Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Encounter between a Father and his Adult Son Who would inherit his Legacy (Excerpt of DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE)

The morning was bright and sunny, with the Cameroon Mountain visible in the distant background. Even the River Wouri appeared swollen by the heavy downpour of rain the night before, giving the atmosphere around it a tremulous shimmer that Nana Njike noticed when he drove into Douala. He was still musing on the impression when a nail punctured the car’s left front tire. Luckily enough for him, a mechanic’s shop was less than a hundred yards away. He trudged to the garage looking downcast and asked the owner to work on the tire and take a look at the engine. Assured that the car would be repaired and serviced by evening for him to drive his son around, Nana picked up his portmanteau and headed for the Bali neighborhood. He was sweating profusely by the time he made it to the intersection just before Hôtel Le Nzui.    
     He had envisaged his meeting with Hans with mixed feelings. What was the best way to welcome a son he last held in his arms as a three-months-old baby, the first and only time he felt like a father to his first child? That was twenty six years ago when he sneaked into the home of Johann Tanz to catch a glimpse of Hans before embarking on the voyage back home to German Kamerun. Now, it was twenty-six years after and he would have his son to father.
     How he wished he had been there to see Hans grow up―bustling with infantile innocence, childhood inquisitiveness, adolescent defiance, teenage rebellion and the restlessness of early manhood. He had failed to be a part of those phases in his son’s life. What better joy for a man deprived of fatherhood than the knowledge that his son acknowledged and sought him, he thought.
     Nana Njike increased his pace as he approached the hotel. Not until he walked into the yard did he become conscious of the increased throbbing in his chest. His heart palpitated so wildly that he even thought he was about to choke. He stopped for a moment, rested his hand on his chest and took a deep breath. Then he stepped onto the terrace and pulled out a photo of his son from the top pocket of his jacket. A beam appeared on his face as he regarded it for the umpteenth time. He wasn’t expecting much change from the face that smiled back benignly at him.
     The photograph was among the collection of pictures given to him by Karina the last time he visited Germany. The memory of that visit broadened the smile on his face to the point where he could not shake it off as he approached the hotel entrance. He burst into the hotel glistening with sweat and walked up to the reception desk in a seemingly unstoppable and unheeding manner.
      “Good morning, Tapang,” the receptionist Samuel Nana greeted Nana Njike with a warm smile spread across his face.
      “Good morning, Nana,” Nana Njike mumbled, swallowed a heavy dose of saliva, and then licked his lips as if savoring something tasteful. “Is my son up yet?” he asked.
      “Yes, Tapang! He is in his room on the second floor, fourth door to the right. I can even take you there.”
      “Don’t worry, Nana. I will find it myself. I have been around to all the rooms before, remember?” Nana Njike said and laughed haltingly, “Thanks for that,” he added and hurried out of the reception hall in the direction of the staircase.
     Nana Njike walked into the corridor breathing heavily. He was about to knock on the door when he heard the workers laughing in a tapered manner downstairs. He knew they were laughing at him because of his unrestrained anxiety. The thought brought a smile to his face. They are good-intentioned lads and certainly mean the best for me, he thought.
     He found the fourth door shut, so he stared at it for a moment, wondering why he was so unprepared to see his son. His first knock on the door was timid, but the subsequent strikes carried a great deal of intensity with them.
      “Come in,” a voice commanded from inside.
     Nana Njike thought he was dreaming. The voice he had just heard could have been an echo of his own voice. It could not be the voice of the child he had last seen crying in Karina’s arms almost twenty-seven years ago, a child he too had cuddled afterwards. He did not want to believe that the mature voice could be that of the gentle face he had seen in the photo in his pocket. He hesitated for a moment before he opened the door. Sitting in a chair and holding a book  was a mulatto young man with a wondering look on his face. It had to be his son. It was his son all right. Nana Njike ran forward and took Hans in his arms. They hugged and patted each other on their backs, then hugged and hugged again. Only emotional mumbling expressed the joy in their hearts. When Nana Njike held Hans at arm length and looked into his eyes, the unfamiliarity of his emotions made his lips to quiver.
      “My son, Hans Wette Njike! My son, my son…my son,” he mumbled, fighting back the hot tears of joy threatening to trickle out of his eyes.
      “Yes, Papa,” Hans mumbled back in reply.
     Father and son spoke to each other for a moment in low and indistinctive voices, an incoherent expression of their emotions that nonetheless conveyed their affection for one another. With words too choked for comprehension as their hearts overwhelmed the efforts of their lips, father and son fell again into each other’s arms, clutching in an affectionate embrace. It turned out to be different this time around because they wept with joy.
      “You look good, my son,” father said to son in the bar, “The last time I laid my eyes on you, you were a baby with an unusual vocal cord. What are you today? A man guzzling beer with me!” he added with a laugh.
     Son sipped his drink and smiled. “Let’s call it one of the riddles of life. I am glad and relieved we finally met.”
     Nana Njike played with his fingers on the table for a moment, looking thoughtful as he did so. “Well, Son, I understand, I understand. I know leaving Germany was a hard thing to do. But doesn’t life present us with difficult choices all the time?”
      “That’s what I call its riddle,” Hans offered with a shrug mingled with indifference. “I don’t regret leaving Germany at all. It is a country fraught with danger for people like me. Besides, I am not the only one who has left. And many others are still leaving.”
      “I understand. I understand,” Nana Njike said with a nod this time around. “Please bear with me. You have a home here, one that shall always accept you without reservation. You wouldn’t have to fear being what you are, who you are, and what you are working to become here in Kamerun.”
      “I will hold you to that.”
      “Trust me, if I must insist. This is where your future lies. Yes! Your future, the future of your family, my family, our family, is here in this underdeveloped corner of the world. You are my first son, Hans. Never forget that. Also, don’t forget that there is much you can contribute to make the Kamerunian Dream a reality. It is only a matter of time and you will figure out your special role. Son, I have great plans for my children and this land.”
     Hans blushed uneasily. “I just arrived. I am yet to find my feet. I am not implying that I don’t want to be involved in the welfare of our family or French Cameroun.”
      “Good. My plans are for all of Kamerun, the lands of the former German Kamerun,” Nana Njike said.
     Father and son went on to engage in small talk, delving into Hans’s life during his school days―his fights, lessons learned, bruises sustained and illusions discarded. They also talked about his experiences while working in Rastatt, before they touched on the elusive purpose of Nazism in Germany.


