SakerPride - "Telling the Saker Story & MORE"
Have additional information to contribute? Celebrating TWO Remarkable Milestones in Saker Baptist College's Musical History & Legacy.
ALL 15 SONGS FROM THEIR OUTSTANDING MUSIC ALBUM ARE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE FURTHER DOWN ON THIS PAGE, ALONG WITH THE ARTICLE THAT TELLS THEIR REMARKABLE STORY! - SE BWAM YENO - YA BE PETE PENYA - SHOW A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE & KINDNESS - I AM NOT SKILLED TO UNDERSTAND ...
< 1969 1981 >
THE CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS (1969)
ALL 19 SONGS ON THE CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS' "SONGS OF FAITH ALBUM ARE AVAILABLE INDIVIDUALLY ON THE MUSIC PAGE OF THIS WEBSITE
Cameroon College Singers' Photo & Documents Album (Click on image to view Album. FULL SCREEN VIEW PREFERABLE!) Click on PLAY button to enjoy the complete "SONGS OF FAITH" Album posted on YOUTUBE by Mr. GERVASE NDOKO (aka TheBueaBoy)
Click on ICONS above to read the Full Official Report of the Tour prepared for The North American Baptist General Conference. Please Click on Icons above to view pages of Tour Pamphlet with Lists of Songs, Tour Members and their Bios SO, WHO WENT ON THE TOUR? WHAT PART DID THEY SING? WHAT WERE THEIR EXPERIENCES? WHERE ARE THEY NOW? DON'T KNOW? NOT SURE? WELL, FIND OUT ...!!!
) NWIGWE Stella :
O MASTER, LET ME WALK WITH THEE
- School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now Dr. Mrs. ANYANGWE; Retired from WHO, resident in Pretoria, South Africa.
2) NDOKO JULIANNA: - Part: SOPRANO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: DECEASED. Was Mrs. Gobina. Died in January of 1987, in an airplane crash en route to Brazil. (R.I.P.)
3) HADDISON DAISY : - Part: ALTO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now Mrs. ETYA'ALE; Lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
4) SHIRO, SINATA : - Part: ALTO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now Dr. Mrs. Koula; lives in Yaounde and is Secretary General in the Ministry of Public Health.
5) WOLOA, SOPHIE : - Part: ALTO - Other Role: Taught at SBC - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: Lives in Buea, Cameroon.
6) ACHU, FERDINAND :
- Other Role: GROUP PRESIDENT/LEADER - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: Lives in Bamenda, Cameroon
7) EWUSI CHRISTIANA : - Part: SOPRANO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now, Mrs. ATTERE, lives in Milwaukee, WI
8) NFOR JESSE : - Part: BASS - Instrument Played: UNDER ARM BASS DRUM - SOLO: SUNSET IS COMING (& the Baritone“Hmmmm” in Di ma dangwa Yerusalem”) - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: Married, Lives in Washington, D.C.
9) NFOR EMMANUEL: - Part: BASS - Instrument Played: STANDING DRUM - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: DECEASED (R.I.P.)
10) MODIKA, WESTERMAN:
- School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: DECEASED. Passed away 6 Months after return from U.S. Tour. (R.I.P.)
11) KONI, JAPHETH :
- Solo: ALL GRASSLAND SONGS (Except for Be ye te kwerre Ke) - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: ??
12) MAFANY, ERNEST : - Part: BASS - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: ??
13) FOKAM, CLAUDIA : - Part: SOPRANO - Instrument Played: SHAKERS - Solo: MARY’S BOY CHILD - Other Role: CHOIR CONDUCTOR - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now, Mrs. BUMAKOR, lives in Yaounde, Cameroon
14) BESONG, GRACE : - Part: ALTO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: ??
15) BELL, MIRANDA : - Part: SOPRANO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now, Mrs. LIFANDA, lives in Limbe, Cameroon.
16) ESAPA, RUTH: - Part: SOPRANO - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: DECEASED (R.I.P)
17) IKOME, DOROTHY :
BA MA NA BIBEL
- School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Now Mrs. FORBIN; Lives in Yaounde, Cameroon.
18) CHIE, MARITA : - Part: ALTO - School of Origin: S.B.C. VICTORIA (LIMBE) UPDATE: Teacher , Lives in Bamenda, Cameroon
19) ESEKE, FRITZ: - Part: BASS - Solo: SUNSET IS COMING (& the Baritone“Hmmmm” in Di ma dangwa Yerusalem”, along with Mr. J. Nfor) - School of Origin: B.T.T.C. SOPPO - BUEA UPDATE: Based in Nigeria.
