Shirley and Edwin Ardener
By Elizabeth Etondi Elive
Four years have passed, since a fellow lodger, Kathleen, bumped into Mrs Chilver in
My childhood memories of Mola Ngomba and Iya Efosi
During my childhood years I used to go to Bokwaongo for the Mahlé dances and I used to see a white couple there. They lived in one of the villages, took part in the dancing and seemed like intimate members of the Mahlé group. I remember that the dance could never start until they had arrived, and when they did, they were allowed right into the centre where only special members could come.
Everybody knew Mola Ngomba and Iya Efosi as they were called. I recall that they were a delightful couple who chatted with the villagers wherever they met them. They lived in a plantation house below Tole. They spoke the Bakweri language. When they came to Soppo, people would run out and greet them joyfully calling them by their “country” names and we, the children would gather round wide-eyed. Even at that tender age, I used to wonder who this white couple was that loved us so much and lived like us. They seemed even friendlier than some of the missionaries.
Discovering the book, Coastal Bantus of Cameroon
Years later when I wrote my book, Yoma Ndene, Bakweri Classic Tales, I felt I needed to read more to get deeper insights into the Bakweri culture to enable me to introduce a second volume I was planning to publish. I found a book by a certain Edwin Ardener entitled, “Coastal Bantus of
A Dream come True – Meeting Shirley Ardener
In the year 2003 I came to
When Shirley got my phone call she naturally wanted to know who I was. I told her how I had got her number and she asked if I was from
I said, “Wait a minute Shirley, what is your family name?”
She said, “Ardener”
“Are you the author of Coastal Bantus of the
“It was written by my husband, Edwin Ardener.
“So?” I exclaimed. “Wonderful!”
I told her I had read the book and found it great. Then I thought, she might be Iya Efosi after all. I could not imagine I had found our long lost Iya and Mola, the odds were too many, but I was determined to ask.
“Do you mind if I ask more questions?” Shirley seemed as excited as me.
She replied, “Not at all, go on!”
“Did you live in Bokwango when you were in
“What were your Bakweri names?” She laughed out right and said, “Iya Efos’a Ngove and Mola Ngomba.”
Oh no! I could not believe what I heard. I thought I had gone back in time. The odds of meeting a lady I had known as a child in a small village in
“Iya Efosi, I would love to meet you.” I told her. “Come, I am waiting!” was her simple reply.
Not long after that, Iya Efosi and I met. She was vibrant as ever, looking much younger than I had imagined she would be. She welcomed me like a long lost child and I clung to her like to a long lost mother now come back home.
Since then I have come to know her more and through her, I have met many other ladies and gentlemen who worked in Cameroon in the fifties and sixties and many who were children then like myself and still others who are working there now from Britain. Her simplicity, her openness and love to all are so refreshing. She is a point of unity between the British veterans and the new generation of Cameroonians. The Bakwerians are in her heart and she labours for them still.
Shirley and Edwin Ardener – Anthropologists and Authors
Shirley and her husband Edwin Ardener, came to Cameroon in the fifties as anthropologists, dedicating their lives to know the people and, by so doing, became one with them. The knowledge they gained about the people through this close relationship with the indigenes enabled them to write so intimately about the tribe, its people, their customs and culture. The couple returned home to
Although Coastal Bantus of the Cameroons deals with related tribes of the coastal area of
They offer special deals to people ordering from
Other Work of Shirley Ardener in
Shirley Ardener’s other activities for the people of Fako and Cameroon in general include her dedication in establishing the Archives in Buea, which was opened by the late S.T. Muna. She worked with late Henry Mbain and Primus Forgwe , who recently returned to the archives after the death Mbain.. Shirley still takes an interest in the archives office today.
As honorary teacher of the
Shirley Ardener and many others who worked in
Shirley is a practical lady. She talks about sharing books with others or forming reading groups. While it might be difficult for one person to buy all the books, people could purchase different books and share.