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Education Without Morality Equals Training Clever Thieves 

Interviewed By Joe Dinga Pefok — The President of the National Committee (NATCOM) of the Christian Men Fellowship, CMF, of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, has stated that it is impossible to effectively fight moral decadence in Cameroon, while keeping Religious Knowledge or Moral Education out of the educational system.

He says such a system only trains clever thieves. He made this declaration in an interview granted The Post in Douala to assess reactions to the evangelistic crusade which NATCOM carried out early this year in some Regions. Halle, among things, reacted to the view of some critics who question the moral authority of the Church today to fight moral decadence, when some Pastors and Priests are themselves deep in the mess. Read on:      

The Post: Early this year you led a NATCOM delegation on an evangelistic crusade to the Centre, Southwest and Northwest Regions, during which you denounced homosexuality, condemned the non-respect of State institutions, as well as expressed concern at the non-recognition of the Religious Knowledge certificate in recruitment into the pubic service.

What have been the general reactions so far?

Ntumfor Nico Halle:  Judging from the words of appreciation and encouragement that we have received so far, I think the ideas we shared were very much welcomed. We are also gladdened by the fact that the Government has adopted some of the issues we were crusading for, like the fight against moral decadence in all its forms.

Four officials recently declared Government’s resolve to curb the alarming rate of indecent dressing, especially by our young girls. This is one form of moral decadence that NATCOM set out to crusade against. I had the opportunity to call and congratulate one of those Ministers, Abena Ondoa nee Obama Marie Therese (Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family), who also happened to have been my colleague at ONEL.

But we cannot successfully fight moral decadence in society, especially within the youthful population, in the absence of Religious Knowledge or Moral Education. You will understand that education without morality is nothing short of training a clever thief. Take away the foundation which is morality and spirituality and the society is doomed. We are worried by the level of moral decadence.

What do you people think are the causes of this increasing rate of moral decadence?

There are a number of causes staring us in the face. For example, in the our society , this get-rich-quick syndrome is getting hold of many people and, in fact, many of our youths are getting so much into it. Babies want to walk without crawling. People want to make money without working hard and honestly. People want to reap where they did not sow. As regards the youths, unemployment and poverty also contribute to the moral decadence in our society today.

You will also realise that when our police or gendarmes pick up, say 10 robbers or hoodlums, about seven or more are youths. Some of these youths are university graduates who have nothing doing. I have repeatedly said over the years that Cameroon is a very rich nation. Our country is a breadbasket in Africa. Our country is a peaceful nation in a turbulent Africa. A nation blessed with natural and human resources. We Cameroonians ought to manage these resources for the good of all, with a patriotic spirit.

We cannot explain why a good number of Cameroonians are in the streets. They have no jobs. They do not have anything to do, despite the efforts being made by Government. The answer is very clear; that a few of us have taken the nation’s resources hostage. What is supposed to be shared equitably is only shared to a few. And so a majority are wallowing in abject misery, while a few others are in arrogant opulence. 

What is NATCOM demanding that ordinary Cameroonians do in the fight against moral decadence?
NATCOM is asking all Cameroonians to be part of this crusade against moral decadence. This can only succeed if Cameroonians, at all levels, are involved. So, if we do not transform people morally, the same people who are stealing FCFA 1,000 or FCFA 10,000 today , if tomorrow they are appointed to a higher position of authority, they will carry their virus or mentality to those offices and will plunder large sums of money.

I am happy that in the Head of State’s message to the youths on the eve of the last Youth Day celebration, he invited the churches to also be involved in the fight against moral decadence. We are saying that the churches should lead the fight against moral decadence in the society. But the churches or Government alone cannot succeed to curb this moral decadence in the society. All the facets or components of society have to be part of the fight against moral decadence for it to succeed.

You have so much faith in the church leading the fight against moral decadence, whereas some critics question the moral authority of churches in the fight against moral decadence because here and there Pastors, Priests and church elders who themselves seem to be in need of moral transformation…  

Well, you have to understand that wherever you find God, you also have the devil. Whenever you have the Holy Spirit, you have the evil spirit also trying to tamper with what God is doing. It is true that among some Pastors, Priests, laities, church elders, or in some church structures, what obtains in the secular world is very much there.

It is true and really unfortunate that some Pastors, Priests and laities do not live their sermons. Their spirituality ends at the pulpit, and what they do after leaving the pulpit is terrible. They are, in fact, a disaster. The Priests, Pastors, laities and elders must be spiritually strong, to have the moral authority to criticise malpractices in the society.

How effective can the church be in the fight against moral decadence?

Please, the misdemeanours of a few preachers should not lead you to generalise things. The Roman Catholic Church in Cameroon has so many good Priests, just like the PCC and the Baptist Church that have so many good Pastors. They live their sermons. They are God-fearing. They constitute a large majority of the Pastors or Priests in these churches. The PCC, for example, has some 400 pastors.

If about a dozen or a little more are not living their sermons, you will agree with me that the percentage is quite small, and that these fellows thus do not reflect the general situation in the church. But let it be clear that I am not in any way saying that we should condone or close our eyes to the wrong-doings of these few Pastors and Priests who are off track. No. They must be denounced. Apparently these fellows are not where they are supposed to be. The pulpit might not be where they are supposed to be. The work of a pastor is a calling, just as priesthood is a calling.       
First published in The Post print edition no 01486

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