Friday, April 15, 2016

The Plight of an Afro-German in Nazi Germany

Disciples of Fortune

Hans walked home from work that evening with a slight sneer on his face that gave him the appearance of a man unhappy with his situation. And he was truly miserable. The state of affairs in the country was his concern, if not worry. Recent developments in Germany were not only threatening, they were pointing to an unpredictable trend, especially with all the restrictions the Nazis were instituting every day. Still, he was determined not to be paralyzed by the fear spreading around, especially among the minorities in Germany.

      An anxiety of a different sort gripped him the moment he thought of his grandmother. Without even thinking about it, he increased his pace and clenched his fist as if anticipating something threatening at home. The distress made him perspire despite the cold. In fact, he was still tense when he arrived home, turned the knob of the front door and pushed it open.
Alexandra Herzl saw Hans the moment he stepped inside and looked at him with a puzzled expression on her face.
“Hans! What is it?” she asked, sitting up on the sofa, dimming her eyes in that manner of hers that said she was expecting bad news.
Hans almost chuckled. “Nothing! Or not much, Oma!” he replied, wondering why his hands were trembling.
“Then why are you walking around as if you have just been exiled to hell.”
He stopped pacing about, looked at her for a moment, and then shrugged. “My Dear Oma is always in the dark over everything that goes on beyond this house. We are heading into hell already.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The man who calls himself Der Führer of our fatherland has promulgated new laws, Oma! They are discriminatory and they make me want to cry for Germany,” Hans said with a note of exasperation in his voice.
“Sit down.”
“Please, sit down.”
He hesitated for a moment, and then sat down on the arm of the sofa, instead of the spot by her side that she indicated with a series of taps.
“What is it, Hans?” she repeated, dimming her eyes.
He rubbed his forehead with both hands, before uttering a tired sigh. He felt like crying. “A lot is going on, Oma,” he muttered in a barely audible tone.
“What about that stench of beer in your breath?” Alexandra Herzl said with a note of reproach in her voice.
He made an effort to smile, but the expression on his face stayed rueful. “Where else can we find happiness for a day other than from something that can offer momentary relief, something like the booze? A form of solace, isn’t it?”
Alexandra Herzl put aside her thread and knitting pins on the sofa, all the while regarding her grandson with unutterable concern. “You allowed things to get to you, huh?”
“My Dear Oma, I was upset. I left work today to buy the papers, and guess what I found? This trash confirming my worst fears,” he said and put the papers beside her.
Alexandra Herzl fidgeted with her hair for a moment, never taking her eyes off the newspapers. Finally, she looked at Hans with a furrowed brow before bringing her eyes back to the papers. Her lips twitched a little when she picked one up, which she read briefly before tossing it away. He was wondering what was going through her mind when she grabbed another paper and flipped through the pages in a nervous manner. At length, she sighed and darted a nervous look at him.
“This paper calls them the Nuremberg laws,” she said finally.
“Yes, Oma! Adolf Hitler is now legally in power. It is obvious he is beginning to implement his crazy plans for the German people. I never believed Lorenz Ulbricht after I heard him campaign just before the elections when he said all those crazy things in Berlin,” Hans said with a sigh, pushed the knitting pins aside, reclined in the sofa, and then nodded wearily.
“I too never take people like him seriously?”
Oma, he talked of taking the German people through a purification process.”
“What is this nonsense about a purification process? And this talk of the German people? We are all German people.”
Nein, Oma. His notion of the German people or the master race is different from what you and I think. To people like them, a true German has to be full-blooded. With the exception of the few xenophobes, nobody believed him back then. Now, everything seems―”
“Things will change for the better. Trust me on this one,” she stuttered, picked up her thread and pins and started knitting again with trembling hands.
“Tell me, Oma!”
She looked at him but did not utter a word.
“What do you think is going to happen after this?”
“What do you mean?”
“You told me you read Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.”
“Yes, I did.”
“And you didn’t take it seriously?”
“The points he made there are ridiculous.”
“The man outlined his program for the fatherland in that book in a clear manner. Some patriotic Germans would stop regarding Germany as home the moment he starts implementing his warped ideas. Do you foresee disaster for the German people if you, I, everyone in this country and the rest of the world fail to stop him now? Tell me. Perhaps I am exaggerating my fears.”
Alexandra Herzl sighed and dropped back in the sofa. “The German people have a path to their destiny. It is their problem to decide whether to walk it with the Austrian or not.”
“But, Oma!” Hans called, paused, and then continued, “I have this disturbing worry deep in my heart that you can help me put to rest. Perhaps your wisdom can help me clarify a few things.”
Alexander Herzl dropped her knitting gears again, took a deep breath, and then looked at Hans. “What is it?”
Hans rose and pocketed his hands as if that would calm his agitated nerves. He was on the verge of saying something when he thought about it and started pacing the room instead. His grandmother watched him in silence. At length, he stopped, regarded her, and then sat down quietly on the arm of the sofa.
“It concerns my grandfather,” he blurted out.
Alexander Herzl nodded. “Go ahead,” she mumbled barely above a whisper.
“Tell me! What feelings had he deep in his heart for Germany? Mami told me he was a colonel in the army of the Kaiser until 1916. That was the year he died from an untimely explosion in an ammunition depot.”
“Yes, that’s what happened.”
“His feelings, his feeling…his feelings,” Hans continued, articulating the words as if hoping to get the best meaning out of them.
An expression of deep concern suddenly appeared on Alexander Herzl’s face. “Yes, his feelings. What about them?”
Oma, did he ever worry that the Germany he was prepared to die for could one day be against his people? Did it even cross his mind that the Germany he was so proud of could one day choose a demagogue like that Austrian to lead it?”
Alexandra Herzl closed her eyes and sighed. “Come and sit here,” he beckoned Hans over, tapping the left half of the sofa.
Hans said nothing as he moved over to her side. She too did not utter a word for a moment as if she knew very well that he was worried and that he felt unwanted. She placed her left hand on his shoulder out of an impulse and was glad that he relaxed a little. “You don’t have to tell me how upset you are at the moment.’
Ja, Oma! I am upset. I am sad. My spirit has been battered.”
“Don’t say that!”
“You know, Mami took me to the Jewish cemetery in Stuttgart. I was ten years old at the time. She showed me Opa’s grave.”
“He was a brave man. I chose him over several suitors because of his deep heart, wide intelligence, and indefatigable spirit.”
“She told me about Uncle Matthäus too. He was not buried there because he was a messianic Jew. He accepted Jesus Christ, his identity as a Jew and the words of the Talmud.”
Alexandra Herzl nodded. “He had his father’s heart and his mother’s mind.”
“You hardly ever talked about your son.”
“Those are all pains of the past, hurtful memories I dread recalling.”
“My point, Oma, is that the people in power don’t want to acknowledge the twelve thousand Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Germany and the Kaiser. I am a product of that legacy.”
“I don’t think I ever told your mother about this. But the fact is, my maternal grandmother was Jewish. She abandoned her faith after she married my maternal grandfather.”
Hans was silent for a moment. “By halakha, that makes you Jewish.”
She nodded. “So I share your concerns and want you to share my optimism.”
“It is hard to.”
“Don’t allow yourself to be worked up by some of Hitler’s exaggerations. I strongly believe there is a future for your grandfather’s people here. There is a place for them everywhere because they are a unique people, created for a purpose in this crazy world. I think Hitler wants to work out something new for the Jews. Germany can’t do without them.”
Hans was at the point of laughing but realized instantly that it was not funny. He could not muster the spirit. His grandmother was blind in her faith in the German people. She too was like the majority of the people of Rastatt who were shielding themselves from the reality of the changing Germany. He heaved a sigh, moved his head to the side and stared at the wall with brooding eyes.
“I love your generous sentiments. Believe me, Oma! I want to put my faith in your optimism, but I can’t,” he muttered, turned around and rested a hand on his grandmother’s shoulder.
“Thank you,” she responded, wondering what else to say.
Oma, do you know something?”
“Tell me,” she said, feigning enthusiasm.
Hans looked at her and made an effort to smile. “I am your grandson, and I know how you feel about this, But Germany isn’t the right place for me. Yes, Oma! It is not for me, not anymore. I shall go to Kamerun. I discussed this the other day with Mami and Herr Heinrich, and they were objective about it.”
“What do you mean they are objective?”
“They too aren’t against the idea of moving out of Germany if the situation in the country gets to a crisis point for a certain category of people. It is bad, Oma. Believe me! I have every reason to think it is time for me to look for that safe haven before the situation deteriorates even further.”
Alexandra Herzl nodded. “I see! You didn’t trust the way I would take it until now?” she said, dimming her eyes.
“I knew how you would feel.”
Alexandra Herzl wiped a suppressed tear. “I will miss you. Of course, I will miss you,” she whimpered with a sigh.
“I am sorry, Oma.”
“Personally, I think there is no reason for you to be afraid. We Germans are a civilized people.”
Hans reflected for a moment, and then shook his head in disapproval. “Times are changing. Events are moving against people like us. I must act now. It took a lot of prudent thinking for me to make this decision to go to Kamerun. It is the best option for me. I have a father there who is enthusiastic about having his son with him.”
A faint smile suddenly appeared on Alexandra Herzl’s lips, making them to quiver. It also lit up her eyes in a sweet moment of reminiscence. “Josef is a good and intelligent man,” she said.
“You mean my father?” Hans mumbled in a barely audible voice.
“Yes, your father. Take it from me that he is a wonderful man. No decent person can afford to regret knowing such a wonderful soul. You should be proud of him.”
Hans nodded as he fought back the mist developing in his eyes and the conflicting emotions and thoughts racing through his heart and mind. “You are the person I will miss the most not returning home to every day.”
“Oh, Hans,” she muttered and took him in her arms. Hans had not expected his grandmother to turn around all of a sudden and embrace him. He had never imagined Germans could be so effusively emotional, and had not expected her to be so demonstrative in her sentimentality. But then, he responded to her deep, affectionate, and unexpected embrace all the same, wrapping his arms around her in an upsurge of emotion he had not imagined he could muster. He did so without even thinking about it.
Oma!” he mumbled.
“I will miss you too,” she said. “But missing you would be a lot easier to handle than the thought of losing you,” she added.
With soothing words muttered, mutual promises exchanged and emotions suppressed and expressed, Hans felt relieved. However, he did something strange to his nature as he went down on his knees, took his grandmother’s right hand and kissed it almost reverently, surprising her in the process.
“You have been too dear to me, Oma. Our separation is not going to be forever. Nazism wouldn’t survive us,” he said.

