Father Gerald Jumbam from Kumbo Diocese continues his sermon to Bishop Kleda. It reads
If situations were still as they used to be (by bishops not being able to be taken to court in the face of a pernicious silence demonstrated by their brother bishops), I would not hold my pen to write you and I would not have the heart to write this letter to so high an authority as you. Your public silence on the matter of the Bishops of our Church Province being taken to court has provoked this letter from a priest of the Church you belong. We are not unmindful of the history of La Republique du Cameroun when it concerns bishops betraying bishops. In fact, if those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, the Christian who is ignorant of what role the Cameroon Church has played in the governing of Cameroon is even less fortunate. And the metaphor of Bishop Albert Ndongmo‟s life is the one great example. Albert Ndongmo was Bishop of Nkongsamba, born to a Christian family of La Republique du Cameroun. His statements on political subjects earned him the hostility of others in the Church as well as of the government. But the best statement about the life of this Oscar Romero of Africa came from the pen of none other than the revered Albert Womah Mukong:
Bishop Ndongmo understood those fellows and treated them as they deserved…A lot of rubbish was spread round about him then girls whom he had helped were brought there as his collaborators in crime. They were declared his girl-friends and even dirty pictures of him and one Marie Bella were produced which a criminally minded and gullible audience accepted without asking this simple question: how many respectable people in the community would ever degenerate to taking photographs of this act, how much more a highly respectable member of the clergy? Perhaps his brother, Bishop Jean Zoa, believed in those things, for neither in the BMM nor in the Tchollire days did he ever visit his brother nor did he send him any material or financial help.
The comment above about Bishop Jean Zoa puts me in pain, so much pain because it is Albert Mukong recounting this story in a book and not just an essay. Albert Mukong is a respectable man in our parts of the world, and if you count three most highly regarded human right activists in our country he must fall among them. Consequently, there is truth in Mukong‟s Zoa-Ndongmo story above. The story above tells us how the bishops allowed their brother into the hands of the ruthless political psychopath that was Amadou Ahidjo. It is a story of backstabbing and betrayal among religious leaders.
That is why I say perhaps the Bishop Jean Zoa cooperation with the Ammadu Ahidjo tyranny against his fellow brother Bishop Albert Ndongmo (recorded in the book abovementioned) is a powerful metaphor of what is happening in the Cameroon episcopate today. “Shweri yii shaa baa yen kinyi ke ngwev” as the Nso would advise you in our rich language. The wind has blown away the feathers to expose the anus of the fowl. The Ndongmo-Zoa story is a mesmerizing eye-opener, a revelation and the wind that did blow to remind me and any other clergyman under affliction in our country that you will suffer alone when trouble comes. When the Bishops of La Republique rejected and abandoned their brother Bishop Ndongmo into the hands of tyrant Amadou Ahidjo, was it not our Bishops of Southern Cameroons through the instrumentality of Mgr. Peeters that consoled Ndongmo and stood by him and even got a lawyer for him from the Southern Cameroons? So I expected from you the Bishop of East Cameroon this time to do to the Bishops of West Cameroon what Mgr. Peeters in a Christlike fashion did to Albert Ndongmo of East Cameroon . But recently you have failed us woefully.
To be continued
By Fr. Gerald Jumbam
Kumbo Diocese, Southern Cameroons