By Regina Liengu Etaka [Cameroon Tribune]
Last Thursday was a day of grief at the University of Buea as academic honours were paid to late Dr. Bate Besong, fondly called BB. The ceremony, which took place in the Amphitheater 750, brought together over 4,000 people who did not only come to mourn BB but also to celebrate the works of the great poet. For the Vice Chancellor of UB, Professor Vincent Titanji, the death of BB has inflicted a deep wound in the University community. He said BB was a man of an independent spirit.
Professor Azeye Albert, Dean of the Faculty of Arts said BB was a social critic and a great teacher. A teacher, he said, who taught his students how to attain a state of liberty. For the representative of the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Bate Besong's death was a serious blow to the Higher Education family. He regretted his demise and called on God Almighty to comfort his family.
Dr Bate Besong died on the 8th of March after a ghastly motor accident along the Edea -Yaounde highway. He was with Dr Hilarious Ambe, Kwasen Gwangwa'a and Samson Tabe the driver who all died on the spot.
Dr Bate Besong was on his way to Yaounde to pick up a visa for an international conference in the USA which was to take place on the 10th of March. The trios were from Bate Besong's book launch which took place in the Amphitheater 750 in the University of Buea on the 7th of March 2007. The launching of the book titled, "Disgrace, autobiographical narcissus and "Emanya-nkpe", turned out to be the last stage play of the three lovers of arts. At the book launch, when BB was called up to comment on the new book he just launched, he said, "Disgrace is on Bate Besong by Bate Besong". This eventually was his last public pronouncement on Earth.
Dr Bate Besong until his death has published 12 books and many plays. He was born on the 8th of May 1954 in Mamfe. He schooled in the Universities of Ibadan and Calabar in Nigeria where he obtained a B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in literature. Until his death, he was a teacher of African literature and Critical Theory in the University of Buea. He leaves behind a wife, five children and the world at large to mourn him. After the academic honours, his remains were taken to his village of Ndekwai in Manyu Division for burial.