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Leslie Njamen Tita | Preface :

"C'est La Bouyabaise", those are the words I use each time I find a situation unbelievably ridiculous, and right now that is what I'm saying while writing this. Just to clear out any doubts for those who dont know me, I am not a national hero, an ex-soldier, a millionaire, an ex convict, politician or a child soldier.

Thus this book will not be dramatic or self pitying, this is not #kony2012.

And though, I may not have invented anything (yet) or won the megalottery or raised a million dollars for my startup; the fact is as a young adult I face similar challenges any Black - African - Cameroonian would face.

That is finishing with school, thinking about my career job, thoughts of dropping out and focusing on my startup full-time, trying to convince my friends to invest their money in me, reassuring my mother everything is fine, uploading self-gratifying pictures on facebook while keeping up with my emotional life, in fact, the perfect imperfect American sorry African dream.

So instead of focusing on those negative thoughts Ill like to share something I believe in fervently, something a majority of journalists, authors, critics, and some of my very own people harshly criticize and complain about, with a majority of their solutions being nothing but insanely radical.

That is the belief that the nation of Cameroon is heading towards better days.

I do sometimes wonder if there is something I personally could do to drastically change the course of my nation, because the Cameroon I know is beautiful, challenging, corrupt, young, lazy, poor and ambitious, but most importantly, no matter what I may think of this country it will continue to thrive in an upward curve, if not for the straightforward reason that the is a brink of hope, hope for everyone. 

 

 

Economists, politicians, journalists and foreign policy experts with statistics and historical facts may find counter arguments to prove me wrong, but what I have come to learn is,"in life they are lies, damn lies and statistics."

We truly have a choice - but of course we also need surprises. How many of you believe that we could use only numbers and statistics to build a country like the United states.

The story I have to tell, takes a different approach, thus I will not pursing the bandwagon of negativity or neither will I go on a sprint for propaganda. This is a story, my story and maybe that of millions of others.

My background and family have nothing of extra special. My mother, a retired scholar from the western part of Cameroon known as the Bamilekes precisely Bangante, who are popularly known for their economic know how, and my father is originally from the northwest, and from a small village called Bali, mostly known for...well I do not know what the Bali people are known for.

I know atleast they tried to drive out the "bawock" people from their land using ancient methods with machettes and fire while their ladies look extra beautiful.

But as I would come to learn the Anglophones and the Bamilekes in our Nation, have often been sought to be highly disregarded by the governement, I will not get into that right now but that is a problem I readily acknowledged.

Charles Swindoll said “life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of what you do about it”

Despite my origins, I had come to developed the belief that though we do not choose where we are born, we can play an important part on who we will become.

So, my belief became the acknowledgement and the act. One without the other is self-indulgence. That is what I believed.

Chapter 1.

“We do not choose where we're born, or who are parents are but we can choose who we will become in the future... That is our choice. “

I was born and raised in Yaounde, the beautiful capital city of Cameroon, in the open neighbourhood of Messa. 99% of my friends at the time either spoke french or where French, so I learnt my nation's second official language pretty early.

Having my late grandfather live with us, made me learn a third language, my mothers dialect “mendumba”. I remember He will tell me, he did not understand my “graffi” (english), so officially mendumba became the house language. Though it eventually happened that I came to forget a majority the mendumba I learnt.

Nevertheless I was what we may call a fully integrated and diversified child.

Good things happened and my mother had her admission into the masters program at the university of Warwick, did I forget to say, in the 80s the Cameroonian government gave numerous scholarships to students who wished to go study abroad.

So without my permission, my mum went without me, my education here was more important she reminded, but I had already developed tough skin, because I did not shed tears every day.

If I remember properly I may have shed tears about once a day, every week, for one year. Thus with my mum in the UK, my father in the US, I will remain in the custody of my aunt, one very painful year, because been a very hyperactive child, staying at home all day was not my cup of tea.

I loved to discover, talk, hide, seek, destroy and play with my french neighbours who considered “jetai a gauche” (because at the time being anglophone, was often considered bizarre) but who cared ? we were all 4 and 5.

The order of the day was play, eat, play, sleep, homework not very much, but my new tutors will not let me enjoy my passion for play and destruction.

So the following year, during my 5th birthday, my mother was back, I do not remember what I told her exactly, but needless to say it was enough to convince her to take me along when returning to the UK.

The UK was amazing, thier accent even more and as one may wonder how do I remember all of these so young, well I'm amazed myself, but as I will come to discover with time, my mind was very visual, thus I do not forget places, objects and events but I will forget dates, numbers and calculations.

Thus Its rather unfortunate that visual memory did not help in class, Mathematics proved to be my archenemy.

On the other hand, I was very good at story telling, especially my best fiction story “Zim-bo-Zim: the elephant that could do back flips “. However my stay in the UK was short-lived we had to return to Cameroon for which reason I do not know, we should have made the UK our new home.

