That "greeting" may sound a little "awkward" to some, but I believe it would be familiar to those around whom this web page is specifically centered, to wit: "WEST CAMEROON PUPILS & TEACHERS", a term I use here to refer to people who attended or taught in Primary Schools that operated under the West Cameroon System of Education. That is, the "crop" of people who "worked sums" using a "LARCOMBE" or "NEW NATION", learned their English idioms from the "STUDENT'S COMPANION" and read their lessons from the "PRIMARY ENGLISH COURSE FOR WEST CAMEROON, PUPILS' BOOKS 1 through 6!! They would recognize the above "SALUTATION", as the first line of the REFRAIN of this song we were taught to sing whenever some dignitary, (as in, "big man"), visited our school. These are the words of the entire song, as taught to my peers and I, by Mr. ADOLF NJONJI, our beloved Headmaster:
God in His merciful love,
Has brought you to us today,
He is here to bless us all,
As we our welcome say.
We sa-ay Welcome To You!
We sa-ay Welcome To You!
We sa-ay Welcome To You!
We say Welcome To You!
The page is meant to take you all along with me on MY NOSTALGIC RIDE DOWN MEMORY LANE, so we all reminisce over the things - Books, Games, Nursery Rhymes and Practices that marked our lives "back in the day"! Hope you enjoy the ride!
"IT'S JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS"!
Why that title? Because I intend for the content of this Write Up to consist of those "things" that I have been unable, over the years, to FULLY or SATISFACTORILY explain to my raised-in-Mbeng'a Bakala children, because they simply cannot be fully or satisfactorily explained! They would have to have lived in that day and age and gone through the same experiences, to fully "GET IT"! Think I'll call this first "ESSAY",
There are some things that my children see me do, see me write or hear me refer to that leave them with tons of questions which I can't quite answer to their satisfaction. How, biko, do you come up with a satisfactory answer to a question like:
"Mom, Why are the names of so many of the things we eat repetitive; Like "DO-DO", "KUM-KUM", "MOIN-MOIN", & "CHIN-CHIN"? In fact, it hadn't even occurred to me that that was the case till they asked the question! Still don't know the answer to it, and, while I have been able to get away with explaining the existence of the same "duplication phenomenon" in Pidgin English when it comes to descriptive words like "FEAR-FEAR", "DIE-DIE", "WATA-WATA" and "SHAKE-SHAKE" by saying they are the equivalent of the English suffixes "-ery" (as in, WATERY), "-ish" (as in SQUEAMISH" and "-ful" as in, FEARFUL), I am NOT willing to propose any theories for nouns like "ZAM-ZAM", "MU-MU", and CHUKU-CHUKU!
We therefore have a tacit agreement to just classify such "UNFATHOMABLES" under the "JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS" Category.
There is this one occurrence that I haven't talked to them about, but whose components I really feel sure will get it "dumped" under this category: I am talking about "LONG BREAK"!
I can't quite remember exactly how long it lasted, but I sure remember a host of things about it that I am positive I would have an uphill task trying to explain to anyone who did not experience it for themselves - especially in the absence of any photographs. For example:
1. The Bell:
How do I explain to them that it is not the buzz of an electric bell that sent us streaming out in droves into the courtyard or "field" for "Break", but the jarring, rhythmic sound of a little Metal Rod being struck by the HEAD BOY or HEAD GIRL against the Metal Inner Ream of an abandoned tire, hanging from a tree or from an upside down "U"-shaped wooden beam planted into the ground?
2. The Food:
How do I explain that we ate, NOT in a CAFETERIA, but just standing or sitting around "somewhere", in the yard and that what we bought either out in the open or from a "DINING SHED", were food items like:
- "AKRA BEANS" wrapped in leaves or CIMENCAM paper,
- "KWILI-KWILI" (here we go again with those "repetitive names"),
- "MAKE-ME-WELL" which you did not have to be UN-well to eat,
- "MAKALA" which we bought from a "MAMMY MAKALA" who, judging from her gait, the size of her legs and feet that barely fit into her "2 ROPE/SANS CONFIANCES" and her tendency to fall asleep in mid-sentence and stay in that somnolent state for hours on end definitely suffered from ELEPHANTIASIS & TRYPANOSOMIASIS, (known by its more common name of "SLEEPING SICKNESS",
- GROO-GROO as in, Corn & "Grah nut" in a deftly wrapped paper funnel
- "ALASKA" a kind of popsicle which was certainly NOT imported from the U.S. State once governed by Mrs. SARAH PALIN, etc.
and that we drank water straight out of a "PUMP"??!!
