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Anglophones Mourn S. N. Tita 

A certain generation of people who went to English speaking primary schools in Cameroon have S.N. Tita, who died in Limbe on December 1 aged 84, indelibly embossed in their minds because he was author of some of the most important textbooks they used.

His series, History, Geography and Rural Science for Cameroon became akin to the bible for both teachers and pupils, and most of those who went to primary school in the 1970s and 1980s can hardly deny that much of what they knew at the time was thanks to S.N. Tita.

It was not only that he authored these legendary textbooks that made S.N. Tita an icon – he was also the printer and publisher of these books through his Nooremac Press, founded in Nigeria in the 1950s. He was the first person in the ex-British Southern Cameroons to establish such a publishing house, and remained the champion of the industry west of the Mungo for decades.

Speaking to journalism students at the University of Buea in 1996, Pa Tita, as he was fondly called, marvelled his audience with his intimate knowledge of printing technology and the many battles he fought to pursue his dream of propagating knowledge.

The name Nooremac Press, Pa Tita explained, was formed by simply spelling Cameroon in reverse, to avoid intimidation from Nigerians who frowned at the prevalent nationalistic fervour of Southern Cameroonians residing there at the time. Curiously, this very simple anagram served its purpose, as Nigerians did not decode it.

In a tribute to Pa Tita, journalist Franklin Sone-Bayen wrote: “At the time [S.N. Tita] wrote and printed books in his own printing press from the late 1950s, the art and technology were still a marvel and looked alien to even some of the most enlightened of his time. He was author, publisher and printer of the legendary series History, Geography, Rural Science for Cameroon from his Nooremac Press.

He was a bookman par excellence in all senses. What study manuals would we have used in primary school had Tita not written and printed? In my schoolbag the only other indigenous author was E.K. Martins, rather co-author – with a foreigner – of ‘New Nation’, the famous Arithmetic textbook.”

Dr. Jerry Komia Domatob, head of the Department of Mass Communication at the Alcorn State University in the U.S. also wrote a poetic eulogy, in which he celebrated S:N. Tita as a great champion of education. He wrote:

“Some folks touch lives
Like precious gloves
That guide and heal
As valuable pill

“Amidst that rare terrain
S.N. Tita reigned
Like a resourceful captain
Who served as progress’ fountain

“Committed and dedicated educator
He excelled as a communicator
Masterminding progress
As he valiantly battled regress.”

As Sone-Bayen pointed out, Pa Tita was never given the honours he deserved by the authorities.

Many Anglophone analysts felt that if Pa Tita had been a Francophone Cameroonian, a monument would probably have been erected in his honour during his lifetime. It was perhaps because of his disappointment with the widespread marginalisation of Anglophones that Pa Tita become very involved with the Southern Cameroons independence movement, which led to his arrest at one point, and exile at another.

The great Pa Tita died December 1 at the Limbe Regional Hospital reportedly from injuries sustained during a motorbike accident some weeks earlier. Like many Anglophone heroes who have died through similar causes, Pa Tita reminds his many admirers that something went terribly wrong when the Union Jack was lowered in Buea on October 1, 1961.

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