9 Aug 2013
The Story of ‘Jam Pass Die’
The Moghamo people, especially those of the past were unusually hospitable. This blind hospitality did occasionally bring them some embarrassing incidents. A case in point is the one in which the late Motumo Thomas alias ‘Kokum Boys’ accepted to house a complete stranger free of charge for years at his residence at Kokum near Guka, Batibo, Cameroon. This was in the early sixties. The stranger gave his only name as ‘Jam Pass Die’ and claimed to come from Ndu. Neither ‘Kokum Boys’ nor his neighbors knew anything about Ndu. All they knew was that Ndu was a far place up country. Jam Pass Die’s occupation was a timber sawyer. For all the years that Jam Pass Die lived with Kokum Boys, he never made a trip to his home nor ever was visited by a relative.
One fine morning, Jam Pass Die did indeed die. Kokum Boys and his fellow villagers were placed in a difficult situation with the corpse of a stranger with no known relative. The state of the roads in those days and the wretchedness of the people completely ruled out the possibility of ever taking the body of Jam Pass Die to Ndu even if anybody knew the way to his home. After brainstorming for some hours, it was decided that somebody should go and report the matter to the West Cameroon Mobile Police unit that was at Aket on the way to Guzang.
Two policemen were dispatched to come and discuss and witness the burial of Jam Pass Die. When the police came, they pointed at some four adults to bring out the corpse from the house. One of the selected men refused on grounds that he was not from Kokum but just a bystander. The police tried to compel him and a scuffle ensured. The bystander lived to regret the day he tried to resist the police physically as he was beaten and compelled to do most of the grave digging as punishment for confronting the police. Addressing the villagers before the burial, one of the policemen said, “Jam Pass Die” has now become “Die Pass Jam”.
The now renamed Die Pass Jam was laid to rest beside the Bamenda-Mamfe road and today’s expanded road actually runs over the grave of Die Pass Jam. I wonder what the family of ‘Die Pass Jam’ imagined whatever happened to their missing relative.
Njei Moses Timah