Cameroon’s Cardinal Recounts Ordeal in the Hands of his Abductors in New Book

In a new book published under the title, “My Night in Captivity", Christian Cardinal Tumi narrates ordeal in the hands of his abductors.
Credit: ACI Africa.

Cameroon’s Cardinal who was freed after a night with his abductors last November has narrated his ordeal in a new book, Christian Cardinal Tumi’s memoir published under the title, “My Night in Captivity.”

In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, January 12, the co-author of Cardinal Tumi’s memoir, Martin Jumbam said that it was important for the Cardinal to narrate his experience with the kidnappers because “the government has always suspected him of supporting opposition forces in Cameroon.”

“In this book, the Cardinal makes his position very clear that he does not support these guys in the bush although the government suspects him of being one of the supporters because he tells the separatists, very clearly, that he does not support what they are doing,” Jumbam said.

He added, “The Cardinal says that he does not support the government crackdown, which led to the taking of arms. He maintains his neutrality and says that all he wants to see is the guns silent and peace return to the land.”

On November 5, the 90-year-old Cardinal was kidnapped at Baba I, a village along the Bamenda-Kumbo road (North-West region). He was freed the following day.

Details of what those behind the abduction of Cardinal Tumi told him emerged in a video shared on social media, with the Archbishop emeritus of Cameroon’s Douala Archdiocese seen calm and collected as he provided responses to some of the questions from his captors.

In the 5.47min video, the Cameroonian Cardinal who had been abducted alongside 12 other people, including the traditional Chief of the Nso tribe, Fon Sehm Mbinglo II, is accused, by the captors, of “creating problems in our territory” and that they had held him for “questioning.”

During the January 12 interview with ACI Africa, Mr. Jumbam, who hosts programs on the Catholic Archdiocese of Douala-owned Radio Veritas, said, “The height of the book is the exchange he had with the boys who arrested him, who had him under control in a small farmhouse in the northwestern part of the country where he spent the night with his driver, and then the next day they came to him and were taking a video spreading it around the world.”

“They gave him an opportunity to say what he thinks about their struggle and events in the country and why he opposes their views as a pastor,” the Catholic journalist added.

He further said in reference to the Cardinal’s sharing in the memoir, “He talks about what is wrong like denying children the right to go to school, one of his relatives sponsoring their actions, and from there he gives the conclusion by saying that the government and the armed opposition should come to an understanding in dialogue, soldiers should go back to the barracks and then the fighters should lay down their arms in return.”

Northwest and Southwest Cameroon, the two Anglophone regions of the Central African nation, have been experiencing violence since 2016 after the deployment of Francophone teachers and judges to the historically marginalized English speaking region was resisted through protests. 

The protests, which turned violent, involved lawyers and teachers in the Anglophone regions. They resisted the deployment of their Francophone counterparts arguing that the two regions operated under different legal and educational systems.

In the January 12 interview with ACI Africa, Mr. Jumbam, who is also a translator and interpreter, explained that Cardinal Tumi’s memoir that was launched on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1 also aims at advocating for peace in the Central African nation.

“We need peace to return to our land. This is what the Cardinal is pleading for. It is actually the core of the message he gave to the young people in the bush and the message also goes to the government,” said Mr. Jumbam.

He continued, “The fighting has been going on for five years and our children have not been able to go back to school.”

“We have the Internally Displaced Persons from the two regions who are flooding parts of our land, some across the border into Nigeria. So, the Cardinal is pleading for the violence to end and come to dialogue so that peace can return and everybody goes back to their homes,” the Catholic journalist further said. 

In the conclusion of the 12-chapter memoir, Mr. Jumbam told ACI Africa January 12, “the Cardinal also speaks to the government and the armed opposition to come to an understanding in dialogue; soldiers should go back to the barracks and then the fighters should lay down their arms in return.”

An international edition of Cardinal Tumi’s memoir is in press in the U.S. and it is expected to be released January 22.

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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
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