10 Dec 2007
An unintentional faux pas electrifies a crowd.
"The manner in which you are smiling alone indicates that good tidings are around the corner". A friend made this remark recently when he saw me grimacing in a relaxed mood. He was not necessarily right in his guess but I was smiling because my mind took me to an incident that took place more than four decades ago when I was just about seven or eight years old.
In those days, ‘empire day’ was the name that we used to call the day that is celebrated in Cameroon now as youth day. On empire day, children from all primary schools in the Batibo council area assembled at the Presbyterian School Guka for march pass, dance and sports competition. It used to be one of the most exciting days for children because there was a lot of fun, entertainment, eating and fellowship. It was indeed a crowd pulling occasion and school headmasters put in the best to showcase their respective institutions.
The thing that brought a smile to my aging face was an incident that occurred during a running competition. Our school used to have one athlete called Okuba. Okuba was not only an athlete but he was a bully and a proud big boy. In those days that were shrouded with superstition, Okuba gave the impression that he had supernatural powers and he impressed on many pupils to fear and revere him. Okuba was the selection to represent our school in a mini marathon race. Contestants had to go round a circular path several times while spectators also surrounded the race lanes.
On that day, Okuba put on a tight fitting nylon 'PE' pant. Of course in those days, children never wore underwears before putting on their pair of shorts.
"On the marks, get set, and go!" heralded the beginning of the contest. As to be expected, Okuba took an early lead much to the delight of our school. As the contest was heating up and noisy cheers came from the spectators, something dramatic happened to Okuba. His pants tore in between his thighs and Okuba's genitals were let loose. This unintended pornographic display added another twist to the competition. The jeering and shouting from the spectators was electrifyingly deafening. Unaware of what has happened, Okuba thought that the excited crowd was appreciating his lead in the race and he fired ahead.
Okuba, the super boy must have imagined himself on top of the world. Never in the history of empire day had an athlete received such a noisy ovation as he was being honored. When he was getting to the finishing line, he raised his head, exposed his teeth and lifted his right hand with the forefinger pointing to the sky. He crossed the line as number one and went straight into the crowd to consummate his adoration. Someone in the crowd whispered to him what has happened. Proud Okuba could not withstand the humiliation associated with this anticlimax. He immediately vanished into the crowd and disappeared. Okuba never showed up to receive his price of a 'head pan'.
That is why I was smiling alone my friend.
Njei Moses Timah