At only six months, his father died. At the age of 15, he lost his sight and attempted suicide. But God said no! Atangana Ntsama Charles Christol underwent rehabilitation and had reasons to live again when his sporting talents were detected and fine-tuned. Today, the native of Minlaba in the Centre Region is clinching coveted medals for Cameroon in major competitions for the visually impaired at home and abroad. At 25, the University of Yaounde I Sociology student is a glaring example to those who believe blindness is not a fatality.
STRIDES OF A BLIND ATHLETE
Unlike a fortunate few, Atan gana Ntsama Charles was not born with a silver spoon in the mouth. Somber happenings taught the native of Minlaba, near Mbalmayo in the Centre Region, how to scout and find better precious metals than silver. Six months after his birth on 22 September 1992 in Yaounde, his father died. With a housewife status, Bondi Atangana Marie- Madeleine, his mother, struggled to give her third child and lone son the affection he needed to grow.
Though jobless, Atangana Ntsama Charles’ mum hustled and with the assistance of close relations as well as donations from persons of goodwill, she progressively provided her son with quality education he can rely on for a better future. Unexpectedly, another misfortune hit in 2007. Aged only 15, “Atango”, as he is fondly called, went blind, following a rare eye disease. Considering that all was lost for him, he attempted to commit suicide. “I drank a bleaching agent (Eau de Javel).
But I was rushed to the Nkomo dispensary, where I was quickly take care of. God didn’t permit that I should die for he had better plans for me. Having recovered, I stayed home for close to three years without schooling,” Atangana Charles recalled vividly to “Nyanga” Magazine.
NEW SOURCE OF LIFE
On listening to the radio, he learnt of the existence of a rehabilitation centre for the blind (Club des Jeunes Aveugles Rehabilites du Cameroun, CJARC) in Yaounde. After being drilled on how to use braille materials and the white cane as well as in Goalball, team sports for the visually impaired, the disabled boy had reasons to live again. From Lycée Technique d’Ekounou, where he studied building, Atangana Charles switched to general education, obtaining the BEPC at Lycée de Mballa II. Probatoire and Baccalauréat certificates were bagged as an evening school student at Collège Frantz Fanon since he trained regularly during the day.
After being declared fit to play Goalball, he was also admitted into the national athletics team. And things were never the same again.
FROM HONOURS TO HONOURS
The doors of glory opened for the young athlete in 2008. During the Francophone Africa Games for persons living with disabilities (“Jeux de l'avenir pour personnes handicapées d'Afrique (Japhaf)”), he won gold in Goalball and clinched silver medals in the 100 and 200 metres races. In 2009, “Atango” emerged again champion in Goalball and secured bronze medals in 100 and 200 metres sprints during his unprecedented competition abroad, in Niger precisely.
On the local scene in 2011, Goalball fetched him gold while silver medals were won in sprinting. The athlete spent three years to prepare for international compe - titions, where Cameroon’s national anthem was sung repeatedly and the green, red, yellow flag was hoisted very high. The Lion roared during the 2015 Dubai Athletics Open Meetings, sweeping three gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400m race categories.
That same year, the bronze medal harvested at the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville qualified the “magic boy” for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. For technical reasons, unfortunately, the Mvog Manzé sprinter was not part of the expedition. Though injured at the 100m finals in Morocco, the Cameroonian brought home, in 2017, the vice champion title, an achievement that saw President Paul Biya decorate him Knight of the Order of Valour. 2018 was another year of fortune for the third year Sociology student of the University of Yaounde I.
He was on the honours roll once again in Faza and in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he respectively bagged one silver (100m) and two goal medals (in the 100m and 200m athletic disciplines).
Prize moneys from these feats have been used by the 25-year-old to sponsor himself at the University, to look after his aging blind mother, to buy a plot on which he dreams to build a house and to run an income generating activity. Atango’s fervent vision, nowadays, is not to abscond like was the case with some athletes during the recent Common - wealth Games. It is rather to be African, Olympic Games and World champions in futur.
“My motive is not only to give more visibility to my country, but also to tell the world that being blind is not a fatality. I want to be that example,” the Real Madrid fan said. For this dream to come true, he trains, under the supervision of a coach and guide, on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Yaounde Omnisport stadium and Mateco Sports Complex after varsity lessons. To replace lost calories after such sessions, “Atango” will gladly welcome “Okok” and boiled cassava on the table.
Once in a while, he will not turn down a bottle of “33” Export. Like every man, he equally dreams of getting married and having kids. With God, he intimated, all dreams are possible.