I know they would be a little bit skeptical about my assertion that STEALING (Money or Food) was quite rare so, I will certainly apprise them of the incredibly humiliating and DETERRING "JANKALICO, HOW YAH NAME? SHAAAAME-SHAME" consequence that went along with it. In "ohdah werds" a potential thief did not necessarily refrain from stealing because of his or her unwillingness to Disobey the 8th Commandment, but because the "PUBLIC DISGRACE" that was sure to ensue should they be caught made them think twice!!
3. The Activities:
* FIGHTING: They would certainly be glad to know that there is a similarity here, given that our Break, like theirs, was also used for the Settling of Scores via FIST FIGHTS and that anyone who ran to get a TEACHER or THE HEAD MASTER screaming "PLEASE SIR! TWO ARE FIGHTING!" was frowned upon, and that it was considered "unseemly" for a sibling not to "ENTAH FIGHT" or "JOIN INSIDE" when their brother or sister was attacked. I guess the difference here would lie in what preceded the fight: The "Cutting Friend" (only to "Join Friend Back" by the following week), the "looking at someone Up and Down", the "spitting on the ground", the singing of "SELENSEH, COOLEH-LEH, JEALOUSY/I HAVE NO TIME TO SPEAK WITH YOU ...", the "Wona hold me" and all the "Ya Mammy" insults!
- JUMP ROPE: Again, they'd be thrilled to know we too SANG as we played, but what a difference when it comes to THE SONGS we sang!
. "MADAM MOKUSA! WHEN WILL YOU MARRY?" How more insensitive to a poor Widow's feelings and "pock-nosey" into her business could we be??!!
- "RAY, RAY, IN ... TIME IS PASSING TURN AROUND/TOUCH THE GROUND"
- KOLOMA / EH-EH-EH-EH! (that involved a real test of your clapping skills)
- TABALA (with BUSH Mango Seeds as "pawns")
- THERE IS FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (Run, run, run)
- EKWESEH! MEH-EH, MEH! (which sure tested the strength of your arm muscles)
- SUKIE SAI SAMEH (that had you snapping your fingers and patting out a beat on your chest & thighs)
- ROUND & ROUND THE VILLAGE
- THIS GIRL HAS NO EYES TO SEE (Clap-Clap-Clap)
- PLAYS & SKITS like "ADAMA THE PRINCESS OF THE NIGER", "MARREY, MARREY CATHOLIC" and "JIMMY LONDON"
- DO MA NI OH, MA NI OH (which involved implicit TRUST in the integrity and strength of the people into whose hands you fell BACKWARDS to catch you and propel you back to your feet!! (Hmm!!)
- SO MI DO-DO, MI-MI, RAY-RAY, MI DO ... (Wehda how ALI BABA manage entah inside de song o?! Na szra wi!!)
- SEVEN-SEVEN (which definitely sharpened our eye-to-hand coordination and motor skills!)
Think I should tell them that the "punishment" for returning to class late from this LONG BREAK could be anything from a "caning", not with the "Waka Stick" kind of "cane", but as in, "12 STROKES" - of the Mulongo, aka Dr. DO GOOD, to the hitting of your knuckles with a ruler, or Kneeling Down ...
Hmmmm! This whole "cane on the bAhind" thing has got me wondering if it could possibly curb the "SAGGING PANTS/TROUSERS" fad that exists today, given that the less fabric you have on that behind of yours, the more acute the pain would be when the mulongo makes contact! Oh well ...
THE "WEST CAMEROON PRIMARY SCHOOL READER" CORNER!!!
HERE ARE PAGES 77 to 80 of The West Cameroon Primary English Course,
Pupil's Book 6, by J.R. Bunting
QUITE A HISTORY LESSON!!
(**My deepest gratitude to Professor David Zeitlyn of Oxford University for "hunting down" the "Out-of-Print" material on my behalf and sending it my way!!)
"BANGA SCHOOL", Anyone??
THE BOOKS THAT ADORNED OUR HOME, SCHOOL & PUBLIC LIBRARY SHELVES ...
