Souls Forgotten
361 Pages
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Souls Forgotten


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361 Pages


" ""One day, Mama Ngonsu told her son: """"Normally, a child grew up and stayed around to help his parents. The world has changed, and things are no longer as they used to be. Things must not be normal all the time, otherwise life would not be life."""" When Emmanuel Kwanga gets a University scholarship, he travels from the lake and hills of Abehema to the Great City. Everyone in the village has invested in him their hopes for the good life. When the life they've imagined is cut short by the University guillotine, Emmanuel Kwanga must struggle to make sense of what the good life means - for himself and for Abehema - in a world where things are no longer as they used to be. This novel is about coming of age and coming to terms in Mimboland. It is also about the fragility of life and the strength of the human spirit. The filth and screaming splendor of the city and the perplexed tranquility of the village are juxtaposed, as the tension and conviviality between tradition and modernity are lived and explored. Roads and drivers, dreams and public transport link different geographies. Faltering along or speeding away, these spaces of risk, frustration and solidarity are filled with popular songs as vehicles for understanding events and relationships. With every crossing of the Pont de Maturit? the story flows, and its mysteries surge. In this novel, the worlds of the living and the dead intermingle, as do the natural and the supernatural, the visible and the invisible."""



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Published 15 January 2008
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EAN13 9789956716555
Language English
Document size 3 MB

