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Is FCFA 5Million For Sarah 

By Isidore Abah & Basil K. Mbuye

CameroonPostline.com — Sports and Physical Education Minister, Adoum Garoua, has promised an additional FCFA 5 million for the promised house for the Queen of the Mountain, Sarah Liengu Etonge. Minister Garoua’s announcement was received with a pinch of salt following previous promises made by the Cameroon Athletic Federation to construct a house for the Mount Cameroon Race legend.

Sarah Etongue helped by Red Cross Officials after crossing the finish line in the second position, female category

The Minister made the promise on Saturday, February 16, at the Molyko Omnisport Stadium, Buea, while presiding over the closing ceremony of the 18th edition of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope for Africa. According to the Minister, the money is to assist the Cameroon Athletics Federation construct a house for the legendary queen of the Mountain, and also as part of government’s efforts to encourage her for the part she has played in the growth of the race in Cameroon.

“Sarah Etonge has done a lot to encourage other young female athletes to develop interest in the Mount Cameroon Race; she is like an icon to them, that is why the government has decided to encourage her for the good work she has been doing and will continue to do in the domain of sports,” the Minister stated.

The minister’s pronouncement is coming at the backdrop of a similar declaration issued by the president of the Cameroon Athletics Federation, Jacques Sebastian Mbous in  2010, when the Federation’s President promised to construct a retirement home for the seven times champion.
Since 2010, the foundation stone for the house has been laid twice. Many of her fans believe that, it is the inability of the Cameroon Athletics Federation to keep to its promise that brought back the 49-year-old ,and mother of seven, to the race in 2012, after earlier considering a possible retirement in 2008.

However, there are fears that the Minister’s pronouncement may not materialise, since it is not the first time such a promise is being made, coupled with the fact that the FCFA 5million will be handed over to the Cameroon Athletics Federation to perform the task. Meantime, in recognition of her achievements, Ethiopian Airlines has offered Sarah Etonge a vacation trip to Paris-France. The airlines company offered Sarah Etonge a symbolic flight ticket at the Omnisports Stadium, while announcing its future participation in the race as a sponsor.

2013 Edition: Another NW Affair

This year’s edition of the race, like the five previous editions, was dominated by athletes from the Northwest Region, both in the male and female categories. In the male category, Godlove Gabsibuin, from the Northwest Region, winner of last year’s edition, came first, followed by Divine Tiku, still from the Northwest Region, while Januarius Bunkinyung from the Centre Region occupied the third spot.

While in the female category, four times winner, Yvonne Ngwaya from the Northwest came first. She becomes the first lady ever to have won the competition a record five times. She was seconded by seven times winner and current queen of the mountain, Sarah Liengu Etonge from the Southwest, and Lizette Ngalim from the Northwest, who occupied the third spot.

LOC Exhibits Organisational Frailty

The Local Organising Committee, LOC, has over the years, struggled to rally the populace of Buea in particular, and the Southwest Region in general to turn up and encourage the event.

This indifference by the population has largely been blamed on the poor organisation by the LOC. “There is little or no sensitisation of the population prior to the race,” says Joseph Monono Ekale, a Buea inhabitant. “Recent editions of the race are imposed on us, one only gets to know about it a day or two to the event. This is not the mountain race we witnessed in the 1980s and the early 1990s,” Ekale bemoaned.

The poor operations have been attributed to the late disbursement of funds from the national organising committee to the LOC. The LOC at times pre-finances certain activities while waiting for the disbursement of funds from Yaounde. This year, for instance, money was only disbursed two days to the event.

First published in The Post print edition no 01409

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