Bate Besong, the revered lecturer of literature at the University of Buea, fiery social critic, and unarguably
"Anglophone Cameroon's most versatile and charismatic playwright and poet", died today, March 8, 2007 in a ghastly car accident on the Douala - Yaounde highway. This was barely a few hours after the successful launching of his latest book, Disgrace. BB, as he was fondly called, was on his way to the US embassy to obtain a visa to attend this year's American Literature Association (ALA) annual conference taking place in Morgantown, West Virginia.
To many Cameroonians BB was an inspiration, a teacher and mentor. He was an iconic figure who gave meaning to the cliché, “Man of the People”. To me, he was personal friend with whom I exchanged emails only a few days ago. In fact, when I opened my mailbox this morning, I was looking forward to seeing pictures from the book launch. Instead I was welcomed with a string of emails announcing his untimely death.
Unfortunately, BB did not go alone. Also in the car with him was Hilarious Ambe, the rising star of the Anglophone literary scene, lecturer and Director of theater at the University of Buea; Kwansen Gwanga, eminent film director and TV producer, playwright, actor and lecturer and at the University of Yaounde. The cold hands of death have dealt a crippling blow at Cameroonian literary scene.
I will be giving BB, a great friend and comrade in arms, a befitting tribute as soon as I am able to put coherent thoughts on paper.