CHOIR DIRECTOR: Mr. DON WITT - Principal of S.B.C. (Plays the violin in the Group's Instrumental Rendition of "Hallelujah For The Cross") UPDATE: Still sharp as a tack at 82! He and his wife, Mrs. Ruth WITT live in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. **(Mrs. Ruth Witt passed away on March 7 2014 and Mr. Don Witt on April 19 2016. RIP)
CHAPLAIN: REVEREND LYSONGE UPDATE: Lives in Buea, and runs an NGO that focuses on the environment. Still a reverend pastor! **(Passed away Saturday October 24 2015. RIP)
TOUR BUS DRIVER/OWNER: Mr. LLOYD TEMPLETON UPDATE: ??
First Row: Claudia Fokam, Grace Besong , Miranda Bell, Ruth Esapa , Dorothy Ikome , Marita Chie .
Second Row: Don Witt, Fritz Eseke, Stella Nwigwe, Juliana Ndoko , Daisy Haddison, Sinata Shiro , Sophie Woloa , Ferdinand Achu , Christy Ewusi
Back Row: Jesse Nfor, Emmanuel Manjong (did not make the trip; Emmanuel Nfor took his place), Westerman Modika, Japheth Koni, Ernest Mafany.
Late Julianna Ndoko Gobina
IN THE WORDS OF THE CHORISTERS THEMSELVES ...
From: Christiana Attere Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 7:43 AM To: egbe monjimbo; stella anyangwe; Daisy Haddison Subject: RE: PLEASE HELP ME TELL THE CAMEROON CHORISTERS STORY!! Importance: High
Egbe, I thank God for the Witts, Mr. Hand. Ms. Kern and Ms. Binder whose memories are still so sharp. My dear, most times I can't even remember things that happened 10 years ago let alone 40 years ago! For starters, I remember that we were on tour for three months in North America and Canada by greyhound bus to various cities and the city that stands out in my mind is Anaheim, California where Miranda and I stayed with late Mrs. Thelma Fischer and her daughter Renee (Renee had some medical issues but I'm very happy to learn that she is doing well and she is happily married). I was in touch with Thelma till 2007. I only learnt from Renee and her husband, Jeff, in 2007 after waiting for replies that Thelma had passed away! How sad. I'll forward that email to you.
So, I continue to sing because of the love of religious music which started in Saker and culminated in the choir tour. I listen to Family Radio (in spite of their mistake of announcing the day the world was going to end although we are told that no one knows the day or the hour! I thank God that they have apologized to their listeners) because the songs we learnt in Saker are played in their programs and that brings me a lot of joy.
For your information, I know that 2 members of the choir have passed on: dear Julie Ndoko Gobina and one man from BTTC (I can't remember his name). Do you have the booklet from which you took that photo? I have it and I can send it to you. I decided to carry it along during my travels. The photos are certainly in bad condition in good old Buea weather. The booklet says a lot about our trip.
May God continue to bless you, Egbe, for bringing back all those memories which might inspire someone. I am proud to have been born a Cameroonian. I'm blessed to have attended Saker Baptist College. Praise be to God. Christy
From: Jesse Nfor Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2012 2:30 AM To: Egbe Monjimbo Cc: Jesse Nfor Subject: Re: CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS QUESTIONNAIRE (OPTIONAL!!)
Mrs. Egbe Monjimbo, I personally would like to thank you for your personal thought and effort in bringing memories of the original Cameroon College Singers of 1969 in a historic article. I'm impressed by your zealous and creative approach to putting this article together considering the fact that you were only about four years old at the time of our tour.
I'll briefly respond to the questionnaire you sent to me about the tour. As a matter fact, I was not originally auditioned for the recruitment of the College Singers due to the fact that I was in Muyoka on a Gospel Team mission. Mr. Donald Witt had auditioned SBC girls and BTTC students and the selected choristers started practice at Saker Baptist College campus; to routinely practice there every Saturday. When Mr. Witt attended our college Sunday evening service, he then discovered me when I was on the stage singing in a mixed quartet led by me. Apparently Mr. Witt who was sitting next to my Music teacher, Mr. Kimber asked him if I was at the audition when he came to BTTC. Mr. Kimber told him that I was not on the campus when he came and conducted the auditioning. Mr. Witt quickly asked him to send me with the already selected singers to SBC for practice. According to Mr. Witt, the selected twenty- something chorisrer were to be reduced to only nineteen singers according to information from Forest Park Illinois, the North America Baptist Conference Head quarters.This order led to the second round of auditioning which was my only audition. If I could recall, about six students were eliminated and some of them wept as a result this process.
A typical day for the singers was: wake up from individual lodging homes in the morning, enjoy the American breakfast,. meet at the church or a designated place for choir rehearsal, lunch at the church or at a red stop, ready for concert presentation at a church or some public auditorium or go on a site seeing at places of attractions, dinner at church or with lodging families. Most of the concerts took place in the evenings on Sundays at churches or public auditoriums.Some rehearsals sometimes took place in the tour bus during long distances across the State.
