These songs are a true story of an African child discovering the world. Living and traveling from his native Cameroon via four continents to the United States. Discovering the world while growing to an adult.
The songs are speaking about love : "Na Tondi", about African traditions : "Kaba N'Gondo", about human tribulations : "Wase" written by my mother, and about orphans : "A Te"
Elephant - An African Tale : The story
Little Sombol goes to school, by foot, walking through the Savannah each and every day. One day something unusual happens that grabs his attention and diverts him from his daily path. It's an entrancing sound... breathing... in... out... A powerful breath, one that draws him... draws him... As Sombol turns he finds himself face to face with an Elephant! Paralised by fear and reverence, the boy stands motionless as the elephant scans his face with it's trunk.
The boy feels something Great come over him & in one moment, finds himself falling into the same rhythm of breathing, finds himself feeling the power of each breath, finds himself being overcome by the understanding of this awesome creature... The spirit of this magnificent elephant permiates his being... He goes unconscious. Hours pass, fear settles into the hearts & minds of those who realize the boy is missing. That evening a team sent out to look for the boy finds him wondering and alone. While recovering this exhausted and frail child, a chill goes through them as the sound of that rhythmic breathing pounds in the distance...
This is the evening of a grand annual celebration "The Ngondo" of the Duala people, an evening of celebrating mythological warriors, legends, traditions and the pride of the coastal people! Passions and emotions run high. During this event the news of Sombol's safe return in combination with these monumental festivities forces Sombol's father (a wealthy and important man) into a fierce and emotional dance. Using his mind, body and spirit Sombol's father is transported to a place beyond himself. He collapses & breaths his last earthly breath.
Encompassing the fathers corps is Sombol's family... Mourning... crying out from a deep place hidden within them. Tears are streaming down their brown sullen faces. Women are wailing, men... speechless. The realization of loss and separation from there "leader" the one clearing the path, through this life's journey, the one they have trusted, loved and depended on... What now?... What now?...
In days to come the support of family, the village and those they shared joys and hardships with, take a swift and sobering turn. With nothing to offer anyone, (a very different situation than before) people begin pulling away from this once beloved, and regarded family. Mama finds herself alone... separated from her confidant, her stability, and looking into the faces of her precious children, who now look to her for their existence. What now?... What now?...
Mama must dry her tears and be strong, becoming the new leader of this family she discides to venture out to a place she had only dreamed of, a place that had been described as extraordinary, blissful, generous. This is where she would ensure the bright and hopeful futures of her 4 children. (the children that would one day rise up and BLESS her!) You see, an Elephant can have every obstacle put in his way, but his spirit will always triumph! He will always find his way.
In the same way Sombol began his journey to a new land with every obstacle pressing at his heels, he had determined to press on, fulfilling his purpose and ensuring the blessing that his mother so deserved. As the boat carrying them to this distant land reached the port, Sombol studies the moon and stars that are reflected on the surface of the water. In the full moon, the silhouette of the elephant appears. It trudges forth with confidence, as Sombol begins to breath that familiar rhythm that reminds him that he is not alone in his destiny.
Upon arrival the family finds a humble living quarter in a lively and artistic area of this Harbor city. Sombol is drawn nightly to the streets of his neighborhood, to this inspirational pocket of Jazz, Flamingo, Folk and other colorful expressions of music and life! The experience nourishes his soul, he finds himself "at home" in this place. With his voice and his guitar, finds that he too can be part of something grander!
On the other hand is Sombol's daily routine: going to school, harassed by police, mocked by relentless school children and even looked at by distrusting shopkeepers... The life of a foreigner displaced by circumstance is not only difficult, but can lay heavily on one's being. People everywhere attempt to crush the spirit of others, but with the breath of the Elephant pulsating inside him, Sombol has a peace that allows him to soar above all circumstance in the knowledge that he will become a victor! In the face of adversity, optimism overcomes him. The Elephant begins to surface...
Some years later, one winter day (snow falling) Sombol is feeling stifled, trapped. Irritated by hypocrisy and daily demonstrations of hate, his music has become his only refuge. He knows that the only way he can escape this imprisonment is to speak with the voice of melodies and passion. (even if it's only in the dim corner of the little jazz club down the street) While playing there, Sombol began to open his soul.