Alexandra Herzl found it difficult to fall asleep that night. She read the letter from her daughter in Berlin three times and committed the contents to memory before putting it away in her chest. The half glass of brandy she had intended to be her only for the night led her to the second, and then to another, to the point where her head was swirling when the clock in the sitting room struck 02:00 hours. Yet the urge to continue drinking would not go away. Perhaps another drink would help, she thought.
The sound of an early morning bird squeaking outside interrupted her thoughts. She even thought she liked the noise it made and wondered for a moment what species it could be. But she did not dwell on it as she poured herself the fourth glass of whisky, indifferent to the effect it could have on the sedative she had just taken. She gulped down the drink, slipped under the bedcovers and reflected on the contents of the letter.
The trend of events in Germany was making Karina apprehensive. She was getting worried beyond the endurance of her nerves over the facts that she was half-Jewish and her husband was a big shot in the Communist party. And now, she would also have to contend with the pressing issue of her grandson’s future in the country. Her daughter barely mentioned Hans in the letter, probably because she did not want to share some useful information with her. She wondered whether the letter contained any hint that she too was thinking of leaving the country.
Alexandra Herzl got up from bed for the umpteenth time, placed the glass on the stool and walked to the mirror. She looked at her reflection and concluded that the person staring back at her did not look fortunate at all. Her husband and her only son had sacrificed their lives in a purposeless war that ended with the German people in defeat and consumed by a festering sense of vengeance that was becoming frightening. She no longer found comfort in her long-held perception of Germans as a rational people. The quest for vengeance was blinding her people, threatening to throw them all into another abyss, perhaps a far worse one than the ordeal they went through during and after the Great War.
And now, even her beloved grandson was fleeing the land of his birth, the land his ancestors had fought and died for. Worrying thoughts haunted her mind until the quietness of the morning sent her staggering back to her bed where she fell asleep minutes after she closed her eyes.

Hans also had a hard time falling asleep that night. He drank a glass of whisky, ate cucumbers and even thought a glass of milk would help to soothe the feeling of unease that he was having a hard time dispelling. However, when he realized the futility of his efforts in overcoming his restlessness, he went for the encyclopedia again, hoping to get more information on Kamerun. He started with the territory’s history.
Events that took place in the landmass before colonization turned out to be a lot more interesting. He learned that the territory was at the crossroads of north to south and east to west migrations throughout the history of the African continent, making it the only entity with related peoples to all the four major language groups in Africa. He mused over the fact that Carthaginian sailors and adventurers visited its coast, and he was amazed that the northern half of the land became the base from where Ousman Dan Fodio undertook the most far-reaching spread of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa before contemporary European powers grappled with one another to stake their claims on the continent from its coast. However, when he read that in 1884, Britain lost to Germany by a fraction of a week’s delay in its quest to make the African territory its colony, he understood why the British crown never stopped having an interest in the land.
The history of German colonial rule was even more explicit. Hans learned that Kamerun became a German colony in 1884, following its annexation by the German envoy Dr. Gustav Nachtigal. He found out that the other major colonial powers recognized Germany’s claim to the territory during the Berlin conference of that same year, and that German Kamerun took the shape of a territorial entity after 1884 through the great expeditions and explorations carried out by prominent figures in the history of the colony. The outsized figure of Dr. Zintgraff towered above the others in staking Germany’s claim to the territory.
Hans also read about the great battles the German Colonial Army called the Schutztruppe—Protection Force—fought with less subservient ethnic groups, tribes, and clans of the land, notably the Bafut people. He reserved a great deal of admiration for the hardy explorers who penetrated the territory's inhospitable eastern forest regions to open up vast areas as far as the Kadei and Boumba rivers. He was equally amazed by the speed with which the German colonial administration opened up the territory, a land they referred to as Germany’s “African Pearl”.
Even so, Hans acknowledged the high price Kamerunians paid for the progress made under German colonial rule. The forced labor policies, forced requisition of land and the harsh reprisal against native opposition decimated villages, caused the deaths of thousands and moved populations to “alien parts.” of the land. His curiosity spiked further when he started reading about Martin Paul Samba and Rudolf Duala Manga Bell—two outstanding Kamerunians who distinguished themselves at the onset of the Great War. While Martin Paul Samba was a former top ranking soldier in the German Colonial Army, Rudolf Duala Manga Bell was the son of a Duala chief who signed the treaty recognizing German annexation of Kamerun. He found it intriguing that the two former allies of the German colonial government studied in Germany. When he read about their execution in 1914 for conspiring with the foes of Germany, he concluded that their deaths marked the biggest scar Germany created on its former colony.
The encyclopedia said little about the war itself, except for a brief mention of its early stages in German Kamerun.
Hans yawned as he tried to make sense of the last year of German rule in the territory. The German colonial administration had just eliminated Kamerunian leaders over differences that could have been resolved, leaving the land devoid of leading political figures after the Great War. He was convinced Martin Paul Samba and Rudolf Duala Manga Bell appreciated German values. Now, he understood why the victorious Allied powers faced no serious opposition from Kamerunians when they partitioned German Kamerun into French Cameroun and British Cameroons in Versailles during the post-war peace conference held there. Even his father was out of Kamerun at the time France and Britain carved up the land.
Hans sighed, closed the book, put it aside and shut his eyes, willing himself into a slumber that would stay unbroken for the next six hours.

