|Ta Nformi Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh|
It’s truly an honour and pleasure to be with you today here in Nkambe, Donga Mantung Division. I have been so touched by what I have lived through today. When my younger brother Fai Cassian, who has lost his name and he is now called The Eye, when he sent me the notification that I have been chosen by the jury to be the personality of the year, I was so moved. I was so moved because I didn’t expect that my own brothers and sisters were watching carefully what I have been trying to do within my community of birth, and also for my region, for our country and for my continent.
I was so touched that I responded and I said I will come. I don’t know whether The Eye was prepared for me to actually make the trip. Maybe he was hoping that I will respond and delegate someone to represent me. But I said no, I will drop everything that I have to do to come personally to Nkambe to receive this award. I decided that I will come myself because I believe in the same spirit that created The Eye, for Fai Cassian and his colleagues to do what they are doing. I believe in the spirit that promotes democratic tolerance that sends the strong message that we are all brothers and sisters, and we are all of our brother and our sister, Jesus.
· That we are part of the global community of democrats and a global community of human beings.
· That each and every one of us is born with some level of diversity but these diverse opinions should all contribute to make us a stronger people.
I decided to come to celebrate with you the 9th Anniversary of The Eye newspaper because I believe in freedom of the Press as one strong term of democratic governance. I believe giving the voice to the voiceless, allow people in the communities to tell their own stories so that they don’t wait by within difference as other people to tell their stories for them.
I decided to come because I believe in community development and I was struck and extremely impressed by the fact that The Eye and The Clean Community campaign was really touching to people at the grassroot levels, helping them learn new skills and new knowledge about things that can help them improve their lives. We have to empower ourselves to know that in this day and age, with multiple demands with the multiple demands on the shoulders of government around the world, the (public sector) governments can no longer provide all. It is incumbent upon us as citizens to also contribute our part because when we do so we also raise the power expectation of government. Because today the government can see give ourselves wheelbarrows, spades, hoes and cutlasses.
So if the government comes to us tomorrow, it shouldn’t come with wheelbarrows and cutlasses but it should come with caterpillars and trucks to keep helping us improve our wellbeing. You know a great French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about American democracy in a phenomenal document which continues to be read by scholars today. And one of his points of admiration of democracy in that old established democracy was the fact that people at the grassroot levels in small communities, in counties, villages and in cities are fully empowered to take their lives in their own hands and to take decisions that impact their lives on daily basis.
Decentralization is a big word but what I have seen today and what I have been told, and what you all are doing in the various palaces, villages, sub Divisions (Donga Mantung, Bui, Ngoketunjia, Menchum) and the rest of the Divisions across this region and this nation. What you are doing is giving meaning to this effort to allow citizens at the grassroots to make decisions that impact their lives on daily basis.
You know when I was coming here I didn’t know what His Royal Highness the Fon of Nkambe had in stock for me. I thought I was just coming, going to the palace to greet the fon to make sure that he is in good health but I have to tell you today is a memorable day in my life, one of the most memorable days in my life.
First of all, the Fon gave me a wonderful lesson of history in his very lifestyle. The fon told me about how he came to the throne in 1959 before many people in this room were born. And you can see that he has governed his people without acrimony. He epitomizes the best values of democratic governance you can ever have. The Fon told me about his days in the House of Chiefs where he sat with some of the notable fons of Moghamo ther parts of the North West and South West Region and reminded me that that institution was able to contribute for democracy in our nation. I learnt from the Fon about the efforts around the plebiscite which brought our country to oneness again after the pre-interim of the British rule after some people struggled to let Donga Mantung to vote on the other side. So I realized that I was in front of my traditional father, our traditional father but also in the presence of the monument of history.
His Royal Highness Thank You so for all you have done for the people of Donga Mantung. Thank You so much for all you have done for our nation, Cameroon and May the Good Lord Continue to bless you for decades and decades to come. Little did I know that His Royal Highness had another trick in his bag? You know with these traditional rulers, they are wiser than wisdom. And when you go to them be humble and I now feel that the next time Comfort Mussa and Jato Richard will introduce me, they have to treat me with a lot of respect. It is not because of those long essays but it is because of what His Royal Highness has done to me in bestowing in me the title of Ta Nformi Cameroon.
I can assure you that I take this very seriously. Thank You His Royal Highness, His Royal Highnesses from all the fondoms and Chiefdoms of this wonderful Division, the traditional leaders here present or represented, you that I will keep to your expectations. In fact this morning when I was talking with the Lord Mayor I reminded him that next time when I come into the city I will ask for the tea of the city. His Royal Highness has just made the task easier for me, now I will not need to ask, I will just send one of the notables to inform him that Ta Nformi Cameroon is coming. That is how we do it the traditional way. This is not going to be the first time, it is only the beginning. And you can count on The Fomunyoh Foundation to be by your side one step at a time and one step all the way.
Let me take this opportunity to thank our administrative Officers, the Senior Divisional officer, the 2nd Assistant Senior Divisional Officer and the Divisional Officer for Nkambe Central, who met me this morning and were very hospitable. All three officials who have taken time to spend all of this afternoon with all of us, their presence honoured me and their presence is a reminder that an administration that listens to its people, and that wine and dines and be by its people during good as well as during difficult moments is an administration that is formed to be able to deliver the public services that we all expect and enquire from our civil and public service.
I also want to assure them that in my work as the African Director at NDI, I am someone who sticks on African nations has always shown or highlight the realities that we face at the country but also the opportunities that lies ahead.
(Translation from Pidgin English below)
Let me also greet my mothers and fathers who have travelled from far off areas to be present here. That they should not look at the big grammar I am talking here. I am a country side child (country pikin). You have seen that our traditional rulers have truly confirmed that “I be country pikin”. When I greeted Fai Cassian’s mother, I felt the joy in her. I was glad to see how she was rejoicing for all the honours the son is having. When I arrived Bamenda, I told Fai Cassian that I would love to see the mother. And he told me his mother will come because she has always heard people talk about his son but doesn’t know what he is doing.
Mama, I thank you a lot. Mama, you have seen that your son is working for your family, but he is working for all of us, Donga Mantung, Cameroon and Africa. He makes us glad. What we have seen today is a big lesson to all the mothers present here today because to send your child to school is good. I know it is difficult to pay school fees but if you struggle, sell corn, beans etc to pay the school fees, after a year, two, three, they must be a time that he/she will be called up in a big ceremony like this one. You will be called up that Mami, this is your child and he/she has done great things for this country.
I thank you all for coming and that sooner or later you will be informed that Ta Nformi Cameroon is coming back home to greet his people.
“Make God Bless all Wena”
Ta Nformi Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh
Nkambe-August 31, 2015
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)