By Emmanuel Verdzeka
Officials of the Shisong Catholic General Hospital confirmed her death on June 8 at about 8:30 pm following an illness. She was reportedly admitted to that hospital on May 14, 2015.
Mama La’aka, who celebrated her 117th anniversary last December in Kikaikelaki in the outskirts of Kumbo, was decorated on May 20, 2013 as Knight of the Cameroon Order of Merit.
Many, who were close to her, have described her as a gift to her community, a loving and generous mother, and someone with an elephant memory. “She used to tell us very good stories”, says Leonard who, some years ago, lived in Kikaikelaki.
There was relative calm and the atmosphere was serene, when L’Effort Camerounais visited Cardinal Tumi’s village, Kikaikelaki, on June 9. The villagers were talking in small groups and one could deduce that the village was mourning a mother and great storyteller, Yaa La’aka Tumi, fondly known as “Mami Cardi.”
In line with the African communal spirit, the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Bui, Theophile Nzeki and Kumbo Divisional Officer, Francis Kamto, paid a visit to the village and to her family. A few relatives were seen listening to the SDO’s condolence message.
The SDO told family members that Yaa La’aka was a blessing to the community and needs to be celebrated. He expressed the need for her to be given a befitting funeral and promised to help the family during this mourning period.
Shortly after the SDO’s visit, the deceased granddaughter, Henrietta Abongwa Keng shared her last moments and expressed gratitude to God for her life.
“Yaa’s death is very fulfilling. I don’t think any us will get to her age. She was a very caring woman and a symbol of unity. I am just short of words to explain what she meant to us”
Henrietta Abongwa remembers the stories she used to share with them and said the stories had life lessons for all. She added that Yaa Catherine’s generosity was boundless. “She offered everything she had to those who visited her.”
She explained Yaa Catherine La’akaTumi was very attached to the Holy Mary and murmured her name until the last minute. “She insisted that we should give her the Holy Rosary and we wrapped it around her arm”, Mrs. Keng narrated.
Yaa Catherine La’aka Tumi died at the Shisong Catholic General Hospital on June 8, 2015, at about the age of 117. Had she lived on, she would have celebrated her estimated 118 birthday this December. Mama Catherine La’aka Tumi was married to Pa Thomas Tumi of blessed memory. Three of her children are still alive.
Before, her death Mama Catherine enjoyed knitting, while telling stories to visitors. Her mortal remains are presently in the Shisong St. Elisabeth Catholic General Hospital Mortuary pending burial arrangements