By Emmanuel Konde
In a riveting video shot by Maestro Jacob Nguni, Soul Mahop Babimbi on his way home beckoned the sons and daughters of New Bell Bassa in Mbengueto return home and fix the town that gave them birth. Cast in the heart of a decaying and visibly filthy backdrop of dilapidated houses, half-clad young people, women and men in a bar drinking, Soul Bams spoke candidly to his people.
And here we behold the transformation of quintessential showman extraordinaire who seems to have never really grown up but remained a youth to the very end of his life. With his signature fez cap turned backside front, Soul Bams became a philosopher-poet in this “New Bell Bassa” video(avilable at the end of this article) .
I am your child,
I am in America .
At a bar with very old furniture, we see onetime beauties stare into the camera eye with frozen smiles, and the men with faraway looks as if agonizing about a golden past and an uncertain future. Lamenting the depredation that New Bell Bassa has suffered and is still suffering, Soul mourns the unacceptable conditions that presented themselves to him and cried in desperation reminding the New Bell Bassa Diaspora of whence they came:
We have to return home…
Children of New Bell
We have to meet in New Bell
We have to praise New Bell
It is New Bell that made us
New Bell rescued us to go abroad
But recollections of their humble beginnings were not enough Soul acknowledges the responsibility that the children of New Bell in the Diaspora owe their home. In his usual none threatening way, the big man with the heart of an angel cajoles, mocks, and throws punches at his brethren as only a consummate artist can. He pleads with them to remember, to never forget, their home. Soul Bams tells them that it is “New Bell that gave us birth” (New Bell yen a bi gwal bés), therefore, “We have to return home… To fix our home.”
In this message to the New Bell Bassa Diaspora in particular, and to all other Cameroonian groups with which Soul Bams interacted, lies the legacy of this man. Life cannot be for naught; life is not nihilistic. Even if there was no meaning to life, it is the responsibility of ration man who lives life, though temporarily, to imbue his/her existence with meaning. To honor the life, contribution, and legacy of Soul, it is imperative that all concerned should heed his lamentations and immediately undertake to contrive strategies to "fix" their hometowns. Of what good is the learning acquired and the wealth accumulated if at the end of one's life the epitaph on his/her grave stone were to read:
"HERE LIES BAKO BOTEGE WHO VISITED THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND LIVED THERE FOR 25 YEARS (1990-2015). HE DIED THERE AND WAS BROUGHT BACK HOME TO BE BURIED IN THE LAND OF HIS FOREBEARS"