At that time I knew my purpose in life was just to be lovable, eat, play and laugh and keep my mum happy at all times, except when I failed at exams, something I did pretty frequently.

My years in primary education was at PNEU Yaounde, the least I can say is, it was filled with excitement, friend making, change of classmates, with each year bringing atleast one person who would influence me forever.

In the nurseries, that person happened to be Ngulita, I was her doctor in class. We would play doctor and patient during the school hours, the teachers finally had us separated, which was heartbreaking because they deemed that our activities were too distracting.

Ngulita was the creative type, she knew I was no doctor but she let me discover myself.

 

In classes one it was Ndumbe, a tough guy, we fought every day...though we were kids, no one fooled around with him, so we definitely still got into some more fights, sometimes he won, sometimes I did not win, he was the tough guy type.

In classes two, we had Oben. she was the brightest of us all. She had academic honors all.the.time{dot}com, we the boys could only but feel bad.

A girl ! Taking first, we were so young but yet so sexist. With 19 in class, I got promoted, as number 19/19, I mean when the is a first they must be a last, Oben was the geek.

Classes three was pretty sad, I had to go for a resit, I mean who does resits in primary school, well PNEU does, unfortunately I got sick and had to be operated, suffered from hyaena, I was told it was due too much physical stress and pressure on some parts of my body.

Doctor Angwafo was susprised by how I stressed (if only he knew) , during my time at the hospital I discovered my first paternal cousin, Tiga, he designed for me a get well card with my other classmates.

I read all those in my hospital bed but all I could think about was that resit I was missing, he was the compassionate type.

The following year, it was Eric and Fontem. Eric and I repeated the same class, so we basically understood each other, Eric was a francophone, which was pretty rare in those days.

Fontem, on the other hand was a genius, he got promoted about 3 times in a year, getting promoted was the hot deal in school, Fontem was my classmate but by the time I got to classes four he had been promoted through to classes six.

In classes four, Muna would cry each time she never ended up first of the class, I found that funny, because if I had shed tears each time I never finished first, think about it. Muna was sentimental and hated failure.

In my final year my teachers, uncle Tata and uncle Tambe (rip) were just unnecessarily strict, I mean we were just primary school students, and these two treated us like we were attending military school.

That very year I received some serious lashes, they were military strict and then the was Eyambe, the don juan, I mean every girl in my class genuinely liked the dude, and he was charismatic and calm, and he even had a girlfriend. I was jealous.

In about 8 years, I met people with different personalities, the creative, tough, geek, community oriented, caring, emotional, strict and charismatic.

College on the other hand was a whole different story, with Sacred Heart College "Saheco" being my first choice, and over 1000 applicants, only 100 were admitted, with a 10% admission rate, by comparison Harvard is way better.

I was 12th on the list, I guess my winner was the oral interview, I had to develop the aptitude for speech because I was knew I was not a nifty calculator.

So I aimed at being a good speaker, and that unquestionably played on my favor that day.

I would spend the rest of my 5 years in Saheco, with the most brilliant minds Cameroon could offer, I met Fontem again, but this time he was five years ahead of me, so did I meet people who ended being the best on the countrywide exam lists.

I eventually discovered, Sacred Heart was no ordinary college, the was no mediocracy there, it was tough, I still wonder how one survived in there 5 years,may be it was mixture of extreme hard work, luck, my uncle and God.

So anyone who had the privilege to attend that school, was considered a genius in my eyes whether it was for one, two, three or seven years.

If you experienced hand over, "pa boarding" corn chaff and Chumbu, know that you are on that genius list.

But in comparison to CPC Bali, where I went to high school, it was heaven and hell, a lot of people considered it to be the roughest school in Cameroon,

Its lived to its reputation too ,a classmate once told me, while he was attending holiday classes, they were asked to name the schools each of the attendees were from.

Each person named their fancy school; Sacred Heart, Lourdes, PSS, St Bedes, and when it came to his turn, turns out he was from CPC bali, the teacher turn around and told the whole class, “If there is anyone you need to be afraid of, its the guy from CPC bali.”

That was scary but unlike our franchophone brothers, the anglophones made going to a boarding institution the top priority on their list, it was generally thought it would mold and prepare you for the real world, and its problems.

At university, no one tells you what to do, and you start discovering those hardships a lot of people talk about, it is believed it is while in university that life really begins.

Mine begun when I confronted my parents about where I wanted to go to for university.

Traditional universities isn't for visual learners, thus I utterly refused to go the our state universities, with a simple reasoning, that it will be a complete waste of my talent and potential, but I was 18 what did I know about my potential ?

Bieng a visual learner, theory and mental calculations was proving difficult, I preferred praticals so I came to the conclusion that going back into that educational system which favored theory over practice will only but fustrate me more.

So I had one chance to convince my mum and her sisters (In the Bamileke tradition women consult eachother for important decisions) who considered I was stubborn since I refused to go their chosen university.

I had to share in my own words my dream and passion, so they sat down, frowned and listened to me.

This is what I said...



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