Memories I can recall vividly in my mind were: driving across the varousStates and presenting musical concerts in churches, colleges, public auditoriums for the three months duration of the tour.. I recall the group visiting the White House and performing in front of a committee of US Senetors. I recall the group at the United Nations listening to some discussions by UN members. I recall the group going up the Empire Building in New York for site seeing. I recall my group going up the Husky Tower (rotates at the top) in Calgary, Alberta Canada.
The tour impacted my life greatly. I was inspired to pursue music one level higher. I organized a mixed quartet called, "the Jubillee Singers" which toured part of the country, Cameroon with such talented singers like Elizbeth Asa (soprano), Matha Ekema (alto), Emil Elongo Kumbela(tenor), and myself Jesse Nfor (bass and director). We toured the SW, Littoral, and the Central Provinces singing basically the old gospel special selections like: "On the Jericho Road, Just a Little Talk With Jesus, A Beautiful Life, Any Where Is Home," etc, etc. There is no doubt in my mind that the tour impacted my coming to America to study. American friends I met inspired me to come and study in North America. A Canadian girl by name Connie actually deposited $1,000 with the regitrar's office for me to study at North Alberta Institute of Technology (N.A.I.T.). When I failed to show up for studies after one year, the money was then refunded to the girl.
After the tour, I went back to BTTC and completed my last two years of education. I taught with the Cameroon Baptist Convention main school, Victoria, for eight years and two years with the Government Secondary School, Victoria. In the Summer of 1980. I went to N.A.I.T. Edmonton, Canada for one year and then to the University of Alberta whwere I obtained a B.Ed. and a graduate degree in Post Secondary School. I couldn't have a job in my field and I decided to continue with further studies. I came to the USA and attended Bowie State University where I obtained an M.Ed. in School Administration and Supervision and an M.Ed in Special Education. I've worked in Washington DC as a school officer and currently as a special educator with Baltimore City Public School Systen. I have five children who are attending college and working in Canada, Jimmy 31 years old, Vashti 26, Emery25, Sandra20 and Jessica 18.
The Cameroon College Singers departed from the Douala International Airport by PanAm Air on September 1st arriving New York on September 2nd. The tour ended on November 26th with the choristers flying back home, sweet home, to arrive Douala on November 27th.
From: Daisy Etyaale Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 3:04 PM To: Egbe Monjimbo Subject: Re: THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE TO SEE & HEAR THIS!
Hi Egbe, You are something! Where did you dig those pictures from? I had never seen these ones. Oh mine, oh mine!
By the way, I have not been able to come with much. Have you got the names of all the choristers now? I can see Grace Bessong. There was also Marita che, Ruth Esapa, Sophie Wolowa. I can't remember the names of the guys.
The one thing I remember vividly is that we travelled with a pastor who gave a message, whenever we had to present a concert. We lived in two's with different families. We sang in different Baptist churches in the US and Canada. On Sundays we usually sang twice, in the morning and evening but can't remember if it was done in the same church at both times. I remember that for many weeks, Grace Bessong was my mate. I don't really know where she is now.
Coming back to this pastor, his name is Pastor Lysonge. Wow! That man always kept us spellbound when he preached, and we always wondered what he would come up with in his next sermon. I knew him as a teacher in primary school Great Soppo Buea. As a young girl in primary school he was a genius to me. He impressed us with his vocabulary and language . He was a very good teacher. Anyway, I remember one particular incident. I think that was in Canada. We arrived at a town (or city) called Medicine Hat. I think most of us wondered how this city got its name. Pastor Lysonge is not one who remains at the stage of wonder. He always does his research, and as usual, he did it again and surprised all of us as well as the congregation that evening. During his sermon, he talked about Medicine Hat, how it got its name etc., as if he had been living there all his life. He found a way of nicely incorporating his findings into his sermon. He always impressed us and of course the congregations we went to. I guess they asked themselves how this pastor from Africa who has just come into their city be so knowledgeable about it. He always found out something about each city and town we went to. I don't know where he is now.
We travelled in greyhound buses and sometimes we had to practice in the bus. I remember that very often, the driver was upset because he said he wanted to hear the sound of his engine but he couldn't do so with the singing going on. We found that funny!
Some of the food we had was new to us but most of us liked what we ate. Hm! Deserts, apple pie and ice cream, rhubarb pie, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies. Waking up in the mornings in those homes, was a delight. The smell of coffee, cinnamon and bacon etc. Breakfast, wow! Those thick pancakes with lots of butter and syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon and toast, glasses of milk, (not used to drinking milk like that), so we put sugar to their amazement. Sugar in milk? Most of us had gained some weight by the time we were leaving.