I could not possibly count the number of things I am not just grateful, but totally indebted to my parents for, but if I were to attempt to make a list, the fact that they not only stocked our home with an unthinkable quantity of the vastest and widest range of books anyone could possibly imagine even now, to talk much less of in that day and time, and raised us, BY THEIR OWN EXAMPLE, to read - actually "devour" them AVIDLY, would rank pretty high up on that list! In fact, they actually had a big wood and glass cabinet constructed to hold the books, and, in the front, inside flap of each one of them was the inscription: "MBIWAN CHILDREN'S LIBRARY". Also, because the books were often borrowed by and lent to many, Ma Mbiwan added the following little note to each one:
"If this book should happen to stray and you find it, please box its ears and send it back to: -------" (Our Home Address). On top of all this, we were registered members at the British Council, American Council, Alliance Francaise Libraries and fully expected to rent and read their books and magazines!
Back then, I did not think reading everything from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC & BINGO Magazine, to THE ODYSSEY, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and AFRICAN WRITERS' SERIES books was a big deal but now, in hindsight, I cannot begin to describe to anyone what a POSITIVE IMPACT that "culture" has had on me!
There is, therefore, NO WAY I could look back on my childhood and teenage years and compile a list of things for a page like this one that is a THROW BACK to my early days, and not feature a section on books, so ... HERE IT IS, with the vast majority sporting the actual versions I read/used at HOME, at SCHOOL, at the LIBRARY - or at CHURCH, as the case may be!!!
Pretend you just stepped into EBIBI, PRESBOOK or CHAMBERLAIN Bookstore, and just "SHOP AROUND"!
Now, TIME TO SHOP FOR WHAT'S NEEDED TO "JARR"/BURN THE MID NIGHT "OYEL" ...
Dolly Lyonga (now LAMBE) and Pam Ebongalame (MACAULAY), "jarring" from their respective LEDGERS at Saker Baptist College circa 1980.
THOSE TUNES ...
THOSE PROGRAMS ...
THOSE NAMES ...
I have to start off by saying this is the most off-the-cuff, on-a-whim, just-post-what's-on-your-mind "thing" I have ever mustered the courage to post! The only reason I woke up (with a jolt) at 5 a.m. this Thanksgiving morning is because I wanted to get a head start on my cooking. I turned on the TV to check the weather, and on came this Bank of America Commercial/Ad, with FLEETWOOD MACS "NEVER GOING BACK AGAIN" playing in the background! The waves of NOSTALGIA that washed over me upon hearing those plaintive, haunting guitar notes isn't something I can quite explain or describe. I had purchased quite a few Fleetwood Mac songs from iTunes for my iPod a couple of years back, but not this particular tune which I had all but forgotten, and certainly not heard since those WILLIE CHINDO/ERIC CHINJE Radio Yaounde days when I first heard and fell in love with the Group/Band!! Next thing I know, my mind is Racing down Memory Lane, darting from one tune to another, from one Radio Cameroon/CRTV Journalist to the other, from one Radio Program to another!!!
It may strike my still-sleeping kids as odd that anyone would be so enthralled by their "RADIO" Memories but that's because they wouldn't understand that, in a day and time when there were NO Cell Phones, NO iPods or iPads, NO Laptops or Desktops, NO Wiis, Nintendos or X-Boxes, NOT EVEN TELEVISION, the MAJOR source of our Information/News, Entertainment and Education was the RADIO, and as one who YEARNED, THIRSTED FOR and literally IMBIBED all 3, RADIO YAOUNDE, (in my elementary/secondary school/Ngoa-Ekele days), RADIO BUEA, (in my secondary/high school days), and RADIO BAMENDA, (in my CCAST BAMBILI days), were a HUGE DEAL!! There is NO WAY my spur-of-the-moment list of JOURNALISTS, SIGNATURE TUNES, or PROGRAMS could be anywhere near exhaustive, but on this THANKSGIVING MORNING, I am posting this "ARTICLE" to SALUTE, HONOR and EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE to those DEVOTED MEN & WOMEN who made a tremendously positive impression on this little girl who virtually ate up the TUNES and PROGRAMS they dished out! May the Souls of the MANY DEPARTED amongst them, Rest In Peace!