Hans felt a huge sense of relief when the French embassy in Berlin finally granted him a visa to travel to French Cameroun. This nerve-stretching test to his resolve began right from the application process, with an initial refusal from the French authorities to formalize his ties to the land, even though his father happened to be a native-born Kamerunian. The ethnic Breton ambassador maintained that he was German by birth, and that he was bearing the distinctive last name Heinrich, which among other unstated reasons, failed to qualify him as a Kamerunian. Even so, the final results left Hans happy. The passageway to French Cameroun would relieve him of depressing emotions or so he thought. But he never forgot the bitter experience.
It happened to be an unusually warm day that late January as if a spell was hovering over the city of Berlin, lulling both the sinister and benevolent forces trying to shape its destiny. The tranquillizing feeling stirred such warm emotions in Hans's bosom that he thought it would be a good idea to share it with Karl Mittenzer, his friend from high school. He sensed Karl’s nervousness the moment his friend opened the door for him to get in. Karl received him into his parent’s home in a cordial manner all the same, and then asked him to settle into a Victorian seat.
“Arrangements for me to leave Germany have been finalized,” Hans said, half an hour after he got in.
Karl coughed uneasily and moved in his seat. “Oh, my friend, I don’t know whether I should be happy for you or be worried for Germany! It is sad, especially with all our good citizens that have left or the increasing numbers that are in the process of leaving. We cannot pretend that this development is not draining Germany of some of its valuable brains. It is an exodus.”
“Did you just say exodus?”
“Uh-huh! I think most of those leaving are convinced Germany doesn’t want them.”
Hans nodded and scratched his chin. “Did my plans surprise you?”
Hans barely noticed the split of a second smile that crossed Karl’s face, but he processed it all the same. “Rosa told me you want to go to Africa. What is there in Kamerun for you?”
Hans nodded again, fighting off his suspicions. Rosa Niessen was his girlfriend for two years until she found out that he cheated on her with a blonde Sorb and decided to call off their relationship. He was still determined to get her back, if not, then reconcile with her before leaving for French Cameroun. That notwithstanding, Rosa could be vindictive in a self-punitive way.
“My sister told me she has been away from Berlin for more than a month now.”
Karl nodded. “She is still in Dortmund with an uncle. Speaking from what I heard on the grapevine, she got herself a good and befitting job over there. She is lucky.”
“It appears the Nazis are providing jobs for their kinds only.”
Karl shrugged, avoiding his friend’s eyes. “Der Führer promised jobs before the elections. He is a great leader except that―,” he said and emitted a cough of discomfort.
“Except what?” Hans asked, never taking his eyes off his friend’s face.
“Well!” Karl winced and shifted uneasily in his seat. “Sometimes, it is okay to turn a blind eye to the few faults if the aim is for the greater good. Don’t you agree with me on this one?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I am talking about,” Karl said with a note of exasperation in his voice. “Do I have to scream it out that his policies against the Jews are somehow disturbing?”
“It is unbelievable, Karl! I think you were about to justify his actions.”
Karl groaned. “Why don’t we skip this topic? I don’t think anything good is going to come out of it.”
“I can’t believe it, Kumpel!” Hans stuttered, “Based on the way you sounded, a person could say that you are indifferent to the problem. Those men at the top are insane, Karl! Ethnic Germans are not the only ones behind all the good things that happened or that are happening in Germany. This country was built by all its citizens.”
“Had unpatriotic non-Germans not been living within our borders, we wouldn’t have lost the Great War.”
An expression of shock and disbelief settled on Hans’s face to the point where he bit his left thumb without intending to. “You are harboring a discomforting view,” he said finally in a labored voice.
“I have been thinking too.”
“Phew!” Hans gasped. “What now? That Germany was stabbed in the back during the Great War as Der Führer claims?”
“Not exactly!"
“That Jews, Communists, Socialists and other alien elements are responsible for our defeat; that the loss of Alsace, Lorraine and the lands of Holy Prussia are their faults too?”
“That’s not exactly how I look at things.”
Then Hans chortled. He did not want to, but he could not dispel the conflicting thoughts racing through his mind. “So, tell me, my dear friend. Who caused the defeat of our Germany?”
 “It is very obvious. We were cursed with renegades, the selfish and the cowardly. And the truth is that they came from several camps.”
“Be candid, my friend. Why don’t you scream it out to my face that you think renegade, selfish and cowardly non-Germans betrayed Germany? That the Jews are precisely the traitors you have in mind.”
“You are putting words in my mouth.”
“Oh, common! Why don’t you face it; why don’t you admit it?”
“I still think it is best we avoid arguing about subjects you and I cannot influence. Trust me, Hans; nothing good will come out of our different views on this sensitive topic.”
“A man’s dreams, plans, and works should be open for self-analysis. Do not let others be the judge on something you are better placed to explain.”
“I am getting another drink. Do you want a refill?” Karl asked, indicating the whisky bottle.
Hans shook his head no. “I am fine.”
Karl nodded to show that he understood. Then he poured himself half a glass, took a sip, savored it for a while, and then sat down again.
Der Führer has great plans for this country,” he said at length, and then cleared his throat, “Yes, his plans are far-reaching and colossal. They need men to coordinate those plans. In fact, the security service approached me for a job. Hell, I have been a lawyer without a job for months.”
“Don’t get yourself mixed up with them.”
Karl shrugged and took a slug of the whisky. “I appreciate your concerns, Kumpel. Unfortunately, words alone do not help. I need to apply my intelligence for the good of this country. Can’t you see? I too must contribute to the growing strength of the Reich.”
