By Chief Fuatabong Achaleke Taku
Professor Asonganyi was a man of many attributes each competing with the others for excellence: In my tribute to Fontem Njifua published in The Star special edition May 2014 page 39 I wrote the following relating to Professor Asonganyi’s opinion about his native Bangwa culture and tradition:
“Professor Tajoacha Asonganyi, a notable prince of the Fontem dynasty, progressive scholar, significant personality on the Cameroonian and African political scene who was at the scene and center of efforts to confront the reality of the transition of the great Monarch, in a posting to the Lebialem Community worldwide, under the title “ Storm of passing King exposes New trends” April 18, emphasized qualities and values that held the people together. According to him,” Four core values have been said to sustain African culture: religiosity, attachment to the community, sacredness of human life, and the leadership of Kings/Fons/Chiefs. These values are like “values” that the African child grows up imbibing; they control their knowledge, attitudes and practices throughout life. The Nweh People of Lebialem Division are very attached to these values; indeed, belief in their culture and tradition is the essence of their existence”.
Through these profound words pregnant with meaning, Professor Asonganyi opened a window into the world that shaped and made him one of the most influential critical thinkers and profound knowledge-smiths of contemporary Africa and beyond.
Incredulous attempts were made to preserve and store the mortal remains of our King in a mortuary. That would have caused grave upheavals back home had that happened. That would have signified the end of our tradition and culture as we know it. A prince by birth right and a significant political personality in his own right, Professor Asonganyi sprang into action and prevented an egregious violation of our culture and tradition from occurring on his watch. Professor Asonganyi took the opportunity to speak to his people and the world about the profound sacredness of our culture and about the profound influences this culture and traditions had on his upbringing and his philosophy of life. Significantly he wrote that the “belief in this culture and tradition is the essence of his people’s existence” and indeed of his own too.
It is significant to note that without an understanding of the profound influence of these cultures and traditions on Professor
Asonganyi, one will never understand the strength of his character, his very elevated sense of social justice, his very sophisticated profound thought process, his legendary courage, the charisma surrounding his visionary leadership and his ideological predisposition.
Without prior notice, fate placed Professor Asonganyi at a place and time when he and only he alone could save the culture and traditions of our people. Little did he and obviously all of us know that by his actions at that sad intimate moment, he was by a dint of fate writing his own tribute two years earlier in his own golden book of life. As we today surmise over the critical events of that fateful moment concerning two brothers who while alive professed radically different political ideologies both now deceased but whom fate and destiny brought together at a critical moment of our common existence let us reflect of the lessons of the actions of Professor Asonganyi taught us about our human actions on the very essence of life. And who else could God have chosen to bring this lessen to our individual and collective attention on an occasion that compelled attention like no other than the one He elevated to the position of Professor in the science of training our men and women on the science of the very essence of life? Who I insistently beg to ask?
Both brothers were undoubtedly among the most impressive politicians of our time in out of our land of birth. Fate and destiny brought them face to face with the obvious reality of our common human existence. One although dead, symbolized the life and future of hundreds of thousands of his subjects and hundreds of thousands more unborn. The other alive then held the power to protect and preserve that symbol of life of our common human existence for him, ourselves and posterity. He did the needful. What mattered to Professor Asonganyi, in his own words was to protect and preserve the culture and tradition of our people which is the very essence of our existence.
In the end, although the journey of the King home rallied the people from near and far worldwide the heroic actions of Professor Asonganyi competed for sturdied attention. In sober moments judging from this incident it was obvious to us that Professor and his late cousin the King shared a common platform of public service and eternal love. This is not surprising because both of them shared a common ancestry and the same cultural and traditional value system.
It is discernible from Professor Asonganyi’s profound comments about the core values of his tradition and culture that he was a very effective communicator. Indeed it was hard if not impossible for anyone to gag Asonganyi or place a communication barrier between him and the people for whom he lived and died. He gave all he had towards the peoples’ search for recognition, relevance, freedom, survival and the pursuit of happiness. Free from the inhibiting structure of the SDF, an opposition political party in which he was a secretary-general, Professor Asonganyi with a profound sense of urgency, effortlessly took the genuine message of social democracy, social justice and effective power to the people directly to the people. His democratic and intellectual credentials were widely acclaimed far beyond the borders of Cameroon.
I was privileged to write an introduction to the memoire of the fallen giant. I reminded myself and readers then and now that the sound solutions to societal problems and the sound ideology of life propounded by Professor Asonganyi were recorded in the deep confines of the conscience of humanity; our common humanity. For this, I may venture to state and state very clearly that he was not just a worthy agent of change but a committed agent of creation which are central attributes that define the very essence of life. Indeed the creative genius in him generated progressive ideas which if followed may provide a solution to the myriad problems facing the polity and indeed humanity at large.
A man of powerful and compelling ideas, Professor Asonganyi was hard to ignore. He was generally admired and respected even by those who struggled unsuccessfully to hate him. He practiced the politics of ideas and solutions to societal problems and not the politics of power for the sake of power. He also played politics without bitterness; the reason why he was highly respected beyond party divide. He was the torch bearer of the politics of hope, fair play and love without constraints. He was the very essence of life and for this reason, although dead, he is alive.
May his soul rest in peace