Views sampled by Grace Ongey, Emmanuel Wirndzerem Verdzeka and Jude Abanseka
His Lordship Immanuel Bushu: Bishop of Buea
Cardinal Christian Tumi who has just retired has been and is a great church personality. He has served as a priest, a bishop, archbishop and now Cardinal. I have known him for many years and he is a man of very firm character. The year I went into the Major Seminary in Enugu, Nigeria, was the same year he finished at the Seminary. I was very impressed with the way he carried out his studies, his moral life and the support he has given to many.
Outside the priesthood, we were teachers in Bishop Rogan College, Soppo- Buea for sometime, before he went to study in Europe. When he came back, he was teaching at the Bambui Major Seminary for quite some years before he became the Bishop of Yagoua. All this while I was with him on and off and we were talking and doing things together. I still think he is a great church figure in Cameroon.
Though he is going on retirement he may still be doing things in the archdiocese. People like meeting him for help, but I do not think he will be able to take on the weight of things he is retiring from. He has already put in his best in serving the Catholic Church and humanity.
Sr. Jacqueline Atabong
I think Cardinal Tumi is an icon and a patriarch of the church not only in Cameroon but in Africa. As a first generation Cameroonian priest, he has lived his vocation to the full as he has been created a Cardinal, but he remains a very simple person despite his position. He is also a cardinal with a reputation which comes from his authority and moral rectitude. He is prayerful and that is where he gets his strength from. He also does what he says. Many people say things they never do. His doors are open to everybody at anytime. No protocol is needed to meet him. He goes where he wants and when he wants. He is courageous and speaks his mind. He is not prone to tribal feelings and works with everyone. He challenges when there is need to challenge and encourages when encouragement needs to be given.
HRH, Sehm Mbinglo I, Paramount Fon of Nso
I am very impressed with what Cardinal Tumi has done so far and I think he still has a lot to do. He has indeed made the Nso Man proud by doing many things, which I cannot enumerate here. Whenever we meet we discuss about religion and our people. I am proud to be working with bishops, priests, pastors, Imams and Alhadjis. I welcome the new Archbishop of Douala and bid farewell to the outgoing Archbishop, but that does not mean Cardinal Tumi should not continue assisting the new Archbishop.
Cardinal Tumi is leaving a lot behind. One day I visited someone in a bank who is not even a Catholic. The person was listening to Radio Veritas. I was surprised and asked her if she listens to Radio Veritas regularly. She told me this was one of the greatest things to have happened in Douala. She said I am not a Catholic but I listen to Radio Veritas constantly. So that is one of the Cardinal’s greatest legacies. I know he values the radio very much as an instrument of evangelisation. He is very proud of it and we all are. The radio is touching people who are not Catholics in very many ways. The person also told me, look around Douala and see the infrastructure that the Cardinal is leaving behind; hospitals, schools, colleges. He has touched just about everybody in Douala.
Back in 1994, I was working with an American company and occasionally stringing for other newspapers around town. One day I received a call and at the end of the line was Cardinal Tumi. I had not met him before. We had had a march for peace through the city of Douala. I was touched so I wrote something about it and about him. So when I got his call I was trembling. He said I have been reading what you have been writing and asked me what about working for the Catholic paper? By then L’Effort Camerounais had just been brought from Yaounde to Douala. He was looking for somebody to put English in L’Effort Camerounais. An organisation from Italy was re-launching the paper, which was practically dead and the Cardinal wanted it to be bilingual. He thought of me and called. From 1994 we have been working together till now and he has touched my life very profoundly. I practically was a non practicing Catholic up till 1993 when I joint the Cardinal for a march for peace throughout the city of Douala. Something touched me and I said I am coming back to the church. He said welcome and added, there is a lot of rejoicing in heaven when a soul repents more than the 99 who do not need repentance. He said, work for the newspaper. I know you can do it. I was not sure I could, but how do you say no to a bishop? We have been working together since 1994.
Hon. Michael Banseka, Former MP-Kumbo, Kikaikelaki
I admire the Cardinal because he is frank and honest. He does his work to the best of his ability. He is an example all priests and even the lay faithful should copy because he has remained steadfast in his vocation. There are lots of memories I shared with him during childhood like running from Kikaikelaki to Shisong during our days in the primary school. We usually trekked to Shisong and back. We had no shoes then. Now that he is retired, I want him to always keep in touch with us in KiKaikelaki, especially as his mother is still alive. He should equally continue to advise bishops and priests working with him.
Francis Wache: Executive Editor, The Post Newspaper
I had the privilege to be taught by Cardinal Christian Tumi. Therefore I knew him when he was not well known. At the time we already knew he was going to go very far because other reverend fathers told us that if there was any African Cameroonian Priest that they respected, it was Fr. Christian Tumi. So when he was made a Bishop, later Archbishop and then a Cardinal, I was not surprised. I had seen it coming.
I had a personal experience with him when he was the Archbishop in Garoua. I travelled from Buea to Garoua to interview him for Cameroon Life Magazine and we had a very exciting experience because as a principled person, he did not find it very reasonable that I had to travel from Buea to come and find out who he was. But interestingly, after I cleared the ground, we were able to talk for two good days.
I remember him as a very principled person. I think he has played a very critical role in giving a sense of focus and direction to the Catholic Church in Cameroon. He has also served as a role model for those who have decided to join the priesthood. Whatever way you look at it; he is somebody that we can count on. It is unfortunate that he is bowing out of the scene, but I am sure that he will continue to contribute in one way or another to giving a sense of direction, a sense of focus to people who still believe in him.