“Not by becoming a member of a security force whose allegiance is to the Nazi party.”
“You are wrong!” Karl cried all of a sudden.
“Wrong?” Hans retorted in a slightly elevated voice. “Whom or what do you think you would be serving? Certainly not the Germany our grandfathers and parents fought to defend! You will end up serving an idea, my dear friend. Look! They are going to mess up our people’s conscience.”
“I have a mind of my own.”
“Tell me something,” Hans said with steel in his voice, “My mother is partly Jewish. Can you refuse orders that would deprive people like her of certain rights as Germans?”
“I said I have a mind of my own. That mind considers her as a German with all the rights that come with being a proud child of the fatherland.”
“And what about the others―someone like Alex, our mutual friend?”
“Come on Hans, let’s talk about something else?”
“And what about someone like me, the son of a Negro and a half-Jewish woman?”
“You are upset, Kumpel.
In the moment of eerie quietness that ensued, the friends avoided each other’s eyes. Even their faces betrayed their uneasiness as they grappled with their thoughts.
Hans blushed finally. “I can see a growing insanity all around us, Karl. It is eating deeper and deeper into our beloved Germany. I wonder if something can be done about it. It is as if it must reach its logical conclusion,” he said in a brooding voice.
“I see no insanity.”
“Yes, there is a whole lot of it. It is becoming incurable. Rational people are almost helpless in the face of this growing madness. That is what I want you to look at. There is hardly anything you can do to fight it.”
“Don’t underestimate me.”
“Why don’t you relocate to Austria or Switzerland before this whole madness consumes you too? You have relatives across our southern borders.”
Karl’s face turned crimson all of a sudden. That was the moment Hans realized his friend’s soul was in conflict. He watched Karl take a deep breath, and then put his drink down on the side stool.
“You know I love Germany. I am from Wurttemberg. Germany is my home. Yes, Hans! Germany’s greatness ought to be restored.”
“My father has a growing business. We can work for him and enjoy the fun of life out there in that frontier world,” Hans said desperately, “We have German-owned plantations in both French Cameroun and British Cameroons. And they are expanding. There are jobs there for us. Why don’t we move to Africa and stake it out there until this madness is over?”
Karl shook his head in what Hans supposed was feigned rue. “What you are saying sounds ridiculous. This is my home. I have to stay here. Things will definitely improve. Der Führer’s actions do not constitute policies. They are just temporary measures to stabilize things and get Germany on its feet again,” he said in a sudden frenzy that surprised Hans.
Hans sat back in his seat and plastered his friend with a quizzical look. Then it finally dawned on him. Why did he doubt their mutual friend Humfried Schwarz when he expressed his grave misgivings about Karl? His friend could be flirting with Nazism after all. Humfried had even floated his suspicions that Karl and Rosa were involved. Why had he dismissed Humfried’s words three months ago as if it never crossed his mind that Karl thought of him as a rival at one point in their long friendship? Now, he was convinced that his friend was developing a dangerous streak.
Hans’s thoughts raced to a conclusion, pitting rationality against instincts. Despite Karl’s cordial smiles, he too possessed the unscrupulous ambition luring some ethnic Germans to the ideology of the Nazis. He wondered why he failed all along to discern that perilous nature of his friend’s ambitions.
“I can see you have already made up your mind,” Hans muttered.
Karl nodded. “It has been carefully thought over. Candidly speaking, you are exceptional from the lot Der Führer is against. I understand your decision to leave Germany. It is regrettable, but I want you to know that Germany needs people like you more than it needs me.”
“Your thought?”
“Yes, I think so.”
Hans chortled and looked at his friend with an incredulous expression on his face. “What are you talking about?”
“I know irrational people are in our midst. They are incapable of distinguishing the good from the bad.”
Hans smiled wryly. “Ah! You mean the good from the bad! That too has become a basis for distinguishing people from one another or precisely one group from another. I always thought the bad are the criminals and those less enthusiastic about the welfare of Germany.”
Karl gulped empty his glass of drink, his demeanor overbearing. “Let’s put it this way. I hold you, Alex and Humfried in high esteem. I shall always be available to safeguard your interests. That is if the need arises and if it is within my powers.”
Hans shook his head in disbelief. “Within your powers, you said?”
“Within my powers,” Karl reiterated.
“You are getting yourself into a group, my dear friend. Most of us have an idea of how they operate. Henceforth, do not be surprised when people start judging you based on the activities of the group you associate with. People will start judging you as a Nazi, irrespective of the extent of your involvement with that party. Once you get in, you are in, Kumpel. Never forget that.”
“Perhaps you are right. Who knows?” Karl said with a shrug. “I bear no malice against you and your people. But I have Germany in my heart.”
Hans got up and regarded his friend fixedly for a moment. “I’m leaving now,” he said and started for the door.
Karl got up too and went after him. “Hans!” he called, stopping him just as he put his hand on the knob.
Hans turned around and regarded his friend with brooding eyes. “Yes, Karl.”
“I know there are moments when I might even be viewed as a difficult person to understand. I even wonder what I really stand for. But what else can we hold onto to ensure our sanity except our love for something beyond ourselves―our love for our families, our love for our fatherland?”
“Don’t fool yourself, Kumpel. Our love for our country is worth nothing if it deprives us of our sense of humanity if it destroys positive consensus. Do we have any form of consensus in Germany today? No, no! We do not. Rationalism isn’t cheap anymore.”
Karl laughed uncomfortably and ruffled his hair. “Come on, Kumpel! You have your olde freund hier. I am the same buddy you will find tomorrow.”
