There is a lot of madness in this blog post so be warned. At this particular moment I just missed out on attending the most prestigious creative writing workshop in Africa despite being invited, the Caine Prize Writers Workshop in Zimbabwe. I even have a Zimbabwean Visa but the workshop is already over. So the big question is WHY? It’s a long story. Like JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” But the short of the long story is that, there’s no Zimbabwean embassy in Yaounde, so I mailed my passport to London so that a Zimbabwean Visa could be obtained for me there and a little kid tore off a blank page from the passport. So even though the visa came out and found itself sticking to my passport like a slug, at the Douala airport, I was denied access to board my Ethiopian Airlines flight to Mutare by immigration because my passport is invalid (because of that torn page.) Very annoying. For days, I could not eat, could not sleep and was in so much pain that I’m now suffering from small mental dysfunction. Uh huh, yi mean say I di craze small. Say I dong kolo mental small. Like this stature below. Look am, look am,
Ei, na which kind thing this? It’s called “Le Monument de la Liberté”, the monument of Liberty. That is, Cameroon’s own version of the stature of Liberty. It towers twelve meters high, has a diameter of five meters and weighs twelve tons. It is located in the roundabout Deido Douala and commissioned and produced by Doual’art in 1996. Seriously, if you’ve been to Douala and haven’t seen the damn thing, then go and medically check your eye sight. Unlike the one in America which was sculpted out of copper by the French, (uh huh I just said that. You, you in America who is saying “Nkiacha na lie” go and do some research, it was a gift by the French to the Americans crafted by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.) Unlike the one in America, our own was erupted out of old tyres, old car parts, old metal scraps, old umbrellas, old iron rods, old zinc roofing sheets, old tin containers (ngon-ngong), old, old, old recycled things! And assembled in the middle of the economic capital!!! Yeh-gaay, Hahaha, Journal du Bien, “Voici pour vous du bien…Bieeeen!!!”
Okay, Le monument de la liberté a ete fabriqué par un Bamileké qui a travaillé sur ça, dans un endroit bloqué et seulemant dans la nuit (like say na witch, Lol). His name is Joseph-Francis Sumégné (even if wunna ask governor for Douala, man way yi make am yi no go fit tell you, so clap for me first. You nodi clap? I say clap. Good. Sumegne is a dreadlocked sculptor of Bamileke extraction who has lived in Douala for many years. I guess the man smoked some kai kai before having the unique inspiration for such a strange piece of art. Hey i'm just guessing. Ladies and gents I present to you Monsieur Joseph Francis Sumegne. (the other one na colleague no bother)
He looks like Bob Marley right? (No cayé, no stature). When asked why he decided to fashion such strange work of art from recycled materials, Joseph Francis said, his idea is to show the state of Douala in the early and mid nineties. During that era, Douala was a notoriously dirty town. But the city is much cleaner now oh. HYSACAM di wipe all dust put’am for motor poom poooom. Ever since it was erected, it has become a tourist attraction. Its queer nature has been attracting millions of white tourists who fly in to marvel at its beauty. Its popularity is now so huge it has even surpassed that of the real stature of liberty in America and the Eiffel Tower in France. Such that, the last time I passed near the White House, I eavesdropped on a conversation in which Barack Obama was ordering General David Pitraeus to launch a very accurate US drone which will bomb the damn thing. But he also warned Pitraeus that there’s so much corruption in Cameroon, before he’ll complete his assignment, Cameroonian government officials will bribe the unmanned drone in mid air such that, it may turn back and rebomb them in America instead. That’s why he’s including a bribe-proof on the drone and choosing his best general who served so well in Iraq and who bombed so well and stole oil so well.
One amazing thing about this our monument is that, it is also animate. Sometimes it behaves like a human being. Every time I pass around, I always hear it slapping off the myriad of Douala mosquitoes from its body which bite it daily. Have you seen its right arm? It was actually killing a mosquito the moment all these shots were taken twai, twai. See...
The monument also helps the traffic police to control traffic especially during rush hour in the mornings. But one day, in an effort of pretence that it was killing a mosquito, it quickly sent its hands into a taxi stuck in traffic jam and stole a sleeping woman’s purse with lots of money. Nobody saw the theft incident since everybody was sleeping as they’d spent the whole night in the traffic jam. The stature left, went to Akwa, got a couple of ashawos, took them to Goodies restaurant in Bonapriso and bought all kinds of goodies. Then he took them to Marché Centrale and lavished money on designer shoes and clothes. It went clubbing at Olympia night club Bonanjo with them later at night. Some police officers had gone looking for it on a wild rampage. When they caught it, the ashawos fled. They lay ambush on the stature, got it well thrashed and imprisoned it at the New Bell Prison. It was only released a month later. When I saw it back in place at Rond Point, it immediately said “Oh boy, ngata na die, I no go ever tif again.” It also told me it had met Lapiro de Ngata at New Bell (God rest his soul) and Lapiro had taught him how to sing and it was planning to release a new powerful album titled “Douala na suffer”. That it was also hoping to become more popular than Petit Pays. But it was going to name his own music band “On a Les Visas” instead of Rabbi’s “Sans Visa”. I was very impressed.
The stature also knows how to play football, having played for one season at Astres de Douala and was top scorer the year they won the Cameroon league. The other players drove it away because of jealousy. The real reason was that it stole their girlfriends. During the 2004/2005 football season in Spain when Samuel Eto’o was fighting for the Pitchitchi title with Diego Forlan, the stature headed the ball which is currently on its head and it bounced and bounced and then bounced off a ship at the Port of Douala and went over the ocean straight into the opponents pole during the last day of play. The Spaniards were so impressed with the feat that they flew to the Douala International Airport, drove straight to Rond Point and handed the stature the Pitchitchi trophy instead, forgetting about Forlan and Eto’o. But on their way back, they were frustrated at the airport and did not board their flight because they did not have any money to pay 10.000 francs each as airport tax. They were shocked that it’s the only airport in the world where passengers pay the nonsense fee yet the airport never ever changes. Eto’o also flew back to Cameroon in rage, laughed at the Spaniards at the airport, that the system had caught and taught them a lesson, went to Rond Point Deido and seriously threatened the stature with death. So the next season, the stature restrained itself from scoring again and Eto’o succeded to grab the Pitchtchi title, this time beating David Villa on the last day of play. Wait. Why are you laughing? Do you doubt all these things I’m saying? It’s as true as the gospels. Ehn, I swear to God (touches index finger on the ground, licks and raises to the sky.) Na whetti? Okay, if you doubt me, google up.
Short Bio: Nkiacha Atemnkeng is a Cameroonian writer who doesn’t know when he was born but it is generally believed to be around 1859. He won the Nobel Prize for mental dysfunction Literature in 1939 during the Second World War. Adolf Hitler got jealous and seized the award because it had been given to a black man. Just like in the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, it seems he was born when he was already old and is growing younger instead. It is estimated that in 2099 he will be an old baby moving towards death into the womb. Hollywood legend James Cameron is currently directing a movie based on his life titled, “The Curious ill luck case of Nkiacha Atemnkeng”, which is estimated to beat every Box Office record and even that of "Avatar". He currently lives in Douala but plans to move and permanently live on the planet Mars hanging onto the neck of his beloved Le Monument de la Liberte because he has found life on earth to be very boring especially at this very unhappy moment of his life.