From Elizabeth BanyiTabi in Douala
Following the demise of Cameroon’s first Cardinal and former Archbishop of the Metropolitan Diocese of Douala, his Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, on Friday April 2, Pope Francis has addressed a letter of condolence to Archbishop of Douala, Samuel Kleda. In his letter, the Pope wrote “on learning of the death of our brother Cardinal Christian Tumi, I wish to express my condolence and my union in prayer with the College of Cardinals, the family and friends of the deceased as well as with all those who mourn him.
He also added that, Cardinal Tumi, “left an unforgettable mark on the sociopolitical life of Cameroonians”. Since the demise of the cardinal, tributes have been pouring in from religious, civil society, political and diplomatic leaders in Cameroon and beyond.
The Archbishop of Bamenda, Andrew Nkea, in his condolence message, described the man whom he called “Father” as ‘fearless Apostle, a pillar in the Catholic Church in Cameroon, a man of justice and truth and the Moses of our time’. On his part, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, NDI, described the fallen Cardinal as “an untouchable pillar of peace, justice and fairness, who cared for the common man and woman”.
John Fru Ndi, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, extended his sympathy to the Catholic Church following the death of Cardinal Tumi with a statement saying, “Cameroon has missed an opportunity to benefit from the knowledge of this prelate who selflessly proposed solutions to the ongoing Anglophone crisis”.
Cardinal Tumi was born on October 15, 1930 in Kikaikelaki village, Bui Division in the North West Region. He attended a local primary school in his community before leaving for further studies and subsequently joining the religious order of priesthood. He was ordained Priest on April 17, 1966. He served as Bishop in Yagoua, North region. Cardinal Tumi was later designated Archbishop of Douala. On June 28, 1988, Pope John Paul II appointed him Cameroon’s first Cardinal.
Cardinal Tumi went on retirement in 2009 and was replaced at the Douala metropolitan Archbishop by Samuel Kleda. Until his death, he had been very vocal on the need of an inclusive dialogue in solving the Anglophone crisis. He will be remembered amongst other legacies to have been the initiator of the all Anglophone General Conference, which, however, never took place.