Friday, 19 February 2016

FR O'Brien Immortalises Catechist Timneng

Irish Priest, Fr Rory O'Brien has constructed a monument in Late Catechist Michael Timneng's Compound in Wombong, Njinikom Sub Division in Boyo Division in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. This compound is about 700 metres from the tarred Bamenda-Fundong road, branching off from a junction fondly referred to by the inhabitants as "Downtown Wombong". This is in honour of the Late Michel Tim, the Pioneer Catechist for present day St Anthony's Parish Njinikom, established in 1927. The monument consists of a moulded crucifix, almost human size, housed in a beautiful little house. the inside walls of the house has the names of all the pioneer Christians who came from Fernando Po with the late Michael Tim and who, later became catechumens, were baptised and others became catechists in turn.
Michael Timneng, dismissed as a stubborn palace guard from the Kom Palace by the then Fon Ngam, and submitted for recruitment into the German Schuttestruppe (German army during World War I). The Fon expected that Timneng will be killed at the battle front as he was a thorn in his flesh. Unfortunately for the Fon, Timneng returned unscathed. On his return he made sure he led the men with whom he had returned from Fernando Po (Present day Equatorial Guinea) straight to the palace to pay homage to their Natural ruler. (Timneng whilst fighting mercilessly to implant God's Kingdom in Kom never, for any moment nor reason,  despised the Fon. The Fon, on the contrary, looked upon this young man as a threat to his rule and liberty, and always threatened him both physically and otherwise.
When Timneng and his small group appeared in the palace the Fon ordered Timneng to remove his military boots and surrender them to the palace. It was commonplace in those days that if the Fon or any prince admired any thing whether it belonged to anyone or not it had to be surrendered to the palace. Even your wife!
Michael Timneng had returned with a wonderful treasure from Fernando Po, one that was going to transform the lives of many of God's children and bring relative sanity and discipline into the Kom Kingdom. It was  a Catechism in German. On their departure from Fernando Po, Timneng had been identified as the only one among the inmates that could read some German. He was then given this book to go and continue to teach the Catholic Doctrine to his people, the job the German Pallotine Fathers had started in Fujua before the First world war broke out. 
His assignment turned out to be very perilous as he suffered persecution through detention, torture and poison attempts several times from the Fon Ngam. Like Christ in the beginning of his Ministry, read from the scroll at the temple, "... he sent me to give the good news to the poor, to tell the prisoners they are prisoners no more, to set the downtrodden free. Go tell everyone that God's Kingdom is at hand".
Michael Tim's new doctrine attracted the Fon's wives, princesses and princes in their hundreds. Many of these wives had only been forced into marriage with the Fon. One of the first Princesses to escape was a certain Bi wa'a. All the captives in the Kom Palace escaped to the Church. Njinikom, which became synonymous with the Church became the England for slaves during the abolition of Slave Trade. Just as any slave who set foot on English soil became free, so did any captive from any where, once in Njinikom, became free. 
Guided and guarded by the Holy Spirit Michael Tim survived murderous torture from the hands of Ngong Fundoh, the Fon's hangsman (who ended a baptised Christian (cf St Paul) christened 'Johnny'), poison attempts by the Fon himself to imprisonment on tromped-up charges like Christ, by some irreligious white colonial administrators.
Noteworthy of all is his translation of the doctrine and prayers from German to Kom language and his ability to read and interpret the Bible though he was barely literate in German, another feat of the Holy Spirit.
Timneng got married to Martha Chitu a young catechumen from Djichami and they produced 14 children many of who died at very tender ages. The survivors who lived up to reasonable ages include Cecilia Nayah (who married Maurice Nkinyam and bore two Children), Casmir Komfum, Nke (RIP 2005), Sylvester Tim (my father) RIP 1987, Patrick Madi'itia (rip 2013), Cornelius Ghembesinitia,(rip 2006) Tih Francisca, Petronilla Ambu yinda (now Mrs Nsei Petronilla), and Sebastiana Sah'ngwain whojoined the Franciscan Sisters in Shisong and later left. (RIP 1975).
Michael Tim himself passed onto eternity in December 1968. It is not really clear when Timneng was born, but was estimated he was born around 1869.
It was not until the appointment of Father Rory O'Brien as Parish Priest of St Charles Borromeo Parish Fuanantui  that some attention was raised towards the role Timneng Played in implanting the Catholic Religion in Kom. he set about to immortalise this brave soldier of Christ and the result is what we see today. the whole compound has been transformed into a pilgrim centre.
We the grandchildren of Michael Tim, wish to appeal to the Church Hierarchy to see how a beatification process could be started for this soul we believe could eventually become a saint for his life seems to be in no way different from that of several saints we have read.. 

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