Of all the Cameroonian chemists, I am number two. Professor Sondengam is number one in scientific work. I don’t put in much time in the lab. But where does my success come from?
I served Professor Landor. When I got my PhD, I could have started doing my own research. He said to me, “Stay in the domain in which we have worked. Because of you and I working together, your name will appear in very many more publications than it would have if you went on your own.” The first students I supervised were Mpango, Joe Mbafor, Nkengfack and Asobo. Of all that work, and all the publications, he was the senior author. The star went to his name. He has never seen some of the students. I got him to come here only to Joe’s defense. But I was the junior scientist as an Associate Professor. His name is on all the papers as the senior author.
In 1981, he told me, “Take off on your own now.” Then I got a mission and went to France, to seek God’s guidance on how to start Natural Products Research and how to branch out of the synthetic direction. And God has blessed enormously. Apart from Prof. Sondengam and I, nobody in the Department has fifty publications. Prof. Landor set me off. Cursed people do not know the power of the blessing of a father. They do not know the power of the blessing of a professional leader.
When I went to Britain on British Council Scholarship, I went right to Exeter just to thank him for what he had done for my career. He took me when I had just a Bsc. Listen, if you are a boss, you will not prevail, even though you are very gifted and very talented. That which leads to success is something beyond gifts and talents and work. That thing in the heart that makes a man forget himself and bury himself in another, for the success of another, in the service of another, is the secret of success. The one who says, “I want to start by being a chief, I don’t want to be a “chinda,” (servant)” will see things working against him. When the devil wants to destroy a man, he makes him full of himself, independent and disloyal.