By Yerima Kini Nsom
The passing on of one of Cameroon’s political colossuses, Senator Bochong Francis Isidore Nkwain Wainchom, on Sunday, October 19, wore the garment of a simple transition. It was dressed in the mask of the commonplace; yet, it was pregnant with extraordinary circumstances.
Family sources said the octogenarian died shortly after praying the Rosary and begging the Almighty to forgive him for his iniquities. This is a pointer to the fact that, despite his human follies, Bochong Nkwain, somewhat, quit the earthly stage on a clean slate. After learning of his demise, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, said she last saw Bobe Nkwain on October 15, during an evaluation meeting of the CPA conference at the National Assembly. She said Bochong Nkwain made a wonderful speech and told them it was the last. It was a testimony that the man had a deep sense of clairvoyance.
The announcement of his death provoked an earthquake of tributes and encomiums from all over the nation.
The airwaves of CRTV were virtually overburdened by tributes to someone who, like a good actor, quit the stage on a standing ovation. Having gone the breadth and length of administration, Francis Nkwain left a legacy. Unlike many of his peers, he did not fidget with the “Commonwealth” by reaping unduly from the public till.
Small wonder, Nkwain’s name never featured on the list of former Ministers who were answering charges of lining their pockets with cash from the people’s purse. He did not believe in amassing of wealth and self aggrandisement that are the rumble and tumble of our politics.
A Cameroon Tribune reporter, who was sent to do the obituary last Sunday, was shocked that the former Minister did not have a house in Yaounde, not to talk of a villa like some of his peers. He interpreted this to mean some kind of modesty and self-denial.
When the erstwhile Minister was dropped from the Government in 1996, he moved straight to his village, Njinikom, defying the myth of living in Yaounde to continue to lobby for the ‘next appointment’. He lived at his Njinikom Diplo Lodge and mixed freely with his people.
For one thing, Francis Nkwain was an attractive personality. He was a man of fine and equal parts. When he put on weight, he was only chubby. Not the voluminous freak that goes with the mighty high in Cameroon. He was young for a very long time. Until very recently, he was trim and boyishly handsome. He had an excellent mastery of the English Language and his Itanghikom (language), as well as a baritone and a caressing articulation that virtually arrested his audience whenever and wherever he spoke.
Most of his speeches were impromptu, portraying a man with a deep sense of imagination and creativity. When he spoke, his diction was apt and his intonation, poetic.
Francis Nkwain walked tall as a doyen of banter. He was a literary mind, endowed with enormous oratorical powers. Nkwain was very agile in his style and stamped his stylistic identity by extending the semantic circumference of certain words and expressions to achieve the desired effects on his audience.
In one such occasion, during a reception offered to the then lone CPDM MP in the Northwest, the late Fon Doh in 1997, Nkwain broke the monopoly of drab and heavy speeches. He drew heavy applause when he began his impromptu speech with a poetic intonation.
Hear him: “Balikumbat! Oh Balikumbat! The citadel of a serving people in a time of uncertainty....Oh oh Balikumbat! You did it at a time that the Northwest played a fool’s part in the drama of 1992, and harvested nothing ...” In a reconciliatory tone, Nkwain called on his CPDM comrades in the Northwest to forgive those who craved for their noisy crucifixion after the 1992 Presidential election.
Like most CPDM barons at the time, Nkwain endured so much mental and psychological torture, when his house in Njinikom was vandalised during 1992 post-election violence. He stood firm. He possessed and exuded a galvanising faith in the CPDM.
When two or three people were gathered anywhere for the sake of CPDM in his vicinity, Francis Nkwain was always in their midst. He campaigned for the CPDM everywhere he was, and professed the party’s ideology with passion and conviction. Nkwain was a jolly good fellow, with a deep sense of humour and enjoyed singing and dancing. He danced the local Kom dance, the ‘njang’ with a dexterous chorography.