It was fun sharing rooms with different members of the group. I think I shared a room once with Christy. We were looking around and admiring all the decorations and stuff. On the dresser, was this jewelry box. It was very nice and shiny we thought we could have a look in it. So we opened it. To our shock and amazement it started producing music. We quickly put on the lid and started laughing at ourselves. But we had one worry: The people in the house would definitely know that we have been touching stuff and may even suspect us so we were quite nervous. But nobody asked us anything and all was fine. But after we had left, whenever we thought about that incident we would laugh so hard. That was fun!
We were given a certain amount of dollars every week, if I remember well. I think on this occasion, I was still with Christy. Our hostess had taken us shopping to one of those big department stores. We had decided that we would get some music (rock, sentimental etc :) ) but didn't tell her that. So when we went in and were taken to the music section, here we were rushing to the racks with the kind of music we wanted. Then all of a sudden, our hostess came after us saying," girls, that's not where to go to, that's not for you!" So we were ushered away from that place and we burst out laughing among us. It seemed as if we had stepped on very dangerous grounds and had to be rescued.
It would be nice to contact Christy if she remembers any of these incidents and if there are any omissions, but I do remember all this well.
You know what? those pictures brought some kind of inspiration and memories. I don't know if any of this stuff is helpful but these are a few of the memories that came to me right now.
Sorry, I just wrote as the thoughts came. Don't worry about all the mistakes, just read through and see if you can make use of anything there.
Once again, thank you for everything and making our day.
From: Christiana Attere Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:12 PM To: egbe monjimbo; Daisy Haddison; stella anyangwe Cc: Subject: RE: THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE TO SEE & HEAR THIS! Importance: High
Who will write your own story? Where did you get those photos and song from? I bet it is from Mr. Witt. Wow! It is so nice to see those innocent, fresh faces: Stella Nwigwe, Miranda Bell, Daisy Haddison, Late julie Ndoko, Grace Besong, Dolly Ikome, Sinata Shiro and Christiana Ewusi! And that song! It reminds me so much of Mrs. Ikome.
You know what? I'm very unhappy with myself because that booklet which I kept so well and even brought to USA can't be found! I've kept my documents so well that I have my First School Leaving Certificate and my SBC certificate. Where is that booklet? I've turned the heaps of papers over and over but I can't find it. Thank God I succeeded in tearing some of the paper I've accumulated in this country. Well, I'm sure that I'll see it when I'll not be looking for it.
I'll send a message to California and find out whether apart from the music, that family found any other material related to our choir tour.
I did not even remember that we plaited our hair in those days! I thought that it has always been'Short hair".
Be blessed. Sis Christy
From: Stella Anyangwe Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 5:43 PM To: Egbe Monjimbo Subject: Fw: Re: CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS QUESTIONNAIRE
1. Did you Audition? How did you learn that you had been chosen for this Tour?
> Yes, I did audition and I was recruited as an alto singer. I eventually got moved to tenor although my voice range could scan both parts. Mr Witt informed me about my selection.
2. How were the Practice Sessions done prior to departure to North America?:
> In Saker, daily
3. What was the Date of Departure:
> Cant remember exact date but it was August 69.
Point of Arrival/Port of Entry in the States = NY Date of Return to Cameroon?= Nov '69
4. What was a typical day like?
> Can't remember much save that the days were particularly hectic before we left Cameroon. They became more so while on tour because we would travel by bus all day, arrive a concert city, practice for long before the concert, and then hit the road again for the next city. We visited over 30 cities in as many states!
5. What particular memories/events stand out in your mind?
> Singing at the UN in New York where the Liberia lady, Angie Brooks, was chair of the General Assembly! My grand uncle, Pen Malafa, was serving at the UN then, and he made the arrangements for us to sing there.
6. How did this tour impact your life?
> A whole lot! I came to know Americans in a way that I would never have. Also came to believe in the power of choral music as devotion and great medium for sharing the Word.
7. LIFE AFTER THE TOUR: > Went to do A levels after tour, then to Medical school. Worked in Cameroon then went back to the USA for post graduate training (MPH and PhD). Got married, have two adult kids, joined WHO and was WHO Rep in 4 countries. Now in the African Regional Office in Brazzaville as focal point for Disasters and Emergencies. Will send pictures only when I return to Brazza
From: Claudia Fokam Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 1:44 PM To: EMonjimbo@msn.com Cc: Dolly Forbin Subject: The cameroon college singers
The Cameroon College Singers was a choral group which consisted of students of Saker Baptist College (SBC), Victoria, an all girl’s college and Baptist Teachers’ Training College (BTTC), Soppo, Buea. We were accompanied by Rev. and Mrs. Henderson, Mrs. Ruth Witt, their daughter Karin and Rev. Lysonge, a Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Pastor. This choir tour was organized by the then principal of SBC, Mr. Donald Witt sponsored by the North America Baptist Convention (NABC) of U.S.A. The mission of this choir was to carry out a three months Choir Tour in the U.S.A. and Canada to show case the work of the NABC missionaries in Cameroon and also for evangelism.
