Remembering Stephen Ndeley Mokosso By Tande Mafany Myles

A remarkable personality during his time, Stephen Ndeley Mokoso was a man with a profound affection for his fatherland. The internationally and nationally acclaimed Member of Parliament was born in Bonjongo, in the territory that was part of the former British Southern Cameroon on August 15, 1925.

Ndeley began and completed his primary education in his hometown of Bonjongo. After he was through with primary education, Stephen studied at Saint Joseph’s College, Sasse, where he was among the first batch of students to enroll and study at the college. Shortly after he completed his secondary education at Saint Joseph’s College, Sasse, he left in mid-1946 for Nigeria and began working at the Eastern Regional Executive Council as a Senior Staff.

His duties at the Eastern Regional Executive Council were short-lived as he decided to embark on a career in journalism. He worked with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as Editor and, due to his resilience and diligence, he quickly rose up the ranks to the post of Editor-in-Chief.
For a short while, Stephen worked in former Zaire with the then President Mobutu Sese Seko wa Za Banga. After some form of repatriation, he returned to Cameroon and launched a business known as SellFishCam. The business dealt exclusively with the trade of seawater fish and witnessed the employment of several Cameroonians.

After what seemed like a lifetime, Ndeley’s staunch patriotism and love for his homeland was so profound that he returned to the then Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1962. The skills and knowledge he had amassed were not hidden and this earned him a position with the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) as a Public Relations and Welfare Officer. Thenceforth, that became a career which he would pursue for the next eight years. Under his watchful eye, the Cameroon Development Corporation multiplied its production levels by an observable amount, relationships with investors both local and foreign improved; these unstrained relationships attracted more investments from the general public and the employee satisfaction rate was at a record high. He led the Cameroon Development Corporation to greater heights, embarking on other projects all for the corporation’s advancement.

July 1970, marked a new era in the life of Stephen Ndeley Mokoso. It was at this time that he got a spot on the national stage as he was elected to represent his constituency in the Cameroon House of Assembly. Furthermore, he was appointed the First Deputy Speaker of the House, the same year. During his tenure, he was steadfast, reliable and trustworthy. He proposed some reforms that had the interests of the denizens as a priority. He continued to represent his constituency in his full capacity, serving the nation of the United Republic of Cameroon till 1974 as Member of Parliament and First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

After he concluded his duties with the National Assembly, Ndeley was appointed Director of Personnel at the National Oil Refinery (SONARA) on February 1, 1978. His remarkable and dignified nature landed him this appointment from the then President of the United Republic of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo. During the nine years, he was Director of Personnel, he contributed to the growth in numbers of the National Oil Refinery. The numbers grew in all aspects: revenue and employees alike. Ndeley then retired from active service on October 16, 1987.

Honourable Stephen Ndeley Mokoso was equally a renowned artist, skilled painter, poet and prolific writer who was the author of the internationally acclaimed book “Man Pass Man” (1988); a collection of thirteen short stories from Cameroon. The stories belong in the great tradition of African story-telling and are a series of vignettes that illuminate the complexities, contradictions, and paradoxes of life in modern Central and Western Africa. The author and poet had other works that have been distributed worldwide; these works portray the nation of Cameroon in all her splendor, glory, unique culture, vast history, and her wonderful people. A reputed magazine depicted Ndeley as a representation of a fresh and original voice in African Literature. He had a keen eye for detail and wrote with a profound understanding of contemporary West African Society. His writings are so enjoyable and entertaining that his poem ‘A Salute to Mount Fako’ won him the 1995 Cameroon National Poetry Award.

Extending beyond the Cameroonian borders, Stephen Ndeley Mokoso was also hailed by the local press in London as “the man who had on official duties, brushed the British Royal Family in three different decades.” He met Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth Realms on her first visit to Nigeria in 1956, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on his visit to Cameroon in 1971 and Charles, Prince of Wales in 1990 in Limbe, seaside town of Cameroon.

Ndeley Mokoso was the Pioneer President of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ). His presidency witnessed the growth of the Association from a mere gathering in a select town of the Republic of Cameroon to a massive coalition of journalists that spanned the national territory stretching in all directions, comprising of seasoned and aspiring journalists, both old and young alike, each in his or her own domain of journalism, with the aim of mentoring one another and promoting communication through journalistic practices.

Ndeley Mokoso was a sight for sore eyes. In every aspect of his life, career, and relationship, he never faltered. He never failed to respect the rule of law wherever he trod. He was revered by people both old and young and was regarded by natives of the Mokpe tribe as a custodian of tradition. Ndeley was indeed a statesman who served his country with zeal and humility. He was a role model who led with an example; an iconic figure who was a depiction of what anyone can achieve through determination and hard work.

In his later years, he retired to his home in what is now called Gardens, located in the town of Limbe. He married an elegant lady from neighboring Nigeria with whom he bore some children. He will always be remembered by the youthful population of Limbe as one of the few men to have ever held positions in Cameroon’s two top companies by revenue, while he will always be remembered by the older generations as an internationally acclaimed poet, writer, and author who cheerfully described the nation which he served so well in his various offices during his lifetime. He finally departed this earth on June 7, 2004, in London. At the time of his death, he had clocked 78 years of age.

About the Author and 2020 Sama Randy Youth Write Contest Honorarium recipient Tande Mafany

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