In March of 1994, I had recently finished my service in the Peace Corps, and I lingered in Cameroon for about three extra months not wanting to leave the town of Bali-Nyonga.
This is part of a much longer video I created to document my life, work, and friends in Cameroon. (Watch closely, and you’ll see my mancrush showing.)
The cameraman is John Justino. My fiancee saw this recently, and thought that we were being a little mean to Ni Gre. She’s probably right. That’s what friends are for.
The Mboko talk is just a bit of street slang added to the Cameroonian Pidgin English. Think of when middle-class Americans say “bling” and it sounds ridiculous. That’s kind of what’s going on here.
For Armchair Anthropologists:
In that part of Cameroon, “Ni” is an informal title of respect. Imagine two ways of saying “Mister.”
“Ni” is for mere adult males. The other–“Ba”–is for esteemed elders, such as your grandfather, or someone who has demonstrated advanced wisdom or responsibility.
“Gre” is just a nickname for Gregory. Put them together, and you get “Ni Gre” which translates roughly to “Junior-Mister Greg.”
I’ve been in touch with Gregory’s niece who lives in the US. She keeps referring to Gregory as “Ba Gre.” To my ears, it makes him sound just a bit too respectable. Does that mean I can’t give him shit in Pidgin anymore? I certainly hope not.