After tedious practices and voice auditioning the final selection for the choir was twenty choristers of eight men (including the directors) and twelve women. In 1969 the choir was ready for the choir tour of three months from 3rd September to 27th November. The tour began in New York and went across twenty states in America and five provinces in Canada. We sang and ministered in Baptist Churches of the NABC and also public places.
Our means of transportation was ‘Greyhound’ buses, taking us from place to place, driven by our good friend driver, Uncle Llyod, an American. It was full of fun and excitement. We thrilled the Christians of the NABC with the message of the Good News of Salvation in songs from a rich repertoire of songs in English, vernacular, and German. Most of the singing was conducted by our Choir Director Donald Witt and assisted by Miss Claudia Fokam now Mrs. Buma-kor.
The Christians were very satisfied and blessed to see that the work and moneys for missionary work was not in vain. We, the choir were very much blessed to have made a trip to the U.S.A. and above all to be in the service of the Lord through singing. It is 42 years today since we went on this tour. Some of the choristers died after our return, at different times. It is our prayer that they are singing praises to God Almighty in heaven.
When we returned to Cameroon our music which was registered on records and cassettes and played over the radio blessed the people of Cameroon with songs like “Jesus hold my hand”, “Mary boy child”, “Sango Po”, etc. May I, Claudia Fokam Buma-kor with all humility thank God for the grace He gave me to use this choir tour as a springboard for my music ministry where I am now a solo artist in Gospel music with the artist name – Aunty Clo. My very first album is titled “My Friend Jesus” and I now have four musical albums in the market. My musical career dates far back to this choir tour and with all praise and gratitude to God and Saker Baptist College, I say I am a fruit of the Cameroon College Singers that has continued the music ministry as a solo artist – This tour made these young men and women strong in the Lord as today, many of them hold responsible posts in their local churches, continue to sing in choirs and help others grow in the Lord.
Our tribute and gratitude goes to God who called us to sing for Him and to SBC, BTTC, CBC and NABC. We will never forget Donald Witt for making this tour possible. May God bless him and us.
Mrs.Buma-kor Claudia Fokam (Aunty Clo)
THAT WAS THEN ... ... THIS IS NOW!!
FROM CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA ...
DAISY EPOSI HADDISON Mrs. ETYA'ALE
After we came back from the choir tour, I went to CCAST Bambili, and later taught in SBC for a year. (Wow! Beginning to forget!) After I got my GCE "A" Levels, I went to the University of Yaounde (1972) where I obtained a B.A in " Lettres Modernes Anglaises" ( English Literature). I got married in 1975. After my university studies, I went to "Ecole Normale Superieure," ( Higher Teacher Training). There, I obtained my Diploma, (CAPES), qualifying me to teach Engish as a second language in the French speaking secondary and high schools. I taught in Lycée L'Eclerc for a year and then we moved to Bafia, where I taught in the Lycée there for four years.
After those four years, I accompanied my husband to Lausanne, Switzerland where he did his specialization in general and vascular surgery. From Switzerland, we moved to Lunsar Sierra Leone for a couple of years. From there we moved to Glasgow, Scotland, where my husband did his training - ophthalmology. We finally came back to Cameroon in 1985 and we were posted to the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in Ebolowa. While there, I taught in the Lycée d'Ebolowa.
Ten years later, we left Ebolowa, for Geneva, Switzerland where my husband was called up for a job with WHO. We lived there from 1995 to 2011. We are presently living in Cape Town, South Africa, waiting for the next move. Retirement! :)
I don't have any pictures of the tour with me. This is a picture of my family, taken two years ago. As you can see from the picture, I have a son and two daughters. My son is married and has two children - a boy of 5 and a half, and a girl 2, which makes me a very happy grandma.) In the picture we were still expecting the second one.
I really haven't sung in a choir since then. Most churches these days have worship teams with a few people and a band up there. Nevertheless, we formed a group in the church I attended in Geneva. (Evangelical Baptist Church of Geneva) This group was called "Joyful Noise". We were not trained singers, we just sang with the natural voices that we had. Geneva being a very international place, we had people of several nationalities in the group. We sang in English of course, Swahili, Douala, Bakweri, Bulu, Mbemba (Zambian language), Fanti (Ghanaian language). We started learning a German song but didn't finish it because our dear sister from Germany went to be with the Lord, where she would sing without ceasing. The singing I do now is in praise and worship in church. I also sing at home!
Have a lovely weekend. May the Lord bless you, the work of your hands, and all those who will read what goes into Saker Pride.
