Archbishop in Cameroon in Solidarity with Fire Disaster Victims in “pain and desperation”

Over 300 shops were razed to ashes after a fire broke out at the Bamenda Main Market in the North West region of Cameroon on 22 February 2024. Credit: Public Domain

Archbishop Andrew Fuanya Nkea of Bamenda Archdiocese in Cameroon has expressed his solidarity with persons affected by the fire disaster that razed hundreds of shops at the central market in his Metropolitan See.

On February 22, over 300 shops were razed to ashes after a fire broke out at the Bamenda Main Market in the North West region of Cameroon, the State media, Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), reported. The source of the fire, which broke out at 5 p.m. is yet to be established.

In a statement issued Friday, February 24, Archbishop Nkea says, “It is with deep consternation that I learnt of the horrendous fire disaster that ravaged close to 300 shops at the Bamenda Central Market on the evening of Thursday 22nd February, 2024.”

He adds, “This has left many families and the entire population of Bamenda and beyond in pain and desperation.”

“At this moment I assure you of my closeness and prayers,” the Cameroonian Catholic Archbishop says, and adds, “This unfortunate situation brings us to the reality of Job; on the day when Job's sons and daughters were eating and drinking in their elder brother's house, a message came to job, 'Your oxen', he said, 'were at the plough with the donkeys grazing at the side, when the Sabaeans swept down on them and carried them off, and put the servants to the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.'”


He continues in reference to Job, “He had not finished speaking when the other messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God', he said, 'has fallen from heaven and burnt the sheep and shepherds to ashes: I alone have escaped to tell you'...1:13-16. In all these misfortunes, Job committed no sin, and he did not reproach God.”

“My dear people, we are faced with a similar situation like Job, with many questions in our minds, wondering why such things should happen especially at this moment when we are still being tormented by the crisis plaguing the North West and the South West Regions of Cameroon,” Archbishop Nkea says.

The Archbishop of Bamenda who doubles as the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) continues, “Job trusted in God in faith and God restored his condition.”

“In our frustrations, our pain and uncertainties, we are called to unite all these with the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ especially given that we are currently observing the Lenten period in the Church,” Archbishop Nkea says.

The 58-year-old Catholic Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in August 2013 as the Coadjutor Bishop of Mamfe Diocese adds, “Like the Psalmist, we say, however great the anxiety of my heart, your consolation soothes me.”

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“I implore you, like Job, to hold firm to the God who blessed Job's latter condition even more than his former one,” he further says. 

During a visit to the market on February 23, the governor of the North West region said a commission will be set up to evaluate the level of damages caused and that the victims will be compensated.

Governor Adolphe Lele L'afrique said some 30 people were admitted in hospitals after the incident due to shock but have all been discharged, and that “no human life was lost due to the incident.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.