the ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection (MINEF) on the one hand, and the Ministry of Public Health (MINSANTE) on the other hand, should take note.

Where the stench is coming from

You do not have to look far to see to what extent our backyards (in the large sense of the word) are filthy. If you are in any Cameroonian town, just look at the back of houses and homes or other buildings, including government offices and you will see all types of dirt. It is worse in the “social” vicinities such as drinking spots. All around, there are layers and layers of rubbish that have accumulated over a long period without being removed, and worse still, without being noticed. These include broken bottles, plastic bags (which scientists and researchers have found that they can take decades of years to decay, if at all). Other garbage items one can readily see include cigarette butts, bits and pieces of paper, decaying particles and morsels of food, torn and abandoned garments, and many more.

Perhaps you would think that where food is sold, especially the make-shift “restaurants” that today abound in the urban settings, the situation is better. The plain truth is that there is no difference in such places. In fact, it would appear that the women (it’s mainly they) who cook and sell food “out” would care to clean up their “spaces” before beginning the day’s business. However, far from it, they simply arrive, install their equipment and start selling over yesterday’s dirt which is superimposed on the previous day’s dirt, which in turn is juxtaposed between the dirt deposited previously. And so, it is some kind of embedded composition like the utterances and phrases in a linguistic corpus. What that means is that customers who eat regularly at a particular food selling spot will the nest day return to the same filthy environment they left the day before.

If a visitor does not have a strong and resistant stomach, they may through up on approaching what pass for “public toilets”. A vast majority of them do not have toilet seats; neither do they have flushing facilities. They stink firstly because users do not care to position themselves well before “delivering the goods” , and secondly because the custodians of the places do not know or do not care to know that the hard ware stores and pharmacies sell products that can not only “kill” the acrid smell, but also chemically treat the decaying and smelling waste. One would find ones self between a rock and a hard place, to quote that typically American expression, if what one needed was a toilet to pass stool. This is because most public conveniences are intended just for people who want to make water. And if questions are put to the “tenants” nearby about what they do when they want to go to stool, they throw up their shoulders nonchalantly. The bold ones say they go to the nearby bush, while the philosophical ones tell you that while at work, they do not feel the need to go to stool.

Normally, one would have expected that since the trend nowadays is for “food women” to sell in an Off License, so that people who come there to drink (and drinking in Cameroon is always bizarrely the first consideration over eating food) can also “eat something”, adequate steps would be taken for customers to feel at home when easing themselves. But that is not the case. And so what one finds is that as “eating out” as such gains ground, the amount of filth gathering momentum is also on the rise. To be fair to the trend, food sales in drinking places in Cameroon is a relatively new phenomenon. One would recall that some twenty years or so, these make-shift “restaurants” were largely unknown in Cameroon. At the time there were only Off Licensees, and heavy drinkers who left home serene could spend such a large part of the day drinking that when they returned home in the evening stinking of alcohol and cursing their wives, or out rightly drunk – or at least tipsy- but starving. Today, with the mushrooming of “eating places”, they can order something to eat while drinking. In fact, some observers have reported that as a result of this unprecedented availability of food out of home, Cameroonian men now look healthier.

No place too high to be touched

So widespread is the phenomenon of “public filth” in our country that even the political capital Yaounde and the economic capital, Douala have not been spared. In fact, there are times when they seemed to compete with each other for the top position on the filth league table. It is common to find heaps of refuse lying around uncollected by the Local authority. Actually, there used to be a time when inhabitants of Yaounde gave descriptions to their homes to friends and relatives by citing the number of refuse heaps one had to pass by on the way to the destination. Nonetheless, to be fair to the authorities, the national Refuse Disposal, HYSACAM, which has for months now been cleaning up the South West Regional capital of Buea, is doing its best. But then, that best is not good enough. HYSACAM alone can not clean up the whole of Cameroon.

The adverse effects on us

Such unhygienic living conditions undoubtedly pose a health threat to everyone, the vulnerable such as children and old people included. That is not all: free for all dirt also greatly tarnishes the image of our country in the eyes of foreigners who are visiting either for new business opportunities or one of our many tourist havens, especially when one considers that Cameroon has a lot to offer the world, being what has come to be known as “Africa in miniature”.

What way forward?

The solution to this problem lies in collective effort. All of us are involved and must put our hands to the plough. All of us. Cameroonians overseas can provide refuse collection equipment and tools, notably to local Councils. They can also set up an NGO that can work here in Cameroon permanently. Local authorities such as the Municipal Councils and the City Councils should tighten the rules for refuse collection and water drainage and ensure they are observed to the letter. Each Cameroonian should wake up to the need to refrain from throwing litter indiscriminately and actually get in the habit of picking up rubbish when they spot it anywhere. “Food women” who sell in public and Off License owners who act as their landlords and landladies should get in the habit of cleaning up at the start of the working day and at the end of it. Those who sell food could even go the extra mile by pausing once in a while during sales to eliminate existing dirt before carrying on with the job.

Where is the old sanitary inspector?

Over and above everything else, the age-old but now long-forgotten “sanitary inspector” should be made to come back to the Cameroonian environment and make it “breathe” properly again. I knew the sanitary inspector in my very early years on earth. It seems to me that sanitary inspectors were the creation of the erstwhile state of West Cameroon who later on lost their place in society as the two sub cultures (Anglophones and Francophones) gave up their respective Federated States to form a single Republic, strove to adjust and readjust. But the sanitary inspector was a powerful and unavoidable man in society. He was both feared and revered. If any compound was informed that the sanitary inspector would be visiting, all hands immediately went on deck in a bid to spruce up the whole place before he arrived for his inspection. Of course, if a compound “failed the test”, the penalty was heavy. So everyone fought hard, very hard not to fail it. That led to the prevalence of a clean environment. I advocate that not only should we reinstate the sanitary inspector, we should actually go further and appoint enough of them so that in the towns, each quarter can have one and in the sub divisions, each village should have at least one, depending on the size and population of the village.

Copyright 2011