Opsa Diamond Jubilee Convention Dallas USA
DIAMOND JUBILEE CONVENTION KEYNOTE ADDRESS
UNITED OPSA NATIONAL CONVENTION, DALLAS – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
25TH – 28TH AUGUST, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here to witness a once in a life time event, a celebration that happens only once in 60 years, an event that many of us will never live to see again; an event whose witnessing can only be a gift from God; and that is the United OPSA Diamond Jubilee National Convention of the United States of America. Not any kind of Convention but the Diamond Jubilee Convention of UNITED OPSA America.
With respectful recognition of all our invited guests to this convention and with high esteem for all those who have made so many sacrifices to be here this evening, I want to start my discourse in my usual and traditional style of greeting all the OPSANS according to their houses and colors. I give my heartfelt greetings and welcome to beautiful and responsible OPSANS from the Yellow house of Fatima; I extend my sincere greetings to the intelligent and simple girls of the Red house of Lourdes; I bring my warm greetings to the holy and generous girls of the Blue house of Mt. Carmel; Finally I spray out greetings to the lovely and angelic girls from the Green house of Loretto. The calling of all these houses and their colors puts us squarely in perspective on our subject matter this evening. The common denominator and binding factor common to all these houses and colors, and the center of attraction to all our guests tonight, is our diamond jubiliarian, our monument of knowledge, our champion in female education, our generator of moral rectitude, our power house of prayer, our centre for academic excellence, our beloved alma mater, the Queen of the Rosary College, QRC, Okoyong, Mamfe. Yes! It is all about QRC Okoyong. Whether you come from the Atlantic coasts of Victoria, now Limbe, or you come from the Economic capital of Douala, or from the highlands and grassfiels of the Northwest Region, or you were born in the plains of Manyu, ranginging from upper Bayang, through central Ejagham to the water side of Nsanaragati and Abgorkem, or you are a citizen of this great country of dreams called the United States of America, if you are here tonight, it means that you are connected in one way or another to Queen of the Rosary College, Okoyong Mamfe, and your presence here today is eloquent testimony that you wish QRC well.
If you are here as an OPSAN, then QRC is your mother; if you are here as an OPSAN husband, then QRC is your mother in law; if you are here as the daughter or son of an OPSAN, then QRC is your grand mother; if you are here as an admirer of female education, then QRC is your role model and dream come true; if you are here as the proprietor of QRC, then QRC is your love for life; if you are here as an invitee, then QRC is your reason for being here. In Whatever capacity we are here, we owe certain duties to this relationship that we have with QRC and we have come here willingly, happily and generously to fulfil our duty towards QRC in the special relationship we have. If you are not an OPSAN and you are here, I give you all a new name and you have the right to form your own association called “OPSA CONNECTED”.
Created in 1956, QRC began as the little dream of Bishop Peter Rogan, the tireless and fearless Mill Hill Missionary and first bishop of the Diocese of Buea that had just been created six years before, in 1950. In an article titled “A woman’s in the 1950s, Roobix COOB says that “The role of women in the 1950s was repressive and constrictive in many ways. Society placed high importance and many expectations on behavior at home as well as in public. Women were supposed to fulfill certain roles, such as a caring mother, a diligent homemaker, and an obedient wife. The perfect mother was supposed to stay home and nurture so society would accept them. A diligent housewife had dinner on the table precisely at the moment her husband arrived from work. A wife was a “good” wife only if she carried out her man’s every order and agreed with him on everything.”
Bishop Rogan believed in the emancipation of the female or girl child and he believed in the slogan that if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation; Bishop Rogan believed in the positive contribution that women could bring to the development of Africa and the world; Bishop Rogan was convinced that he had the pastoral and paternal duty to remove the girl child from the smoke of the kitchen and put her as a positive contributor to the emerging African states of the time; And in fact, information gleaned from an article in the African Studies Quarterly Magazine, (Volume 8, Issue 3 of Spring 2006) entitled “Colonial Policies and Women’s Participation in Public Life: The Case of British Southern Cameroons” by MELINDA ADAMS tells us that
“In 1949, Great Britain launched a special training program to increase the number of educated African women in Nigeria and the Cameroons, and in that year, three women from Cameroon undertook studies in Great Britain. In 1950, five women from the Cameroons were pursuing higher education in either Nigeria or Britain due to this program. By 1958, there were 222 teachers, five nursing sisters, and 55 nurses and midwives, and “a number of women [held] clerical positions in the public service and in commercial concerns.” In this context, higher education provided by the colonial administration to a limited number of women enabled them to take on new roles outside the home.”
Bishop Rogan believed that no matter how small his efforts seemed in 1956 to have started QRC with 18 girls, he knew in his heart that by the grace of God, sixty years later, this small dream of QRC would have produced women of timber and caliber; women of essence and substance; women of character and stamina; Ministers in governments and Directors in Corporations, Doctors and high medical personnel; Professors, educationists and Researchers; Business women and key players in the corporate world; Barristers and solicitors worth the titles; Rev. sisters and highly professional religious women; Politicians and leaders of Social groups or Non Governmental Organizations; and above all, it was his dream, that 60 years after, QRC would have produced good and responsible wives and sweet mothers; women who would rest their heads on the cushion in the cool breeze of the evening and listen with tears in their eyes how their lovely elementary school kids would recite the verses we all learnt at that stage:
“Who sat and watched my infant head, when sleeping on my cradle bed, and tears of sweet affection shed, My MOTHER;
When pain and sickness make me cry; who laid upon my heavy heart; I weep for fear that I should die, MY MOTHER;………”
Yes! A MOTHER is what every OPSAN is, whether they have biological children of their own or not. You are mothers to the generation of students in QRC today who are sitting on the very desks that you sat, sleeping in the very dormitories in which you slept, eating in the same refectory in which you ate and walking the same paths on which you walked in whatever year you passed through QRC. You are mothers indeed. It is QRC that is the link between the students of the past and the present and it is QRC that will link the present present students with those of the distant future.