Love and blessings, Daisy
Graduating from Saker Baptist College in 1969
THE ETYA'ALES - 2010 THE CAMEROON CHORISTERS 1981
As was the case with THE CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS Project I took on earlier, my decision to embark on this CAMEROON CHORISTERS Project came about as a result of my inability to find any readily accessible, substantial, or worthwhile information on the INCREDIBLY TALENTED Group of Men and Women, Boys and Girls that toured North America in 1981, showcasing Cameroon’s Culture and Music with BRIO! This group, which included 3 SAKERETTES –
- HANNAH HADDISON (now WILLIAMS, Class of ‘75), - FLORENCE WEYIH (now GROB, Class of ‘78), and - YOLANDA NOKURI (now HEGNGI, Class of ’81)
produced an ALBUM with Age and Time-defying melodies but, regrettably, neither the MUSIC nor the PEOPLE behind it ever got adequate or befitting exposure to start with, (given the absence of the internet and a viable Cameroonian Television network at the time), and with the passing of time, both have been all but forgotten! My intention in collecting and publishing the Information and Music about and from THE CAMEROON CHORISTERS is, therefore, to “rectify the situation” and put THE GROUP and THEIR BEAUTIFUL MUSIC “on the map” so to speak. That way, as is now the case with THE CAMEROON COLLEGE SINGERS, a simple GOOGLE search will provide ANYONE who seeks, with an opportunity to APPRECIATE & SAVOR the fruits of the labor of the 19 individuals, who, led and directed by Ms CLEO ENOCKSON, (now Dr. CLEO HAGEN), represented us VALIANTLY, and did us all PROUD!!
Here’s their Music and their Story – in their own words, and with the PRICELESS PICTURES that help bring the people and events ALIVE!
WHAT A TREAT!
Please Click On Picture Above to view Picture Album comprising of pictures collected from various members of the tour!
CHOIR MEMBERS ... SOPRANOS Angeline Ngangwa Gladys Kuni Florence Weyih Monica Wango Yolanda Nokuri
ALTOS Helmine Chia Grace Ekfuingei Rose Nsufor Hannah Haddison Victoria Tatah TENORS Joseph Nkemontoh Abraham Chiamba Emmanuel Nsah Johnson Tata Samuel Fai
BASS Martin Gemlack Noah Ndiba Elias Bongmba Edward Ngebi THE MUSIC ...
Se Bwam Ye No Tukuwe Mbe De Cheghina I Am Not Skilled To Understand
Te Marie (Efik Song) Njung Xylophone (Instrumental) Show A Little Bit Of Love & Kindness
I'll Tell The World That I'm A Christian Yesu Te Le Kuntombyi Ni We We Jeli
Yabe Pete Penya Make Us One Greater Is He That Is In Me
Angel Ni Bihf In Christ There Is No East Or West What A Friend We Have In Jesus
IN THE WORDS OF THE CHORISTERS THEMSELVES ... HANNAH HADDISON WILLIAMS ...
Being a part of the Cameroon choristers is one of the most memorable experiences I have had. Flying abroad for the first time in a Boeing 747 that looked like a mini city with people walking up and down the aisle, noises of soft conversations and chatters all around me was exciting but a bit overwhelming. As our plane loomed over the great city of Chicago, my relative Yolanda Hegngi (Nokuri at the time), the youngest member of the choir and one of the Sakerrettes on this tour turned to me, eyes lit up with excitement and said, “Sister Hannah we are in America!!” We both watched in awe as the 747 landed in the Chicago O’Hare Airport.
Our reception to the US was very warm. We travelled in vans to 23 states in the US and 7 provinces in Canada performing in designated North American Baptists churches.
We had to learn many things as a group. We had to get used to our new environment and culture. We also had to get along with fellow choristers traveling together in a van for hours every day. We took turns leading group devotions.
We were paired to each host family in the cities we performed and the reception by these families was just exceptional. We ate foods that were new to us but tasted good and we had lots of fun shopping in Malls for the first time. One fun memory that I would like to highlight was our first time seeing snow. I believe we were scheduled to return to Cameroon in late November so, we were all praying and anticipating that we would get a chance to experience snow. I remember we were traveling in the Van in British Columbia( guys correct me if I am wrong). I was catching some ZZZZs, being true to my nick name “Digger”, when I heard some elated voices, then a shove by one of the choristers: ”It is snowing!!!” came shouts from the van. SNOW!!! SNOW!!! SNOW!!! Our driver stopped the van and we all went out to examine this new phenomenon. It was fascinating!!! Pure white flakes falling from the sky! Then someone told us that every snow flake had a different shape - this was mind boggling! We sniffed it, tasted it then got silly and started throwing snowballs at each other. We laughed at how funny we all looked in our big coats, mittens and gloves, something we were not used to. It was quite exhilarating! We however quickly got cold and climbed back into the van.
