Homily At The Funeral Mass of Mr. Francis Yong
HOMILY AT THE FUNERAL MASS OF MR. FRANCIS YONG
MANKON CATHEDRAL – 31ST JANUARY, 2014
“For none of us lives for himself only, and non of us dies for himself only; while we are alive, we are living for the Lord and when we die, we die for the Lord: and so alive of dead, we belong to the Lord” (Rom:14:7)
Your Grace, Most Rev. Cornelius Esua, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bamenda;
Your Lordship Rt. Rev. George Nkuo, Bishop of the Diocese of Kumbo;
Your Excellency, the Governor of the North West Region;
Members of the Family of Mr. Francis Yong,
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,
The words of St. Paul in the letter to the Romans quoted above, situates the life and death of every Christian in the context of life with Christ. This means that the Christian lives all his life in the service of others and even when he dies, he bears witness in his death to the goodness of Christ through him to all those with whom he interacted while alive. When we reflect on what kind of person lives his life for others, we find the answer lying before us in this beautifully adorned casket.
Yong Neghabi Chia Nkanghi were the names he was given when he was born in Elemewoh quarter, at Anyajua village in the Kom Fondom. He was born in their village house and not in a maternity and his mother was assisted at birth by a traditional village midwife and so no records were kept of the date and time of his birth. Although his Identity card shows that he was born about 1945, he could have been born a little earlier but not later, as his hand already touched his ear when he went to primary school. It was at baptism as an adult that he was given the name Francis and today he is popularly known as Yong Francis. This man lies dead before us now at the end of his earthly pilgrimage, and we are gathered here to say this funeral Mass in his honour and to commit his soul back to his divine creator.
This sounds very simple when it is said, but to imagine the reality at the death of someone who was so close to his society, someone who touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, someone who was snatched at death at the height of his economic and human achievements, someone who still looked forward to achieving greater things for mankind, death becomes a very painful reality and very difficult not only to understand but also to accept. We realise that the reality of the death of Mr. Francis Yong is a painful and agonising moment for his family; we recognize that the passing away of Mr. Yong is a big blow to the Government of Cameroon that badly needs charismatic entrepreneurs like Mr. Yong for the achievement of its 2035 vision of an emerging economy; it is clear to us that the demise of Mr. Yong is a big stumbling block to the hundreds of youngsters whose survival, education and future was essentially tied to the benevolent sponsorship of this great philanthropist. We have every reason to cry and cry well at the death of Mr. Yong. But when we cry, let us remember the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians who says that about our dead brethren, we should not cry as people who have no hope because since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through the same Jesus, God will bring with him all those who have fallen asleep (1Thess.4:13-14).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: ‘For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him. What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already died with Christ sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this ‘dying with Christ’ and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act.”(CCC. 1010). By our Baptism we have all died with Christ and the physical death which we undergo only helps us to have a more close unity with Jesus who himself went through death and now lives forever, seated at the right hand of the Father.
The Post Conciliar document of the second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes tells us that “While the mind is at loss before the mystery of death, the Church, taught by divine revelation, declares that God has created man in view of a blessed destiny that lies beyond the limits of his sad state on earth. Moreover, the Christian faith teaches that bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned, will be overcome when that wholeness which he lost through his own fault will be given once again to him by the almighty and Merciful saviour.”(G.S.18)
It is because of this link with Christ in death that we daily profess in the creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting”. Life everlasting is the gift of God to all his children who believe in him and have done their best to live according to his commandments; life everlasting is the reward that God has reserved for all who give as much as a cup of cold water to any of the little ones in his name; life everlasting is end point of all those who fed Christ in the hungry, visited Christ in the sick, gave water to Christ in those who are thirsty, assisted those in prison and made welcome to the strange. These are all things that Francis Yong spent his life on earth doing and so it is only normal that he will hear the words of Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness”(Mtt.25:21).
Mr. Francis Yong has lived a fulfilled life and sometimes we wonder what was there left to be done on earth that Mr Yong had not done. He put his hands into everything and did it well. He is one rare specie of a human being whose activities put to question the theory of “Jack of all trade and Master of none”, because he was the extraordinary “Jack of many trades and master of all.” He was the successful entrepreneur; the impressive educationist as seen in his secondary Schools and University, he was the great sports lover manifested in his Yong Sports Academy; he was the Communicator as evident in his Radio and Television business; the celebrated Philanthropist as shown in his Red Cross activities at the local, Regional, National and international levels; the staunch Catholic Believer as he was an active member of the CMA; the great farmer and many more. This is how we shall remember Francis Yong and even though he departs from this world, his legacy lives on.
The first reading tells us that the upright, though he die before his time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years, the true measure of life. Looking at the things that Yong was able to do within his life time, even if you double his life span and give to some people, they will not achieve half of what he achieved, and so we cannot say he died before his time. He has done what God created him to do and the time came for the creator to take him back to himself. We therefore cannot question the thoughts and the ways of God which the Prophet Isaiah warns us, are as far from our own human thoughts as the East is from the West.
The life of Francis is a great challenge to many of us at all levels in the society. I so admired his administrative skills and entrepreneurial ventures that I decided to write a book about him. While on his sick bed in the USA, he still called me to dictate some aspect of his life to add to the book. I have not completed the book, but when I do, I will hand it over to his family. I will like at this juncture to present to you the introduction to the book which for me is a summary of what Mr. Yong leaves behind as a legacy and as a success philosophy for many to copy.
“For Francis Yong, Success is a method rather than a doctrine, the fruit of systematic, coherent and progressive thinking which enables its achiever to enjoy a great sense of achievement and fulfilment in life. His Philosophy of success is developed from his personal experience of how he emerged from the dung hip of poverty to the affluence of wealth, the radical shift from curses to blessings, and how he saw himself rise from grass to grace.
The sole proprietor and director of what I call the “Yong Estates”, Francis Yong looks back at his life with great satisfaction and little regrets, yet he wonders how many people let go their opportunities and lay fallow their talents without exploiting them to the full for the benefit of mankind and for their own personal aggrandisement. Looking at how many young people in his society languish in unemployment and poverty, Francis Yong is an ardent believer in the fact that poverty alleviation begins with a change of mentality and the folding of one’s sleeves. He is convinced that it is not foreign aid from the Western countries that will alleviate poverty in Africa, but the determination of the Africans to rise above the poverty line even with the meagre resources at their disposal. Francis thinks that as much as Africans lack money, they are endowed with some of the finest and most powerful brains in the world, yet many of them don’t even believe in their own potentials.
It may be important to note that this book is not meant to be a simple biography of Mr. Francis Yong, and it was not written at his request. As a personal friend, I was very curious to know how Francis came to acquire all the wealth he controls and how he manages his estate as a single individual. In our discussions, I discovered that Yong got to where he is today because of a philosophy of life, his philosophy of life, the success philosophy. I decided then to conduct a formal interview with him for two reasons; the first being to immortalize such a cherished philosophy, and the second to enable youngsters emulate these principles and see how they can light the candle for themselves instead of cursing the darkness. How can we be surrounded by so much and yet lament everyday of having so little? Is it possible that many who are lamenting of having so little have simply buried their talents in the ground and refused to think outside the box and see what life has to offer them?
The little education of Francis will be a great consolation to those who were not opportune to go high in studies; the poverty stricken background of Francis is an encouragement for those who think that they were not favoured in life to be born with a gold spoon in their mouths; the lack of adult guidance is an eye opener for those who say that no one ever directed them on what to do.
Talking with Francis and probing into his brains, I could summarize his success Philosophy into twelve succinct points;
KEY TO SUCCESS OF FRANCIS YONG
- Have the desire and the will to succeed and Keep the brain working
- Trust in God for everything
- The good of the Human person must be the driving force
- Always have Humility and Discipline.
- Be ready to take dangerous Risks
- When an idea is clear in your mind, Act; don’t consult too many people
- Diversify Investment
- Don’t give up if you fail the first time
- Charity must have its place
- Never forget your roots
- Accountability is the key
- Always Remember that all is vanity”
When Mr. Yong mentioned the last point, he saw that there was a twist on my forehead, and he said to me “Yes Father! All is vanity. One day I will leave all these things and go”. This was the spirit with which Pa Yong lived his life and related to things of this world. Anyone involved in any kind of venture and wants to succeed, must inculcate certain values that become his guiding principle. There is no way anyone can follow the 12 points to success of Pa Yong and fail.
At this point, I will like to conclude by saying some few words of advice to the Yong family. Pa was a man of peace and did his best to maintain peace and justice within his family, in his school, in his businesses and everywhere he went. The only honour you can do to this man is to remain united and not let the things and temptations of this world divide you people. It is a common experience in this country that when a man of such great wealth dies, his family starts fighting and killing each other for property they did not sweat for. If Pa who had all the property has gone, it means that all who struggle to acquire and inherit will also go, and so what is the use. Respect his will, be satisfied that you were part of his life, and use his success philosophy to move on towards a happy life. Take the beatitudes very seriously; it is the poor in spirit who will have the kingdom of God; it is the gentle that will have the earth for their heritage; it is those who mourn that will be comforted; it is those who hunger and thirst for what is right that will be satisfied; it is the merciful that will have mercy shown them and it is the peace makers that will be called sons of God. This happiness or blessedness is contrasted with the woes that will befall those who are not peace makers, those who do not hunger or thirst for justice, those that are not pure in heart, those who are not gentle and those who are not merciful.
Let us pray during this Mass that the good Lord should forgive whatever sins may have been in the life of his son Francis Yong, and receive him in his eternal kingdom, where he lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Bishop of Mamfe