Ever since the notorious mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema, passed away, there have been many theories surrounding his demise. For those who bought into his philosophy of protecting the city of Buea and its people, Ekema was a hero who should be buried with pump and pageantry.
But behind the façade Ekema put up, there is an entire story of manipulation, self-aggrandizement, greed and gluttony which connived to bring him down like a pack of old retired cards.
On the outside, while the former notorious Mayor of the City of Buea, Ekema Patrick Esunge, gave the impression that he was a staunch member of the ruling CPDM party, he was, indeed, a schemer and a scammer who was making the most of the CPDM crime syndicate to feather his nest.
Ekema was enriching himself at supersonic speed while using intimidation, a CPDM trade mark, to silence his critics. Ekema had robbed the City of Buea of millions of dollars and most of this money was spent on women and alcohol.
His home, which he built in a very short time, is estimated at USD1 million and for a man whose salary was not more than USD 600 a month, it was clear that he was engaged in something unorthodox.
In a well-managed system, this should have caught the eyes of the authorities and an investigation should have been opened to determine the source of the money he was using to build such a mansion. But since Ekema had given the impression that he could die for the CPDM, any thing he told his Yaounde sponsors was taken down hook, line and sinker.
But while he gave the impression that he was working for the Yaounde government, Ekema had a plan B which he held so close to his chest. He had already moved his five children and his wife to the United States. Today, his wife, Katherine Ekema, and their children are well settled in the United States, thanks to the money Ekema had stolen from the Buea City Council.
Ekema was successfully keeping a family of six in the United States. With USD 600, which was his monthly salary in Cameroon, Ekema could not underwrite such a lifestyle in the United States. His four children with Katherine and the one she had before getting married to Ekema were all school in the United States and this was costing him a pretty penny.
The last child, who turned 4, two days after Ekema collapsed as a result of a massive heart attack in a lady’s house in Douala, was born in the United States. He has no problems. His birthright citizenship kicked in when he got to the USA. The rest were born in Cameroon and with their mother, they are now seeking asylum on the grounds that they are Southern Cameroonians who are being persecuted by the same Yaounde government for which Ekema worked so tirelessly so that other Southern Cameroonians could continue to live in appalling and inhuman conditions.
While Ekema is quietly renting space in a mortuary today in Douala, his wife, Katherine, has been caught up in a long thinking process prompted by the absence of money and stress because she cannot travel to Cameroon due to her refugee status in the United States.
According to international refugee law, she cannot go back to the country she accuses of persecuting her and her children when she had not had the papers of her adoptive country. The wads of cash that used to leave Cameroon for the United States every month are no longer there, and this spells frustration to a woman who was wont to spending money without thinking twice. The tap has been turned off forever.
Ekema has died and with him are the millions he embezzled from the Buea City Council. Katherine has to figure out how to feed such a large family in the United States and her new status as an asylum seeker does not give her any right to any American money. She must learn how to work off her butts if she wants to meet the needs of her five children.
While Ekema had pulled off a good one on Cameroonians by sending his wife and children abroad to seek asylum, he did not know that the pressure he was mounting on others would end up consuming him. What goes around comes around.
Southern Cameroonian fighters always made sure that they kept him under surveillance. He had body guards everywhere and all the time but living under such conditions for long periods of time was simply not tenable.
Ekema had wanted to rid himself of such a restrictive lifestyle and had made up his mind to leave the country. That was why early this year, he applied for an American visa. As fate would have it, Ekema showed up at the American embassy with another woman, claiming that she was his wife. Ekema was not only uncut, he also had a very low IQ. His ability to think through things was questionable. He thought he could beat the American system. He thought the American system was like the Cameroon system where everything could be manipulated.
But the visa officer who interviewed him told him that he had sent his wife and children to the United States, adding that they had not returned to Cameroon. The visa officer told him that he could not have two wives, pointing out that polygamy was an offense under American law.
Using his crude CPDM mentality, he promptly lied that he had divorced Katherine who was enjoying the Cameroonian taxpayers’ money in the United States. The visa officer knew that he was lying but respectfully asked him to produce a divorce certificate. Documents are easy to produce in Cameroon and it is a lot easier to have documents in Cameroon, especially if you are a mayor.
Ekema rushed to Buea where he was produced a brand-new divorce certificate that was backdated. But the American visa officer had seen through him and had made up his mind. His visa application and that of his girlfriend were turned down. He rushed to the Canadian embassy to secure another visa but met with a rejection. He tried the Belgian embassy and it seemed as if Western embassies had connived to turn down his application for a visa.
Ekema was sick and tired of living the dirty life in Cameroon. He wanted to leave the country with two women. He was not only fond of food, he also loved women and alcohol. His size clearly spoke to his gluttony. His love of expensive booze spoke volume of his false sense of achievement which would later come back to bite him.
He loved every woman, or everything in skirt and he thought he was a lady’s man, forgetting that where there is money, there will be women. Money is to women what honey is to bees. As one philosopher rightly put it, what kills a man comes like appetite and Ekema was brought down by his greed, theft and gluttony.
A product of a poor family, Ekema struggled very hard, most often by crook to climb the social ladder. He faked certificates to get registered into the University of Buea and from there he quickly learned that if he aligned himself with the CPDM crime syndicate, he would gain influence and money, something he did with relative ease.
But there is always a price to pay for the earthly possessions we acquire in a dishonest manner. He might have built a beautiful house, but he will never live in that house. His children who are today refugees in the United States will not live in that house. Poetic justice is prevailing.
He might have wired some money to the states as he prepared to throw in the towel as a means of escaping the stress and pressure that Southern Cameroonian fighters had mounted on him, but nature knew that he would not be enjoying that loot for a long time. His family may be in the United States, but they must know that they are in for a long rough moment as Southern Cameroonians are prepared to send their father’s dirt to the American immigration.
They cannot be running away from persecution when their father was one of the officials who had his nose to the grindstone just to ensure that the status quo ante continued.
Ekema was already a dead man from the time he failed to secure a visa. The massive heart attack was simply a finisher. His love of liquor and food had transformed his body into a conference center for diseases to hold their meetings. He will be remembered as the mayor who worked for himself but deceived the people that he was working for them. Cameroonians must wake up and smell the coffee as more “Ekemas” will be coming up soon.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai