(Revised and reproduced from Cameroon Tribune of Tuesday, May 3, 1988).
Ask any one of the over one million inhabitants of the city of Douala to give you in a nutshell the causes of the rush-hour traffic jams that have become part and parcel of the daily life here and you would likely hear, among others, dangerously offensive and aggressive driving, especially by taxi drivers, who totally disregard the rudimentary principles of the highway code in their rush for passengers.
You are also likely going to hear of unauthorized parking along narrow, pothole-laden streets, etc. It is, however, highly unlikely that anyone is going to think of adding a polygamist to that list of irritating causes of traffic backup in our city. But that is precisely what I witnessed not that long ago.
A few weeks back, I left for work a little earlier than usual. From the Cité SIC neighbourhood, where I live, I could see an already interminable line of cars winding its way slowly but fluidly ahead. From afar, one of the most congested sections of this city, “Entrée de Bépanda Voirie”, appeared unusually traffic-free. Sail past this spot and your ride to Bonanjo, where I work, becomes a child’s play. Seeing the ease with which the traffic was sailing through this spot, I leaned back with a smile on my face. At least, for once, I was going to arrive at work without the usual sweat; or so I thought.
But that was not to be. For, lo and behold, as we were about to glide slowly past that intersection, a bustle of excitement suddenly gripped the crowd of hawkers, bayam sellams, touts and pickpockets, who were already busy in their respective businesses.
“What’s going on?” was the question on everyone’s lips. It was then that I saw, filing out, like mating ants, from between two ramshackle houses, a dozen or so slender-looking, gazelle-like, spindle-legged women with wasp-like waists and generous bosoms, all clad in tight-fitting, black jogging attires that left very little else to the imagination.
Before I could ask who those nymphets were, I heard our taxi driver switch off his car engine and was out of the car in a flash, clapping and shouting at the top of his voice, with the other idlers: “Mongo Faya! Mongo Faya! Roi des femmes! (King of women!); Empereur des nanas!! (Emperor of chicks!). From every corner, the excited crowd vociferously expressed its admiration for Cameroon’s much vaunted macho man and lady-killer, Mongo Faya.
There he was at the head of his harem, completely ignoring the noisy crowd around him. He held his bushy hair in place with a piece of yellow cloth and was also clad in a black jogging attire, a whistle dangling from between his lips, giving him the looks of a football coach at a training session with his squad. He then took the lead with his squad of women in tow, a totally irresponsible action that was to disrupt traffic along those narrow streets for hours on end.
Who’s this Mongo Faya chap anyway? This fellow shocked the nation recently when he firmly wrote his way into the annals of the history of our land by walking up to the Douala City Hall and and marrying a dozen women at once, an act that stunned even the most rugged polygamists in this land. With those over twelve women to his credit, he increased his harem to well over 50, a move that made even the most hardened polygamists in this country drool with envy.
He appeared on television some weeks ago with some of his women, claiming to be an astrologer/medicine man whose area of specialty seems to be curing men with sexual impotency! Quite appropriately so, I would say. His detractors, however, accuse him of using black magic to charm and hold the poor women under his firm grip. Mongo Faya is, however, not worried about his detractors. In fact, the number of men said to be flocking to his “medical” practice, asking for charms that would also bring women to their grasp, is said to be on the increase.
He also claims to be a musician but, if what I heard on television the other day is anything to go by, then his artistic skills still leave much to be desired. In fact, he is quite a mediocre musician, to put it mildly. His fame must come more from his woman-conquering ability and sexual prowess than from artistic inspiration, unless you happen to be one of those who consider skirt-chasing an art form.
As I sat sweating in that cramped taxi that morning, I wondered why those specialists, who like to pontificate on the causes of traffic congestion in our city, have never thought of listing Mongo Faya and his harem among the dangers drivers should look out for in Douala.
In a land where decency still has meaning, this Mongo Faya fellow, who takes pleasure in not only marrying dozens of women at once but, worse of all, cladding them in see-through dresses, and turning them loose just when honest people are going to work, thus causing untold traffic congestion, such a fellow and his shameless bunch of women would be behind bars, charged with indecent exposure and disrupting the peace of honest tax-payers going to work.
Instead, what do we see? Reasonable men and women loudly applauding him and shamelessly expressing marvel at the sexual prowess of “a man who’s able to satisfy such a bunch of heavy-bosomed women”, as one of them said when we finally extricated ourselves from the traffic hell caused by this fellow. “How does he do it?” seemed to be question on everyone’s lips.
That people should admire such indecency beats the imagination!