The superficial chit-chat of pretentious businessmen and there mistresses, became hushed, the clinking of glasses ceased and the artist reviling in his own pain was put on hold for a few moments. As they were all entranced by the talent and interpretive skills of this young village boy from the coast of Cameroon. The people began to encompass his piano, but this time the circle was not one of mourning and dispare, but one of hope and confidence in a time of tribulation. Though this experience was so satisfying to Sombol, something was still missing...
After working through some tough semesters and the daily grind of education, Sombol finds himself back in his jazz club, having a voice, having an outlet for all the feelings inside him. This night would be different though.
A young, woman with a striking demeanor enters the club. She can not help but focuses in on him. His voice is like breath on her neck, his talent awakens her senses and she is drawn into him by every movement of his expression. He sees her, he sings, so many things are felt between Sombol and this beauty. For the first time Sombol feels as if the whole world has vanished and the two of them are together, alone. Sombol realizes, "SHE" is what he has been longing for...
Timba So Ndje
In a place so close to Sombol's heart, a place that has played key parts in shaping who he has become, Sombol and his fiancee are faced with riots, marches, political vomit, distasteful and elaborate shows put on by extremists that has brought them to a decisions to leave their flat, and temporal things behind and begin again, somewhere else in the great unknown.
Once again Sombol finds himself leaving what is familiar to pursue something that is calling him. This time he is in charge of the decision. This time he is the leader of this new endeavor, but he is not the only one looking to find a happy ending.
As they enter into this new land, he is haunted by stories of those with similar dreams, dreams of survival, dreams of flourishing, expressing themselves and LIVING! Sadly many of these dreamers unlike Sombol, have had their lives cut short by crossing forbidden boarders, hidden in cargo, suspended under over-hangings. Sombol hears these stories and cannot help but visualize the animals of the Savannah running in chaos and desperation to escape the wildfires, leaving with nothing but their own lives. Once again with the spirit of the Elephant living inside him, Sombol moves forward untouched by the fire that stung and burned so many in it's path.
Time has passed Sombol and his wife have loved, lived through fire and created a child durring their journey. They have now settled in, living and thriving. They have acclimated once again to a new way. a new people. Like those around them they have learned to work hard and play hard. This day was set aside for playing, enjoying.
Sombol and his wife take their child to the New York Zoo. Sombol realizes, not only does this place offer a time of family bonding, laughter and conversation, but much of this experience will resinate with the imprint of the land he once called home; Africa! Sombol enjoyed watching monkeys swing from branch to branch, the birds tweet melodies as colorful as their feathers and the giraffes stretch their long necks to gather leaves to satisfy their hunger. Nothing however, would prepare him for the realization that his son would in moments come face to face with a creature that had so srongly carried him through his life's journey.
Approaching the fence Ntohol (Sombol's son) gripped the wire of the fence as the Elephant slowly and confidently approached. Sombol leaned forward and whispered: don't move Ntohol, close your eyes and take it in. Feel the rhythm of his breath... Ntohol did just that. The Elephant took his trunk and softly ran it over ntohol's little brown hand. After opening his eyes, the boy was never the same...
Sombol had become a success and in the process, honored his culture, and represented "Africa" (One World) to so many who knew nothing but stories of poverty and desperation from a people who have such a richness and wisdom to offer. This voice that had over years given people hope, perspective and life has honored and blesses "Mama" She is now a Queen in her own land and Sombol is her crown!
Some years later, Ntohol has become a Doctor. He goes back to the homeland of his father and leads a group of young minds out to the Savannah to study wildlife and nature. Through studies and observations of instinct and interaction, Ntohol begins to deliver a lecture to the students who hang on each word, respecting the African roots of their teacher, mentor and friend. Midway through Ntohol is distracted by an Elephant in the distance. So familiar, so strong and wise... The Elephant stands still, looks in the direction of the warm Savannah sunrise and Ntohol pauses for a moment to "connect"... He looks in the same direction as the Elephant. Looking to the Future...