Hans turned around and stared at Karl straight in the eye, forcing him to look away. “I hope so,” he said with a note of sadness in his voice.
“Do you really want to leave now?”
Hans nodded.
“In that case, greet your family for me.”
“When do you plan to pay us a visit? My mother asked about you.”
“I don’t know. We are facing uncertain times.”
“I look forward to seeing again before I board the ship,” Hans said and patted Karl on the shoulder in an awkward manner.
Karl nodded and leaned on the door. “Also, I don’t think I can go that far.”
“That far? What do you mean?”
“I cannot go that far in seeing you off.”
“Why?” Hans asked, dimming his eyes in the momentary haze of incomprehension that glutted his mind.
“There is someone,” Karl said, took a deep breath, and then continued, “I am expecting someone any moment from now. He is important. Commitments you know,” he stuttered, and then shrugged in an apologetic manner.
Hans looked at his friend deeply for a moment and understood. “You don’t need to explain anything to me,” he said and flashed him a faint smile, “I understand,” he added, opened the door and walked out. He did not even say goodnight.
He was still furious when he took the second bend from the Mittenzer home. His friend was undergoing a lot of transformation like someone searching for a new role for himself in the New Germany. Humfried was right. Why had he doubted the effusive Prussian only for it to dawn on him today that Karl was embracing Nazism with open arms? His apology not to see him off was a polite excuse not to be seen with him. Hans bit his lip and trudged on.
It was only nine o’clock, but the night carried an eerie quietness with it as if the neighborhood was bracing for a disaster. Even the streets looked slightly deserted too. True they were usually scanty at that hour of the season, but he had been away from the capital for two years, so he could not dismiss the possibility of changes so easily. It was a chilly night too, forcing Hans to pocket his hands and quicken his pace. He kept walking for a couple of minutes preoccupied with his thoughts and paying little attention to the things and people around him. The only time he slowed down a little was when he was just yards away from the intersection to the next street. In fact, he heard voices with a worrying ring in them but failed to dwell on it. However, someone called his name, forcing him to snap out of his thoughts and raise his head. That was the moment he first saw them. There were five men altogether, and they were in their late twenties or early thirties. He immediately deduced from the men’s facial expressions, tall statures, slightly muscular frames, hardened looks and outfit that they were involved with the paramilitary. He heaved his shoulders and kept on walking despite the chill that ran up his spine.
“Black Jew, Hans Heinrich,” one of the men called out, distinguished himself from the group and approached Hans in a half-running manner.
Hans realized it was too late to turn around and make a run for his life. But, why run? He thought. Now, the men were less than eight yards away, and they looked too malicious for his liking. The fact that one of them recognized me could prove to be helpful, he thought. Hans kept on walking in a slightly hesitant manner until they closed in on him.
Halt! We want to talk to you,” one of the brown-shirted men barked.
Hans put up a dignified air as he stopped. But he did not turn around. “What do you want?” he asked in a calm voice that was surprising even to his own ears.
“What is it we want?” the second man repeated.
“The creep lives with that communist?” the tallest and meanest looking, said, his chevron moustache aligned in a funny way.
Ja!” Another growled. “His father is an African monkey. And worst still, his mother is a Jew married to a Communist.”
Hans fought back his rising infuriation. “Verzeihen Sie bitte, Meine Herren. I am trying to get back home after visiting my friend. I suppose you don’t mind that.”
“You will get home all right; but not until after we are done with you,” the third man said with a mocking laughter that had an insane ring in it.
“Tell us the name of the ape your Jewish mother fell in love with to conceive you.”
Hans did not respond. Instead, he turned around and looked at the man who threw the insult. At that moment, he saw the silhouette of an approaching figure down the street. He could not discern the face, but the profile looked so much like Karl’s that he was about to shout out his name. Then the figure stopped, hesitated for a moment, and then turned around and hurried away.
“I see what you are doing. You are defying us by not responding to our questions. Huh?” the fourth man said and edged closer.
“He must answer this one or else―,” the fifth man said.
“What is the question?” one of the men asked.
“Was the kike who raped your grandmother circumcised?”
Hans did not utter a word. He knew that the fifth man knew something about his lineage too.”
“Answer us, black kike,” the first man ordered.
Hans maintained his tranquility and sucked his mouth, wondering whether it was actually Karl backing away after observing the thugs harassing him or if it was someone else.
“Say something,” one of the men shouted with a slight plea in his voice.
Hans stared at them straight in the eye, moving from one person to the other. Then he settled on the last fellow with a look of discomfort on his face, the man who had tried to engage him in an eye contact. He was about to say something to the fellow when the others pounced on him—punching his head, stomach, and back. They rained him with kicks and shoves that knocked him off his feet and brought him crashing down by the roadside. Hans made an attempt to fight back, but they quickly overwhelmed him. However, he managed to shield his face with both hands and curled to avoid the kicks and blows raining on his body. The men pounded and cursed him, laughed at him and mocked him, spat on him and promised him hell to the point where he thought he was about to die. Then they dragged him up the street and abandoned him on the curb. He lay there all bloodied and battered for about five minutes before he tried to get up again. The first effort saw him tumbling back. In the end, he managed to crawl onto the pavement.
“Kamerun, Kamerun…Kamerun,” Hans mumbled, as he tried to make use of his legs.

