Good Shepherds lay Life for Flock
Times like this are dangerous times. Times when our future is decide by a clay footed political clique that has bastardized the fortunes of the British Cameroons to a shambolic muddle. Sacred altars have been desecrated. For if we are to score the Church leadership performance in these times, it will be clear to all that the tail has been wagging the dog. In moral and spiritual terms, much has been given to religious leadership, and much is expect of her. That is why the tenacity and integrity that Christian giants like Cardinal Christian Tumi and Cardinal Albert Malula, Mgr. Oscar Romero and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have mustered in the world, take us back to the visionary words of President John F. Kennedy: Of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment of each of us…recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state…our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answer to four questions: Were we truly men of courage… Were we truly men of judgment… Were we truly men of integrity… Were we truly men of dedication
With the towering paradigm of Pope Francis in recent times, the world correctly recognizes that Christianity has the potential to lead the way as champion of mores and faith. Perhaps it would be much truer in the Cameroon context. However, the current Catholic national leadership certainly has not lived up to its possibilities, for the most part because the majority of its bishops have been intimidated into silence and inactivity. A Bayangi proverb goes that, “a man who cannot challenge what is wrong is not better than a corpse”. We are living in times where our political and spiritual shepherds have been found wanting in challenging falsehood, and therefore Cameroon has turned in to a graveyard, a cemetery of silence in the face of blatant half-truths, divide-and-rule tactics, flagrant disrespect of human rights, mass abductions and killings. The National Episcopal Council (NEC) has been silent because it concerns the British Cameroons. Though it is disgraceful, we thank them. We thank them for the powerful memento sent to the world that there are two countries in this country. It reminds us of the evil of silence before evil.
We know very well that when the National Episcopal Council (NECC) speaks out, it is listened to by the political powers in Cameroon. When tinged by the inspiration and endorsement of Cardinal Christian Tumi in 2000, the NECC spoke against the canker warm of bribery and corruption. The whole world listened and the government of Cameroon adjusted. Those were prophetic times for the clergy. Spiritual leaders the world over are always pace-setters; their intervention on socio-political disasters has always been prototypical, precisely because it sets the tyrants quaking. With the retirement and deaths among your circles, of names like Ndongmo, Tumi, Etoga, Wouking, Verdzekov, Awah, the national Episcopal Council all this while has been a sleeping bag. Today, NEC has been a fiasco, if we must speak the truth.
Cameroon should be courageous to accept they are flawed and stop blaming France or Britain. The Bribery and corruption that we have been African champions for more than a decade, is selfinflicted. Bribery and corruption are a moral and spiritual problem. And therefore the moral and spiritual authorities are to blame. If the Church truly cared for its members, the problem will not be happening every now and then. And the oppressed people of British Cameroons are undergoing something of a genocide now because the National Episcopal Council (NEC) is on holidays, and the world knows that too well.
We know what the bishops of the British Cameroons have gone through from the national episcopacy because they kicked up the storm in the daring letter they wrote (despite earlier hesitations) not because they were hoping the leadership of NEC would notice, but precisely because they knew that with the 2016-2017 NEC leadership in charge, every raped, maimed and unjustly imprisoned British Cameroonian might as well add NEC to their laundry list of Do-ItYourself. The bishops of the British Cameroons came up with another communiqué by the very to the effect that they have not closed down their schools and that they are waiting for the Catholic pupils and students to return to school. But right up till now, the pupils and students have not returned, meaning that the parents have lost faith in the Church‟s hierarchy. It is precisely because the Cameroon National Church lacks the courage to support what is right that people are going their own sweet ways. Is it asking too much from Church leaders to say good shepherds must lay life for flock?
To be continued
By Father Gerald Jumbam
Kumbo Diocese, Southern Cameroons