By Yerima Kini Nsom, Nformi Sonde Kinsai & Chris Mbunwe
Various speakers at the funeral of former Minister, Diplomat, Senator and Statesman, Hon. Bochong Francis Nkwain, were unanimous that although he is dead, he lives on in his legacy as a great achiever.
Senator Francis Nkwain who died last October 19, was honoured with an official burial in which the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, represented the President of the Republic, at Njinikom, Boyo Division of the Northwest Region on Saturday, November 15.
In a condolence message delivered by the Senior Divisional for Boyo, Joseph Oum II, President Paul Biya described the late Senator as a towering patriot. To him, Bochong Nkwain’s demise was a great loss not only to Boyo Division and the Northwest Region, but to the entire nation.
Speaking earlier, on behalf of the Senate President, Senator Peter Mafany Musonge described late Bochong as a patriot full of wealth of experience from various backgrounds.
While regretting his sudden exit, Musonge said Francis Nkwain, who President Biya appointed in 2013 was Senator only for 17 months. Before his death, Nkwain was calling the shots at the Senate as the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee due to his diplomatic background. The Senate has lost a man of honour and experience, a teacher, diplomat and politician, Musonge wept.
The Secretary General of the ruling CPDM party who led an eleven-man Central Committee delegation to the funeral, said, Senator Nkwain’s death left them in total shock and disbelief. His death, he went on, shocked the entire nation. He said the late Senator lives on in his memory as the owner of very high, resounding and self-imposing voice. He recalled that each time Nkwain spoke; people listened attentively so as to enjoy his baritone and the wisdom that came out of it. He said Nkwain’s voice was always at the service of humanity. To the CPDM boss, Nkwain was a paragon of virtues that earned the confidence of President Biya who appointed him to serve the nation in various capacities. He said Nkwain was the Discipline Master of the CPDM because he was a gentleman who respected time and decorum. Nkuete said he was still seeing Nkwain with his mind’s eyes, not only as a celebrated orator but also as an attentive listener. He called on the Northwest to emulate Nkwain’s ambitions so as to forge ahead unity and development.
On behalf of the bereaved family, one of the sons-in-law of the deceased, Victor Arrey Mengot, thanked mourners for coming to celebrate the life of a man who enjoyed his full circle of existence. Arrey Mengot, who is the Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency of the Republic, said, although many people had come to help asuage the burden of their grief, they should rather wear happy faces because their father lived a full life.
“He lived an accomplished life as teacher, diplomat and politician. We celebrate his achievements; we crave your indulgence not to put on sad faces. Be happy because we are celebrating his life,” Mengot said.
A High Mass was led by the Auxiliary Bishop of the Bamenda Archdiocese, Mgr. Agapitus Nfon as the chief celebrant at the St. Anthony’s Catholic Chuch Njinikom.
In a moving sermon, the Bishop of Kumbo, Mgr. George Nkuo, thanked God for the wonderful life Bochong Francis Nkwain had on earth. His death, he said, gave mourners an opportunity to confront the realities of life. He described Nkwain as a patriot who has served Cameroon with hounour and distinction. To him, he was a dedicated Catholic Christian and a man of faith. He said Nkwain tried hard to marry his Christian faith and politics to achieve perfect harmony. He enjoined Christian politicians to be exemplary in such ways that no act of theirs runs counter to their Christian faith. The Bishop said, Nkwain who was appointed to various positions due to his hard work, had pledged always listen to his conscience.
He said throughout his entire 84 years, Nkwain was a virtuous character but not a Saint. It was for this reason that he called on those who disagreed with him to pray for the repose of his soul. He said, God made people to love, serve him and to be happy with him in Heaven. He cautioned Christians against misconstruing the meaning of life. Quoting one preacher in Nigeria, the Bishop regretted that politics has become a dark temple where money and power are the order of the day. He said in such a dark temple only members of the assembly of greed are appointed.
Beginning Of The End
Senator Nkwain’s journey to his final resting place began in Yaounde with the removal of his remains from the Yaounde General Hospital mortuary, on November 13 and a Requiem Mass celebrated at the Mary Queen of the Apostles Major Basilica in Mvolye, Yaounde, in his honour.
Mgr. Sosthene Leopold Bayemi Matjei stated that Senator Bochong Francis Nkwain will be remembered as one of the few Cameroonians who demonstrated commitment and conviction when Cameroon was going through numerous trying moments.
Mgr. Bayemi, who was assisted by a college of Bishops and Priests, in his sermon drawn from John 14:1-6, said people must continue to learn a lot from nature.
“Jesus Christ applied this in his teachings as he knew at what season to carry out his activities. Whoever wishes to save his/her life must first lose it,” Mgr. Bayemi told worshippers who came to pray for the soul of the departed Senator.
He observed that a grain of wheat that has to reproduce must fall off from the stem and die, before germinating to reproduce.
“This is the law of nature and it is the nature of life. Watching the film on the passion of Christ, gave me the opportunity to have an idea of what suffering is all about. Francis Nkwain will remain in the annals of history in our nation as a great diplomat, a politician who loved his country, village and people. So, God cannot allow a man of his calibre to stand alone. In retirement, he showed that his culture, both religious and traditional, was very dear to him,” Mgr. Bayemi declared.
The man of God stated that: “At a moment when Cameroon was in difficulties, Nkwain remained committed and convicted. We need people like him for this country, for; this is the teaching of the Lord. He passed through difficult moments in his life, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He demonstrated a good example as he was faithful to his church, the Bishop and his parish. We need to fix our eyes on Christ but we also need human models and Francis Nkwain was one,” he told mourners.
Mgr. Bayemi advised the population to see and learn from what was positive in Francis Nkwain that helped him to build a renowned personality for himself. “He was convinced that the doors of the eternal kingdom are open for him. He is certainly rejoicing besides God, a position that no one can take away from him. We have to thank God for him not only for his faithful services in church, but also to the country as a whole,” the Bishop noted.
Earlier, at a brief sermon at the mortuary during the removal of the mortal remains of Bochong Nkwain, Mgr. Sabastine Belong Mongo, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, called on all who came to bid farewell to the fallen statesman, to pray for his sins against God as well as the wrong he did to humanity while alive.
Mgr. Belong, who was assisted by Brother Peter Nillong of the Mont Febe Monastery, said when people are crying each time because they have lost a dear one, there is that temptation of questioning why God created human beings in the first place.
“Sometimes when we are facing a situation like this one, we may tend to doubt God. Somebody who has not believed in God may tend to say that there is no value in man since he will die,” Mgr. Belong said, maintaining that there is hope for there is an eternal world beyond earth.
He remarked that many people must have observed the experiences Nkwain had up and down while going about his activities on earth.
“That is what we refer to as human life. Through the life of Francis Nkwain, I am convinced that he is in heaven because of the faithful Christian life he led while on earth,” Belong stated while calling on God “not to disappoint us for we are his children. Accept Francis Nkwain in your kingdom so that he can enjoy eternal peace,” he prayed.
A multitude of choral groups performed at both sermons including the Africa Golden Gate of Maestro Isaac Sapouma.
Senator Nkwain’s remains were also taken to the Senate after the High Mass where his political colleagues paid him their last respects. The casket was then transferred and laid in state for viewing at the family residence in Ngousso, Yaounde. This was followed by a mass, wake keep and departure at midnight for Bamenda.
The remains of the late Senator were interred at his family residence at the Isailah neighbourhood at Njinikom after military honours. People of all walks of life including Senators, Members of the National Assembly, North West Governor, Mayors among others, attended the funeral.