By Jude Abanseka
The Catholic University of Cameroon, CATUC, Bamenda was the first higher institute west of the Mongo to send off the first holders of the Masters in Business Administration, MBA, on Friday December 5, 2014 during its Second Convocation.
A similar ceremony equally took place at the state owned University of Bamenda, UBa. CATUC’s event opened with a Pontifical Mass in the Mankon Metropolitan Cathedral with Archbishop Cornelius Esua as main celebrant and Bishops George Nkuo and Andrew Nkea and 12 priests as concelebrants.
In a homily that had as theme: “Start off now but remember I am sending you out like lambs among wolves,” Mgr. Andrew Nkea of Mamfe gave some pertinent pieces of advice to the CATUC graduates on how to model their lives when they leave CATUC. The Bishop asked the students to be mindful that they are graduating when other institutions of higher learning are also graduating students and so they should prepare to face a stiff competition.
He, however, added that they should be different because they are CATUC graduates and “so should be as cunning as serpents yet as simple as doves.” In line with Pope Francis’ call, Bishop Nkea admonished the graduates to shun the economy of exclusion and let the service of the human person be their priority. He said while he wishes that the CATUC alumni be rich and prosperous, he does not wish that they should be money worshippers. He asked them to conquer the world if they can, but should never replace God with money. “A banking and finance CATUC graduate should not be sent to jail one day because of bank fraud nor should a philosophy graduate start teaching that religion is the opium of the people.”
He stressed that one of the marks of a genuine intellectual is the use of reason and not muscles. “Society therefore does not expect to see CATUC graduates inciting violence or throwing stones and burning down places. And if one day they become parliamentarians, they should not turn parliament into a boxing arena,” he told the graduates.
The graduation ceremony continued in the CATUC campus and involved 131 students out of 171 initially admitted three or four years back. The Schools of Engineering and Tropical Agriculture and Natural Sciences which offer four-year professional courses were graduating their pioneer batches. Students also graduated from the faculties of Sciences, Business and Management Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences. The greatest number of graduates was from the Faculty of Management Sciences which also graduated its pioneer MBA batch. Seven students; six from the School of Engineering and one from the Department of Banking and Finance, had already secured jobs even before they graduated.
CATUC Vice Chancellor Rev. Fr. Michael Suh Niba thanked the University of Buea UB for mentoring CATUC since its foundation and also demanded CATUC’s independence. The Chancellor, Archbishop Cornelius Esua, lashed out that bribery and not merit is the criterion for employment in Cameroon today and urged CATUC graduates to make a difference.
Prizes were awarded to meritorious graduates. Christine Alphonsine Mbone Ateba of the History Department received the overall best graduating student prize. Tankwa Abonwi Chena’a was the overall best MBA graduate.
In an academic discourse that followed the prize award ceremony, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, Jeff Good, the guest speaker, said though young, CATUC is already a vital part of Cameroon's research and teaching environment. Dr. Jeff Good, who was on his tenth visit to Cameroon, dwelt on Cameroon’s amazing linguistic diversity and its advantages. He said according to an Ethnologue, Cameroon is the most linguistically diverse country in Africa. He added that by this same measure, Cameroon is the third most linguistically diverse country in the world after Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
He added that if a country's wealth were to be measured by the languages spoken, then Cameroon would have been one of the richest. Research has also proven that the Grassfields is one of the most linguistically diverse parts of the world, he noted.
The academic discourse illustrated the positive impact of multilingualism especially individual multilingualism because, as Fr. Jeff Good said, after extensive research he has dismissed certain misleading notions about being multilingual. For instance, Jeff Good said he once saw linguistic diversity as a barrier to communication until he found out that these barriers disappear when one chooses to be multilingual. He therefore sees multilingualism as the ability to develop a set of strategies to communicate in any setting and in any language rather than merely being able to speak a fixed set of languages.
On behalf of the graduating students, Mbone Ateba Christine Alphonsine delivered the valedictory speech in which she said they will not forget the years spent in CATUC. She noted that studies had been very challenging and urged her fellow graduates to keep the CATUC flame alive and work together to build a better Cameroon.