Interview: His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, Thoughts on Cameroon…

December 21, 2018

Even though a retired Clergy, Christian Cardinal Tumi remains very active in affairs that concern the social and political welfare of Cameroon. Whether  it is in the vehemence with which he castigates the current government and their laxity in carrying out developmental projects and sound policies or on his strong stance against the ill treatment of Cameroonian citizens, Cardinal Tumi has always been firm on his vision for a peaceful and prosperous Cameroon.

The Cameroon Achievers magazine team caught up with His Eminence to have his views on what Cameroonians should expect in the next seven years …

Cameroon Achievers Magazine (CAM):

After close to fifty years of serving in the capacity of clergy in this nation, how would you measure your output or the results of your service.

The Cardinal:

I was 32 years old when  Cameroon celebrated its Re-Unification, 36 when I was ordained Priest, and at the time, we fought for Re-Unification and I had one major concern: I asked my Bishop why they continued to send us to Nigeria to study when there is a major seminary in Yaounde?

The Bishop warned me by telling me the question I asked was political. I had no political inclinations at that time and my question was devoid of any political insinuations. All I wanted was to get the opportunity to study the French language so that I will feel at home everywhere I went to in Cameroon! I wanted to feel at home in Yaounde the same way I did when in Bamenda or Buea!

However, after studying in Nigeria, France and Switzerland where I got my Doctorate in Philosophy and Theology, I was appointed to open the major seminary in Bamenda. I served in Bamenda for six years after which I was appointed Bishop of Yagoua in the Extreme North. I spent three years in Yagoua, then moved to Garoua where I served for nine years.

It is in Garoua that I was ordained Cardinal and then transferred to Douala.

That in brief is how my journey has been so far. For us Christians, our primary mission is Evangelism and at the same time bringing Development in the areas and to the people we serve. That is why in Garoua, I built a hospital, a skills center for young people and a college. I did same here in Douala. I opened three colleges because I believe education is the root of all human and societal development not forgetting the two hospitals I opened here in Douala.

Apart from building structures to aid human development, I have influenced a number of state decisions in this country which turned out to be of so much good to Cameroonians. Just permit me to be discreet on this one. My service therefore, I will say is satisfactory to me, I don’t know about you or the general public, but I think I am satisfied and I am living a peaceful retirement, enjoying the fruits of my labour.

CAM: His Eminence, after working and travelling within and without our national territory, you surely have witnessed happenings here and there and I believe you have an extensive knowledge of the ‘Cameroonian Situation’.

What do you think we need as a nation to get to the level of an Emerging country…socio-politically and economically?

The Cardinal:

Socio-politically, I will say the first thing, the very first thing we need is Peace. Unfortunately in the country now, we got to a level where war which was once predictable is now imminent. War has never solved a problem, it will never do. When I hear of the destructions , inhumane treatment of poor citizens and killings of civilians in the North West and South West regions, I am deeply saddened. Believe me it will take us years to rebuild these cities.

We are talking of becoming an emerging nation by 2035, how will that happen when our cities are in ruins, companies that feed Cameroonians like PAMOL and CDC attacked and closed down!

You know, things in this country are done in just a haphazard manner. As an emerging nation a country must plan to safeguard its patrimony. But here is the case where we are destroying ours.

Peace is therefore very necessary to start with.

C.A.M. : H.E, Cameroon was so peaceful in the past, yet we did not feel the wave of development…

The Cardinal:

I think we were getting there, maybe it was slow, but we were moving. You see if there were no wars, you can imagine the billions that we have spent fighting Boko haram in the North and now in Anglophone Cameroon. Those billions would have been invested on roads and in infrastructure amongst others.

Look at us just missing out on a great opportunity like organizing the African Cup of Nations which would have brought billions into the tourism sector for example.

I really think this government should sit up.

C.A.M: The President elect Paul Biya was just sworn in a few weeks ago to head us for another Seven years as the constitution states.

What in your opinion do you think Cameroonians should expect in these seven years?

The Cadinal:

First of all the Head of State can not rule the nation given his age! His intelligence, energy and decision-making powers are downplayed because of his age. I am his age mate and on retirement, so I know what I am talking about.