You are mothers because there are some of you sitting here in this hall as OPSANS or OPSA CONNECTED who registered as members of Bishop Nkea’s scholarship fund and you pledged to sponsor intelligent but underprivileged girls in QRC. Last year we put in ten girls in form one in QRC on scholarship from Mbetta, Tabonkwa, Akwaya, Ochimata, Berore, Tinto etc. This year, three scholarships have been offered and we are hoping for more. You are giving these girls a future, and through them, you are giving many future generations golden life’s opportunities. For all these humanitarian subscribers to this fund, I want to solemnly pronounce that God will bless you in abundance and replenish your resources a hundred fold
You are not just mothers but you are mothers who are great benefactors. Many of you slept on what was scornfully called “8 spring vono beds” and these beds have lasted for sixty years. We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of our college when through the generosity of the sweat of your brows, almost all of the 8 spring vono beds have been replaced by ultra modern and comfortable wooden bunk beds. Through the financial sacrifices of United OPSANS in America and QRC CONNECTED, the cement floor on which some of you walked in the dormitories have all been covered with bright and shining ceramic tiles. By the power of the Dollar of United OPSANS, the short bathrooms have been renovated and modernized, some dormitories have been covered with decorating red bricks and QRC is bouncing back to regain her place as once upon a time, the only pebble on the beach, or better still, the only bright star in the dark night.
You are mothers but you are also lovers of humanity. If you are here, it is because you have not forgotten your roots and you want those who are still looking ahead to do so with hope. There is an OPSAN sitting here who has paid money and continues to pay for extra classes to be given to weak students in QRC; there is an OPSAN in this hall who made QRC the proud owner of a Lawn mower last year; there is an OPSAN among us whose personal generosity transformed the corrugated iron windows of the Science Laboratory to Aluminum mirror glass windows; there is still another OPSAN here present whose largesse made it possible for tiling work to be going on now as we speak in the science Laboratory. And many more works of charity that has been done or is being done in QRC through the efforts of groups and individuals. Truly, truly, I pronounce to you today that your reward will be great in heaven.
Looking at all of you sitting here today, I can say without fear or favor that QRC is a success story for the last 60 years. As if to prove this to us, God has made it possible that our diamond jubilee should truly be the celebration of excellence as he crowned the efforts of QRC with 100% at the GCE A levels and 96.6% at the GCE O Levels. This is the achievement of young women and all the more reason why we see this diamond jubilee as the celebration of womanhood. During the Marian Year of 1983, John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Dignitatem Mulieris wrote some very beautiful verses about the dignity and success of the woman. He said,
“During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the “mystery of woman” and for every woman–for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the “great works of God,” which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history–the incarnation of God himself–was accomplished?
Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers. for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect” women and for “weak” women–for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.
The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine “genius” which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.” I can apply these words of our Holy Father to the alumni of QRC and I will judge myself to be correct.
With all these wonderful things that you have done, there is still a massive work of renovation and innovation still undone and which we are struggling to do before the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, come December 2016. There is the remnant of the golden jubilee of QRC, the never-finishing Library building, which we have vowed will not be given the pleasure of seeing the Diamond jubilee in its present dilapidated and unfinished form. There is the iconic identity of QRC campus, the prestigious Rosary Hall, which has not been spared the weight and degradation of age. Even at 60, it is our intention to present the Rosary Hall during the jubilee like a bride without speck or wrinkle. There are the long rest rooms to be given a face lift, the paths to be mended, the cookery laboratory to be equipped and the refectory to be protected from hawks and birds that come in through the broken windows to help themselves from the table of the students before the students ever come to the refectory. There are too many works to be done that I cannot here list them all.
I hope nobody will ask me the question “what has the proprietor been doing all these years that the school went so low?” I can only answer this question as far back as January 25th 2014, when I actually became the residential Bishop of Mamfe. That time I was shocked myself at the state of the school, and I promised the students, the OPSANS and the PTA that I was going to renovate QRC and that is what I have been doing according to my means. I will not relent in my effort to make QRC the pride of Mamfe Diocese and the joy of the OPSANS. However, with you, we can do this faster and better. We are only three months away from the diamond jubilee peak celebration, and time does not seem to be on our side. You have done it before and I know you will do it again. O yes we can.
As we are donating money and planning to make QRC like the tower of ivory, let us remember that a jubilee is a time for reconciliation, a time for taking stock, and time of planning for the future and a time of mending old ways. It is a time for us to remember that we must look at the things that bind us together and not at the things that divide us. It is a time for us to know that we price sisterhood above any other material values and earthly joys. It is a time for us to look at the past with gratitude, look at the present with love and look to the future with hope. It is a time when we say farewell to era of nasty insults of each other on the internet, farewell to the period of disrespect of elders by juniors and maltreatment of juniors by elders; it is the age when we say farewell to devilish pride and mundane talks. Every jubilee is the dawning of a new civilization when each OPSAN can just turn to her neighbor the next OPSAN to her and say “Sister, I love you”. How else can we celebrate a diamond jubilee, than to join our hands together and raise them to God in thanksgiving and songs of praise.
By the contributions you make today and the love that we shall share, you are making history, you are building bridges, you are creating records and we are all moving forward as one.
God bless Queen of the Rosary College Okoyong, Mamfe,
God bless United OPSA in the United States of America.
BISHOP OF MAMFE