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Iconic Veteran Sports Journalist, Zachary Nkwo, Is No More 

By Basil K Mbuye

Nkwo Tokoto Zachary

One of Cameroon’s greatest sports journalists/commentators of all times, Nkwo Tokoto Zachary, has died. He was 69.

Old Zacs, as his friends called him, died in the early hours of Sunday, June 4 at the Mount Mary Hospital in Buea, Southwest Region, after a brief illness.

According to his brother, Prof. Julius Ngoh, Uncle Zack’s had been hospitalised for 10 days before he finally gave up the ghost.

Uncle Zac, as he was fondly called, was at the zenith of his career in the 70s and 80s, and had been a source of inspiration to many young journalists who were captivated by his commentaries.

During his career that spanned over a decade, the vibrant sports commentator thrilled listeners of Radio Cameroon with his yet to be rivalled sports reporting histrionics. He was noted for painting pictures of actions on the pitch as he was the eyes and ears of the Cameroonian public for many sports events at a time when television screens were not common.

During his commentaries, listeners followed the game to the least detail as he portrayed almost exactly what was on the field of play.

Biography(Culled from Zachary Nkwo’s Ultimate Commentary by Fon Echekiye)

Nkwo Tokoto Zachary was born to the late Pa Victor Ngoh and Ma Regina Nkwo on November, 5, 1948 in Ekona Mbenge. Uncle Zac grew up in strict discipline during his infancy, as his father, a professional driver with the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, moved from camp to camp in response to duty.

A hater of truancy, his father made sure that most of his holidays was spent going to farm from where he would return home with produce in a basket on his head.

He started his primary education at the Roman Catholic Mission, RCM, primary school, Bota right up to Saint Joseph’s College Sasse were he had his General Certificate of Education, GCE, Ordinary Level.

During his time at Sasse College, he played football as an attacker with people like Oscar Mongo, William Ashu, late Joseph Ewunkem, late Father Louis Nomi and others, before subsequently becoming a goalkeeper.

Secondary school life was an improvement in his upbringing, morally and academically. But of course, when he grew older and his high school education increased the distance between father and son, he got involved in sporting activities which would subsequently fashion his upbringing and strongly define the man’s social values today.

Leaving Saint Joseph’s College Sasse to pursue his high school education in the Cameroon College of Arts, Science and Technology, CCAST Bambili, Uncle Zac also took a greater step in his football career.

Uncle Zac made his football debut in Cameroon’s football championship during the 1969/70 football season as a goalkeeper for PWD of Bamenda playing alongside players like the late Baba Yara, Samuel Etongo and the late Fidelis Ebai. He will later on switch to Kilo’s Club of Bamenda, which was owned by late business magnate, Pa Kilo.

Uncle Zac was the eldest of a family, originally of three boys and two girls, with his passing away, only his second follower, Prof. Ngoh, is still alive, as Uncle Zac has joined two of his siblings who have travelled to the world here beyond.


Reactions

I have very fond memories of him. He was very kind, quiet; he talked very little and always loved to share with friends. I would like to believe that he took it very far to the extent that I can say it was one of his weaknesses.

Zac loved his friends and shared almost everything he had with them. Immediately he got his salary or some money came in, you will just find him drinking with his friends around him.

I think while some people will say it was good thing, I think he took it too far.

It took some people quite some time to know that I was his brother because I always called him Uncle Zack and people will wonder why I called him that.

The truth was that we were so close. He loved football and it is strange to know that our dad did not want any of us to play football and Zac was playing football without his knowledge.

When we were young, Zac usually got a piece of cardboard and folded it as a microphone and started running commentaries. Eventually, he joined Radio Buea and went to the School of Journalism and became a sports broadcaster.

Those of us who grew up in Moliwe did not find it strange because we knew that it was his passion and his best moments were when he was running football commentaries. Family members are very shocked and it is a big loss. His presence was very comfortable.

Before Zac died, he had not gotten out of the shock of losing his female daughter to the cold hands of death in 2012.

Prof Victor Julius Ngoh

Zachary Nkwo was my mentor. Mentor because when I went to college in 1965, he was in form 4.

He joined Saint Joseph’s College in 1962 and when I came three years later, there was a journalism club at the school; Zachary and Epie Ngome were those at the pinnacle of the club.

They came up with this notice that those interested in the club should come.

Seven of us who joined the club ended up as journalists. During a talent test, I was detected as a sports reporter, so I was so attached to Zackary Nkwo because he was the goalkeeper of the school team. They started training me on how to run commentaries.

They would use hard papers to make it in the form of a megaphone and I would be commentating inter-house competition so I grew in the ranks of the club and became the president.

I was in charge of publications in the school which pushed me into the profession. When we were in the university, we were still very close because he was my ‘big’ when we were in Sasse.

So, the relationship continued up to the university and after. When I was working with Radio Cameroon Buea, he broke a jinx because it was generally known that only reporters of the national radio station could cover international matches.

The fact that they found some thrilling reporters in the provinces at the time, he said he would break the rule and get reporters from the provinces to go out for international matches. He took me and a host of others.

He started putting us on international assignments which created a platform and brought in so much pressure and competition.

I think this is one of the things I will always remember him for. We also worked together and we were also like one family, standing by each other.

I admired him for his creativity in secondary schools as he won all the first prizes in English Language. He carved out so many sports vocabulary in Cameroon, which I admired. His vocabulary reigns amongst sports reporters in Cameroon. Someone very close to me is gone.

Veteran Journalist Njomo Kevin

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