On this Solemn September day, 13/09/1984, a group of starry-eyed boys from around Cameroon and beyond, , some barely old enough to shack-off separation anxiety, some already seasoned began a journey of learning, adventures, life changing experiences at St Joseph’s College, Sasse Buea, West Cameroon. Some came to fulfill a family tradition (sons, brothers of Sobans), most others came because it was the place to be above all else. The ultimate goal, however, was to get the best education ever. As with any institution of learning, a solid education was the core of the curriculum , but with a group of boys, adventures, mischief, play and friendship was also explored to the fullest. Adventure, mischief and play as much as we could get away with. Little did we know that the friendships-and bond we forged during thesepreparatory(prep) and formative years will continue to be even stronger 35 years later.
Those that join the train after the matriculation and even those that joined during the the high schools years fitted in seamlessly and throughout the years they have shared someof their experiences during their early formative years and we also shared a great many of ours. All the stories now blended together timelessly. The 1984 Class was a good mix of characters as one would imagine, the toughest of the tough, the rough and tumbling, the “unbeatables”, a handful of elitists softies, the most studious, half a dozen school football team players, a band captain and believe it or not a ‘singing prefect’ and the first ever school journalist and of course the most daredevils. Needless to say the School Administration had their eyes on us.
A cloud, however, hangs over the 1984 CLASS, something that we don’t talk about much. During our 4th year( Form 4), power was handed to us in preparation for government in form 5. However, this long-standing tradition was broken. When the Class got to form 5 this power was rescinded. The School Administration justifies this decision as a way to curb student-on-student violence, maltreatment and brutality on campus. I guess the decades old tradition didn’t matter anymore. Did I mention the administration was keeping a particular eye on us?
Apart from the yanking of power from us, Form five (5th year) was a rather uneventful year as we prepare for the ordinary level exams. The results were very good that year.
Some came back in High school (Lower Sixth), some went to the popular CCAS Bambili at the time and some to other fine High Schools around the country, some choosing this time coeducational settings. I guess they couldn’t wait to have that experience. A few to Bishop Rogan (minor seminary) and further on to the major seminary and are priests today. Fr Peter Nouck, Fr Valentine Suum and Fr, Clifford Joe Ndi. Some of the rough and roughest were denied admission into High School despite their good O’Level results. The School administration outrightly said the’ve had it with them. Lol.High school in Sasse was the first time the 1984 Class saw some real separation as the Class had become smaller with many seeking their high school education elsewhere. We say Our very first official School Journalist in the person of Fidelis Nkeze. Reporting it as it was, fair and square.This separation did not , however, put a damp on the strong bonds that had been forged during those early formative years. We kept in touch with one another despite the largely undeveloped communication system.
A few of us met again in the University of Yaoundé , Cameroon( one of the few center of higher education at that time in the country) and we sometimes organized end of year parties, however, this time it was under the general Soba banner. It nonetheless gave us the opportunity to connect with some Class mates who took upon the challenges of attending the University of Yaoundé. A good number took advantage of the good schools in neighboring Nigeria.
The early to mid 90’ssaw a huge migration of young people from Cameroon mostly to Europe and North America. Members of the 1984 Class were definitely not left out in this quest for new knowledge or new economic opportunities. We remained in touch, thanks this time to better means of communication amongst those in the diaspora. By the early 2000’s our number in Europe and North America has risen considerably. Ernest Gwellem started a yahoo email group where we could communicate and for the first time brought this Class back together in a big way. Communication was healthy, we knew where most of us were, we exchanged phone numbers and actually could talk directly with Class mates after so many years.It was too good to be true finally sharing old Sasse stories directly with one another and we could not stop there. Pierre Kamga, brought up the idea of a monthly meeting and he set up a conference call system and for the very first time a good number of us were onthe phone at the same time listening to each other. This was about the time of Our Silver Jubilee which unfortunately we didn’t plan well enough to celebrate it.
The biggest breakthrough that has been instrumental for us maintaining this strong bond throughout the years was the creation of Our WhatApp group by Gideon Akaya ( Kayest). This saw the connection with more Class mates than ever before. Those in the diaspora and those at Home Base were now under one platform. We were back on campus, boys talking about what boys usually talk about. More and more members joined the “Forum” and were amazed by the numbers of old friends and classmates that are already connected. Today we have 100 member on our WhatsApp platform.
