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