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Sam-NuvallaFonkem as I knew Him 

By Tatah Mentan

Sam-NuvallaFonkem is our fallen media icon who leaves us with his enduring words that “it is incumbent on (journalists) and no one else to stand at the frontline of the battle for press freedom…crying to be defended from power hungry politicians, overzealous administrators and regulatory boards seeking reward from their paymasters, incompetent security forces, religious fanatics and all those with skeletons in their cupboards.” Does his professional life reflect this assignment given to journalists? The answer is a resounding YES!

Conventionally, words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient even to measure the brave sacrifice of those one loved and so admired. Their truest testimony will not be in the words written or spoken, but in the way they led their lives and in the way they lost those lives. The dedication, honor and an unquenchable desire to explore this mysterious and beautiful universe of journalism is memorable.

First, Sam-NuvallaFonkem has been a legend in news editing and presentation. He wrote news with his voice. This skill was stamped on students he taught in both the Advanced School of Mass Communication and Journalism (Yaounde University) and Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (University of Buea).

Second, Sam had a professional ethic borrowed from J.F.Kenedy that: “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” Faithful to this principle, He spared no effort in wielding his media artillery against the “bunch of hand clappers representing nobody but themselves” in the National Assembly of Cameroon. Punitive sanctions meted out to him a kangaroo court did not deter him.

Third, Sam’s positivism homed it to him that the dark and gloom intended by such punishments can only brighten his prospects. That is why he rose above the fray to serve mankind for the United Nations Special Mission in Ivory Coast.

Fourth, Sam had a sense of professional self-worth, the single most important factor that determined his happiness in life and success in work and relationships. Armed with this spirit, O’Sam has been a legendary humanist. He had nopatience with hatred, even of those who wanted his head. When I wondered how he could be so kind-hearted towards his enemies he replied “Dr.T hatred does not recognize boundaries. And, I will never fall for that in my life.”

Finally, Sam pursued his journalistic profession as an incurable democrat. He never subscribed to debates about press freedom that often tended to sacrifice light for heat in Cameroon. His presence as an awkward guest at the BMM(Torture Palace) in Cameroon following his pro-democracy broadcast on May 6, 1990, along with other socalled Anglophone journalists of the Cameroon Calling fame testify to His allegiance to democratic principles in the media.

That was O’Sam as I knew him. So! Farewell! O’Sam! Sleep tight! Rest in peace you have fought a good fight of faith. In your own words in your email of September 25, 2015, to me: “Illness has sharpened my will power these past years and by the Grace of God, I am the beneficiary of divine mercies…” Indeed, the brave like Sam-NuvallaFonkem die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men. And, may his courage nerve a thousand living journalists here and beyond.

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