Good Memories to celebrate two Great Lives: Mr. Hilary Chuyeh and Dr. Simon Ngankfumbe
Odelia and I are deeply saddened by the passing away of two great Wimbum brothers, Mr. Hilary Chuyeh
and Dr. Simon Ngakfumbe and wish to convey to their spouses, children and family our deep sympathy for their loss. Hilary studied engineering in Britain and returned to Cameroon to work for Exxon Mobil Oil Company. I first knew Hilary on the internet and was impressed at his discussion style and his understanding of the oil business in Cameroon, and the global oil market. He would eventually visit Houston and I got to know him well. He was well respected by our brothers and sisters in the Houston community, and that says a lot about him.
Hillary invited me to come visit him when I am in Cameroon, and I jokingly told him, I have relatives in Douala, but I will take you up on your word. On a research trip to Cameroon, I was fortunate to stay at their home in Douala. During that visit, I got to know him and his wife, Ernestine Chuyeh very well. They were very well informed and I learned a lot from them regarding the state of health in Cameroon.
They both continued to do very well and Ernestine was hired to work with an oil company. We had the fortune of having her here in Houston not too long ago (April 2012) and it was a pleasure to see her, even though she had remained remarkably young and in excellent health and I could not recognize her; but thankfully, to my shame and wonderful surprise Ma Nfar Yaje Ngala told me that I have not recognized Ernestine.
Hillary will be remembered as a Wimbum gentleman who did good, returned home to serve when he could have stayed abroad. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a devoted friend who remained loyal to all his friends. He will be remembered as one who always stepped in to help at the time of need. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Lord for his wife, children and family; that they should all stand together as they honor his memory. May we all follow in his footsteps as we continue our own journey. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Dr. Simon Ngankfumbe of Ndu is a great Wimbum success story and will remain in our memory a Wimbum shinning light; and individual who epitomized hard work, honesty, collegiality, loyalty to his roots and faith tradition. I knew Simon as a Baptist teacher and also knew his family well at Boyar because my aunt was married at Boyar. Simon represents that group of Wimbum Baptist teachers who taught in Wimbum land and all over the country. Many of them were educated in the old school-that is, started with grade three, then went on to achieve their grade two certificate, rather than the five year continuous program which was introduced to expedite the training of teachers for the growing educational needs of Cameroon.
Following his education at the then Baptist Teacher Training Center, Great Soppo Simon taught school in Cameroon before proceeding to the University of Ibadan to study geography. He was a brilliant man who achieved his goal and returned from Nigeria with a lot of admiration for Nigeria, their culture, and he spoke highly not only of the University of Ibadan as an institution, but the culture of the people. He is the first person who taught me how to pronounce “Ibadan.” On his return to Cameroon he taught geography and was admired by his students and colleagues and as a great scholar he was appointed a key examiner of geography for the GCE examinations. Simon returned to Ibadan and completed his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Geography with a specialization in climatology. He returned to Cameroon and taught for the Government again first, at GSS Ako, later at the University of Buea, ENS Bambili, and at the University in Bamenda.
Simon will remain a hero for many people. Although I had known him earlier, I got to know him better when he taught at CCAS Kumba. At that time, I served as pastor at the Berean Baptist Church in Kumba. Simon and his wife gave me full support. We would hang out together at “top hill” off license in the company of Messers Yaounde, E. Nforgwei, B. T. Nfor, Ngwang, Nkambfu, Wirlen (Nso Prince at the time) etc, and other colleagues who taught at local academic institutions or worked in the public service. We all liked Simon, for several reasons. He was a down to earth individual, loved people of all ethnic backgrounds, and was unusually open and accessible. He shared his stories about life, challenges, listened carefully to people and had a simple demeanor that was at once disarming and empowering.
Simon was devoted to his family, Wimbum institutions and participated in Wimbum activities. He loved Boyar, his village, Ndu and Wimbum land and he was very proud of his background. He was always proud that he grew up in the Baptist faith. At the time there were tensions between the then Ndu field and the Convention, but Simon was always a voice of reason, arguing that regardless of how bad things were, we could not allow the faith which had grown in Wimbum land to die regardless of how the conflict ended.
This is the Dr. Ngakfumbe that I remember and will remember. His journey here on earth is ended. We bid him farewell and pray that we, still on our own journey will learn a lesson from his simplicity so that we can care for others as he did for his relatives, students, friends and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace.
Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology
Professor of Religious Studies