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Cameroon: Christian Cardinal Tumi 1930-2021

The deceased Archbishop Emeritus of Douala, Christian Cardinal Tumi will has begun his final journey on earth today and will be buried on Tuesday, April 20 at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.

The Archbishop Emeritus of Douala, Christian Cardinal Tumi passed away on Saturday, April 3 at the age of 90 after a brief illness, the Archbishop of Douala Samuel Kleda announced.

The entire nation got up to the sad news on Saturday morning after Christians had just celebrated Good Friday, a day they believed Jesus died on the cross to save the world.

In between Jesus’ death to his resurrection at Easter, they have born the additional pain of losing a pillar of the Roman Catholic Church in Cameroon.

At the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Douala, Christians throng in to the esplanade early on Saturday morning to confirm the news for themselves.

Consternation, tears, desperation for some while others pray the rosary to implore the heavens to welcome the departed prelate.

Cardinal Tumi’s Last Days

Though the news of his death came as a big shock to the entire nation, Christian Cardinal Tumi had been out of the public space in the past weeks after not feeling totally strong.

He was supposed to be the celebrant and the memorial and thanksgiving mass of his friend Professor Daniel Noni Lantum on March 13 but could not make it due to ill health.

He was last seen in public in the first week of March when the Nso community in Bonaberi, Douala honoured him with a traditional title-Shufaay wo Kintam– a title that honours his dedication to the cross.

Cardinal Tumi, The Peace Crusader

The traditional title conferred on Christian Cardinal Tumi for his dedication to the cross is just one of many distinctions that he received during his illustrious life on earth.

The fallen prelate was noted for his incessant quest for peace to reign at the micro level right up to the higher gears of national life; reason why he always gave a listening ear to all irrespective of affiliations.

“He worked hard for peace in Cameroon. In recent times, we have seen him invest a lot of energy for peace to return in the North West and South West Regions. I think the relative peace we have now in these two areas is because of his work. He was an apostle, an ambassador for peace,” Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya said of Cardinal Tumi.

Indeed, since the crisis in the North West and South West Regions broke out, he worked tirelessly to accompany government’s efforts to see peace restored in the troubled regions.

He waved aside threats to actively take part at the Major National Dialogue where he was the head of the reconstruction committee.

Immediately after the one-week dialogue wrapped up, Christian Cardinal Tumi did not waste time to get to serious work by bringing together men of God from all denominations to chart a means to assist and ensure the better implementation of the recovery plan that had just been put in place by the government and other partners. Despite his failing health, he was in Yaounde one year after the Major National Dialogue for the first follow up committee meeting where h gave an honest appraisal of the implementations of the recommendations of the Major National Dialogue.

A universally acclaimed figure, Christian Cardinal Tumi went the extra mile to always see that peace reigns in his community. It is for this reason that he took the commitment to accompany the Fon of Nso back to his community who had been itchy for his return. The journey back home led to Cardinal Tumi’s kidnap on November 5, 2020 in Ndop by armed gangs.

A moment of intimidation turned out to be a moment of truth as the prelate told his abductors to their face to drop their weapons and embrace the path to peace. He made his stance clear to his captors that he stood for a one, united and indivisible Cameroon where it sons and daughters can sit together and solve their problems and stressed weapons have never solved any problem.

“I spoke with some Amba boys and I told them I differ with them on two different points; ‘you are intolerant when somebody contradicts you. That is not a gentleman’s position, that is not an intellectual’s position. Secondly, take off your hands from schools and form your own political party, there is no other way you can come to power in Cameroon than through a political party,” the prelate said in an interview with state the broadcaster.

Life And Times Of Cardinal Tumi

Born on October 15, 1930 in Kikaikelaki, a village in the Nso clan, Bui Division, North West Region of Cameroon, Christian Cardinal Tumi grew up to become an accomplished prelate, national hero and the pride of an entire nation through an exemplary life built on truth, honesty, justice and commitment to God.

After his studies in Cameroon and Nigeria, he was ordained priest on April 17, 1966 at the age of 35 in Soppo, Diocese of Buea by Bishop Julie Joseph Willem Peeters.

From 1966 to 1967 he carried out his ministry as a parochial vicar at Fiango (Kumba). From 1967 to 1969 he taught at the Bishop Rogan College minor seminary. In 1973, after having studied abroad, he returned to his diocese and was named Rector of the major regional seminary of Bambui, archdiocese of Bamenda. He was also chaplain to the Catholic Women Association, and was very involved in promoting the ecumenical movement, obtaining much esteem by Presbyterians and Baptists.

President of the presbyteral diocesan council, on 6 December 1979 he was elected the first bishop of the diocese of Yagoua (at 49), erected the same day. He received episcopal ordination on 6 January 1980 in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope John Paul II as Principal Consecrator, with Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo (Titular Archbishop of Thagora) and Bishop Ferdinando Maggioni (Titular Bishop of Subaugusta) as Principal Co-Consecrators.

During his pastoral care, the local church of Yagoua developed rapidly, enriched with institutions and centers of formation, nursery schools and dispensaries.

He was elected on 23 April 1982 vice-president of the National Episcopal Conference, and on 19 November 1982 he was promoted to Coadjutor Archbishop of Garoua. On 17 March 1984 he was made Archbishop.

In 1985 he was elected as president of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (until 1991). He also served as president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), 1990-1994.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 28 June 1988 (at 57), of the Title of Ss. Martiri dell’Uganda a Poggio Ameno (Martyrs of Uganda at Poggio Ameno).

It is worth noting that he participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI. He served as the Archbishop of Douala, 31 August 1991-17 November 2009, when his resignation or retirement was granted by Pope Benedict XVI, at 79.

He was well versed in his native dialect, Lamnso, Pidgin and Hausa, Latin, English, and French. He also spoke some Italian.

 

Timeline

Name: Christian Wiyghansai Shaaghan Cardinal Tumi

Title: Archbishop Emeritus of Douala – Cameroon

Date of Birth: October 15, 1930 in Kikaikelaki

April 17, 1966: Ordained Priest

1973: Rector of the Major Regional Seminary of Bambui

January 6, 1980: Episcopal Ordination at Saints Peter and Paul Basilica by Pope John Paul II

1979-1982: Bishop of Yagoua

April 23, 1982: Elected Vice President of the National Episcopal Conference

November 19,  1982: Promoted Co-adjutor Archbishop of Garoua

March 17,  1984: Appointed Archbishop of Garoua

June 28, 1988: Created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II

1985-1991: President of the National Episcopal Conference

1990-1994: President of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar

August 31, 1991-Nov 17, 2009: Archbishop of Douala

April 3, 2021: Died in Douala


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