(Reproduced from Cameroon Post, No. 169, June 23-28, 1993, P.2)
There was already quite a crowd milling around the All Anglophone Conference (AAC) Secretariat on the morning of April 2, 1993, when I spotted Dr Carlson Anyangwe. I walked up to greet him and he jokingly asked me if I, too, was already old enough to wear a beard. That came as something of a surprise to me, for, not only am I old enough to wear a beard, the said beard is already greying quite visibly. There was even a time my then five-year old son marvelled his friends with an incredible story of how his daddy sat up all night long, sprinkling powder on his beard while the rest of humanity was sleeping! Imagine that.
Waves of memory
That Carlson should still consider me a kid can be understood if we let the waves at memory beach wash back to 1965. I remember arriving in Man O’War Bay, some four miles away from Down-Beach Victoria after a rugged ride in a rickety, badly bashed land rover. I was then still recovering from a violent bout of malaria that had glued me to my bed for over a month. Not even the loving care the CUSS lecturer, Dr Peter Ndoumbe’s parents of the CDC Camp at Bota gave me had quite restored my health when we were summoned to report in school.
Come for your “fox”!
I remember alighting in a strange environment, surrounded by forest against the background of a humming sea. I was as light as a cocoyam leaf and could hardly even lift up my box from the ground. One young man approached me and spoke in French. I told him I didn’t understand what he was saying. He then asked me in English where I come from, and when I said I was from Nso, he turned to a small crowd a few feet away and yelled to another man he called Fon Rolly to come for his “fox”.
I was still wondering why anyone would dare refer to a human being as a “fox”, when Fon Rolly walked up to me a smile on his face. He greeted me, asked my name and, to my great relief, asked me in Lamnso to follow him. Realising I was really weak, he took my box and I trudged behind him. He led me to his dormitory, a hall-like room with beds arranged like a hospital ward.
“Sixième! Anglo-Saxon! Debout!”
He asked me to like down on his bed, and pushed my box under it. However, no sooner had his back disappeared out the door than a certain fellow, who had been watching us from another corner of the hall, walked up to me.
I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, but it was clear that he was mean and unfriendly, and the words: “Sixième, Anglo-Saxon, debout!” came sputtering from his lips at an incredible speed. From his gestures I could tell that he wanted me to stand up. I was still drowsy from the combination of the medication I was taking and the bumpy ride from town.
I remember trying to sit up in bed, but being unable to. He then motioned that I sit down on the floor. I shook my head negatively and he began to walk menacingly towards me, brandishing a clenched fist. As he stood there ejaculating meaningless invectives from his mean-looking lips, another young man walked in.
Go back to bed
They exchanged a few words in French and my tormentor let drop his fist and walked away, no doubt humiliated. My “saviour” then walked up to me, told me he was called Carlson Anyangwe; asked me my own name and then said I should go back to bed. He said not to worry as no one would again bother me. I wondered if he saw the look of infinite gratitude in my eyes.
Nearly thirty years later, there he was again in Buea, alongside his colleagues, Barrister Elad and Dr Simon Munzu, this time not rescuing a weak, helpless child from a ruthless tormentor, but a whole people, the Anglophone people of this country who are just as battered and buffeted by the Francophonie oppression as I was then by disease and the heartless actions of a frog. Carlson, well done!