Born fourth child and third son to Nkam Ndang Mongwa, Noble in the court of the King of Pinyin and Princess Maria Mankwiati Mezoh Nkeng, oldest child of the iconic Prince Nkwiati Awa, Prince-Regent of the Pinyin Kingdom, Tening Mongwa was a man of exceptional faith, drive, focus and destiny.Growing up in our then very small extended maternal family, was in more ways than one, growing up with a trail-blazer, a pace-setter, a man with a dream, a man on a special mission, a man in a hurry, a man loyal in friendship, a man whose principles and world view were very often at variance with those of his contemporaries to the extent that he could even be considered as one born ahead of his time!
Tening Mongwa was my uncle, the youngest of my mother’s three brothers, my mother being the oldest of a family of five children, three boys and two girls.He was my baby nurse or baby sitter!The story is told of how the King of Pinyin, Ifo’o Tening came to our compound, took me off his back, and took him to the palace so he could go to school!
I grew up consequently under his shadow and he was to me and to so many others, a role model, the one guy whose trajectory motivated our own attitude towards life!Because of him we strived to be better!I remember how as a student in the then Faculty of Laws and Economics of the University of Yaounde, after seeing him off at the airport on one of his many foreign trips with President Ahmadou Ahidjo, l resolved to burn the midnight oil so that some day l too will be flying around the world!
How can l pay tribute to a man of such rare and multifaceted ability in a few words!How can l be concise and precise about a man whose works were many and diversified and whose vision of life was centred around something always bigger than himself, nay, something bigger than life!
Akamentso Ndhey Professor Tening Mongwa ll was a man who sought excellence in everything he did and expected excellence from others!He set very high standards for himself and for others!He was impatient with sloppiness of thought and action!He was profound in the things he said and did!He was of course not without fault!He was not a saint, but those who knew him could see that without pretence, he genuinely worked to
serve his community, immediate and larger to the best of his ability.He had the courage and moral fibre to speak truth to power!
Pa Tening Mongwa, as many referred fondly to him, was a humanist, a writer, an educationist and a committed Christian who believed in living his faith through his actions in the knowledge that a good example is always the best sermon.His stewardship in the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, can be better attested to by others more qualified than l am, but nothing stands out more than the translation of the New Testament into Pinyin, the language of his forebears.He transitioned a man at peace with himself and his Creator thanks in large part to the achievement of this project which literally controlled the last twenty or so years of his earthly sojourn.
And then Tening Mongwa, the community man whose axiom of life was ‘serving oneself by serving others’, was to the very end a man attentive to the needs of others!He died believing and teaching us that we are nothing without others, that without our community, immediate and larger we serve a meaningless cause!I therefore readily understood your disappointment and even frustration when you saw the common weal being subverted with such alacrity by those who ought to know and do better!
Good night, nay, good morning, our special family gift from the Lord.Good morning in the land of the blessed.Good morning in the Land of peace makers, good day and happy day in the land where there is no pain or sorrow.I am completely distraught knowing you are gone, gone forever!We said our good byes!Your last call to me on the 12th of February was at 3.16pm and lasted for 11 minutes 56 seconds!We made plans for the days ahead, especially to spend more quality time together!By 6.15am the following day however, you were gone, quietly and peacefully like your sister, my mother.You did not prepare me for a sudden exit in spite of the fact that l knew you were mentally and spiritually ready to meet your Creator!
You were a workaholic till the very end!You were a man of such dignity and self reliance that l know you never wished to be bedridden and never wanted to be a burden to anyone.By the special grace of the God you
served all your life, you did not have to suffer much more in your flesh.To the holy triune God be all the glory.
We thank your nurse who was by your side as you breathed your last: « The silver chain snapped, the golden lamp fell and broke, the rope at the well broke and the water jar was shattered.»Your body will soon return to the dust of the earth, but your breath has already gone back to God who gave it.«Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. »
Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry Tening Mongwa home.A band of angels coming after him, coming for to carry him home!
Sleep easy!Sleep peacefully my oft unsung hero, my icon, my seeker after perfection, my hors pair peace maker, my great achiever, my veritable colossus!You fought the good fight, you ran a good race and you kept the faith!Memories of you are many, they remain vivid!They will see us through, for through the love of God our Saviour, all all is well.