However he must chose a team that will make up for all his weaknesses. A team ready to initialize and accomplish effectively well thought and well designed projects to build this nation.

I am really not fond of these ministers who sit just to wait for orders from the head of State, without which no project will be carried out! When Rome appoints a Bishop for example, Rome does not come to tell the Bishop what to do. They only get informed about projects carried on and results achieved!

So for the next seven Years, I think the ministers should really have this country in mind and at heart. They should surprise Cameroonians by delivering beyond expectations.

As concerns Cameroonians in a whole, everyone who is involved in developing this nation in  one way or the other should do it as perfectly well as possible. Those not involved, should get involved because it is not one man who builds a nation. The entire population does. Therefore everyone of us Cameroonians through whatever means we have must get involved in building this nation so that we all are happy to live here because you see, no other nationalists will come to build it for us.

C.A.M.: H.E you are one of the brains behind the organization of an All Anglophone Conference. How far have you gone with that?

Cardinal Tumi: That Project is still in works and since you decided to talk about that, I will like you to publish the questionnaire that is going around in the entire country seeking the opinion of all Cameroonians to express their views on what measures can be taken to curb the on-going crisis in the Anglophone region of Cameroon. Because mind you, every voice counts and deserves to be heard!

You may not agree with me, but this crisis affects every Cameroonian. I say every Cameroonian. Not even one is left out. Whether morally, spiritually, emotionally or physically this crisis has affected us all. It is therefore imperative that we seek ways and means to end this crisis once and for all but the government has asked us to wait because they keep thinking that every action posed by an Anglophone is a threat to their authority and I say NO! We are only in search for a lasting solution to the on-going crisis. There has been so much immoral behaviours in dealing with this situation and I can not sit down and watch this immorality perpetrating. Children have even been affected! What to do now? Is the question we should ask and answer, our children’s minds need to be purged of all such immoral behaviours but how do we do this? These are some of the questions we will answer during the conference.

We are hoping that this conference takes place during the first quarter of this year.

C.A.M: Do you think this conference is necessary? I ask this because according to Anglophones time for dialogue is long gone. A lot of damages has been caused and all what they want now is to separate from what they call ‘La Republique’.

Well, I am an Anglophone, but I do not think an ‘Ambazonia’ will be a good idea. Look at the strength of having a country with diverse cultures and people is unmeasurable. The riches that exist in us living together and benefiting from each other is immense.

I believe in a federal system of government… and what the President is fighting to implement since years ago which is decentralization is not far from Federalism.

If this system was implemented 20 years ago, when this system was first proposed, we would not be where we are today. Because Bamenda would have been a state on its own capable of solving their own affairs at a regional level. Likewise the ten other regions of the nation.

C.A.M. : His Eminence, the Cameroonian youth are in dire need for a change of system and structures in the country. They are clamouring for a system that will promote their activities whilst promoting the country. Young Cameroonians upon completion of their tertiary education, need financial as well as professional assistance to propel them and make their endeavours fruitful.

Cardinal Tumi:  First of all, I am one of those who believe that young people should be implicated and involved in the running of state affairs.

I think the President of this country should not be more than fifty years old and the ministers be in their forties. If not so, our country will not be modernized. We will not follow the pace of our international counterparts.

In this same regard, during the tripartite, I am one of those who proposed that the voting age of Cameroonians be 18.  Because I believe so much in the potentials of young people in this country.

I hope the concerned hear me out!! Involve the youth in the running of state affairs, they should be part of the decision-making bodies in this country.

C.A.M : Any other words you will like to add?

Cardinal Tumi: Well, I will like to call on all Cameroonians not to be weary in developing our nation. We were all born here, this nation belongs to us, let us not wait for any government, be it the one in power or the opposition. Let us as individuals, create ways by which we can make our country prosper. No matter how small our participation is it all counts.

Cleaning your yard and surroundings around you is a meaningful contribution to the beauty of Cameroon. Creating ideas and implementing them to advance our society is part of your own contribution to make the nation develop, building industries, companies and employing fellow Cameroonians is a great way of making our nation emerge. So I say and I insist especially to young Cameroonians, Do not relent, do not give up and most especially expect nothing from a government body but yourselves.