September 2017 marked the passing of Andre Doumbe, Chair of the African Communities of Manitoba or ACOMI. It was during the time of his leadership that I got to know ACOMI as an organization that embraces almost all the African Communities of Manitoba.
Andre is also a “founding member of Sous le Baobab, Africa-Fonds, the Africa Centre, the African Investment Club, the Youth Investment Club, Folklorama, le Manitoba Immigration Council, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, United Way-Winnipeg, Cancer Care and la Coalition des parents francophones du Manitoba.”
African Community in Manitoba
In retrospect, reading the lives of Africa’s great revolutionary leaders back in my university days in the Philippines, the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Patrice Lumumba to mention a few, made me wonder and look forward to be a part of the African Communities’ events. I have a profound respect for the African people’s struggle against colonialism in their epic effort to be free and chart their own path to liberation and progress. This respect is borne out of consciousness rooted in our common people’s struggle for freedom.This itself guides me in my dealings with Andre and his community.
Reading Andre’s biography printed on the funeral bulletin, I discovered that in “1978, at 29, while in Accra, the capital of Ghana, he mingled with a lot of people, including opponents of the Cameroonian regime. He received threats from the Cameroonian Secret Services.” Security forces don’t usually issue threats if one is just a curious bystander of a revolutionary process of which Africa was teeming back in the days.
This experience is common for people with compassion and a deep sense of justice and is a badge of honor that the humble carry in silence. This led him to flee Africa for Canada. Arriving in Vancouver, he experienced “anxiety and uncertainty” as an immigrant, which shaped his consciousness to be compassionate to fellow migrants, African or not.
Andre Doumbe continued to serve his people in the diaspora with dedication. He tirelessly gathers and serves numerous communities in a forward march as “action for him is louder than words.”
In the biography sent by Frank Indome, he was compared to a baobab tree. “A huge tree that provides shade (comfort and conviviality), fruits (help), and its leaves to eat and heal those that need them, no matter where they came from.” I am one of the souls blessed by the labours of Andre who steadfastly watered the baobab tree to be a blessing for all .
There was this paragraph on Andre’s funeral program by Sister Titi Tijani, Vice-President of ACOMI that struck me: “Mr. Doumbe was an exceptional and prominent community leader,who for decades led a monumental crusade to unite people of African heritage in Manitoba. As one of the founding fathers of the African Communities of Manitoba Inc. (ACOMI) , Andre worked tirelessly to bring Africans together by showcasing African Culture during Folklorama , Manitoba’s longest running cultural festival.”
Another friend , Rene Tondji Simen, President of the Cameroon Association wrote, “It is a big loss for Cameroon, but for Manitoba as well. He gave his life to help others, both children and adults in the community. Andre Doumbe has made Manitoba enjoyable, livable and attractive to Cameroonians, Africans and all who arrived here.”
Sure enough, Andre Doumbe is a product of his communities’ history, but at the same time as a leader of ACOMI, he influenced the conduct of the organization. With his exemplary leadership, he set the tone for the next set of leadership to lead ACOMI into the future in serving the Afican communities of Manitoba and the province at large.
Just recently, ACOMI elected a new set of leaders at their AGM held on December 3,2017. The new President, Titi Tijani (Nigeria); Vice-President, Mandela Madit Cuet (South Sudan); Secretary, Tolu Ilelaboye (Nigeria); Asst. Sec., Blandine Tona (Cameroon); Treas., Frank Indomi (Ghana), Asst, Nathanial Ondiaka (Kenya); PRO, Gibril Koroma (Sierra Leone); Asst. PRO, Raymond Ngarboui (Chad); Members-at-Large: Abdirahman Isse (Somalia), Joseph Fofanah (Liberia) and Uche Nawanko (Nigeria).
Bro. Andre, may your soul rest in peace. You have served your motherland well by standing up for her in Accra, which led you to seek exile and in the diaspora, you have selflessly laboured to pave the road for the future of your community and other migrant communities in Manitoba. Merci Beaucoup!
(❚ Levy Abad is a freelance writer and also a singer songwriter/recording artist and a member of Migrante Canada-Mb chapter and also a founding member/ program coordinator of Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum, Levy has released four albums, Canadian Experience Vol. 1 (iTunes), Never Give Up and Rhythms of Compassion CanEx 3. and “Tara ng Maglakbay”(June2017). You can reach Levy Abad through, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.).