“You bi thief”, “I no bi thief”; “You bi robber”; “I no bi robber”; “You bi army (?) robber”; “I no bi army robber.” Who changed these famous lines from Fela’s hit song, International Thief Thief (ITT) to: “You come from Cameroon”; “No, You are talking nonsense, I no come from Cameroon”? I say who changed the lyrics of that song without permission from the Laughter Line People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria?
Contrary to the All Progressives Congress allegation about Atiku Abubakar hailing from Cameroon, it is me, actually, who comes from Cameroon. And, contrary to Atiku’s back-to-the-sender remark about the allegation being “ridiculous”, “idiotic,” I come to confess to you, Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, that I come from Cameroon.
What some of you who read this column every week don’t know is that I come from Cameroon. But what year that happened, how it happened and why it happened is what I cannot tell you until you return all the ballot papers you people stole and those thumb-printed by underage voters, during the last Presidential election.
I come to confess to all of you who see me as a Nigerian that I am not. And, if you want to argue it, check and see whether any of the adjectives, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, prepositions that I used in this article come from Nigeria. I come from Cameroon, the only difference between me and Atiku who is also being accused of coming from that country is that I come from the Southern part of it, while Atiku, according to his accusers and traducers comes from the North. But does it really matter?
To start with, the Cameroon President, Paul Biya, is my elder brother while the Prime Minister, Joseph Ngute, is my first cousin. That’s why if I say in Igbo language, “Pol, bia” (Paul, come here!), he would come before any of you would have understood what I said. In fact, that’s why Wikipedia’s entry on Cameroon reads: “Cameroon’s coastline lies on the Bight (Bite?) of Biafra…” So, Cameroon too has been bitten by the Biafran serpent? Sori, Sori o, I sori for Nigeria. Sori, Sori o (apology to Femi Kuti). No python dance in Cameroon.
But you know, you can never understand these politicians. To show that they have nothing to do with us they changed some of the names that seem to link us in the area of political marginalization. Take, Limbe, for instance. Who does not know that it is a name they stole from us?; Ndi Olumbe. To make it sound different they nicknamed their own Limbe. So, the next time somebody asks you whether you know the way to Ndi Olumbe in Imo State, just know that he is asking you whether you know anybody from Ndi Limbe.
And, who does not know that Chutes de la Lobe, Kribi, was formerly Igbo, but the moment we crossed the waters and came to Nigeria, my Igbo people decided to nickname it kiribe (continue to watch or feed your eyes). I even suspect that the “Lobe” in it has something to do with the Igbo word, lobe (swallow).
And, who does not know that Buea and bua (sing in Igbo) are linguistic cousins? Did you know that before we moved to Southern Nigeria and from there to Eastern Nigeria, that Mefou National Park, Yaounde, used to answer Mefo (take/chop, remain or “leave some”). But as soon as we crossed over and left them there, they became angry and decided to change the name to Mefou.
How about Yaounde? Ah, it used to answer yawo yawo/yaho yaho. That’s how we got “o kuga yawo yawo” (he’s all sound and nothing) or “he is just sounding off, he aint going to do nothing.” But I understand the “nde” part of it was added when Chika Okpala, alias Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo, joined the New Masquerade cast and started using “nde” as part of his exclamatory remarks. So? Anytime you hear someone say to another fellow “I kuga yawo yawo” or “yaho yaho” or tell another fellow that he is a Yahoo Yahoo Boy, know that he was originally from Yaounde in Cameroon. Or, anytime you hear somebody ask a “customer” at Ochanja, Ariaria, Ogbete, Ekeonunwa, Ekeukwu, Eke Atta, Afo Oru, Nkwo Emeke, Lokpaukwu, Lokpanta, Orie Amaraku or Orie Nwebe or any market in Igbo land: “how many do you want?” and he or she answers: “ibua” or “abuo” (two), know that both the fellow asking and the one answering are from Buea in Cameroon.
The same applies when you hear a compere, master of ceremony, radio announcer, TV anchor, on air personality (OAP) tell you to continue to “kiribe” either mmanwu (masquerade), egwu (dance), ihe onyonyo (movie/film), know that both he/she and the people he/she is talking to come from Kribi, probably from Chutes de la Lobe. If someone says to you “lobe” (swallow or continue to swallow), ask the person whether he or she is from Kribi.
I also suspect that the Dja Faunal Reserve, Somalomo, in Cameroon has something to do with “suma” or “suwa” (continue to beat in the mortar). And, think of the Ekom-Nkam Waterfalls in Melong. Can you swear with Amadioha (Amadiora) that there is no connection between some names in Unwana Afikpo and these names?
And, another lousy fellow is insisting that there is a connection between the Igbo word “Efuom o” (I don loss/I am lost) and Foumban in Cameroon. Or, can you swear with Ahiajoku that there’s no linguistic relationship between Plage de Grand Batanga, Kribi and “bata nga” (come in here), a dialectical expression common with people of Mbaise, Mbano and Etiti/Uboma local government areas. And, any time you hear a fellow especially from Imo and Abia States ask the other fellow, “I doga ala”? (Are you fighting over a piece of land?), just know it in your mind that they are from Douala in Cameroon.