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The Last Ntumazah, The Last Maquisard (What’s In It For Cameroon?) 

By  Wilfred Tassang

When was it you first heard the word Maquisard? And what did it denote to you? Well, I first heard the word when I was a little boy in the late seventies. Then, I had the impression that Maquisards were a species of gargantuan apes that attack women on farms. So, I did not understand why my Pa (a retired soldier) spoke with so much bitterness of how they were made to kill these apes.

Evil Doers

One of the apes even had a name- NDEH NTUMAZAH. This one was a fearless ape that could even dare soldiers. He seemed to have some mystical powers. Pa talked of how this ‘ape’ would come to the barracks and chat around with the officers. Only after he would have gone would they realize they had been talking with the encroaching ape they had been hunting for.

Even when I saw this picture of the head of Maquis LOIS, I just thought these were extra-ordinary creatures, half human and half ape. It was only after 1990 that I came to understand why Pa talked about these killings with so much regret. (Cameroon History was not part of our instruction in those days). These were not apes after all. They were patriots, freedom fighters.
 Ndeh Ntumazah, the last of the great Maquisards has passed on. Most of his peers died about thirty years ago. What would he tell them became of the country they gave their lives for?  Would he tell them their names are still anathema?

 When I think about it, I can’t remember ever meeting anybody going by the name Ntumazah in my forty years. And this was supposed to be a Big Mankon family. Recently, I met a retired senior Midwife- Mami Hagar Alieh Che Zama, Ntumazah’s niece. She told of the horrors the family was put through because of the independence struggle.

With regrets, she talked of how they were locked up and of how she lost her unborn baby during the four months detention back in 1962. After they were released, they had to renounce the name NTUMAZAH to have peace. Today, the Endeleys, Fonchas, the Mbidas, Prisos and the Munas are big and renowned historical families. Whither the Um Nyobes, Ouandies, Moumies and the Ntumazahs? How many are proud bearers of these great names today?

On New Year eve, it would appear I heard President Paul Biya talk about how our heroes (independence heroes I suppose) would be recognised as part of activities to mark the golden jubilee of our independence. Who says God does not act in mysterious ways? Hardly has the presidential promise been made than God is pointing a finger at where to start the recognition and reconciliation process.

A state funeral for Pa Ndeh Ntumazah is a logical starting point that should culminate in the building of mausoleums and the naming of streets after these great heroes and the granting by the nation of generous grants to the surviving kin of these patriots. To miss this opportunity is to miss a chance of a life time. Of course, we have missed many of such chances before. How many more of such chances do we still have? Time for President Paul Biya to start cutting his own hero status by recognising those who paved the way for him, don’t you think? 

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