The Trials of an Half Orphan
300 Pages
Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more

The Trials of an Half Orphan


Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
300 Pages


Death strikes and claims the mother of Martin Smith when he is still in primary five, leaving him and his siblings at the mercy of a volcanic tempered and cruel father. No longer prepared to accept any beatings from his father, he runs away from home and takes up residence in a deserted house in a neighbouring village with little to live on. His fate appears sealed. Just when all hope seems lost, appears Mr Finley Banks � a Peace Corp Volunteer and teacher. Martin Smith is pleased to be treated like a son once more, only for Mr Finley Banks to come to the end of his stay in the country five years later. How will things turn out with him gone? Set in Cameroon and Italy, this is a story of opportunities and opportunism. It is the story of the trials, thrills and tribulations of a young African half orphan boy determined to make it in life.



Published by
Published 27 June 2012
Reads 0
EAN13 9789956727469
Language English
Document size 1 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0052€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.


he Trails of a Half Orpan
Taniform Martin Wanki
The Trials of an Half Orphan Taniform Wanki
L a ng a a R esea rch & P u blishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective
ISBN: 9956-727-40-7 ©Taniform Wanki 2012
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
n my primary school days I had friends who came from both theirIstudies and that often made me wonder why. The reason rich and poor homes. Those from rich homes never fully devoted themselves to anything especially when it came to perhaps resided in the fact that they were accustomed to being well catered for and saw life from that perspective alone. Children from rich homes associated only amongst themselves and were always among those who performed poorly in class. What was even more intriguing about them was that they used gifts to buy friendship from the underprivileged that were more intelligent. My friend Kiel Emmanuel was one of those. I called him my friend not because we were friends in the true sense of the word. It was a friendship based on interest. He came to school in a car and was always neat unlike those of us from poor homes that had to go through bushes on muddy footpaths to get to school. During break, he went to the dinning shed and bought all the nice things little children from poor homes could only dream of. He often took me along to the dinning shed where he bought the nice things I could only dream of with no hope of ever laying my hands on. He gave me some but always made sure he reminded me of the fact that I had to compensate him during exams. Of course when payback time came, I always fidgeted to draw the invigilator’s attention and he or she would waste no time in displacing me. When that happened, he would not know what to write and would remain examining the question paper. In order not to submit a blank answer sheet he would scribble a few words perhaps just to pacify some voices within him that might have been demanding answers. Sometimes he would walk out of the examination hall saying that some of the questions were wrongly set and would give his own proposal on how they were supposed to have
been set. I would console him by blaming the invigilator for displacing me. He however always got promoted on trial bases. There were moments I wished I were born into a wealthy home. My mother did a lot of farm work while my father was specialized in the tapping of palm wine. He carried most of it to the local market but not much money came in from sales. Farm produce were also sold if there were any surpluses and the money generated was used to pay my school fees and those of my younger brothers and sisters. Food was never a problem but the quality left much to be desired. The most important thing was filling the stomach. I felt terrible seeing my mother working herself to death to sustain her family. Her suffering spurred me to work hard at school knowing that it was the only path I had to take to avoid ending up in the same condition. As if that were not enough, tragedy stroke when I got to primary nd five. My mother died and the date was February 22 . I was still eleven and did not understand what death really meant or the mystery behind death as a whole. I saw many people walk into our family compound crying. A good number of them were shouting at the top of their voices with some asking why my mother had to disgrace them. My father too kept crying and asking who was going to assist him in raising the children. I felt really amused seeing my own father whom I considered the toughest man on the surface of the earth crying like a baby. However, his shedding of tears and the weeping of the different mourners was all drama to me. My mother’s lifeless body was brought on a stretcher from a vehicle with an open back. She was laid on a little bed in the sitting room. Many people sat all-round the body either conversing or crying. A wooden box was soon brought in and my mother’s body was put into it. It spent the rest of the day and the whole night in it. The next morning, a large hole was dug behind the house. A priest came in and a requiem mass was said. After that, the mouth of the wooden box was closed and some six men carried it behind the house where the large hole was dug. After a few words of prayer, the wooden box that contained my mother’s
