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November 5, 2004, 7:16 pm

Crazy for Chamba

From time to time I get e-mail messages from a Cameroonian who is clearly bonkers. (If you're reading this, DB, sorry, but it's true.) The upside for my ego is that he has probably read every word on my Web site. It's nice to have the attention.

The first time he contacted me was in December last year. Googling from Garoua, Cameroon, he'd stumbled onto Chamba's "Dog of the Day" biography, and proceeded to read all about Dr. Moses on my Web site ( /ted/drmoses ) .

He sent me several messages at once, all with MS Word attachments. Each document was a grandiloquent missive about Chamba, or having a reference to Chamba. This man, I thought, is pathologically in love with his thesaurus and dictionary.

Garoua is the nearest city in Cameroon to Chamba, the village that gave Chamba (the dog) his name--by way of of Dr. Moses, who was a bit bonkers himself.

DB must have revisited my Web site within the last day or two, because today he sent me two messages with five attachments, all maps of Cameroon indicating the location of Tchamba.


He also sent "Ode to Chamba" to Bali-Nyonga listserv, a 400-word reflection (plus footnotes, and appendices). Here is an excerpt:

The article on Chamba dog of the day was the ultimate prompt that decided me to pick up a map and look up Chamba. Before that, Chamba was a hazy mental concept connected to my equally illusory ancestors. From the day I put my finger on Chamba on the map, my ancestry materialised, becoming palpable. I shall remain in grateful memory to Chamba for that now seeming pleasant twist of circumstances which has every right however to eventually turn to bitter gall.

I followed up on the listserv with a clarification (not that one was needed), and a link to Chamba's Web site.

Within hours, I was able to determine that the far-flung Bali-Nyonga community was visiting Chamba on the Web from England, Norway, Israel, Sweden, and around the USA.

Update (5/4/2005):
Still fascinated by how widespread the Bali people on the listserv are. Chamba's Web site has received visits from:

England (3)
Germany (2)
Saudi Arabia
USA (31)


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