Cameroonians are mourning the death of Christian Wiyghan Tumi, a Catholic cardinal who was well known for advocating for peace in the ongoing Anglophone separatist crisis in the country.
The 90-year-old cleric was abducted for 24 hours by the separatist fighters in November for asking them to disarm. The Roman Catholic Church said Tumi died in the coastal city of Douala on Saturday.
Tumi gained popularity when he advised the long-serving, 88-year-old Cameroonian President Paul Biya against running for presidential elections but Biya refused.
Following the announcement of Tumi’s death, local stations such as Equinoxe TV, Royal FM and Magic FM broadcast some of his sermons, which were aimed at rooting out corruption in the country.
In a sermon Tumi gave in 2010, while he was archbishop of Douala, he said any Christian who has siphoned off state funds should refund the people’s money. He said Church teachings oppose theft. Those who have stolen government money, he said, must confess and refund the stolen funds if they intend to be accepted into God’s heavenly kingdom.
His message resonated beyond the confines of the church.
Moussa Oumarou, the coordinator of the Council of Imams and Muslim Dignitaries of Cameroon, says Tumi was influential in promoting dialogue between rival religious groups and churches in Cameroon.
Oumarou says the council is saddened by the cardinal’s death. He calls Tumi an apostle of peace who stood for interreligious dialogue to eliminate tensions between Cameroon’s Christian denominations and Muslims. He says Tumi’s legacy of love for the country, humanity and peace should be preserved.
(With input from agencies)