AN UNCOMMON BEING, TENING MONGWA.
Born on the 16th of November 1942, William Tening Moota Mongwa, was son of Papa Nkam Ndang Mongwa, a Noble in the Court of the King of Pinyin, and Princess Maria Mankwiati Mezoh Nkeng, oldest child of Prince Nkwiati Awa, the iconic Prince-Regent of the Pinyin Kingdom.An early disciple of African Conscientism à la Nkrumah, he dropped the foreign name William, and ensured that none of his biological children took on a foreign name!
Tening Mongwa, as he was subsequently to be known throughout his life, went to Primary school in Pinyin and Bali before proceeding to the Cameroon Protestant College (CPC) Bali,
from 1958 to 1963.
Upon completion from CPC Bali, he was employed by the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and for two years taught French, first at the Elementary Training Centre, Bali and then at the Teacher Training College, Batibo.
From 1964 to 1970, Tening Mongwa did his tertiary education, earning graduate and post-graduate Degrees and Certifications in Translation and Interpretation, Linguistics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Law, Economics and Business Admiration from Universities in Cameroon, France, England and the United States of America.
It is worth noting that upon graduation from the prestigious Georgetown University in 1970 with Certificates of Proficiency in Translation and Conference Interpretation, Tening turned down numerous highly lucrative job offers and returned to Cameroon to serve his Fatherland.
Tening Mongwa’s public service career spanning close to thirty years was spent at the Presidency of the Republic where he served as Translator, Senior Translator/Interpreter, Reviser, Attaché, Chargé de Mission and personal Translator/Interpreter to President Ahmadou Ahidjo and then President Paul Biya.
From the vantage point of the personal translator and interpreter of Cameroon’s first and second Presidents for close to twenty years, it was his good fortune to travel round the world and to meet world Leaders such as Mao Tse Tong of China, Queen Elizabeth ll, Margaret Thatcher, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Ronald Reagan of the USA, the iconic Robert McNamara of World Bank fame and so many others.
After retirement in 2005 and until his death on the 13th of February this year, Tening Mongwa was a freelance and short-term consultant translator/interpreter for the UN, the ADB, the World Bank, the IMF, the AU, WHO, the ECA, UNDP and UNICEF, inter alia.
Always ready and willing to serve his community, Tening Mongwa was a mentor to several Pinyin children of secondary school age, starting in the early sixties. He, perhaps more than anyone else, inspired them to pursue higher education and to excel at it. He inspired the formation of the Pinyin Youth Organization for Rural Development (PYORD) in 1968, which set off systematic development, by community effort, in the Pinyin Kingdom. He also played a cardinal role in the formation of the Pinyin Development Organization (PDO) in 1978 where he drafted the first constitution of the organization.
Supporting education and intellectual development was always at the forefront of his efforts. He made heavy financial contributions towards the construction of every school created in the Pinyin Kingdom and awarded yearly scholarships to outstanding students and those in need. As an intellectual pacesetter, he formed the Pinyin Language Development Committee (PILADEC) and, in collaboration with CABTAL, (Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy), they created a Pinyin language alphabet which was then used in the translation of the New Testament of the Holy Bible into the Pinyin Language, as well as the production of the Pinyin Language Dictionary and other works. God’s people in the Pinyin Kingdom now have the New Testament of the Holy Book with an audio version, in the Pinyin language; a task which Tening Mongwa considered a divine assignment which had to be completed before he was called home!
In addition to his investments in education, Akamentso Ndee Tening Mongwa made outstanding financial contributions towards every development endeavour carried out in the Pinyin Kingdom, under the auspices of the PDO. This included maintenance of roads, Pinyin electrification project, construction of palaces, health centres, water schemes, and church houses. While national president of the PDO, he established the Mitanyen Cooperative Credit Union (MitaCCUL) and convened the first constituent assembly of the Union in December 2000.
To honour his outstanding contributions to Pinyin development, he was elevated to the rank of Akamentso (development war general) of the Pinyin Kingdom by the Fon of Pinyin in council. He was later singled out for the title of ‘Ndee-development’, translated as the ‘Noble of development’.
Pa Tening Mongwa, as he was fondly referred to, was a Humanist, a committed Christian of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon which he served in various capacities, notably as Sunday School Teacher, Coordinator of the College of Ushers, Member of the CMF, Elder, Treasurer, Congregational Chairman and Member of the Synod. Elder Tening Mongwa believed in living his Christian faith through his actions because a good example is always the best sermon. The controlling principles of his life was ‘serving oneself by serving others’, and he lived it to the very end.
One of his early acts of evangelization was ministering to English speaking students who lived at the Lycée Leclerc dormitories in Yaoundé, very early on Sunday mornings. He then joined an English speaking prayer group at the Faculty of Protestant Theology and helped create the English language service at the Église Protestante du Cameroun (EPC) Djoungolo, which later grew into the Bastos Congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon.
Tening Mongwa the committed Christian was also an engaged and engaging politician. He in fact knew what belonged to Caesar and what belonged to God. He consequently made short shrift of the idle assumption that politics is dirty by stating that people take their intrinsic values into the things they do, and that this included politics which is “A call to serve” in the eloquent words of Paul Enyih Atogho.! He was a lifelong militant of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and died serving his party as councilor of his native Santa Council and substantive Member of its Central Committee.
Tening Mongwa the consummate table tennis player was fully involved in the Olympic Movement through our own Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSC). He was three times Chief of Mission of Team Cameroon to the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games and held the position of Vice President of the Commonwealth Games Federation at the CNOSC.
Tening Mongwa was the holder of the highest traditional title in the Pinyin Kingdom, “Akamentso” and was later raised to the dignity of “Ndee” by the Fon of Mentin-Pinyin in Council, in the presence of His Royal Majesty the King of Pinyin.
At the National level, Tening Mongwa was Knight, Officer and Commander of the Cameroon National Order of Merit and Officer of the Cameroon National Order of Valour.
He was also holder of the Order of the Two Niles (Sudan), Commander of the Order of Orange Nassau (Netherlands), Commander of the Niger (Nigeria) and Citizen of Sioux City Iowa (USA).
Akamentso Ndee Tening Il was an active Member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), Geneva.
He was Author of the following books:
- English Primer for Cameroon;
- My Child as you leave home, Remember This;
- Think About: Tips for Successful Happy Living;
- The Engaging Citizen.
He took his writing and teaching seriously. In spite of his full to overflowing schedule before and on retirement, he found time to teach as visiting Professor of Conference Interpretation at the University of Buea and as English language lecturer at the Protestant University of Central Africa, proving thereby the oft ignored truth in Parkinson’s Law that: “It is the busy man who has time to spare.”
Akamentso Ndee Tening Mongwa is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Mrs. Esther Mechie Mongwa, five children: Dr. Mbu Mongwa, Mr. Kan Mongwa, Mr. Nkam Mongwa, Ms. Megha Mongwa, and Mr. Asobo Mongwa, nine grandchildren, and many others to whom he served as father.