Eva was reading a novel in the sitting room when she heard the noise outside. She dropped the book on the sofa and dragged her feet to the door, gripped by curiosity, fear, and apprehension. She opened the door with a yawn, and then peered outside. The sight of his half-conscious brother bent over with his buttocks on the cobblestones forced a scream out of her mouth. Hans was bloody and dirty, with a big cut on his forehead. With his eyelids and lips so swollen, he was barely recognizable. She continued screaming and even shut the door before opening it again.
“Eva!” he gasped and fell on her feet.
“Mami…Mami, Mami—” she continued screaming haltingly, unable to control her rising hysteria.
Karina failed to retain her usual calm when she ran to the door and found Eva struggling to get Hans on his feet. She too uttered a loud, sharp and piercing cry as if she had to complement her daughter in her distress. As the women tried to give some support to his wobbling legs, weeping on his body as they did so, Rudolph Heinrich reached the scene mouth agape, his shirt unbuttoned and his zip down. He managed to calm the women down. Then he made Hans rest his weight on his body. Assisted by Karin and Eva; he carried Hans into his room.
The family helped him undress. Then they helped him take a bath before they cleaned his wounds.
“Kamerun!” was the last word from Hans’s lips that night before he passed out into a tranquilizing sleep.

The freighter Hans boarded left the Kiel harbor for the voyage to Africa on a wet Thursday morning. He left behind a country that was about to give birth to a new order, fearful that it risked pitting Germany again against the rest of the world. Hardly did he imagine even in his wildest dreams that the new order could affect his German family. It had already sucked in Karl Mittenzer a week ago when he became a member of the Waffen SS, otherwise known as the Schutz Stoffel (SS)―the Nazi paramilitary that would become Hitler’s Praetorian Guard. He thought his friend just entered a pact with the devil.
Like all determined prospectors, he left Europe behind him, convinced that destiny was taking him away from a land devoid of hope, to a land holding a better future for him, and perhaps for his future descendants too. He thought he would find his new haven in a land whose coastal mountain ranges were described by Carthaginian adventurers as ‘The Chariots of the Gods’ when they observed it spewing lava some two thousand years ago.
When Hans fell asleep that night without an iota of doubt that staking his future in the alluring land often referred to as ‘Africa in Miniature’ was the right thing to do. His new homeland would be the land Portuguese sailors called Rio dos Camaros, meaning River of Shrimps, when they visited its shores four centuries ago, and then moved up the Wouri Estuary and found river rich with prawns.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Les politiciens ne sont pas ceux qui sont destinés à changer un système et de prendre un pays sortir d'une impasse et le porter à l'avenir. Tel est le travail des révolutionnaires.

