Christian Cardinal Wiyghan Tumi, Archbishop Emeritus of Douala in Cameroon, died on April 3 at the age of 91. Cardinal Tumi will be highly remembered for his restless battles for peace and as a big epitome of Inculturation. let’s look at Early life of Cardinal Tumi
In 2009, Cardinal Tumi’s Mother: Ma Catherine Lahka celebrated her 107th anniversary on earth and when Cameroon Panorama’s Emmanuel Wirndzerem Verdzeka, caught up with her she spoke about her marriage life and early life of Cardinal Tumi her beloved son.
Mama. We will first of all like to know a bit about your family.
As you already know, I am called Catherine Lahka. My husband, Thomas Tumi is of late. Our marriage was blessed with seven children, four of whom are of late. Christian Tumi is one of those still alive. He was actually put to birth here in Kikaikelaki. When his late father left for Jos in Nigeria, he instructed me to hand him and the other boy to a friend, Pa John Mengla and her wife, Casilia Nsam. At that time we trekked to Nigeria and I must tell you, Jos was still a remote area. My husband got a job there and was paid five shillings per month. It is such a long history, which we may not go through within a short span of time.
How did the Cardinal come to join the priesthood and was it easy for you to accept this?
One day, he just told us he wanted to be a priest. We could not do otherwise. We gave all to God and I told myself “God if this is your will, let it be done”. It was first and foremost his choice not mine. If my opinion was sought, I will still have given him the go ahead to freely choose the path he wanted to follow in life. Back in Ibadan in Nigeria many Moslem women asked him if he was not going to get married. Today, he is married to Christ and the Church. I understood the Priesthood from that of the Fr Paul Verdzekov, whose mother was totally against his being a priest, since he was the only son. When the mother died he finally followed his heart and today he is Archbishop Emeritus, of Bamenda. It is unfortunate his mother did not witness his priestly ordination.
It is also of interest for our readers to know, if as a child the Cardinal was already making signals which could tell you of his intentions to be a priest?
The Cardinal was never heady in his childhood. I appreciate those who assisted us to bring him up while we were away in Nigeria. All of us did a wonderful job to bring him up.
Many good things have been said about the Cardinal. Are you in any way proud of him?
It is not for me to say I am proud of him or not. It is often said that no one can see his back. So, I think the public he has been serving can better appreciate him.
Many families today see the priesthood as a means of stepping out of poverty. What about your case?
My son gave himself wholly to God and the Church. I don’t expect anything from him. What do you think I even need at my age?
What will you say of present day priests?
I might not be able to make any judgment. I know very little about priests of today. I know of priests of the generation of Fr Paul Verdzekov and Fr Clement Ndze. They are good priests. Things might be different today, but my advice is that priests should be more responsible and committed to their service. The church is now in the hands of young people, who are doing things differently from what we had several years ago.
Do you have a special message for your son, the new archbishop of Douala and the Christians?
I can only advice the Cardinal to continue his good works. I also wish to send special greetings to the new archbishop and the Christians of Douala. They have shown the cardinal love and assisted him in his pastoral work.