By Fai Cassian Ndi
|RIP Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko|
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, that’s the only suitable and most fitting tribute I can reserve for my departed likeable hero, Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko, who exited the game of life on Sunday October 12, 2014.
In fact that day was one of the bad days that I would have loved to see it erased from the calendar, but since Heaven needed a hero, I had no other option than to succumb to the Lord Almighty. His decision is supreme.
The Man Whom I know as the mayor of Nkambe, the teacher and a father can be described in many ways as a jovial man who never failed to crack a joke whenever the opportunity arose. He was an easygoing teacher, politician and an advocate who was affectionately known in all circles. Kort Mangoh Jones had an affinity for people from all walks of life, while his enthusiasm and passion for development, democracy and education knew no borders.
In fact I had the privilege to enjoy an amicable relationship with him, benefitting from his sages in administration and activism.
When I got news that Kort Mangoh Jones was called up to prepare a better place for all of us, I felt a pinch in my throat about the sad news.
Throughout the day, I was uttering incoherently to myself that this can’t be true and pinched myself several times in an effort to drag myself back to reality, in thought that I was daydreaming.
Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko became the mayor of Nkambe council after having spent his youthful life learning and teaching. As primary school teacher, he rose from a classroom teacher to head teacher and supervisor of community schools. After a Bachelor Degree in Nigeria, government called him back on pretext that he had abandoned his job as teacher. This was after he had spent close to 14 years as a teacher. For fear not to squash the years hard labour and lost his pension, he was obliged to come back home and forfeit his postgraduate programme at the University of Ilorin-Nigeria.
In November 1986, Kort Mangoh resumed duty in the then Ministry of National Education in Yaounde. While in Yaounde, he was able to see how Yaounde functions. Working in an office wasn’t comfortable for him given that he was more at ease teaching. He decided to meet the then Secretary of National Education, Eko Ngomba and pleaded if he could be posted to teach in Nkambe as classroom teacher. Unfortunately for him, he was instead transferred to the then North West Provincial Delegation of National Education in Bamenda.
Kort Mangoh Jones took over functions in Bamenda in October 1987. When his boss was sacked and sent to the classroom, Mangoh went on his knees for a second time to plead if he too could be moved to the classroom. Instead of Nkambe Government High School, he was sent to the only bilingual High School in Bamenda to teach world affairs, a subject he enjoyed teaching given that he used to have at least 200 to 300 students in a class. “It kept me busy and I enjoyed that teaching life. They loved me and I loved them. Maybe that is why I have many friends today left and right both in the administration and other services”. He started enjoying the freedom he missed.
While in Bamenda, Kort Mangoh Jones was elected Secretary of the Wimbum Community and was also selected to be the National Language broadcaster for the Wimbum Community. The management of radio Bamenda by then also decided to engage him in the broadcasting of some programmes in English. He was anchoring one of the most popular radio programmes “The World Around You”. He was appointed as Assistant Chief Examiner of the GCE “A” Level, a post he held for 8 years. “As we were working we made the town of Bamenda very lively due to the fact that we were holding debates trying to put in place a mafia that could really change this country. On March 16, 1990, Ni John Fru Ndi presented a paper that he deposited documents for the legalization of a political party. We were the first people to rush to him. And that is how we really caused the population to feel happy that Cameroon has at last has another political party”. Tension mounted in Bamenda to the point that Mangoh’s programmes on CRTV Bamenda were being monitored. What happened was that when the Social Democratic Front-SDF was launched on May 26, 1990, he joined several others to register as a militant. “When I went down to Yaonde in July of that year for the marking of the GCE, I met Hon. SN Tamfu and during our discussions, I told him that Pa I know one can only win elections in Nkambe as an opposition. Now that a new political party will start operating in Cameroon, could he tell me he used to do to win in Nkambe. He replied that: my son I have suffered too long in the opposition. I travelled on foot and my shoes were torn. I want to be in Government so that I can enjoy a bit before I die”. Mangoh said he asked Hon. SN Tamfu that “now that he wants to enjoy” where he keeps them who were his supporters. The reply was “I want you people to stand with me in the government party”. That was the beginning of a new page in the life of the teacher. In fact a new line that would bring him heat and then lands him into the hall of fame as a pragmatic politician.
As civil servant, it was not going to be easy for the teacher, Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko. The town of Bamenda which in normal situation is cold was producing a lot of heat for Kort Mangoh and others. During the Presidential elections of 1992, Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko was transferred to Lycee du Kouseri-Extreme North. “I was baffled by the fact that I was being transferred to a Francophone area to go and teach history in English. In fact was being asked to go and teach students where we cannot even communicate because I could not speak or understand basic French”.
Faced with this, Mangoh Jones travelled down to Yaounde and begged the Minister of National Education to transfer him to Nkambe where he could live happily with his people. Robert Mbella Mbappe, the then Minister of National Education wrote his transfer with a pen, signed and handed to him. In 1993, Kort Mangoh Jones took up teaching at GHS Nkambe but became a thorn in the flesh to many; maybe because he was always very open. While at GHS Nkambe, Kort Mangoh discovered that the school was suffering from lack of teachers. When he was travelling to Yaounde, he asked the Principal of GHS if he could give him the list of subjects without teachers. He took the list to Yaounde and before he could get to Nkambe, 19 new teachers were transferred to GHS Nkambe but unfortunately for him the 20th name of the list was Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko transferred from GHS Nkambe to Lycee du Mora, in Far North. “I could not face all the torture because I had already put in more than twenty years as a teacher. It angered me to the point that I decided to apply for voluntary retirement. I personally took my application to the Minister and told him I wanted to be a free and happy man. Since I had no class to teach in Nkambe, I did go to class. I stayed home for one year four months and the Principal pleaded with the Minister to transfer me from Lycee du Mora back to Nkambe”. But the reason was that in 1993, Mangoh Jones Tanko was voted as SDF District chairman for Nkambe and his political opponents saw him as a threat and want him far off before local elections.
In 1995, Kort Mangoh Jones was transferred from Lycee du Mora back to GHS Nkambe. Mangoh then decided to travel to Mora just to see the place and the school he was posted to go and teach. By then even his salary was suspended. And he lost his wife during those hard moments.
In October 1995, Municipal and Legislative elections were announced and he started mobilizing strongly to get councilors. He managed with some few friends to establish a council list representing all the villages of Nkambe Central. The SDF with Mangoh as District chairman was the first to submit the council list for the municipal elections given that no other political party succeeded. When elections were conducted, the SDF won by 80% and in January 1996, the councilors of Nkambe Council elected Kort Mangoh Jones as the first democratically elected mayor of the then Nkambe Rural Council.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)