body was lowered into the large hole and filled with soil. That was what I saw through the eyes of an eleven year old boy. I did not understand much about it then because of the environment I found myself in. Santa village was not very open to the outside world and I had never travelled out of it. Everything I knew was limited to what was found in it. Things were never the same again after the departure of my mother. My father spent most of his time out of the house and whenever he returned, it was trouble. Any piece of paper that was on the floor or crumbs of bread on the table or any other thing that was not in its right place, became a pretext to have us beaten mercilessly. He had many concubines and we had to pay the price for anyone of them that annoyed him. Our house was strategically located and we could determine his mood from his movement far off. Whenever he was annoyed, he walked very fast. Whenever my siblings and I saw that from a distance, we either ran into the surrounding farm or into the bedroom and stayed there until it was bed time. With that kind of hostile environment, school became not just a place to learn but also a hideout from the wrath of my father. Whenever we were dismissed at the end of a school day, the thought of returning home was too frightening. The worse moments for us were the weekends and the holidays. No day went by without me or any of my two brothers, Joshua and Benjamin or two sisters, Quincy and Jane, crying. There were moments we had the impression that our father derived a lot of pleasure in inflicting pain on us. In the midst of all that, there was nowhere to go as such we just had to endure it. All of these brought back painful memories of our mother’s passing on and the void it created. As could be expected my father's actions had consequences. My performance in school dropped drastically and my elder brother ran away from home. My father did not bother to go and look for him. He just kept warning, threatening and saying that Joe, my elder brother was a thief and we were going to end up like him if we dared
to copy his example. My father’s elder sister, Aunt Magdalene, visited us once and saw how her younger brother beat up my younger sister, Quincy for throwing part of her food on the floor, and decided to take her along.. I was still in primary five and was preparing to sit for the end of the year exam which was to take me to primary six then. I managed an average pass and moved to primary six which was the second to the last class to my completing primary school. But living under my father’s roof meant that the sun was to remain permanently set and it was to rise only when I made up my mind to leave. During the first week of school in primary six, Aunty Grace, one of my father’s concubines moved into our family house with all her belongings. That was just seven months after my mother died. She was a nice woman and did all she could to protect us from my father each time he felt the urge to beat any of us. There were moments she got beaten up by my father for trying to stop him from taking out his anger on one of us. I can remember one particular incident on the th 12 of September . That day, I returned from school and found no one at home. My younger brothers and sister as well as Aunty Grace had gone to the farm and I knew the farm in question. It was about some eight and half kilometres away from home and I decided to go and meet them there. Unfortunately for me, my father was with them at the time I got there and that marked the beginning of trouble for me. He left everything he was doing and started moving towards me shouting. “Where are you coming from and where do you think you are going to?” he asked. Gripped by fear, I was scared of saying something which might have made an already bad situation worse. It was Aunty Grace who tried to provide an answer in my place. “He has returned from school and has decided to come and help with some of the things we might have to carry back home,” she said. Indeed, that was the reason why I followed them to the farm but my father was not going to take that as a good reason. The desire to
have me beaten was already aroused and he had to satisfy it. He reaped off a branch from one of the fruit trees that was in the farm and had me well beaten. It did not end there. He kept kicking and slapping me on the way back home. To avoid him, I decided to put some distance between us by walking faster. But he continued each time he caught up with me. In the midst of all that he kept asking what I would have done if I was attacked by a wild animal on my way to the farm. Some passers-by who were also heading back to their homes from their farms saw what he was doing and pleaded with him to at least get home before punishing me for whatever crime I might have committed. But he asked them to mind their own business. When we got home that day, I entered the house to put down the load I carried. My father entered after me and locked the door behind him with the key. That prevented Aunty Grace or any other person from coming in to disturb him. He then grabbed a thin iron rod of about half a