Born October 15, 1930 in Kikaikelaki by Kumbo in the region of northwest Cameroon, Christian Wiyghan Tumi has so far been the only Cameroonian appointed cardinal, and one of the few Africans belonging to the electoral college of the popes. He died after many years of work in the Christian faith, but also of the construction of democracy in Cameroon.
It was in fact on April 17, 1966 that he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Buéa. He will continue his training in educational sciences in neighboring Nigeria, then in Great Britain. Along the way, he enrolled in theology at the Catholic Institute in Lyon (France). He then obtained a license in philosophy at the University of Friborg (Switzerland) and afterwards, a doctorate.
Back in his native Cameroon, he was appointed rector of the major regional seminary of Bambui in the archdiocese of Bamenda. Then bishop of Yagoua on December 6, 1979, he was consecrated on January 6, 1980 by Pope John Paul II in person.
On November 19, 1982, he became coadjutor archbishop of Garoua, a diocese of which he was made archbishop on March 17, 1984. Finally, he moved to the archbishopric of Douala on August 31, 1991.
President of the Cameroonian Episcopal Conference between 1985 and 1991, he retired from his office as bishop as prescribed by canon law at the age of 79. Bishop Samuel Kleda succeeds him.
In recognition of his involvement during nearly half a century of pastorate, in favor of the family, the left behind, the advent and respect of the democratic game in Cameroon, on November 15, 2011, he received the Prize of Integrity awarded by the NGO Transparency International.
Freedom of tone
His political positions have often irritated both the Yaoundé authorities and the separatists.
He was removed on November 5, 2020 with the Fon (leader) of the Nso community by the English-speaking separatists of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia. Cardinal Tumi was released the next day because of his state of health.
The tribute ball is opened by the “Catholic news agency” which announces the disappearance of a man who worked for the return of peace in his country.
Minister Grégoire Owona, Deputy Secretary General of the Rdpc, the ruling party, testifies to the greatness of the deceased: “you are probably the most emblematic personality of the Cameroonian Clergy…”
For his part, the main Cameroonian opponent, Maurice Kamto, welcomed “the greatness and the memory of a man of faith who loved his God and his neighbor. His life was a testimony. May his death be a revelation”.