- Peter Akum FOMUM
- Paul KODE (Luncheon Date)
- Anne TAMKO (Luncheon Date)
- John NDANE
- William ESAPEBONG (Points of View)
- Peter ESSOKA (The News/Sports)
- Mark NIBOH
- Perps NCHE
- Frida KIMA (Songs of Faith)
- Olive SHANG (Calling The Women)
- Aaron NGOE (Meet The Patients)
- Bob FORBIN (The News)
- Francis WETE (The News)
- Luke ANANGA
- Sam Nuvalla FONKEM
- Victor Epie NGOME (aka THE RAMBLER)
- Eric CHINJE
- Willie CHINDO
- Julius WAMEY
- Benn BONGANG
- Jerry J.K. DOMATOB
- Ben Berka NJOVENS (Sports & Music)
- Fai Henry FONYE (Cameroon Calling)
- Akwanka Joe NDIFOR (Cameroon Calling)
- Charlie Ndi CHIA (Cameroon Calling)
- Asonglefack NKEMLEKE
- BOH Herbert
- Ntemfack OFEGE
- Eno Chris OBEN
- Larry EYONG-ECHAW
- Tatah MENTAN
- Zachary NKWO
- Mwema MEOMBO (MM)
- Paddy TANYI
- NJOMO Kevin
- Mary Namondo KAMARA
- Becky NDIVE (Luncheon Date)
- Carol Ijang AKUTU
- NGOBESING Suh Romanus
- Fondo SIKOD
- Dave NYAKE? (Radio Douala)
- Maria-Goretti NKWI/NGONG?
- Hortensia NGANG/FOHTUNG?
- Rose EPIE
- Maureen EBAI
- Martha PUFONG
- Judith NGALE
- Watonsi Wa KABAMBA?
- FUL Peter
Here are the RADIO CAMEROON/CRTV JOURNALIST NAMES, PROGRAMS as they come to mind ... & some of the (SIGNATURE) TUNES
(I certainly hope to update this as I am reminded of more! My apologies for any misspelled names or memory lapses! Would GLADLY accept corrections!
Well, looks like I just started another project - "like play"!)
Because "READY-MADE" clothes were not as easy to find and were expensive, because many women were stay-at-home Moms who could sew, (MA MBIWAN included - See Picture Below! LOL!!), and also because some men and a few women set up a sewing business - at a market or street corner, for the men, and from the comfort and safety of their homes, for the women, a lot of what was worn back in the day was 'Custom Made'. Fabric ("material") - be it CALICO, CREPE, CHIFFON, TERGAL, POPLIN, FLANNEL, GABARDINE, SEERSUCKER, CRIMPLENE, TAFFETA, NYLON, VELOUR, LACE, or COTTON, would be purchased from EMENS TEXTILES, R & W KING, or the local market, taken to a tailor or seamstress who would take measurements after a "style" had been decided upon, ("gather waist", "cross-no-gutter", etc.), and set appointments for "fitting" and pick up, - which, more often than not, (like with Carpenters and Mechanics), were NOT honored, the first 2, 3 or even 5 times!
The EMBROIDERED GOWNS & "SAMARA" Days!
Ebob Mbiwan (now Tanyi), and Mrs. Elizabeth Mbiwan nee Mbongo. (RIP!)
(Mother - Daughter Tea, May 1974
Saker Baptist College, Victoria)
SALAMANDA-clad, Mrs. Elizabeth Efeti MBIWAN nee MBONGO (RIP), with her treadle sewing machine behind her - and a glimpse of the family's BLAUPUNKT Radiogram to the far right!
GRAND MESSA, YAOUNDE, 1975
Her last 2 daughters sporting 2 of a countless number of her "one kind" creations!!
INDIAN SLIPPERS were also quite popular in the 60s and 70s.
BY THE WAY: ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH THE LINES BELOW?
A man. A pan.
A man and a pan.
A pan and a man.
He is a man. Is he a man? Yes, he is a man.
It is a pan. Is it a pan? Yes, it is a pan.
He is a man and it is a pan.
It is a pan and he is a man.
(Infants One Reader 1957)
With these "FASHION FADS", any wonder that a RECORD came out whose lyrics went like this - if my memory serves me right??!!
New Year, New Fashion
’73 eh, Na wandaful
You go up, You cam down, Onley One Style.
One Style for ‘73
Yéyé Yaya YuYu, Chochoro Trong Kanda
Onley One Trouser, Onley One Style
APAGA & SALAMANDA
Copyright J.D. Okhai Ojeikere for pictures so marked!
Bout Carré et
Metal & Foam Hair Rollers & "Stretching" ...