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Souls Forgotten
Francis B Nyamnjoh
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaResearchand PublishingCommon InitiativeGroup P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Province Cameroon
© Francis B.Nyamnjoh 2008
First Published 2008
To Souls Forgotten
1 id I lock my door? There’s no going back to make certain. The results are about to be released, and I Dsneak in and carry away my belongings.Let thieves can’t move an inch from the board in front of me. I don’t care. Knowing how I’ve performed is all that matters right now. It’s like waiting for the verdict on a case in which the judge has wetted his beard withmatango (palm wine) from both camps. How could I bear another major failure in this Faculty of Orthodox Law? What would I say to my parents and to all of Abehema? I’m frightened to think of all it entails. It is strange how fast time flies. That I’ve been here for two years already is hard to believe. Yet nothing could be truer! Time is rapid yet stealthy, like a night storm of destructive spirits in my home village of Abehema. There, whenever the wicked elements transformed themselves into nocturnal spirits and descended into the world beyond below the surface calmness of the lake, innocent farmers and households complained and wept with bitterness for their damaged crops and roofless houses. “They have done it again, the witches!” The afflicted sought the wrath of the ancestors to descend upon the evildoers. And the village authorities always responded with deserved sympathy, chastising the wicked in order to strengthen community spirit.  To track down and punish the witches, enemies of communal peace and harmony, village authorities have employed since pre-colonial Abehema a standard procedure recognised by all. This involves watching all farms and compounds that strangely escaped the mass devastation 1
caused by mysterious storms. The owners of the unaffected farms and houses would be accused of witchcraft and punished accordingly. Generally, they would be asked to drink a concoction oftgunghafrom which only (sasswood) the guilty are said to die, and few are known to survive.  Though the white man fought hard to abolish the practice in his days, Abehema has somehow managed to maintain the administration oftgungha. Today, whatever the modern authorities might say,tgunghadone more for has law and order in Abehema than the police and gendarmes stationed some hundred kilometres away in Kaizerbosch, who seldom visit the periphery except to collect poll and cattle taxes from the toiling peasant farmers and wandering Fulani herdsmen. Despite the survival oftgunghaa as deterrent against evil, there is a general recognition by the elders that witchcraft is more rampant today than it ever was in the past. The more they fight it, the stronger and more cunning it becomes, they claim. And time flies on…  If time passed with achievement, there would be little to complain about. Nothing would seem out of turn or purpose. Time makes sense when we go along with it, and it rewards our creative efforts to make sense of it. When two years are spent doing a single programme of Orthodox Law, then something somewhere is basically wrong. Why can’t something for once be right for me in this bloody university? Just what is my crime?  So far there is no sign that the authorities are to release the results in the twinkle of an eye as their notice suggests. I’m prepared to wait. I won’t budge, even if it means staying here until thieves empty my perhaps unlocked room and grass grows through and over my feet. This is not the time for jesters to juggle with my academic future. It’s a matter of life and death, my anchor of hope to family and village. The lecturers had better make no mistake. They have a record for making mistakes that stab students like doctored daggers. I bet I’ll make a clean clear pass, clean
and clear like water from the rocky springs of Kakakum. May my ancestors direct their every step and decision at this crucial moment, so the authorities may not be blind when they should see. My dear father in Heaven, tender me your hand at this hour of need, help me across the Rubicon. I pray you.  Other anxious students share this bench with me. Countless others stand close to the proclamation board – the focus of attention. Some are pacing up and down, trying to smoke or chat away their tension. For the moment the Guillotineglistening. Soon after the results, students will is break the glass covers of the famous results board. Male and female students shedding tears of angry disappointment will tear the result sheets into bits and pieces.  That’s what happens every year, a ritual of some kind. The reaction of the authorities is also a ritual. Quite predictable, like a workman whose only tool is a hammer and to whom every problem is a nail, or a cook whose only spice is salt. Each time it happens, they replace the destroyed board with a new guillotine, and describe the students’ behaviour as “irresponsible vandalism.” By indulging in minor, even symbolic destruction of university property, aren’t we, baptised and confirmed failures, challenging their diabolical attempts to exclude us from partaking in the sumptuous banquet that awaits all winners? In what more effective way could we show that something is amiss with our system of education?  Year before last there was a massive strike … no, a massive attempt to strike. I was still in high school, chewing and digesting books and notes in preparation for the ‘A’ levels, and praying several times a day to qualify for a place in this academic beehive which I knew only by imagination. Winds of the strike blew across to us in the provinces. This is a land of great winds, winds more powerful than Radio Mimboland International. By hearsay, we learnt that students had gone on a rampage. The disorder affected the
whole city, bringing many activities to a standstill. The head of state had to intervene personally to calm that about which the radio was silent. The strike had led to or coincided with, I don’t know for sure, the raising of student grants. We “freshers” were grateful about the raise in student grants, if only symbolic, and dismayed by the ‘chameleons’ whose changing colours clashed with the students’ idea of the “Genuine Intellectual.” Nothing was done to repair the unhealthy student-lecturer relationship, which has worsened ever since. It is whispered here and there in the campus that ourrenowned lecturers are seeking “their noble revenge,” trying to make us account for the actions of our predecessors! That’s why failures, resits and further failures are so rampant. “Intellectual revenge,” they say, “is nothing like the pedestrian sort we know.” And how apt!  A student with copies ofRoots for sale? I think I should buy, but MIM$300?! Rather expensive… but worthwhile. It’s a journal true to its name. When students in the Faculty of Social Thought write, they make sense. They dig into Roots of issues and abhor the mediocrity we of other faculties drink like absent-minded alcoholics. Each issue of Rootscarries a feature article on the academic atmosphere of the university. If they have any sense of timing, they should feature resit examinations this fateful month of September.  The table of contents is rich… What! The lead article is in Tougalish? Perhaps this is the beginning of the long-awaited change in this institution. Sometimes articles had to be translated into Muzungulandish to make them publishable. Isn’t it ironic that the Faculty of Social Thought gave a Tougalish name to its journal? Why not “Les Racines” or something to that effect, as long as it sounds Muzungulander? What significance for us Tougalish Mimbolander students that the lead article, on examinations, is also in Tougalish? Good luck? Or bad luck as usual?  The author is a fellow student I know in person and respect. He has the gift of seeing things in another light and
saying them in other words. He can see through the chameleons’ colours and say what lies beneath with mincingly menacing words. What a steaming conclusion!“If the academic atmosphere in the University of Asieyam is poisoned by uproars and dins,”Marxy Wang writes,“it is because of the overwhelming nature of the collective frustrations of the students and the self-propagation and mystification of academics.”  Why can’t our bearers-of-knowledge drop their buffoonery and turn to their illustrious counterparts in the faculty of Social Thought for inspiration? What virus is it that blunts their sense of emulation? Or is it just the old story of motivation getting strangled by excessive lust? Isn’t it incomprehensible that two occupants of the same seat, nourished by the same toil and sweat, aren’t able to spark each other off?  I do reproach Marxy Wang and his faculty for one thing: their tendency to take a cat-on-the-fence position when militancy ought to be the watchword. They advocate scientific neutrality and a sort of objectivity, which only strengthens and protects the very misdeeds and vices they are out to combat. What’s the practical utility of such an approach? It’s fear of being termedélements dangereux, fear of excommunication by the popes of power, that makes them criticise with their tails between their legs. I wish they would defy the authorities – speaking out clearly and boldly – instead of imprisoning change in an envelope of banality termedl’objectivité scientifique. If fear of the authorities is their problem, as I think, then we the downtrodden are forever doomed. Fear can breed but more fear.  I agree with Professor Moses Mahogany who died an outlaw and whose books are as feared as his ghost by those who matter. He says we need people committed to the cause of the crippled and the dribbling, the wretched and panting runners-up of life. Only people ready to fan the dying flame of the forsaken are on our side, not those who pray with their eyes open or their feet in the air, not those who use a