This choir tour experience was a time of growth for me personally. I was thousands of miles away from my family. I grew emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I am ever so grateful to the Lord for having given me this great gift to be a part of a wonderful group of people: Our choir director, trainer and friend, Cleo Hagen (Enockson at the time) who was so much fun to be around. Our Pastor, Stephen Nteff, guided us spiritually. Dr. Jerry Fluth and Mr Ray DeNeui our drivers, planners and guardians on this trip. Our Mamas, Ma Monie Fluth and Mrs Edith Schroeder DeNeui who made sure we had what we needed and altered our uniforms when for some reason our waistlines started expanding . Joel Michaelson who was the muscle man helping the other guys with loading and unloading the van between concerts and also the sound technician. Last but not the least, our little companion boy Fluth who made our trips lively fooling around with the intercoms in the vans sending messages from one van to the other; “We are stopping for lunch, over…”
Hannah Haddison WILLIAMS, is married with two young ladies, 21 and 18. My husband is a Workforce Development Specialist. We reside in Bellwood, a Western Suburb of Chicago Illinois.
Yolanda Nokuri Hegngi ...
In each of our lives there are a few significant defining moments. Perhaps for some of us a couple of early defining moments were when we left the comforts of our homes for Saker, at an early age and learned to adjust to living with hundreds of other young girls. For many of us, another significant defining moment was when we left our beloved Cameroon for studies overseas and we had to bridge cultural norms and approaches to academia. In my case, a significant defining moment was the combination of those two experiences. When I reluctantly transferred to Saker at 15, to Form Four, I had no earthly idea what would be in store for me. In addition to the academic focusing that happens to young girls in single-sex schools, Saker helped open the door for me to be the youngest member of the Cameroon Choristers in 1981. Like the Cameroon Singers who toured, North America in 1969, the Cameroon Choristers comprised of 19 young people, (10 females and 9 males) and Sister Hannah Haddison (now Williams), Sis Florence Weyih (now Grob), a class of ’78 and I were the only Choristers from Saker. A very interesting article was written about us in Michigan and can be accessed here: http://digitize.gp.lib.mi.us/digitize/newspapers/gpnews/1980-84/81/1981-09-10.pdf As I look back now, I realize how the early years of accompanying my grandmother to Choir Practice at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Limbe, erstwhile, Victoria, with Pa Haddi as Choir Conductor, paid rich dividends. I would not say that our family home was especially musical, but it was the fact that, at 7 years of age, while living with my grandmother who took me everywhere, I learned to harmonize in treble because she sang all the time, as an alto. What an opportunity for voice lessons! In a nutshell the Cameroon Choristers experience is still one of the richest experiences that I have had. The lessons started when we traveled all over Cameroon for choir practices and I had a chance to visit places like Belo, Banso, and Ndu. In addition, we sang in Cameroon at the US Consulate in Douala and in Yaounde, before the then Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Yang Philemon! The flight through Brussels to Chicago in August 1981 was the first time I left Cameroon and as the plane landed at O’hare airport, I knew my life would never be the same. The Choir spent time in the Chicago area, practicing and recording the album, before starting the tour in Michigan, into Ontario and across Canada. As a young 17 year old, I learned invaluable emotional and spiritual lessons from Sister Hannah, Choir Director, Cleo Enockson, and my “tour mother”, late Sister Mary Mbeng. In fact, the Cameroon Choristers were like an extended family for me that year and I love seeing each member when I return to Cameroon. Since the Choir tour, I have had many defining moments in my personal and professional life, however, my experience with the Cameroon Choristers made an imprint at an early age to make the world a smaller place for me. Consequently, I can pack a suitcase and hop on a plane to the farthest parts of the world for work, because at a young age, I was exposed to the kindness of Choristers and of North American Baptist Conference families during the tour. The Cameroon Choristers experience was a very rich gift to me. Thank you for indulging me in this reflection piece. Blessings to all who read this…
Dr. Yolanda Nokuri Hegngi currently resides in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. This author wife and mother of 2 remarkable sons is the Founder and Managing Partner at Stimulus Consulting LLC
Mrs. Florence Weyih GROB and Husband, Mr. Walter Grob
Dr. Elias BONGMBA & Wife, Dr. Odelia Ngala BONGMBA (2012 The Cameroon choristers: A Life Changing Experience By Elias Kifon Bongmba
In 1980 when I gave up a teaching post at Government Secondary School in Gembu Nigeria, and returned to serve as pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Kumba, little did I know that I was in for a life changing experience. The Berean Church family was very supportive. Resident missionaries, Fred and Dorothy Holzimmer, Joel Michelson, and our Field Pastor, the Reverend David O. Ntui were great colleagues. One day I was told there was a family visiting from the United States. As pastor at the Baptist compound, I stopped to meet them and they were family members and relatives of Miss Cleo Enockson who had arrived in Cameroon to recruit, train, and direct a choir to tour North America.
