, 08 September, 2020 / 8:55 PM
The Bishop of Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese has, on the occasion of his 14th Episcopal Anniversary, highlighted the challenges he faces amid the protracted Anglophone crisis in the Central African nation, expressing the hope that the violence ends soon.
In an interview with Radio Evangelium of the Diocese of Kumbo Tuesday, September 8, Bishop George Nkuo also spoke about the impact of the Anglophone crisis on Church ministry.
“One of the greatest challenges as a Bishop has been to address the needs of the people, to be able to uplift the people spiritually, socially and economically,” Bishop Nkuo said.
Amid the Anglophone crisis, he added, “it has been very difficult to do what I would have love to do with the people because the resources are very limited.”
“The truth is that the crisis has come and it has influenced very badly the life of the people of God in Kumbo,” Bishop Nkuo said about his Diocese, which is part of the regions affected by the Anglophone crisis.
“The crisis has taken its toll on the life of the people in Kumbo and of course, the Church is also affected,” he further said, adding, “It has been difficult to meet the needs of the people in the Diocese located in the Northwestern region of Cameroon.”
Despite the challenges, the Cameroonian Bishop said, “we will try our best that the people have a sense of belonging, a sense of hope that they can with very little, reach out and make the best of it, and grow and be committed, and develop themselves.”
Two English speaking regions of Cameroon, the North West and the South West, plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed separatists’ movement claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.
Since then, the conflict has led to the displacement of at least 679,000 people. More than 600,000 children have not been able to go to school in the two regions and more than 3,000 lives have been lost in the four-year conflict.
In an interview with ACI Africa in April, Bishop Nkuo said that COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation in Kumbo worse.
“Shuffling between two crises is no easy job. So, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation becomes worse,” Bishop Nkuo said during the April 27 interview.
In the September 8 interview with Radio Evangelium -Kumbo, the Cameroonian Prelate expressed the hope the crisis will soon come to an end.
“My prayer is that this crisis will be over. We see some glimmers of hope and I sincerely hope that things continue to improve and that whatever it takes, let those who are responsible for this crisis take the challenge and bring about peace in our land,” the Local Ordinary of Kumbo said.
He also expressed optimism that should the violence end, the people of Kumbo will be able to rebuild their lives.
“I see great resilience among the people in that once it is over, everything that has been destroyed will be rebuilt in very record time,” he said and continued, “I am very confident about that because I know they are very hardworking, very committed and very dedicated people. They have borne the brunt of this crisis with such great courage that I can only admire them.”
Reflecting on his 14th Episcopal anniversary, the 67-year-old Bishop said that Priestly and Diaconate Ordinations remain his most memorable experiences.
“The ordination of Priests and Deacons has been one of the most awesome experience I have had. To pass on the power of ordination to young men who are enthusiastic, zealous, determined has been really awesome and very uplifting to me,” he said.
He explained, “Priests do one of the wonderful things that God has ever allowed us to do, to celebrate the Eucharist and to bring God down among us. And the privilege, in addition to others, that we have as Bishops is to ordain the Priests. Every time I ordain a Priest of Deacon, tears come down my eye, How can I? How is it possible for another man to do this?”
Speaking about his 14 years as Local Ordinary of Kumbo, the Prelate said, “I am happy to be in Kumbo and doing my best. My dream is that the Church in Kumbo should grow.”
“The call to become a Bishop is a great honour,” he further said and explained, “This does not mean that he is chosen for being an outstanding Christian. The honour comes from the mission, to stand at the heart of the Church as the first in the faith, first in love, first in fidelity and first in service.”
He added, “If someone seeks the Episcopal office for his own sake, he will not be able to accomplish his Episcopal mission.”
Bishop Nkuo who has been at the helm of the Diocese of Kumbo since 2006 is the second Local Ordinary of the Diocese that was erected in March 1982. He shepherds the Diocese with 877,857 Catholics, according to 2017 statistics.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa