OBITUARY: FRANZ GOBINA MONYONGE, WINNER OF THE 1983 GUINNESS MOUNT CAMEROON RACE.
BY Peterkins Tengileli Elive in Buea for Fako
Bakwerians are mourning another hero, Franz Gobina Monyonge, a great athlete, who died on
Gobina Monyonge won the Guinness Mt. Cameroon Race in 1983, bringing joy, pride, honour and glory to all Bakwerians, at a time when there was serious rivalry between the Bakweri people of Fako Division where the mountain is located and people from other parts of the country.
In his first participation in 1982, he came 5th and after his victory in 1983, he came 4th in
1984 and later featured among the first ten several times.
Gobina Monyonge also took part in National Marathons where he performed honourably.
His death at the age of 50 after a long medical battle resulting from Kidney failure, reminds Bakwerians of other fallen heroes of the Mt. Cameroon Race who raised the prestige of the tribe and proved to the whole world that
John Ekema, the pioneer winner of the Race in 1973, died in January 2008 at the age of about 60.
Ngou Njombe, 1974 champion died in 2006 at the age of 55.
Robby Likenye who came 3rd in 1983, died in 2004 at the age of 45.
Andreas Bwange Molea, who came 2nd or 3rd several times including his famous 3rd position that salvaged the image of the Bakweri tribe in1990, when the take-off point was changed from the Buea Town Government Stadium to the Molyko Stadium thereby extending the Race by about ten kilometres, died in 2007 at the age of 46.
Although Lekunze Timothy was from a different tribe, Banwa in Lebialem Division, his death in 2002 at the age of 42 also sent shock waves across the Bakweri land. Lekunze won the Race in 1986 and 1987 and was poised to win for the third consecutive time and be crowned king of the mountain, when a valiant Bakwerian Esuka Reginald Wose came from behind to overtake Britishman Jack Maitland and Lekunze, to win the Race.
All these departed great champions will never be forgotten and their achievements and successes will remain indelible in the annals of the Bakweri tribe, the Cameroonian nation and the world at large.
Gobina Monyonge was laid to rest on Saturday 10 July 2009 at Wondongo, Buea.
Before his burial, he was honoured with a mini-marathon from the Buea Town wrestling field to the Wokwaongo Maternity and back, covering a distance of about eight kilometres. The marathon was organised by Reginald Esuka Wose, 1988 Guinness Mt Cameroon Race champion, with the assistance of Queen of the Mountain Sarah Liengu Etonge. Reginald Esuka Wose also took part in the marathon to encourage the runners.
In various tributes during a requiem service at the Presbyterian Church Buea Town, homage was paid to Gobina Monyonge and other departed champions and heroes including female champions Emilia Mojoko Ngonja, winner in 1983, 1985 and 1986, who died in 2001 and Christina Embelle Etonge, winner in 1987 who died in 2003.
Speakers thanked God for surviving champions and heroes, Amos Evambe, Ndive Yonde Reginald Esuka, Ngonja Bwange, Lyonga Robert Ekema alias Django, Litute Walterson Maliva, Sarah Liengu Etonge and Sarah Ewelisane Njie and prayed the Lord to protect them because they are a source of comfort to all Bakwerians and an inspiration to the younger generation.
Present at the heavily attended funeral among other dignitaries, was His Royal Highness the Paramount Chief of Buea, Samuel Moka Lifafa Endeley.