Home The News Immortalizing Zachary Nkwo: The football commenting paragon I knew
Immortalizing Zachary Nkwo: The football commenting paragon I knew
News / Latest / Ernest Kanjo / Monday, 21 August 2017 16:45

Zachary Nkwo_Tiptopstars
My effortful search for words to use in knitting this farewell piece to a man whose professional life heavily influenced me, never bore fruits. Such words turned out to be clearly hard to find and made this eulogy the most difficult writing assignment I ever encountered in my years of experience in print.

I dreaded doing this piece – I hoped I did not. I hoped I rather spilt ink, celebrating more of such glorious moments as Zachary Nkwo’s Ultimate Commentary, which Fon Echekiye, one of the celebrity football commentator’s disciples, presented as his last gratifying offer. I would rather have been happier reporting on a next such project which I conjectured would come, if not yesterday, today or even tomorrow.

But, that I was going to be weaving a piece of writing about my mentor, my dad in journalism and mightiest source of inspiration, in the past tense, is the last thought that could hover around my mind. It’s seriously not a palatable exercise! However, as the circumstances have compelled me, so too have I had to heed to the call.

While struggling to find a silver lining that could console me out of the disturbingly thick dark cloud that fell on the Cameroonian media family, following his demise, I hung on my privilege first, to have known Zach (as we affectionately called him), secondly, to have been part of his  editorial school, and thirdly, attended his school of life.

Just like scores of other young people of my generation, I was one of his disciples and we so unconditionally believed in the man. One common trait that was characteristic of our discipleship to the man, was the addicted love for his professional values which in most instances were unique. There was little that could be done to dissuade us.

My story with the legendary football commentator began in the early 80s when like millions of other Cameroonians, I could visualize the fleet-footed Roger Milla, agile Ebongue Ernest, skillful Tokoto Jean Pierre, catlike goalkeeper Thomas Nkono, etc, thanks to Zack’s matchless play-by-play commentaries.

As I grew to discover a solid love in journalism, my interest gradually shifted from the picture of the talented footballers Zack had beautifully drawn on my mind via radio, to the art the great commentator was performing in such an extraordinary manner. Zack in the commentary booth, gesticulating, in the process of running those sassy commentaries, became the next set of images on my young mind. How and when I would have the golden opportunity of witnessing this unique artistic performance became the big dream. And, how and when such a dream would turn into a satisfactory reality, is what I waited for with an uncontrollable anxiety.

In mid-1993, during a maiden physical visit to a radio station, I met Zack for the first time. I had only visited CRTV Buea to take part in a radio show for pupils and students on vacation. Each day I showed up for Holiday Workshop, the said programme, I would spot the man who was later going to be my mentor, from a distance, but would lack the courage to approach and announce my long-time admiration for his craft. How was I going to line up my words before start delivering them to such a mighty house in journalism, if I had not sufficiently rehearsed them? Zack of course was and still is a 20-ton weight media personality.

It was not until June of 1996, when I found strength to meet the man and confess my love for his works. This time, I had made it to CRTV Buea as a journalism student on internship, from the University of Buea. That fateful morning, after the news conference, I mustered courage, walked into his office just next to the newsroom (for those who know the Likoko Membea building) and reported myself. In addition to my testimony of clinging to my radio set back in the 80s to feed on his commentaries, I revealed to Zack that I had a knack for sports reporting and would praise God forever, if he allowed me write and present papers on his week Sports Special show.

Zack wouldn’t quickly fall for serious things. He would joke at everything and make fun of the most serious ones. The rest of the time I spent with the guru in his office that day was fun about everything else, except his success story in football play-by-play reporting and/or the Sports Special show I badly yearned to be co-opted in. He was neither friends with self-aggrandizement nor praises rained on him. To Zack, living a down-to-earth life was more important than the great strides he had made in football reporting.

However, at the end of the day, he gave me a topic for a three-minute report on the next Sports Special edition. My task was to do some analyses on the 1996 South West Second Division football championship which was ongoing. You can guess how I stayed awake all night, making sure I flexed all my writing muscles to impress the man whose record in the commentary booth has never been beaten. Also, I was going to be on a show that was widely savoured in South West and Littoral homes with unending appetite. Every such thought, prior my maiden participation on Sports Special was palpitating.

To be continued…….…..

Last Updated on Monday, 21 August 2017 16:56


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