With Our strong presence in North America, members of SOBA 84 Class became a constant presence in SOBA America events and eventually Beltus Ntopi (84 Class) after a short presidency in SOBA Georgia was elected President of SOBA America in 2011. His four-year tenure actually began the reformation of the Associations with program like the Scholarship Endowment Fund, to benefit students in need at Our Alma mater
SOBA 84 Class continues to be a visible and reliable presence within Soba America and in Europe with it members holding key positions in the running of Soba affaires, Batey Tako in the UK (God’s banker)/ Treasury in Soba UK, Pierre Kamga as Organizing Secretary in the early Ntopi administration and presently Chairman of the SOBA America Financial Advisory Board (SAFAB). , Aldrin Ngwa as President of Soba DC Chapter in the late 90’s and as SOBA America Financial Secretary in the mid 90’s . Divine Tange as organizing Secretary during the last administration and presently Secretary General of SOBA America. At the leadership of Our founding Chapter, SOBA Georgia are our own very Victor Tanteh and Kevin Takang as President and Vice President respectivelyRecently Julius Wakam as Publicity Secretary of Soba Tri-State.. Edmund Mbu was the founding President of Soba America, members at large ( MAL). Stephen Njonguo won the election early this year to become President of SOBA Ireland.
Our own very Fr Peter Nouck served as one of the longest serving Principals of Our Alma mater producing some very exceptional results. Fr Valentine Suum also had a brief stints as principal.
In 2014 we adopted the name SOBA 84 Class and produced a constitution, and bylaws to govern and guide us as we continue to restructure and grow. The President works with an executive committee to ensure the smooth running of our Association.
The goals and objectives of Our Association are:
- a) To promote the spirit of brotherhood and socio-economic development among members.
- b) To emphasize our development by identifying resources and potentials for the wellbeing of members.
- c) To provide a means through which members can pool resources to enhance individual and collective welfare.
- d) To assist members in times of need such as during bereavement and financial hardship.
- e) To promote the spiritual, moral and physical health of members.
- f) To carry out any charitable activities agreed upon by the General Assembly.
SOBA 84 Class continues to inspire and play a leadership role within the Soba Family. The support for our members in times of sadness and joys is second to none.The Class with the most registered members within the entire SOBA Family, the Class with the highest attendance in both the SOBA National Convention and the Mini Convention. The SOBA 84 Presidential Suite during the National Convention is the place to be after Saturday deliberations for Latin chants and refreshments.
In 2017 during the Atlanta Convention, we revealed Our Brand and became a Brand within SOBA America. Our pride and joy is our unity, diversity, strong talent pool and genuine concern and support for one another. Our innovations are creating a competitive spirit within SOBA America, our royal blue polos has caught on with other Class groups as they revealed their own beautiful colors during the historic SOBA America National Convention in the DMV in May 2019. The very first Glass Ring was also revealed by SOBA 84 Class during this event. Worth mentioning here is that three members of this Class were candidates for office for national leadership of SOBA America. Their campaign for Change mounted by Class President Ferdinand Akoh and Dr Ejedepang-Koge , chaired by Don Green has changed the political narrative of SOBA America politics for the better. All of this is to promote positive growth within our mother Associations( SOBA America and SOBA in General)
In 2020, we will roll-out a Comprehensive Medical Plan ( 84CARE). This plan will be aimed mostly at preventive medicine and the proper management of chronic diseases for our brothers at home ( SOBA 84 Home Base). This plan will be funded entirely by members of the Class.
Our bond continue to grow stronger even after 35 years. As mentioned above, we have about a hundred members on Our WhatsApp forum and our goal is to get them all registered as members of SOBA 84 Class. We take innovative ideas from our members and from various other quarters to grow our platform and foster our agenda. Business proposal and ventures like the “Mendelian Project” ( A rubber plantation project with Justin Ayuk as the brainchild) had taken off, but due to the sociopolitical unrest at home, this project has been put on hold. We are always looking for new ways to morally, socially and economically better our selves and the less fortunate in our society. Our Charity funds started in December 2018 will be revamped within this year. Most of the charity work in the Class has been mostly done on a personal level. We hope to put our resources together this time and actually tackle areas with particular critical needs in Our Home community.
35th Anniversary Celebrations for December 2019 has been deferred due to certain circumstances and we will begin planning for Our 40th Anniversary Celebration on Campus in 2024, God willing.
#SOBA 84 Strong#