By Joyce Ashuntantang*
In a rare show of emotion and public display of affection for their spouses and significant others, a bunch of Cameroonian men a.k.a African men, defied the stereotypes to actually profess their love openly on February 13th in Dallas, Texas. They did it with red roses, gifts, poems, sultry looks and kisses. Maybe it had to do with the particular women involved, just maybe!
The occasion was a Valentine’s day party dubbed “An affair of the heart” organized by the Ex Saker Students Association (EXSSA USA), Dallas chapter. This is an alumni organization of the prestigious Saker Baptist College, in Limbe, Cameroon; a Christian based boarding secondary school for girls. These girls, now grown women are a combination of fine intelligence and positive energy that revitalizes. On this day, they went all out to set the mood and the results were there for all to see. The hall was transformed into a banquet fit for royalty, and surely the EXSSA ladies were bent on treating their guests as such.
So, like the elegantly decorated hall, the food itself was a composite work of art, a sort of symbolic display of lives that straddle effortlessly between the rich African continent, Europe and North America. From a table of mouth-watering aphrodisiacs which spoke silently of things to come- to titillating Cameroonian dishes-Ndole, “poulet-DG”, Cider-Plancks Baked Salmon, chicken and beef, coconut rice, puff-puff, to suggestive heart shaped desserts – it was evident that the night was enchanted…
But the EXSSA ladies left nothing to chance. Glowing in their red-sizzling evening dresses and looks to die for, they criss-crossed the hall attending to the needs of their guests. If Saker Baptist College is an example to go by, then the theory put forward by some educationists that girls who go to single sex schools assume more leadership roles may not sound controversial at all, because even though the President of the chapter, Ms. Dolly Lyonga Lambe, could be seen taking care of business, so too was the rest of the crew with the likes of of Kidi Makia, Roselyn Ngaaje, Maureen Ngamalue, Marilyn Simo, Miranda Kwame, Regina Jing Nana, Martha Akwa Teke and Kah Kajih. For an organization with the motto “love unity and sisterhood”, it was not surprising to see everyone working together as if they entered Saker Baptist College the same year!
Then came the climax of the evening- the unraveling of valentines and the guests were awe struck and mesmerized as the Cameroonian men present showed that it takes a real man to tell the world he is in love. The couples were many and the modes of expression different. Mr. Molua Lambe, the EXSSA Dallas first Cat (as husbands to “sakerrats” are fondly called), opened the “amour en extempore!” by giving a single rose to his wife while delivering a heart-felt monologue of what her love means to him. The single rose instantly became a symbol that evening for love that is undivided and unique. For Mr. John Njowo from Houston Texas, it was a verbal poem for his love of 25 years, Marie. As he spoke, the words flooded Mrs Marie Takusi Njowo, and transported her to the serenity of her imagination. The guests were in for more surprises as, Mr. Samuel Ndiba Ekeme, former Cameroon national team soccer player, claimed the floor with a gift and love-soaked rant for his wife, Vivian. The heat was on and other men followed suit: Dr. Laka, Mr, Richard Nana, Mr. Honore Kwame, Mr. Chis Akwa, Mr Patrick Ngamalue, Mr. Jacob Makia, Mr.Lennox Wonganya etc etc the list was long and so was the night… Indeed the Vice President of EXSSA USA, Ms. Susannah Mondoa who flew in from New York to represent the national executive could not hold her thoughts , “it was wonderful to see our Cameroonian men comfortable in their skin and able to show their softer, imaginative sides” , She said. The audience could not agree more! When Dr. Austin Ogwu, a steadfast patron of EXSSA, Dallas, popped a huge bottle of Champaign, the toast was unanimous….for a more loving community, so the love could extend beyond each family. To prove this point, guests showed some love by donating generously to one of EXSSA Dallas’ project, the renovation of the sick bay in Saker Baptist College.
Love was certainly in the air as bodies gyrated to the rhythm of Makossa, Coupe de Calle, Funk, Reggae, Zouk and even live music from gospel singer Anita Etta and the 13 year old, gifted Yole Makia, who left the guests gasping for more. All was indeed well, and other EXSSA USA members like Patience Fielding, Anike Nokuri and the ladies from EXSSA Houston led by their president, Dr. Rachel Tita had gifts from their Dallas sisters to show for it. By the wee hours of Sunday morning, the dynamic mc’s of the night, Ms. Gwendolyn Shang and Mr. Molua Lambe were ready to take a well deserved break as news of this enchanted evening started making its way around the USA and beyond. When it got to Rev. Esther Gadpaille, the national President of EXSSA USA, she could only utter one word, “Amen”, for Saker Baptist College was founded on the bountiful love of a living God!
*Dr. Joyce Ashuntantang is an alumnus of Saker Baptist College and a Professor at Hillyer College, University of Hartford.