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Politicians, Clergy, Others Extol Late Yong 

By Chris Mbunwe — For two days running, January 31-February 1, Bamenda City was paralysed after the remains of business magnate and educationist, Francis Yong, arrived from USA where he had died about a month earlier.

From Akum mortuary in Santa to the St. Joseph Metropolitan Cathedral Big Mankon, Bamenda Congress Hall, National Polytechnic Bamenda and to his native village Elemighong in Anyajua-Kom in Boyo Division where he was finally lowered, Pa Yong was hailed as a true patriot and philanthropist who has beaten the records of all living and past elite of the Northwest Region.

On hand to receive the mortal remains of Yong at the Catholic Cathedral in Mankon was the Archbishop of Bamenda Diocese, Bishop Cornelius Fontem Esua. In a sermon, the Bishop of Mamfe Diocese, His Lordship Andrew Nkea, said Yong lived his life serving others. For death to have come so soon when Yong was just at the highest points of several achievements in life, Bishop Nkea said it is difficult for millions of people to accept that Yong is no more.

“But, Christ teaches us not to mourn like non-believers but men and women of faith,” said Bishop Nkea, adding that Yong’s departure is a big blow to the Government of Cameroon because he was a perfect entrepreneur and great philanthropist who relieved Government from burden as far as education, sporting activities, communication, agricultural production and other activities that gave employment to many are concerned.

Jack of All Trades, Master of All

To the Bishop, Yong will be remembered as a man who challenged the saying, “‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ No, Yong was a Jack of all and he mastered all trades. He was an extraordinary being who gave positive meaning to life.”

Bishop Nkea said he had started writing a book on the “Successes Philosophy of Yong” and how he got to this level and this was the year they were to mount the book for publication but that unfortunately, Pa Yong died. “I will leave it with the family to see how we can complete this book,” he said.

Nkea cautioned the family of the deceased not to tear themselves with the wealth he has left behind. Rather, the family is expected to close ranks and ensure that Yong’s legacy lives on.
“I am sending this warning because when a man of great wealth dies, family members start fighting over what they never contributed for, so let Pa Yong’s will be respected because he was above all a peaceful and God-fearing man,” the Bishop said.

Before the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Rene Emmanuel Sadi decorated late Yong with the Cameroon Order of Merit medal posthumously at the campus of the National Polytechnic Bamenda, it was the turn of the Bishop of Kumbo Diocese, Monsignor George Nkuo, who in another sermon described Yong as a great donor to the church and a visionary who was admired by many. Other Bishops including Agapitus Fon and Reverend Fathers assisted in the funerals wherever Yong’s corpse was halted.

The Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Vincent Ndumu Nji, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of UBa, Prof. Edward Edokat Tafah, saw in Yong, an entrepreneur of exceptional class, who by his works transformed Bamenda. Uba, it would be recalled, is the beneficiary of part of National Polytechnic where they are holding free classes in some of the buildings donated by Yong.

The SDF National Chairman, John Fru Ndi, noted: “Bobe Yong Francis, you were a visionary entrepreneur who was certainly an epitome of patience, consistency and hard work. From a humble background with a modest education, you succeeded to transform a stenographic institute into a secondary school, then into a university institution, the Polytechnic, which has made a difference in the lives of many in our Region and nation.”

Earlier Fru Ndi had expressed bitterness with the administration of Mezam that sidelined Northwest elite from being involved in organising the funeral of their brother. “Why should you people politicise everything in life… even death?” he had quipped. The Administrator of the Bamenda Central Prison, Jonas Tiwa and Joe Mumbari on behalf of the National Red Cross, which Yong is said to have been the founder in the Northwest, outlined his achievements to all these institutions till death.

Fresh memories of the Cup of Cameroon winners, Yong Sports Academy, came to life again when the FECAFOOT Northwest Regional President, John B. Ndeh, and the Sports and Olympic Federation’s Vice President for Northwest, Edison Fru Ndi, took the rostrum to praise Yong for making the Northwest proud.

They all promised to ensure that all sporting activities Pa Yong sponsored are sustained.
On behalf of the Northwest Educational family, the Regional Delegate for Secondary Educational, George Sunjo, said Yong’s educational establishments were toping in all the activities amongst private schools in the Region.

He assured the family of his technical expertise if they meet hurdles anywhere. The Rector of National Polytechnic Bamenda, Dr. Asongwed, reminded Government of the promise it made some years back when officials visited the school farm and the computer laboratory and promised a tractor and some computers for the school, that the school is still waiting.

Solemn Burial At Anyajua

Fon Vincent Yuh of Kom, who hardly speaks at funerals, sent a 10-man delegation from the Laikom Palace who read out his message, “I am devastated, I am finished, my walking staff is gone; where will I start and end? Boschools (father of schools) is no more; where will Kom children go to now? The only Kom icon who has done what nobody from Kom has ever done is dead.”

Mayor of Belo, Bernard Tossam and the Vice President of Anyajua-Elemighong Development Association, Francis Njuakom, said Pa Yong brought the enclave area to the limelight and his departure is too soon leaving them with a great task to accomplish. Senator Francis Nkwain said Yong was a man “full of many hearts, equipped by God. To Yong, he was not supposed to be appointed in Biya’s government to have achieved what he has achieved for mankind.

Hon. Nkwain said Yong benefitted from the New Deal liberation fruits President Biya created and managed establishments freely. He pleaded with Minister Rene Sadi, “Since you are here to bury our beloved brother, may you channel same to President Biya and our support, letting him know that Kom people look up to him.”

Family Speaks Out

On behalf of the entire family, Micheal Yuh, Yong’s nephew who manages most of the schools, narrated how their father and uncle made it to the top. He attracted applause from the thousands of mourners when he said, “Our father died owing nobody; we do not owe taxes, credit unions, banks or individuals.

As of last month all workers, teachers, lecturers had been paid to the last franc. We, the family members stand in front of the corpse of our father and the population to promise that we are going to uphold, protect and preserve all what Pa Yong has bequeathed to us and the nations, God being with us.”

How Pa Yong Died

To dispel every rumour that spread around before the body of Pa Yong arrived in Bamenda, Emmanuel Yuh, an in-law to Yong and adviser, said before Yong left Cameroon, he was diagnosed with gastric cancer type 4 in Yaounde and referred for treatment in the US. “Arriving in the US, his doctors went to work and within four months Yong recorded fast recovery until December 16 last year that his health started deteriorating rapidly. On December 26, the liver and kidney failed and he battled between life and death up to December 30 that he breathed his last at 68,” Yuh said.

First published in The Post print edition no 01502

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