The Catholic University of Cameroon Achieves Another Milestone – Holds First Ever PhD Defences
The Catholic University of Cameroon (CATUC) Bamenda has established a reputation for punching above her weight, but in her entire ten-year history there has been nothing more worthy of writing home about than what took place in her Big Mankon Campus on Friday December 11 and Saturday December 12, 2020. All roads seemed to lead to CATUC as renowned Professors from Yaounde (Prof. Paul Nchoji Nkwi, Prof. Antoine Socpa, Prof. Wilfred Mbacham and Prof. Charles Fokunang), from the University of Buea (Prof. Achidi Eric Akum, Prof. Jane-Francis Akoachere and Prof. Emmanuel Yenshu) and from the University of Bamenda (Prof. Njimanted Godfrey, Prof. Aloysius Njong Mom and Prof. Robert Akoko) all converged on CATUC for PhD defences.
Two Health Economics PhD students (Mbacham Mercy Akwi Tah-Monunde and Fomba Louisette Naah) and one Anthropology student (Rev. Clement Kum Mih) successfully defended their theses on Friday December 11, 2020. Mercy was defending a thesis on “Safety, Anti-proliferative activity and cost evaluation of medicinal plants against breast cancer in the Northwest Region, Cameroon”; Louisette explored “The determinants of health and active aging: Evidence from Bamenda, Northwest Region of Cameroon”, and Clement’s anthropological thesis was titled Religion among the Esu people of the Northwest Region of Cameroon.
It is remarkable that at a time when most African governments and education leaders are encouraging universities to invest in online teaching and learning, Louisette’s defence was conducted by Zoom as she was defending from the Canada. This, in our opinion, is a demonstration of the ability of CATUC to adapt to the fast-paced changes in educational technology and a clear proof of her readiness to assist her students master the new technologies for study and for work.
The other two Health Economics PhD students, Kinga Bertila Mayin and Promise Aseh Munteh, took their turn on Saturday December 11, 2020 to demonstrate to the eminent professors from all over the country and to the general public that they had drank so deeply from the City of Wisdom that they could sit around the academic table with these scholars and discuss academic issues on a par. Bertila conducted An Empirical Investigation into the Socioeconomic Risk Factors and Consequences of Obesity in the Bamenda Municipality, while Promise investigated Telemedicine and human resources for health crises in the Northwest Region of Cameroon.
While it may be true that candidates who come to PhD defences do not come to fail, the quality of work done by the pioneer PhD students was both preeminently relevant to the context of Cameroon and Africa today and of truly remarkable academic quality. Considering that it is CATUC’s first time out in this domain the first PhD defences have laid down the marker for subsequent PhD students and once more shown that academic quality is a hallmark of CATUC, not only at the undergraduate and Master’s levels but also at PhD level. Professor Wilfred Mbacham takes most of the credit for the work that has been done in the Department of Health Economics so far and for producing the first PhDs in that department. He began that work with the current Archbishop of Bamenda, His Excellency Andrew F. Nkea who was then Registrar of CATUC. Recently, Dr. Kenneth Navti, acting as Interim Director of Postgraduate Studies, has done a lot to systematize processes in the PG School and to accompany the students on this long and difficult academic journey.
The weekend has been characterized by robust defences of PhD theses and uncontrollable outbursts of joy and exhilaration after the candidates were declared successful. However, we cannot forget that the journey to the acquisition of a PhD is often long and difficult. Being the pioneer PhD batch of CATUC who are also learning the ropes as a mentee University to the University of Buea in this area, this particular journey was long and exhausting, and we cannot thank the students enough for their patience and understanding. As a woman’s joy overshadows and eclipses her pain during childbirth, their joy has now eclipsed the pain of study and of waiting for the processes to take their course.
The first ever theses defences in the Catholic University of Cameroon (CATUC) Bamenda is a veritable milestone in the history of the institution. We are happy that the eminent Professors from our mentor University were impressed with the work we have done so far. We thank the University of Buea and the University of Bamenda for the nurture and the sense of direction which they continue to give us. Above all, we thank God for accompanying us and blessing our work this far, and ask Him to continue to accompany us and our students and bless our work for the glory of His Name and the welfare of humanity.