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Simon Nkwenti Given Hero 

By Chris Mbunwe, Lydie Yuri & Therese Asongefack

CameroonPostline.com — Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union, CATTU, Executive Secretary, Simon Nkwenti Azia, has been laid to rest in his native Chomba village. 

The trade unionist was interred on Friday, September 8, at a funeral attended by, among others, teachers, politicians, civil society leaders, journalists. Nkwenti was described by many as a cross bearer who bore the bondage of teachers on his shoulders. To some, their presence at his burial was to praise and congratulate him for all he did, not only in the educational field but also in their daily lives. 

His absence will, therefore, be felt not just by his family but also by the entire teaching core and civil society organisations. To the Northwest Regional Pedagogic Inspector for English, Valentine Semma, Nkwenti’s absence is a big loss for CATTU. He said Nkwenti had a unique way of putting forward the case of teachers. 

Semma, however, said he believes that they may have somebody who will put forward the plight of the Cameroonian teacher, though it might not be in the same manner as Nkwenti did. When The Post caught up with the President of the Confederation of Public Service Unions, Jean Marc Bikoko, said he had been very close to Nkwenti since they met in 1994. “His departure is a big loss and will greatly affect the civil society,” Bikoko said. Human rights defender, Sylvester Toh, said Nkwenti was a complex figure who did a lot for the common man. 

According to him, Nkwenti was not just a classroom teacher but also a teacher on the streets.
Representing the Minister of Secondary Education, Prof. Leke Tambo, Secretary General in the Ministry of Secondary Education, said Nkwenti was an extraordinary partner in education as leader of CATTU. He said Nkwenti was very intelligent in mobilising people, and prayed that the trade union should remain united and focused. 

Minister Louis Bapes Bapes, in his message read by Prof Leke, said: “Simon my son, you were not only a true teacher, but an obedient and loyal citizen. I am greatly touched by your death. I trust God will grant you eternal rest.” The representative of the Minister of Basic Education, Julius Mbi, regretted that Nkwenti died at the time when the fight he stood for by requesting the payment of research and documentation allowances for teachers was yielding fruits.

As the President of Christian Men Fellowship of the PCC, Barrister Nico Halle said he came to praise Nkwenti for his great achievements as a Christian of his Church and teacher. “He was and remains a colossus, a devoted fighter who laid his live for others. I pray God keeps him in his bosom. He shunned hypocrisy and falsehood because he stood for the truth. People who believe in Christ do not die, they live on, so Nkwenti is with us in the Lord,” Nico Halle remarked.

Nkwenti’s father, Peter Nkwenti, described his son as a boy who from birth was so courageous. “At ten, this my son fought with my taxi driver in Kumba who came back announcing he had bashed the car in an accident. He had a character that was controversial. If you tell him, not to do this or that, he will accept and will do just what he wanted. I am so saddened.

The God who gave me Nkwenti has taken him back,” the father lamented. A message from the British High Commissioner to Cameroon, read at the Bamenda Congress Hall where Nkwenti was given academic honours, went as follows: “We have lost a true firebrand in the political and educational life of Cameroon.”

Nkwenti’s wife, Mary Lum Azonga, said her husband had battled with diabetes for long and when he was so stressed up he ran into a diabetic comma, recovered and died after a few days.  “He used to discuss education a lot. Our ten years in marriage have not been all roses as it is in most homes, but we kept treading and doing things together for the good of the children,” Lum said.

The President of Presbyterian Teachers’ Trade Unions, PEATTU, Stephen Afuh, the President of Parents Teachers’ Association, UPTA, Moses Ekeke, and the leader of Dynamique Citoyenne a civil society where Nkwenti was focal point leader for the Northwest, all described Nkwenti as a brave fighter. SDF Chairman, John Fru Ndi, prayed that God should give the teachers wisdom to elect a leader of Nkwenti’s calibre.


Born March 1, 1964, Nkwenti sailed from primary school to ENS Bambili where he read English. In 2008, he gained a scholarship to study at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he obtained a Post-graduate Diploma in Civil Society and Government Partnership. He taught in Ngambe-Tikar, Bafia, Akwaya, Ako and GBHS Bamenda. Nkwenti was the Vice Principal of Gov’t High School Bamendankwe and when he was appointed Principal of GBHS Mbatu, he turned it down for what he termed personal reasons. He leaves behind five children.

Condolence Message From TAC And SNAES

We were really aggrieved to learn about the death of frontline trade unionist and civil society activist, the intrepid and emblematic Mr. Simon Nwenti Azia, whose death on the 21st of August 2012, put an abrupt stop to several years of intense, frenzied activism. The Republic of Cameroon, in general, and the Northwest, in particular, will never, never be the same again.

Mr. Simon Nkwenti worked with conviction and focus and always spoke with such enviable articulateness and such awesome and inimitable intrepidity that all who saw, listened to and worked with or against him were moved, one way or the other. Whether they liked it or not and whether they liked him or not, many speakers were awed whenever Mr. Nkwenti went on one or the other of his oratorical forays.

We worked together with our deceased compatriot in trade union circles for varying periods. And we had our differences. But we would have loved to have him with us for as long as our trade union advocacy on this rocky turf lasted. Unfortunately, God ruled that Mr. Simon Nkwenti’s earthly page had come to its term; is it not said that when He rules, we must bow in acquiescence?

When we lose a public personality of Mr. Simon Nkwenti’s calibre, nothing but sorrow and regret animate us. We therefore join the countless pilgrims out here to pray for the repose of one who was, in every sense of the word, a very daring compatriot, one the like of whom will not be seen again for ages.

Simon, for all what you have done, we think that the best way we your comrades-at-arms can immortalise your efforts is to continue working within the confines of the solidarity framework forged these past nine months. We really regret that you have not been able to benefit from the first fruits of our collective efforts and that you will not be there to see us through the rest of the negotiations.

You did your utmost in everything, brother, to give back to God the Father more than the one talent He gave you when He sent you on mission; we pray that He overlooks any faults you might have committed reaching out to His countless folk out here, whom in your short life you performed the feat of reaching out to. After we are told it is not the perfectness of the stint that pleases Him, but rather the well-meaning effort. Rest in His peace, Comrade, till we meet to part no more.

TAC President & SNAES Secretary General

First published in The Post print edition no 01373

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