BARBECUE BROUGHT CAMEROON TOGETHER
By Franck Felix Gutenberg, US Africa News. Updated 2015-09-02
For Severin Ngnosse Fandja, president of the New York NDE association, there is no doubt. The barbecue that his association hosted on 23 August, in one of the Bronx parks, was a surprising success. "Over 150 people showed up despite planning issues that weren’t quite worked out," he notes. The idea for the giant barbecue arose from an idea he’d already had for a revival of the activities of this dynamic group. "Like many immigrant groups, our association went through several upheavals towards the end of the 2006, and was dormant until recently,” said Ngnosse Fandja, who continued: “So after 9 years of hibernation we decided to start with a tabula rasa regarding the past, and revive the dynamic machine that is the NDE; we took advantage of the beautiful weather to invite the Cameroonian community, signal our presence, and finally, to share together good food from the grill.”
Already in the early morning a small group directed by David Kengne was on the scene in the park to secure a good site. At 2 pm, the park was jumping. A group of expert women, leads by mother Marceline Wandji, manned the stoves, with a bit of self-service at the tables. Things perked up even more when Jean- Paul Tuheu showed up with some Jimbe and percussion to add traditional live music to the mix. The atmosphere was upbeat among people sharing jokes and commentary on Cameroon football and politics.
One might wish that Cameroonians living in New York had already found an opportunity to establish an annual gathering worthy of the name; in any case, after this successful outing, Ngnosse Fandja intends perpetuate this event. “We will hold another BBQ next year, and the years to come,” said the New York NDE president, who is already thinking ahead to plan a big New Year's ball next December 31. It was in order to feel like an integrated family, Ngnosse Fandja said, that was behind his thoughts to revive the NDE New York. “The New York NDE association that I chaired was established in early 2000s through the will of its first leaders, like Augustine Pankue and Jean-Pierre Kamwa, to whom we should pay homage. Although I was already here in the city, I joined the group a few months after its creation.” Ngnosse Fandja makes it a point of honor to be at the head of one of the rare multi-ethnic associations. “Clearly, we are not a group where direct affiliation with the NDE required, because we accept and have among us people who do not have a direct connection to our department but are willing to share a few moments together under NDE’s umbrella.” he proclaims.
As president, Ngnosse Fandja promises to stick to strict discipline in this association in order to carry out its mission. “I’m chairing this group for the second time and intend to carry through this mission of mine, which is to gather the children of NDE where we find them.” In effect, the members are NDE’s children, and know and trust each other. “The premier objective of the association is to bring together the children of the NDE around the same table, first, to address our daily life, because in the past there was a stream of newcomers; then to preserve our values and identity; and finally to provide assistance to others. Today, the group continues to work within this framework and tries to involve the Cameroonian community at large.”
In fact, the Cameroonian associations in New York have never lasted, due to problems in the management of funds and executive committees who can’t let go at the end of their terms. Consequently, we rarely see a Cameroonian association in New York with a lifespan of more than two years. But NY NDE has opted for transparency, and has kept its doors open no doubt because it also generates money. The association has a bi-weekly tontine that pays the beneficiary a considerable sum of money. The dues are affordable for members. In addition to the tontine, the association is dedicated to aid those members afflicted by misfortune, or celebrating an event. However, one cannot fail to note that the NDE roster includes some names well-known in the Cameroonian community for creating chaos in several other associations. They have had a say in managing people and money and will likely want more. It remains to be seen if the small fish can still swim safely among the big ones.