November 10th 2006
Open Letter to Vice-Chancellor of
the University of Buea (UB)
on the Launching of
The Faculty of Medicine
Dear Prof. Cornelius Lambi,
Congratulations to you and Prof. Dorothy Njeuma, your predecessor and pioneer VC of UB, who left a conducive environment and a skeletal faculty to which you have added meat and brought it to a full-fledged faculty in such a short tenure of your Vice-Chancellorship at The University of Buea.
The young Faculty of Medicine is an instant reminder of Prof. Bernard Fonlon’s Open Letter to the Bishops of The Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda on the creation of the Senior Seminary for the training of Catholic clerics.
Though the Venerable Bernard Fonlon was aware that the Bishops, being themselves products of the scholastic and meritocratic mill, would not sacrifice meritocracy on the altar of mediocrity, he found it necessary to remind them of the heavy responsibility they had on their hands. And so, when, in his open letter he urged the Bishops to ensure that the training in that seminary should be so rigorous that its products are “steeped in Sacred Scriptures, Philosophy and Theology,” he was only reaffirming the obvious. Gone are the days when the production of mediocre products for home consumption only, was acceptable.
Prof. Fonlon entreated their Lordships to “bear in mind the weighty saying of the famous Dr Aggrey of Ghana,” who about 25 years earlier, had declared that: “Only the best is good enough for Africa.”
That timely advice to enkindle the resolve of their Lordships has resulted in a bumper harvest of impeccable quality.
By its First Class products, by any rating under the sun, the Bambui/ Bamenda St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary (STAMS) has lived up to expectation and admiration.
STAMS is undeniably a feather in the mitre of their Lordships.
It is the only locally implanted Seminary (1973) that has produced Priests and Bishops ministering today to God’s people in the former British Cameroons and French Cameroun, and other parts of Africa.
And so, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, as you begin the admission exercise into the UB Faculty of Medicine in the days ahead, “bear in mind” that “only the best is good enough” for the two Cameroons, the rest of Africa, and the world at large; as the physicians you train will, like STAMS’ clerics, be frontier less physicians.
A bright day, they say in Fanji, begins with a golden sunrise.
A good harvest is the product of good seeds and care. As the minimum educational qualification for the faculty is the General Certificate of Education (GCE), we can only get First Class products from students with shining GCE ‘O’ & ‘A’ Level qualifications.
Admission should be based on criteria free from subjectivity, and the Vice-Chancellor and his able team should be prepared, in an environment of unpredictability such as ours, to say a big NO, to political, parental, provincial, and other pressures on them to bend the rules and infest the place with half-baked students or students of mediocre abilities. Only those who have passed the prescribed written test with glittering qualifications may be considered for admission. This is a candid expression of a layman’s opinion, not to be taken or interpreted as a prescription for experts in the field.
There can be no justifiable or defendable reason, in a hypothetical case for instance, for dropping an able-bodied candidate with 9 or more solid ‘Os’ and 4 or more crack ‘As’, with 20 or more grade points on a scale of 25, in preference to one with lower grades on the flimsy and fallacious ground that he/she performed better in the orals! The rigour of the training and practice of medicine are cardinal issues, which in my view outweigh the exception principle that in some situations could be invoked as justification for benevolent deviation.
The Anglo-Saxon University of Buea, by its exquisite standard, stands out as a pearl among the nation’s universities, and the nation’s pride in higher education.
The great stature of UB deserves that physicians from there be regarded as points of reference even before they embark on specialization in their respective areas of interest.
Mr Vice-Chancellor, perhaps as a layman, I have touched on an area far too sophisticated for me to make a meaningful contribution. You may also find that my language lacks the kind of refinement that an intellectual community like that of UB is accustomed to. For these shortcomings which are the products of inadvertence, I crave your indulgence to bear with me, and only distill the “silver lining from the dark cloud.”
The late Prof. Fonlon warned against buying the idea of Curé de Campagne. This short letter as earlier mentioned is a layman’s appeal to the Vice-Chancellor and his collaborators to exercise diligence in the admission of students into the Faculty of Medicine. In that way, hopefully, the idea of Medicine de Campagne would just be as repugnant as that of Curé de Campagne.
Vincent N. Feko
Civil Society Senior Citizen
“Human rights are about the curtailment of the abstract and super state power, ie the limitation of absolute power corrupting absolutely”
Julius Che, June 1997- Buea.