meter long and used it on me. He beat me all over my body with it. He hit me several times on the head with it. My head was swollen and by the time he let go of me, I looked like someone who had been stung by wild African honey bees. A severe headache started soon after. It has remained a problem ever since. Whenever I found myself in a place with temperature slightly higher than normal or did a lot of mental work, a terrible headache ensued. I could no longer read for more than 30 minutes without a break. Later on I began to wonder what he would have done if I had stayed home after school on that day. It was obvious that I would not have still gotten off the hook. He would have looked for another reason to have me beaten. Whatever the case, that act left an indelible scar that would remain with me for the rest of my life. My father’s brutality and heartless cruelty had severe negative impacts on me. One of them was that I became scared of any man that was old enough to be a father to me. Whenever I was in the presence of someone older, I remained silent and talked only when I was given permission to do so. Many other people I met outside our
home had difficulties understanding my quiet attitude. Those I felt comfortable with were my classmates or kids of my age. My father could be compared only to a chameleon whose colour could not be predicted. Only a week after seriously beating me up for taking a road infested with imaginary wild animals to meet them at a farm, he was the very one who asked me to come to that same farm and help in carrying some farm produce back home after school. I wondered where he kept the threat of being attacked by wild animals given that only hours had added to my age and not years. In resignation, I concluded that my father would always remain a stranger to me. I successfully went through primary six and had to begin primary seven the following academic year. Over the holiday which ran from June to September, so much water went under the bridge. Aunty Grace had to put up with my father’s violent behaviour but infidelity soon added to it. It was not that dating many women was something new but to Aunty Grace, it was a recent development. My father just couldn’t keep his hands off women especially widows. I never understood how they could tolerate a man who was not only brutal but had a volcanic temper. Some of the women he dated were even married. I could remember once when I was still in primary five shortly before my mother died. I was returning from the farm with him and a man who had laid ambush along the footpath we took fired a shot aiming at him but missed. The gun the man used was locally made and took only one bullet at a time. It seemed the bullet he wasted was the only one he had. My father and I ran after dropping everything we carried. He ran faster than me and I could not believe my eyes. “If everyone could see death, no one would have been dying,” I told myself. The noise of the gun shot attracted the attention of some villagers who lived not far from the footpath who came out to see what was going on. My father on his part at some point after running for some time decided to walk back to see why there was a gun shot and I followed him. I’m sure he probably thought that it
was one reckless hunter who didn’t care to check if there were people around before firing his careless gun. When we got to the spot where the shot was fired, I discovered that the 10 litres jug of palm wine I dropped had all spilled out. The man who fired the shot was surrounded by some villagers. As soon as he saw my father coming, he surged forward and told my father to stay away from his wife. My father being a man who did not know when to stop talking responded. “If you handled your wife well, she wouldn’t have accepted me. If you cannot target something and hit it, tell me how you will successfully manage a woman. You do not have a child because you keep hitting the wrong target. Instead of telling me to stay away from your wife, you are supposed to encourage me to help you get out of childlessness,” he said. After leaving the scene, my father warned me never to breathe a word of what happened that day to anybody. I considered it naïve on his part because the people who were attracted by the gunshot got the story from the cuckolded man and were definitely going to spread the information. The small size of Santa village greatly favoured the spread of information especially those of scandalous nature. So if people did not learn of the incident from me, they were going to learn of it from the witnesses who were present at the scene. It was all a matter of time. Whatever the case, I heaved a sigh of relief as the palm wine container I dropped after the gunshot did not get broken.. However, Aunty Grace could not put up with my father’s infidelity and decided to leave. Things got really bad for me and my younger ones after her departure. My father became much more violent. With no one left to prevent him from beating any of us to his satisfaction, it seemed he wanted to make the most of it. Any wrong pronunciation of any word or a delay in providing an answer to a mental sum was enough to make any of us cry. Even if any of us had the answer to any question he asked, fear was enough to make us give the wrong one. It seemed he was more interested in the mistakes any