It was 2012. He was a class ahead of me. The first day we had conversation, we strolled from campus to his home. We found out that we were neighbours.
What we didn’t know was how much joy we’d bring into each other’s lives.
He was giving me tips about the lectures. Hints about lecturer s— who to not mess with, what Minor to offer and the attitudes to have in certain situations. He took advantage to drone in on Mass Communication history.
I noticed his flair for storytelling from the start of his narrative. He’ll slip names, conferences and dates as though he were flipping the pages of a futuristic almanac with his fingers.
Sometimes, I thought he’d been present at the Bamoun Conference.
He’d occasionally point to a beautiful lady on the other side of the road mid sentence or increase his pace to catch up with the one in front of him to begin a humorous improvised chat.
At the start, I’d assumed because of how tall he was, that he would have a particularly ferocious approach to all things in life. He wasn’t the lanky tall type who lacked protein in the right places. He wasn’t bad looking either.
The only reason why I won’t say he was ( and is ) handsome is because I’m his bro. And bro’s don’t say that.
That was the start of a friendship that would last five years and counting.
I’ve never seen him twist his face in anger. He’s always either making a joke or laughing at one. He’d start with:
“Eh heh, Kamga, cam so…you see noh…”
Then pull a story about a cat who lost a fish uncle and ended up dating a mermaid.
It always had to be about a woman. And it always had to be funny. And it was always, very, harmless.
He’s had his share of pain. Of trouble and of strife. He’s had moments when everyone doubted his life’s path. He’s lost loved ones. He’s lost friends.
But I’ve never heard him raise his voice. I’ve never heard him mean. I’ve never heard him refuse to provide help when he could.
To be able to call him a friend is a privilege.
Today, he’s a year older. He’s at the other end of the globe. From the pictures I see, and the phone calls we have, he hasn’t changed one bit.
He understands a system and makes it work for him. He’s the life of the party. The guide; the mother hen; the kind hearted lover of laughs and pokes.
Lionel, your mother is proud of you. I know you know that.
The boys ( Carl, Abia, Enobi, Njie, Amstrong, Nyumia) are proud of you.
I wish you the best. Today and forever.
P.S: Stay away from resters !!!