The Duchess of Muanenguba————————Samira Edi
The Endeley – Galega Story
[ Lifting the Lead on The Houseboy Myth, culled from:]
The Cameroon Political Story by NN Mbile: Memories of an Authentic Eyewitness
One of my pursuits in this work is to keep the records straight in some of the untruths in our Cameroon political story, where I know the honest facts, especially where I was an eyewitness. Such is the case of the untruth that Dr. Endeley once used Galega, the Fon of Bali, “like a houseboy.” Nothing can be further from the truth, not only in the practical impossibility of such an event, but in the complete absence of any context in which such a strange happening could have taken place.
To appreciate the real magnitude of the falsehood, one should begin from x-raying who Dr. Endeley was against, and who Galega; the Fon of Bali was. In this exercise, let me begin with Dr. E.M.L Endeley who was Leader of Government Business from 1954-1958, the period of his contact with Galega, the Fon of Bali. Dr. Endeley had won the October 26th 1953 elections to the Eastern House of Assembly Enugu, with 12 seats, and S.E. Ncha, was an independent. He, Dr Endeley became Leader of Government Business with four African members of the Executive Council interested in certain subjects. The Commissioner of the Cameroons was still President of the Executive Council with power to veto any issues on which he did not agree with the Executive Council, where three British Officials were also members. In effect, the Commissioner of the Cameroons was not only the Chief Executive Council in the territory representing Her Majesty’s government; he was President of the House of Assembly and of the Executive Council of eight, with an extra (casting) vote. Dr. Endeley was therefore only nominally Leader of Government Business with no real power by that time.
V.S Galega II, Fon of Bali, had been a member of the Eastern House of Assembly Enugu, along with Chief Manga Williams, during the Richard’s constitution days before 1951. He was easily the most powerful natural ruler in the Bamenda Province, not only highly respected by the British Government, both in the territory and in the mother country, but by the Cameroon population of the day. A giant of a man, he was magnificently built and looked an “African King” indeed, admired by all who met him. At the 1957 London Conference, he was a fellow Delegate on the same footing as Dr. Endeley along with Mr JT Ndze, while Hon. VE Mukete, MHR a Federal Minister in Lagos was Adviser to the KNC Delegation.
The curtsies enjoyed in London by Dr. Endeley during the conference compared no less with those accorded the Fon and the Commissioner Mr. JO Field. These three; Endeley, the Fon and the Commissioner enjoyed a car each, while we, the rest, shared two to a car. In the Hotel, St. James’ Court, Buckingham Gate, where the delegations stayed as guests of Her Majesty’s government of the United Kingdom, the three were lodged in complete suites while we, the rest, stayed in single rooms and shared lounges. Galega II had something we the rest almost envied. He was treated everywhere in London with special respect, crowned by the almost daily visits of students who constantly called at the Hotel to pay him homage.
At the Constitutional Conference in London in 1957, relevant to the Endeley/Galega story, this was the position:
On the side of services at the hotel, those who know or have had the slightest experience of the efficiency of service in any ordinary hotel in Britain should multiply that by two, to equal the service standards at the St James’ Court Hotel, London. No guest ever undertook any self-service, no matter how small. Even our shoes were merely left at the door of one’s room and in the morning, they would be as smooth as glass.
There can be no question therefore of a guest serving another guest at the St. James’. If any such guest existed to serve another, the chances of such a man being the Fon of Bali could just not exist. Having eliminated London’s St. James’ Court Hotel from the venues where Galega II could have ever possibly served Endeley, “like a houseboy,” we are left with Buea as the only other place where Endeley owned a place in which he could need the services of a “houseboy.” If anyone were foolish enough to tell us that it could have perhaps been in Buea, where Fon Galega was used by Endeley as houseboy, such a story teller should tell the world how the Fon of Bali could have fitted into the lowly home of Dr. Endeley, in Buea, possibly to wash plates or do other chores; with the entire Bali world and the retinue of attendants who generally accompanied the Fon wherever he went, just looking on?
One KNDP man, cornered over his concoctions, tried to ask if it was possible that Dr. Endeley may have given the Fon his bag to hold at the airport. Such a possibility could not exist in this world, owing to the truth that Dr Endeley had his Private Secretary; Mr SN Ekobena to have carried such as bag. There were also the other Cameroonian delegates along with the crowds who always came to the airport to welcome arriving dignitaries like Endeley and Fon Galega, if “the bag” had been too much for Endeley’s own hands to bear. Those who know how a Fon was/is vis-à-vis a mere politician like Endeley will tell you that the possibility of even a small chief serving any politician at that time, in the capacity of a houseboy was a chance in a million.
A doubting Thomas despite the above explanation still asked, “but what could have been the background or the premise for such a bare faced lie? Of course, there was, and this is it: The KNDP needed some desperate story with which to tear the Bali from their continuing support of Dr Endeley and his KNC, at a time when they found the Bali firmly in support of Endeley. Note the place enjoyed by the Fon of Bali at the KNC delegation in London in 1957. The shortest cut for the KNDP strategists to win the Bali populace was to tell that proud clan of Bali people that Dr Endeley had ill-treated their Fon, by using him “like a houseboy.” The trick worked; the people of Bali felt greatly insulted and they stampeded towards the KNDP in mass defection, and the KNC lost their support in the Bamenda area. Such was the extent of the Bali U-turn that Endeley could hardly see any reason to retain Fon Galega on his next delegation to London in 1958. He now turned to Fon of Bum to court the people of Wum a much smaller but loyal populace.
Actually, as if to assist the KNDP tricksters, the Fon of Bali during the London Conference in 1957 had been observed by all, carrying out what looked like secret meetings with the KNDP. By our reckoning, the Bamenda students, then in Britain had been working on the Fon of Bali during their constant visits to him at the St. James’ Court Hotel and had succeeded in turning his support away from Dr Endeley, in favour of JN Foncha.
I am offering this view as an eyewitness to what was going on around us, and from my comparative closeness to Fon Galega with whom I had visited London earlier in 1955, when we were members of the CDC Board. Many of the Bamenda students had seen the launching of the KNDP by Foncha and Jua, as the beginning of their “empire,” and were eager to see the KNDP topple Endeley. Actually, they succeeded in their end to see the realisation of their design in the fall of Endeley in January 1959. Many of those students had by then returned to the territory, and were holding strategic civil service appointments.
It is some of these people who often secretly continued to advise the KNDP as the “Cameroon Society.” They preferred to keep their group secret in order to avoid the risks which their British training had taught them, could afflict the Civil Service if civil servants were meddling in party politics. As to whether such advice served a lasting purpose for the good of the country is hardly worthy of debate, but if three decades later, some of the KNDP founders had openly lied to the world that they were “mere grade II teachers,” who could not quite understand, since they had “no lawyers,” it seems to confirm the lack of an enduring benefit from counsel proffered in the shadows, which eventually leads to negative equity for the collective good.
It also teaches men, especially the young, not to count on lasting benefits from untruths and falsehood. Today, it is no secret any more, especially to the intelligent Bali clan, that the story of Endeley using Fon Galega as a “houseboy” is a monumental falsehood that has reaped untold damage over the decades to trust, just as it is, to say that we did not understand the plebiscite questions, because we had no lawyers, even though we had first class lawyers in our midst, Endeley, Mensah, Egbe, Dinka, Engo, and many others by that year long returned home to the Cameroons.
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