Les politiciens fonctionnent dans des systèmes établis et faire le travail de la politique politicienne pour défendre, préserver ou de promouvoir certains intérêts, qu'ils soient individuels, groupe, ethnique, régionale, linguistique ou nationale, sur la base des phrases vides ou par une formulation clairement définie pensée (idée ou un concept).

Révolutionnaires d'autre part sont ceux qui contestent un système, avec l'intention de le faire descendre et mettre en place un nouveau système qui servirait l'intérêt de la majorité battue (la souffrance ou en difficulté des masses). Dans la cause de faire tomber le système, les révolutionnaires n’attendent pas à bénéficier ou prospérer de la lutte. Au lieu de cela, ils sont prêts à tout sacrifier pour la lutte.

Le plus triste est que, bien que la lutte Camerounaise pour changer le système est une lutte révolutionnaire, la plupart des dirigeants dans les partis soi-disant opposition parler de la politique et des récompenses attendues, alors même qu’ils sont encore engagés dans la lutte pour changer le système. Voilà pourquoi la plupart d'entre eux compromettre les idéaux de la lutte avec des excuses que ' «il est impossible de vivre sur la politique propre comme une véritable opposition au Cameroun." Il y a et il y a eu des Camerounais qui ont généreusement donné de leur valeur à la lutte, des Camerounais qui se sentait que c'était déshonorant d'utiliser la lutte pour obtenir des avantages personnels. Ils ont été et ils sont les union-nationalistes Camerounais et les révolutionnaires Camerounais.

Au cours de mes années d'implication dans la lutte, je me suis finalement rendu compte que le système (les régimes Ahidjo-Biya soutenus par la mafia politique en France qui est un groupe qui contrôle des affaires Africaines pour le pays Gaulle) craint et respecté ces révolutionnaires et syndicaux-nationalistes (nationalistes civiques) pour leur aupuisticité, inébranlable nature et de l'intégrité. Mais assez étrangement, les politiciens qui prétendent être dans l'opposition conçu une haine pour ces révolutionnaires et union-nationalistes syndicaux juste parce que ces révolutionnaires et nationalistes civiques (union-nationalistes) sont aupuistiques et ne sont pas comme eux, et parce qu'ils regardent avec horreur à la tromperie des politiciens qui essayent de tirer profit de la politique qui ne fait pas de progrès au Cameroun et, ce faisant, compromis la lutte et trahi les aspirations des masses en lutte.

Curieusement, les partisans du changement échouént dans cette phase de la lutte (1990-2002) parce que les politiciens ont mené la lutte pour changer le système (une demande révolutionnaire) au lieu des révolutionnaires et union-nationalistes qui sont beaucoup moins susceptibles d'être compromises par les valeurs négatives du système anachronique imposé par la France depuis 1958.

Janvier Tchouteu vendredi, 15 Avril 2005