… I would hereby like to pay tribute to a great writer, teacher and researcher, Pius Bejeng Soh who died in this month of January 2020 and who is the author of a significant book entitled “Dr. John Ngu Foncha, The Cameroonian Stateman (A biography)” — a production of the Center for Social Sciences Research, Bamenda.
I had never heard about Pius B. Soh before I discovered his book in a small bookshop near downtown Buea named Afosi Bookshop. I was so astonished for I found the book somehow expensive coming from this particular place, as the bookshop owner refused to sell the book at a cheaper price though I tried, as usual, to behave like someone who is not so interested. But I was eventually obliged to buy the book because I had never seen any good book on Dr. Foncha’s biography since the day I met the architect of the Reunification at his Foncha Street compound, years before.
In his (highly documented) book, he explains why and how he decided to gather information and write without any financial support from anyone in particular from the government of Yaoundé that is Foncha-made State.
In order to challenge the way his own country is treating such a great man, Pius Soh writes : “Dr. J. N. Foncha has a comfortable place among his contemporaries in Anglophone Africa: Nkrumah, Margai, Azikiwe, Nyerere, Bangda, etc. These men who through that art of negotiation fought Colonisation to an end in their territories without a single bullet being fired. When these heroes of independence die, much homage is paid to them.” But when Dr. J. N. Foncha died in Nkwen Bamenda on the 10th April 1999, “Not a single adjective to describe the positive was left unsued” on him.
Since the time I bought the book (around year 2000), I had no information from the author I of course intended to interview for I’m a journalist. I could find that he has children (mentioned in his dedication). Among them: Kenneth Soh, Bonny Ndikung, Cynthia Bih, Pamela Akwen and Mirabel Tengi Benjeng, as well as his wife Theresia Lum…
It is later, thanks to social medias, almost twenty years, I was able to contact some of them, seeing that quite all of them have succeed if studies and life, that is a sign they had a great coach.
I therefore suggested him (sending messages through one of his daughter), that I intended to release a digital edition of his book on Foncha, that is still unavailable – We talked of this before the last Southern Cameroons crisis’ conflagration that is going on… He asked me to make a little financial effort before he would let me do the work with an official authorization. I didn’t understand the deal because, I thought, I was just trying to help him. But I think, until the end, I was just unable to understand the point of the wise man. Now I understand. He just wanted me to inherit his book. That was the point.
Let me remind this to all: his book on Foncha was an act of altruism, honesty and goodness.
Nevertheless, I wrote my own book on Ambazonia (https://www.amazon.de/dp/1697121004) where I largely quote him on Foncha, the prince of Nkwen Chiefdom whom he clearly found didn’t have any ancestral link within the Menoua region in French Cameroon and who, at the time he dies (on April 1999), was about to address (in October 1999) the UN General Assembly on the following subject: “The Annexation of the British Southern Cameroons by La République du Cameroun: a violation of the Fundamental right of the people of the SC to self-determination.”
Now, allow me now to share with you people Pius B. Soh’s own biography as a honor doing it maybe for the last time.
Pius Bejeng Soh was Born a year before the end of the second world War (1944) in Mbatu Village, Bamenda Central. He did his primary school studies at the St. Joseph’s schools of Mamfe and Mankon Bamenda.
In 1961, he was in the first batch of boys who opened Sacred Heart College Mankon as a government scholarship holder. Graduating from SAHECO in 1965, he proceeded to CCAST Bambili where he did high school studies in the Arts and graduated from there in 1967.
Early in 1968, he enrolled at the Université Nationale du Zaire, Kinshasa. After four years study for a licence, he graduated after having presented a « Mémoire de fin d’études » entitled: « L’organisation politique traditionelle chez les Bafut. »
On returning home, he was recruited to work as a Research fellow at the « Direction des Affaires Culturelles” MINFOC, Yaoundé. When ONAREST was created, he was sent to that institution as a « Chargé de Recherche. » His area of interest was ethno-history, culture and the social and political institutions of the ethnic groups of Cameroon. As a researcher, he has published a number of books and articles.
Some of the articles were published at the National Museum of Ethnology – Senri Expo in Japan where he was Associate Researcher.
While working in Yaoundé, he finished his graduate studies at the University of Yaoundé’s faculty of Arts. He obtained the highest degrees offered by that institution up to the year 1980 after having presented the following theses: « A study of Lela, A Bali-Chamba State cult.. » and « The indigenous Resistance to European colonization. »
He has occupied the following posts of responsibility: Assistant Chief of Service for Research I.S.H (Institut des Sciences Humaines). – Yaoundé (1981 – 1983), Chief of I.S.H. Research Centre Bamenda (l983-1990).
After the liquidation of I.S.H. in 1990, he resumed work as « Professeur des Lycées at GBHS Mbatu, Bamenda (teaching history). He intended to become the Director of the Centre for Social Sciences Research. (C.S.S.R.), Bamenda.
Rest in Peace Pa’a Soh!
May God continue blessing your offspring!