Trophy tour awakens ‘death’ town in SW, NW
-North West dominates again at Mt. Cameroon Race of Hope -55-year-old Sarah Etonge runs for peace, national unity
By Elah Geoffrey Mbongale
Sports and football in particular has once again proven to be the opium of most Cameroonians as it has succeeded to do what politicians, administrators and traditional authorities have woefully failed to do during the crisis rocking the English speaking regions of the country.
The trophy tour by the Indomitable Lions and the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope succeeded to pull sports loving Cameroonians in huge crowds in cities across the national territory and particularly in towns in the North West and South West regions which where hitherto emblazoned in spates of unrest, demonstrations and ghost towns.
Cameroonians from all shades of the society lined up the streets in Bamenda, Tiko, Limbe and Buea on February 22 and 24 respectively to get a rare glimpse at the coveted trophy won by the Indomitable Lions at the just ended African Cup of Nations final that took place in Gabon.
The euphoria that characterized the tour in these Anglophone towns is in sharp contrast to the cloak of anger, paranoia and frustration that has generally blanketed towns of the North West and South West following strikes and demonstrations against what they term marginalization of Anglophone Cameroonians which has now morphed into what many have admitted as an Anglophone Problem.
Though many of the players were unavoidably absent and have returned to their various clubs, the delegation led by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Ismael Bidoung Mpkatt and comprising of the President of the Cameroon Football Federation, Tombi a Roko Sidiki, the technical staff of the indomitable Lions’ team as well as Roving Ambassador and Cameroon soccer legend, Roger Albert Milla, used the trophy tour to preach peace and national unity. They called for Cameroonians to come together as one nation united in its diversity.
In Bamenda, the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council while congratulating the Lions for the amazing performance at the AFCON 2017 finals used the opportunity to bring to government’s attention the state of the roads leading to the North West regional capital, Bamenda. He also decried the lack of sports infrastructure in the region.
Messages of congratulations greeted the Lions and their delegation in Tiko, Buea and Limbe where the Government Delegate, Motanga Andrew Monjimba, represented by the Secretary General to the Limbe City Council, Charles Arrey Nkongho thanked the team for recognizing Limbe as the springboard to the Indomitable Lions’ eventual success. He called for more matches by the Indomitable Lions to be played in Limbe which has proven to be a lucky ground for the National team.
North West athletes dominate at the Mt. Cameroon Race of Hope again
The sports frenzy was no different at the 22nd Edition of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope that took place in the South West regional capital, Buea, last Saturday, February 25.
The Molyko stadium which just recently got a facelift was thronged to above capacity with sports enthusiast who came to witness the annual event. Some 600 athletes from across the national territory and a few international athletes competed to get to the summit of Mount Cameroon, also known as Mount Fako, and back.
The race which has always been dominated by athletes from the North West region did not disappoint this time around as they soared over their competitors from the other regions to remain superior.
In the male category, Fai Eric from the North West region upstaged last years’ winner, Godlove Gabsibuin, who came in second and also from the North West, to win the 38km distance race in 4 hours 27 minutes 13 seconds. Lyonga Esombe, son of the Queen of the Mountain and 7-time winner in the female category, Sarah Etonde, clenched the third spot.
In the female category, 2014 winner, Ngalim Lizette also edged last years’ winner Yvonne Ngwaya and Kpuufanla Wirngo to the 2nd and 3rd positions to win the race in 5hours 20minutes.
Cash prizes of FCFA10 million for 1st position, 5million for 2nd and FCFA 3million for the third place finish were handed to the athletes on the spot.
The star of the day was unarguably the Queen of the Mountain, 7-time winner, 55-year-old Sarah Liengu Etonge who after a few years of absence managed to come in at the 9th position.
Sarah, who was accompanied by some military men, was greeted with a standing ovation amidst thunderous applause from the crowd.
She revealed that her race was dedicated to peace and national unity considering the crisis in the two Anglophone regions of the country.
In the junior female race, Muh Faith, 16, from the North West emerged winner followed by Tata Bassiru and Tume Mac-crina, all North Westerners.
The junior male category also saw the North West sweep all three spots with Amadou Ibrahim, 18, Nuhu Saidou and Abdu Sale Giwa, emerging first, second and third respectively.
Nyame Rolland, Vishiti Paul and Muam Emmanuel, emerged victorious in the veteran category of the race as first, second and third respectively.
In the Female relay race, Senegal club, Littoral club and St Joseph team were declared winners. Nwa Athletic club, Noni Valley Club and FAP won the male category relay race.