Mill Hill Cameroon Celebrate One Hundred Years in the Diocese of Buea
The 26th of March 2022 marked exactly one hundred years since the first Mill Hill Missionaries set foot in Cameroon. The early missionaries led by Fr William Campling came by sea and their first stop was Victoria precisely at Bota, where they were received by the native inhabitants of the land together with their chiefs. Exactly one hundred years after, the population of Buea Diocese and beyond, gathered at the Holy Trinity Parish in Bota for the grand launching of the centenary year. Celebrated under the theme “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”, the celebration was marked with a lot of activities and highlights which were aimed at repainting in the minds of the population what transpired one hundred years ago when the first missionaries arrived Bota.
The first highlight of the centenary celebration was the active participation of the Fako chiefs whose ancestors were not only the first persons to have received the missionaries but who made enormous effort to provide the missionaries with land that was used in building churches, schools and other developmental projects. When the news of the centenary celebration was shared among the chiefs, they received it with joy and decided to own the celebration. To the chiefs, it was not only a historic moment but it was also a time for them to showcase to the world their generosity and hospitality.
In a series of planning meetings prior to the celebration itself, the chiefs galvanized their people who came out with two traditional dance groups to grace the occasion. On the day of the celebration, a dramatic arrival of four missionaries was staged at the sea to give the public an image of what happened one hundred years ago. Through the aid of the chiefs who provided boats and drivers to paddle the boats, four missionaries who represented the very first four missionaries made their way to the Bota shores as they were received by the Chiefs, Bishop, Traditional dance groups, Villagers, and the Christians. This dramatic arrival of the missionaries by boat marked the dawn of a new beginning.
The government equally played a central role during the centenary celebration. In a series of meetings with the SDO and the DO they all expressed gratitude to the Mill Hill Missionaries for not only bringing the faith to Cameroon but for equally participating tremendously in the work of development. The celebration was graced with the presence of senior government officials who came to be part of this historic moment.
Another group of persons who could not go unnoticed were the ex-student associations of the various institutions that were founded by the Mill Hill Missionaries. To the ex-students of these institutions, it was a time to thank God for the persons they have become through the help of the Mill Hill Missionaries and also, they viewed the celebration as a time to give back to the missionaries what they had received through their prestigious institutions. The ex-students graced the celebration with their colorful fabrics representing their different associations. With gratitude to God, they gave their own little support towards the centenary project.
The celebration was graced by the presence of the Bishop of Buea, Mgr Michael Bibi, who presided over the Mass. In a colorful liturgy that was beautifully animated by the parish joint choir, combined with the Mill Hill seminarians, the Bishop used the opportunity during the mass to recount the wonderful deeds of the Mill Hill Missionaries in the Diocese of Buea. The Bishop expressed a great desire to have the MHM back in the Diocese of Buea.
As a way of immortalizing the centenary celebration, a foundation stone was presented by the society representative, Fr Innocent Wefon, and was blessed by the Bishop. This foundation stone marked the grand launching of the centenary project, which is aimed at raising fund towards the construction of a retirement home. It was a day that ended with feasting and dancing.
Fr Innocent Wefon Akum MHM