"GOGGLES OF SURPRISE"!!
AROUND THE HOUSE!
BABY CARE, CLEANING, HEALTH CARE ...
Mosquito Repellent Coil
Reputed to help Pregnant Women manage "Morning Sickness"
aka "MUKELE", usually on the left arm!
Hot Water Bottle
(Great for Menstrual Cramps)
Match Sticks and String: 2 things believed to stop a baby's HICCUPS when placed in and on their head (respectively)!
CLOTH DIAPERS (NAPKINS)
GUIGOZ BABY MILK.
The Contents were just as valuable as the "NGONG-NGONG" (Container) which was often a makeshift "receptacle" for ACHU SOUP and its "particulars".
(Used to reduce fever)
"C.C.C. SOAP" aka "SAVON"
DETERGENTS & BLEACH
(Used to combat Constipation and Gastritis)
ITEMS that went into the treatment of a "B.B.C.", as in,
"BOLINGO BONE CUT"
Sore Throat LOZENGES
(Used for storage)
Quite the "Hair Relaxer!!
(Used to soothe pain or relieve stiffness)
The ravages of the
In my day, it is Tomato Paste Cans (with the lids taken out on both ends) that were used to hold the brooms together, at their base!
MORTAR & PESTLE
"EYE BAMBOO" BROOMS
(Depending on the state of the area to be swept, you may have had to "water" it, before the sweeping, to avoid raising too much dust!)
Cod Liver Oil: Helps with joints; Used to counter Rickets.
Calamine Lotion: Used to relieve itching and treat rashes.
Milk of Magnesia: Laxative; Used for constipation.
Remedy for Infant Colic.
Used to prevent rough, dry, itchy skin
DETTOL - IN A TIN!
Tobacco Tin, the likes of which would be used later to "measure" garri in the market!
An anthelmintic used primarily as the citrate in the treatment of filariasis, particularly infestations with Wucheria bancrofti or Loa loa.
Daraprim: "The Sunday-Sunday Merecine" (To prevent Malaria!)
Aturgyl: Nose Decongestant
Vermox & Antepar: Worm Medecine
(Before the "Moulinexes" and blenders arrived!)
What a Welcome Sight on Visiting Sunday during one's SBC days!
Old Fashioned Toilet System with pull down CHAIN for flushing.
CASTOR OIL "Tasteless & Odorless"?? Na lie dat oh!
Panadol: Pain killer
Fansidar: Malaria Treatment
"Imperial LEATHER" not-o leather oh! Na SOAP!
As I explained to my children,these are certainly NOT "weird big teacups with lids" but
"CHAMBER POTS", aka "PISS POTS"
(excuse my French oh!)
Of 2 Things, I am pretty certain:
1. That I am not the only child who asked her mother how she could be expected to SWALLOW a "tablet" this big.
2. That I am not the only one who was HORRIFIED at the answer/explanation that was given!!
"SHIFTAH" (FLOUR SIEVE)
The older it got, the more the "threads" in the netting/mesh shifted and developed spaces that let some lucky weevils through!
HOME SWEET HOME!
MACRAMÉ Flower Pot Holders,
CROSS STITCH &
CROCHET Table Runners and Back Rests,
CANE CHAIRS ...
practically every home had them at one time!
Very Popular Quote that hung framed on the walls of many a home, mine included!
They may look ridiculous now, but Cassette Players, Rotary Phones, Typewriters, Grandfather/Cuckoo Clocks and Polaroid Cameras were "it" back in the day!
Some "Senior Service" Kitchens had Kerosene Stoves, Water Filters with a Tap, and Table Top Egusi and & Ground nut Grinders!
Of course, "STRANGERS", (guests), would stop by to visit, and except you wanted your "news" as the most "kontoh" person in town to "waka", you offered them "mimbo", which meant a trip to the nearest "off license" by the "boy-boy" or some of us the "lass cocos" in the family, after the strangers' "CHOICES" had been asked! "Cover Beer" collection was quite a fad!
Should note that, if the stranger was a "Big Man", (a term that has NOTHING to do with physical size btw), they got served "Johnny Waka", Campari, Martini, Bailey's Irish Cream, Dry Gin or some other "spirit" from the household "Liquor Cabinet"!
Your cassette was bound to "wrap" at some point, or the Rewind or Fast Forward buttons would get stuck. That is when you'd invariably discover that your BIC ball point pen was not designed only for writing!
"TREATS" that were a delight to have and that were worth getting labelled "BEG-BEG" for, could be anything from "Peppermint", "Cabin", "Marie Biscuit", or "Buttah Scotch", to good old "BLOCKADE" - plain, (as in, "empty"), or "upgraded" with "grahnut", CHOCOLATÉ, PÂTÉ, BLUE BAND, PIM or CLEMATIS margarine. If these items were added to a "baguette", that of course, moved the "snack" up to "PAIN CHARGÉ" status!
... LET THE GAMES - AND CHEATING, BEGIN!!!
Remember, "SIX!!; 2 SIX!!; 3 SIX GO HOME"??!!
Most of the "playing", ("Dodging", Hide-and-Seek, Tree Climbing, etc.) , got done OUTDOORS; but those Rainy Season days would come when you were glad there were INDOOR options like LUDO, CARDS, ("BOXING", "DINNER" or "JAMES BOND"), SNAKES & LADDERS and "DRAFT" (a la Cover-Beer!), etc.
... And BOY! Did "people" CHEAT at these games or what? Many a fight and plenty of "friend-cutting" did ensue, after someone was caught or suspected of pushing their "SEED" to avoid being swallowed by the same "mbahlock" snake for the 3rd time, not "boxing" the cards well, or of "Kicking" someone's seed "HOME" fraudulently! As for the "OPEN-EYE" displayed by "Uncles, Aunts, Big Brothers & Sisters and even Parents who bullied their way to victory ... Hmm!
OUR GARDENS & HEDGES...
Petunias, Zinnias, and Orchids may have been the preserve of the real "Green Thumbs" and Botanists but Marigolds, Bougainvillea, Ixora, Cocks Comb, Hibiscus Roses and Sun flowers were pretty common! So also was the fascinating Mimosa plant which "closed" its leaves at the slightest touch!
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MAUREEN EBAI
RETIRED CRTV JOURNALIST
The death has been reported of Mrs. MAUREEN EBAI. She passed away at the Buea Regional Hospital on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 8:45 AM Cameroon time. She attended Queen of the Rosary Secondary School (QRSS) Okoyong before going to do teacher training in BTTC Soppo, Buea. After a brief teaching stint at Government School Buea, she proceeded to the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater to study Journalism. Upon graduation, she returned to Cameroon in 1983 with her husband, late Mr. Victor Arrey Tabi Ebai of the defunct PMO. She served with Cameroon Radio & Television Corporation-CRTV in Bamenda and Douala, and finally retired in Buea in 2008. She will be dearly missed by her numerous relatives, CRTV fans, her former pupils, friends and well-wishers.
MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE!
For more information and details regarding her FUNERAL PROGRAM, Please visit her Memorial Website at:
As a mid-60s Victoria Pikin who listened to the radio and to as many adult conversations as I possibly could, I certainly heard the names ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEWA, OBAFEMI AWOLOWO, CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU, YAKUBU GOWON and of course, NNAMDI AZIKIWE bandied about in those pre and post "BIAFRA" days. What I never quite understood though, is what on earth this "AZIKIWE", who was supposed to be the First President of Independent Nigeria, (from 1963 to 1966), had to do with this 1958 High Life tune which was any and everything BUT political in nature! Didn't get a satisfactory answer from my parents back then, and even now that I have been privileged to read the narrative recounted by the Song's author - HERBERT UDEMBA himself, in Sonny Oti's book titled "HIGHLIFE MUSIC IN WEST AFRICA, (see Excerpts below), my over-4-decades-old question still remains unanswered! Instead, a brand new question has arisen, because I am now left wondering who exactly was/is this Mr. UDEMBA'S "Camerounian First Wife" he talks about...
Anyway, enjoy the very edifying read, and especially, THE MUSIC; Not just THE ORIGINAL which I am soooooo glad to have FINALLY unearthed but also this "MODERNIZED" Version of it with a remarkable CAUCASIAN lady at the keyboards!!! Haba! Haba!
"BOTTOM BELLE COOL MY HEART"
Chief Udoh Essiet duo with Sherry Margolin
At NNAMDI AZIKIWE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT in ABUJA, NIGERIA - JUNE 2012
UPDATE/FOLLOW UP ...