Several weeks later, I applied to be on the choir, attended auditions, and was selected. I thought all the efforts my friend, Mr. James Ndzi and I exerted and taught ourselves to read music had paid off, but I could not imagine how much this venture would impact me. The new choir, named The Cameroon Choristers, rehearsed at different Baptist Stations in Cameroon. We enjoyed working with Cleo, who, as an excellent musician, made sure we got everything right. We were delighted that she liked Cameroon songs, and was quite knowledgeable about our music and worked with us to get it right. American and Canadian missionaries in Cameroon introduced us to their countries, gave us a taste of the foods we would eat, and prepared us for the three months long stay in North America. The rehearsals strengthened our friendships, created strong bonds between the choir members, our director, Jerry and Monie Fluth, Joel Michelson our sound technician, and Ray and Edith DeNiu whom we heard so much about and were looking forward to meet in the States.
I was fortunate to be selected President of the Choir, and given the title "Shey", a Northwest title for a senior official of the regulatory society called Kwifon. It was a great blessing for many of us to have the Reverend Stephen Nteff, the former Cameroon Baptist Convention Executive Secretary as our chaplain who also performed one of the songs with us on tour. Before our departure from Cameroon, the United States Ambassador to Cameroon, The Honorable Hume Horan received the Choir at the American Consulate in Douala where, in many ways, he gave us a taste of American hospitality and told us that he had contacted the leaders of the cities in which the choir would be performing.
Central to the tour was the music which included a mixture of traditional Christian hymns, contemporary choral arrangements, Cameroon choral selections and congregational caller/response music. Our evening programs started with a complete 25 piece xylophone accompanied by a Cameroonian long drum. During the evening program, the choir also performed a play based on the Hebrew Bible story which gives the account of how King Solomon settled a dispute between two women over a child. The evening programs were designed to give testimony to North American Baptist Conference Missions in Cameroon and various ministries of the Cameroon Baptist Convention.
During the three months of the tour we stayed with host families in the US and Canada; sang in small, big, and large churches. In some cities we sang in large auditoriums. We enjoyed the generous hospitality of our hosts, their pastors, and in different places we enjoyed sightseeing including a whole day at Disneyland in Los Angeles. Washington DC was my favorite place and singing on the steps of the Capitol Building was a wonderful privilege. Our host in congress was Senator Charles Percy from Illinois. Edmonton in Canada was a also high point for me because it was the one city where many of the missionaries serving in Cameroon had some connection. I had the privilege of preaching the Sunday morning sermon in one of the churches. For all of us as a choir, singing in Washburn North Dakota was a very important highlight because it was Cleo’s home town. The entire city and surrounding cities filled the High School gymnasium to hear the choir. Cleo had another homecoming at her alma mater, Wheaton College from where studied counseling psychology. When we returned to Cameroon, The members of the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Church, the US Embassy in Yaoundé hosted us for concerts and Ambassador Horan gave us a welcome back to Cameroon reception at his residence. Cleo did not return with us and Joseph Mbah directed the music.
As I travelled with the choir, one of my great inspirations appreciating the diversity of North America and meeting people and recognizing that we share my hopes and dreams together. The tour gave me a rare insight into the work of the North American Baptist General Conference, and I returned to Cameroon with a new appreciation for the global mission endeavor of that denomination. Whether it was singing, playing drums, acting in the play, calling the Wimbum song, or giving interviews and speaking on behalf of the choir as their Shey, I always remembered the joint endeavor by the North American Baptist Conference and the Cameroon Baptist Convention and the team work and bonding between Cleo and the choir that made the tour such a great experience. It was certainly a highlight of my life and I continue to cherish the memories, lessons, and fun of that tour. Above all, I am thankful that through song and word, we were given the opportunity to show case the work of the global Christian movement from our perspective in Cameroon.
When I returned to Cameroon, I continued my service at The Berean Baptist Church. I later had the privilege of serving as the pioneer Baptist pastor at Etoug-Ebe Baptist church in Yaoundé, where I was fortunate to work with the men and women of that church to lay the ground work for Baptist presence in Yaoundé, its broad future outreach, and facilitated the early negotiations and signing of documents for the medical work of the convention in Yaoundé. I enjoyed preaching every other Sunday on the National Radio program, Morning Meditation. I returned to the United States in 1985, studied at Sioux Falls College, North American Baptist Seminary, the University of Iowa, and earned a PHD in philosophy of Religion from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology. I currently serve as the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University where I am a faculty associate at Weiss College. I am also the current President of the African Association for the Study of Religion. My wife, Dr. Odelia Yuh Ngala Bongmba and children currently reside in Houston, Texas. The tour of the Cameroon Choristers to North America expanded my horizon and to me was a life changing experience.
MORE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS & PICTURES TO FOLLOW ...