I had just returned home after a hectic workday that was full of booby traps. I had spent almost the whole day chasing slippery news sources in a bid to do and dust a story I was writing. As time ebbed away, I was wary as the spectre of the deadline tyranny loomed in my mind. Due to the evasive nature of sources, I had observed the deadline of the story in breach several times. As I pondered over the assignment, shuddering any failure would make me lose my status as the editor’s good boy, the uprising in my stomach surged. I then decided to teargas it with fufu corn and jamajama.
Just when I was dispatching wraps of fufu into my trunkartistically, my phone rang. I took the call with gusto, believing it was one of my sources. Strange enough, it was an anonymous number. “Is that Mr. Kini Nsom?” a foggy voice inquired. “Speaking”, I replied laconically. When I asked to know who the caller was, he simply told me not to bother about who he was, but about the message he had for me. “Kini, I have been reading you and I want to advise you not to be too negative in your assertions. The initial excitement and expectation in me melted into anxiety. I tried to figure out who such a caller could be while contemplating to slam the phone on his ears if he didn’t reveal his identity. But, I finally decided to sentence myself to the monologue of the unknown caller.
I tried to make the communication a conversation with the caller. But he overshadowed me with a lousy fit of loquaciousness, turning the whole thing into a bori monologue. He did the talking and I did the listening. He unleashed a plethora of scathing remarks on some of the articles I have published in this column. While citing one of the articles which I wrote on hate speech in Cameroon, his voice quivered with a thinly-veiled threat as he accused me of making derogatory insinuations on certain ethnic groups in the country. As I tried to explain a few things, the man raged on, peppering me with an avalanche of rhetoric questions, casting aspersion on some of my write-ups on national issues. Judging from the fit, hisindictment of my write-ups, the man said he sees me as a very frustrated person who goes only for the dark cloud and cares little about the silver lining. The monologue later veered into a rain of insults on me. The one last thing he said before hanging up the phone brutally on me, partly reads: “Look young man, you are practising the journalism of frustration and no one elsebut you alone, is responsible for your frustration.” He ranted and cursed as I listened with the patience of a vulture. One thing I learned from this caller is his linguistic purity. He spoke English with a clean accent. He is a man of “le mot juste” His grammar was so good that I picked quite some good aphorism-dressed expressions from his long monologue.
Yet, I take exception to some of the accusations the man placed on my shoulders. The governing factor of his indictment was a fallacious view that I have a deep romance with what is negative and parochial. I beg to disagree. The scope and universe of my journalism are too large, expansive and panoramic enough to always scorn the parochial angle of public discourse. I prefer to chase the truth, no matter whose tribal ox is gored, in order to triumph as a patriotic servant of the good against the bad. In all humility, I am aspiring to be a man of the people, instead of emerging as a pecuniary parvenu and an ideological slave boy of the obscenely mighty. In our democratic dispensation, you have a right to question the accuracy of my assertions, the strength of my convictions and even my moral sizzle, but do not insult me, sir! The truth of my journalism borders on issues of grave national import. Unlike many pen pushers, my mind is not monochromatically programmed to see the tribe, region and race in issues of public interest. Many people who gainsay and disagree with some of my views, read my articles and see something else, especially in the figment of their mindsets and imaginations. More often, they abandon the national substance in my write-ups in search of the regional, divisional or tribal shadow. If I write that Boyo Division is a land of rolling hills and deep valleys and a rich fief of flora and fauna, it is a fact. But some people will refuse to see the beauty of the topography and relief I am trying to put across but rather comment that I am writing because Boyo is the Division of my origin. What else is negativism? Mind you, the patriotic fire in me will never be doused by the word bending of emergency patriots. As long as my write-ups in this column enrich the scope of national discourse, I will fire on, without giving a damn whose personal, tribal, regional or political interest ox is gored. It is obvious that the road of advocacy journalism is less travelled in our country.One should share common borders with enemies of the republic if he sees regional and tribal provenance in my write-ups that are predicated only on human rights as well other ailing issues. Small wonder that I have been in the radar of some people whose sense of fair judgment has been beclouded by partisan parochialism and greed for material aggrandizement.
Their arguments on are parochial, downright skeletal, crude and far from edifying. These are some of the issues that usually throw me off my emotional balance. The pother here has been the agonizing plight of a swindled populace that yawns out its days in misery and deprivation. We need to shout because Cameroon is a paradise of natural and human resources. How can such a rich country be home to some of the poorest people in the world? The truth of our predicament has been ample tolerance for bad governance and corruption. We do not need to go to a “gambe house” to know that all our problems as a nation have emanated from bad governance. How else should writershandle these issues? Write moving doxologies for embezzlers in high places or tickle their consciences for the common good? Or better still fan their already bloated egos to bursting limits? Let’s stop using euphemisms and call issues by their real names in our rejection of the nation-killing vices that are threatening to take our beautiful country back to the Stone Age. The naming and shaming of issues that retard the progress of our country should be the responsibility of every patriotic citizen.
By Yerima Kini Nsom (Culled from The Post)