The day after I posted the entry above, I got this very edifying response from a reader that I deem very worthy of sharing:
"... when I read that the highlife tune in question was a hit in 1958, and that the Nigerian composer, Oga Udemba had had a Cameroonian as his first wife, I immediately wondered if this "first wife" was a name I knew very well. Then I listened to that original version of "BONSUE" which you posted, and, putting two and two together, I'm pretty sure I'm right!! You see, if you were around , even as a child, in the late 1950s, you would not have missed the famous voice of a Bakweri lady named ENANGA BOGIE ---- I guess that was her show name ---- who was THE STAR of the day. When we moved to Buea in early 1959, that tune, with Enanga Bogie singing, could be heard playing on radios and gramophones everywhere, especially in the marketplace, which is where I heard it. And I heard talk of " that Bakweri woman singing" having gone off to marry some Ibo man. Unfortunately, I never even saw a picture of this woman ---- what a long way we've come! --- but there were many older people in the village who had known her very well before she went to Nigeria.
As to the question about what Nnamdi Azikiwe had to with that Bonsue number, I would say the answer is" nothing." His name was simply thrown in, because he was a big political leader at the time, the way Ahidjo's name was used in many popular hits in the 60s and 70s, if you remember, as a form of adulation ( SOME adulation , eh?)"
Mention the dates "11th FEBRUARY" or "20th MAY" to anyone who was raised within Cameroon's Anglophone Culture in the late 60s, 70s and 80s like I was, and invariably, a wide range of NOSTALGIA-filled memories would come flooding in! It could be anything from the "BLANCOed" BATA/Canvas shoes we wore, to the "ALASKA" that assuaged our thirst while we were at "The Field", not forgetting the endless MARCHING PRACTICE sessions that took place PRIOR to the actual MARCHING DAY, when anxious-to-take-first-in-Marching HEADMASTERS, DISCIPLINE MASTERS & TEACHERS barked out enforceable-by-mulongo-and-konks commands like:
"Hands on your shoulders!!" (to ensure equitable spacing between the "pupils");
"Look at the OCCIPUT of the person in front of you!!!" (to ensure that the lines remained straight);
"Maaaaark Time!! Left! Left! Left-Right! Left-Right!"; and of course ...
"EYES RIGHT!!!!" (which was to be executed once the Marching Squad got to the VIPs and Government Officials seated in the grandstand!
And then those MARCHING SONGS!!!!!!!
Some of them made plenty of sense, given their relevance to the Occasion or Event being celebrated. Like ...
"The Youth Day is around once more, for young Cameroonians ... at home and abroad"
Others left me perplexed and wondering as I marched along!
I still don't know, up till this day where the "ZAMARIA" that was mentioned in the Song: "DOWN THE STREAM; where the sweet canoes lay down"! In fact I don't quite know if the canoes later woke up after they had "laid down" long enough"!
Besides it is only a few years ago, thanks to GOOGLE that I found out that the "JOHN BROWN" whose body lay "a-mouldering" (not a-morning like I had earnestly sung out loud for years) was an 19th Century American Abolitionist.
As for "OH MY HOME! WHEN SHALL I SEE MY HOME?", it only really makes a lot of sense NOW that I am freezing away in North Carolina, and not back then when I actually was in my "Native Land", sweating away in Victoria's Community Field!
I also did my best to try and "REMEMBER WHEN I WAS A SOLDIER", but always drew a complete blank. (I did enjoy the "Yippie Yap-Yap" part though!) Same thing with "O SOLDIER MARCHING, HALLELU-UYAH"!
Some of the songs, I have only come to "get" and appreciate with time! Take the song whose lyrics went:
Since Man to Man; (Man!) Is so Unjust (Just!)
I don't Know which Man to trust!
For I've trusted many (Many!) To my sorrow. (Sorrow!)
Friends today; Enemies Tomorrow!
The average Primary School "pupil" would have "joined/cut friend" a number of times over silly stuff but you would have to have been a propah "waka-about" kind of chick to sing and really mean words like "I don't know which MAN to trust ... for I've trusted MANY" yah!!!!! LOL! Well, ENJOY the MEMORIES, as you watch the VIDEO SNIPPETS and view the PHOTO ALBUM, - graciously extracted from the Youth Day 2016 Collection of ExSSA CAMEROON's Dynamic Publicity Secretary, Princess Grayce Endeley!!! Interesting to note what has changed and what has stayed virtually the same!!!