Issues at stake

Issues At Stake: Tribute To A Journalism Colossuses, Professional Heroes

Yerima Kini Nsom

 By Yerima Kini Nsom

It is over two decades since veteran journalist and one of the pioneers of Anglo-Saxon journalism in Cameroon, Jerome Fultang Gwellem, sailed to his ancestors. He exited the earthly stage through a car accident near the Reunification Monument in Yaounde. Even in death, the former Editor-In-Chief of the defunct Cameroon Times lives on in his professional legacy. Pa Gwellem, as he was fondly called by his junior colleagues, was a fine brain who added intellectual corpus to journalistic practice in Cameroon. He published many books, one of which is “Fru Ndi and the SDF Revolution.”

I hereby pay homage to a towering figure and an excellent professional who did not only seduce me into the world of journalism, but also horse-whipped me into embracing good practice. By populating his writings with finesse and the pregnant pith of intellectual ideas, Pa Gwellem stoked the professional flame in me.

His writings constituted a sum total of revolutionary ideas that took a beef with the statusquo and militated for the general good. His world of journalism was an iconoclastic one with the mission to gore the old order and make the globe a better place to live in. Pa Gwellem offered me my first journalism text book “Newswriting and Reporting Public Affairs”, by Chilton Bush, during the early stages of my formative years.

He stood tall among peers. He took exception to verbiage, verbosity and the linguistic inflation that litter the newspaperscape. His elegant use of language was not only literary-laden, but laced with the kind of journalistic wit that demonstrates a mastery of word economy. He hit the facts on the head and wanted every reporter to do same. As Editor-In-Chief, Pa’s editing pen was like the surgeon’s scalpel. Each time he took my script to the editing theatre of Cameroon Review Magazine, “blood” flowed all over the pages as his red pen did the surgery. He would butcher the story and reconstruct it with a better sense of presentation and chronology, cleaning out the fats and leaving only the meat for the reader to enjoy. He averred that journalism was not literature that mostly deals with fiction. To him, every journalistic sentence should be fact-filled and tethered to the apron strings of attribution.

Due to his revolutionary ideas, Pa Gwellem’s regular abode was the police and prison cells. Yet, he did not budge. He lived and died for journalism. Small wonder that he died in active service, on his way to attend a meeting of the National Communication Council, NCC. Jerome Fultang Gwellem is undying. He lives on even in death.  I am also heavily indebted to all the senior journalists who mentored me during the toddling days of my career.

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