By Kesah Princely & Regis Che, In Buea
The Communication Director of the Bamenda Archdiocese cum National Director of Catholic Communication in Cameroon, Rev. Fr. Humphrey Tatah Mbuy says Professor Bernard Fonlon would have died of shock if he lived to see the upheavals which have befallen Cameroon today.
In an exclusive interview with TWIF NEWS on August 26 which coincided with the 33rd anniversary of Professor Bernard Nsokika Fonlon’s demise, the outspoken Father Tatah Mbuy insinuated that the Anglophone armed conflict could have been avoided if his teachings were adhered by the regime in power.
“Those of his [Fonlon’s] classmates, most of whom are Ministers, people I thought were with him and believed in Fonlonism, have completely betrayed him. They do not act the way he did because Fonlon is contrary to what we find today,” he said.
Rev. Mbuy stressed that the humble professor would have prided patriotism over self aggrandizement.
“A patriot to Fonlon is one who loves his country to a point where he is ready to shed his blood, not
one who would strangulate that country and siphon everything out of it.”
According to Fonlon, Father said, “everybody who was given authority, was given the power to serve, ‘to serve,'” he emphasized, and “not to lord it [power] on the people.”
The late iconic and revered professor is remembered to have sided with Plato, intimating that an ideal leader ought to be a “philosopher king” who knows and does what is right; a virtue which the Bamenda based Roman Catholic priest, critical thinker and writer, Rev. Humphrey Tatah Mbuy revealed, Cameroonian leaders are void of.
“I am sure that if Fonlon were alive today, he would have either died of shock or would have written such a terrible piece against his own people that I don’t think any of them would have been able to stand it; what obtains today is the direct opposite of Fonlon’s philosophy, even in the academia,” he decried.
Being a mentee of Professor Fonlon,
Rev. Tatah Mbuy admited that Fonlon is alive because his legacy still has a tremendous impact on contemporary society.
Who Actually Is Bernard Nsokika Fonlon?
Bernard Fonlon was born in Kumbo, Bui Division of Cameroon’s North West on November 19, 1924.
After his primary education, Fonlon moved to Nigeria where he attended Christ the King College.
The young man would move to the Bigard Memorial Seminary, hoping to become a reverend father.
Upon graduation from the Bigard Memorial Seminary, he returned to Cameroon where he served as teacher at Saint Joseph’s College Sasse.
Anxious to move to the top of the academic ladder, Fonlon traveled abroad and attended renowned learning institutions such the National University of Ireland, Cork, Sorbonne, and Oxford University where he earned degrees, specialising in Literature.
Dr. Bernard Fonlon contributed enormously in the persuit of knowledge through several literary publications and paper presentations, especially while as a Don in the University of Yaounde.
According to him, a good university must have a library, a bookshop and a research centre.
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He intimated that the worth of education can only be measured by how truthful and good a learned mind is.
In one of his most revered art works titled “Genuine Intellectuals” where he outlines the social responsibility of African universities, the late scholar said, “if a man was so learned that he could square a second, if he was so educated that his degrees took off half the letters of the alphabet, if he were so eloquent that he could speak all the languages of the world, but if such a person were not capable of knowing the truth, defending the truth and standing by that moral truth, he remains an ignoramus.”
The excellent academic records of the renowned professor would later prompt Cameroon’s current Secondary Education Minister, Professor Nalova Lyonga to describe him as “the Socrates of Cameroon.”
Not long after the Reunification of Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun in 1961, Professor Bernard Fonlon translated the National anthem from French to English.
Besides serving his country as Minister of Transport, Public Health and Social Affairs, Professor Bernard Fonlon taught Literature in the University of Yaoundé from 1971 till 1984 when he retired.
In May 1986, he travelled to Canada where he was expected to receive a Doctorate in Literature from the University of Guelph.
In August that year, Professor Fonlone took ill and died in a Canadian hospital at the age of 61.
His mortal remains were conveyed to Cameroon and were buried at the Saint Theresa Cathedral in his native land Kumbo.
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