The news slowly crept through the hills and valleys of Fungom in Menchum Division in the North West region and quickly transformed into a national and international singsong. Generally peaceful and innocent villagers of Nyos, Chah and Subum had slept irreversibly on the night of the local market. We are in the year 1986, this 21st day of August. Accounts and recounts of what happened to close to 2000 human beings have abounded.
The horror of losing such a colossal number of citizens in a record split second might never cease to amaze. The hitherto picturesque and lovely Lake Nyos had suddenly become evil and emitted a “killer gas” which took away the souls of so many individuals.
Many theories have been postulated and scientists have gone ransack as to the nature and exact origin of this unique mass slaughterer. Efforts at degassing the Lake have made headlines for decades yet the phenomenon of a natural “snap killing” appears to have remained a Menchum (Nyos) exclusivity.
The Lake Nyos cataclysm is unarguably the mother of all the natural and manmade disasters that have befallen Cameroon, the peaceful Haven of Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa in miniature.
Of course, in as much as Cameroon harbours a representation of the vegetation of Africa, it is becoming unfortunately real that it also constitutes a pure sample of African plight. From the hunger stricken Far North to natural disasters like mudslides in the South West and even the low magnitude earthquake in the Western Region is proof that Cameroon is truly Africa in a reduced format. Counting disasters in Cameroon is a onerous task as the list never seems to end. The “grinding” to death of 20 citizens recently at Mile 29 Hill in Muyuka, South West region is a perfect illustration.
Back in time, the Ukpwe plane crash, the Mbanga Pongo plane nosedive, Ebombe road hecatomb, the Nsam Efoulan collective “roasting”, the Eseka_Camrail spectacular derailment, the sinking of the Mundemba and many more life snatching incidents show that the Eldorado’ claim about Cameroon is just a dream.
True to life, Cameroon also prides itself with epitomising recklessness. Untimely deaths due to medical negligence, law and order exactions and political backstabbing. If we say this trend is evil, it is an understatement. We need deliverance.
By Theodore Mih Ndze, Publisher, Menchum Voice