Akwo-Fese Victor Efimba .
Some of the recurring tributes for Brother Ronnie were “he was a wonderful teacher“, “he was very intelligent“, ” he had a great sense of humour“, ” kind and humble“, “he loved Cameroon” and “da whiteman di talk Pidgin oh“.
For SHESANs, Brother Ronnie’s death marks the passing of one of the greatest servants to Sacred Heart College. We SHESANs took the opportunity, to show our gratitude to Brother Ronnie for the his teaching – passionate and interesting, inspiring many of us to achieve our potential across some many human endeavours and being great company.
Sacred Heart College and the SHESA, did not mourn alone, there was representation from the following:
– The Marist Brothers represented by Brother Brendan Greary, Provincial Leader West & Central Europe. Unfortunately due to schedules and health issues the formal principals of Sacred Heart College :Brothers Joseph McKee, Vicar General of Marist Brothers, Brother Norbert Simms and Brother John Philipps were not able to be attend and sent their condolences to the family.
– Deputy High Commissioner, His Excellency Denis Nyuydzewria and Colonel Joseph Ngwafor, Military Attaché representing the Republic of Cameroon.
– Many Cameroon Diaspora groups in the UK including the Cameroon Forum (CF), the Cameroon North West Cultural Association in UK (CNWCA), the Bali Cultural Association of the UK (BCA), representatives of the Sasse Old Boys Association UK (SOBA)and Lourdes Ex-Student Association UK (LESA) and finally many fellow Cameroonians who loved Ngia Ndeh for the exceptional human being that he was.
This farewell was truly a community effort from all Cameroonians in the UK and abroad. This funeral brought out the cooperative spirit for all of us to join our hands in giving Ngia Ndeh the best send off possible. Many people worked so hard to make this day memorable especially for Brother Ronnie’s family. The Hickman Family, the Marist Brothers and people of Wolverhampton are truly grateful for appreciation and tributes from the Cameroon Community.
Thank-you “Ronnie” for being a part of fabric of Sacred Heart College, your spirit will never die-it rest in all those you inspired by your teaching.
Adieu and rest in peace!
Ronnie was a very nice man. We didn’t know what his life was all about. He had a lot of friends and was well known to a lot of people. Everybody loved him, he was very good and there is a lot about him we really did not even know.
How we first learnt of his death?
When me and my sister got to his house, she went upstairs and came back down and said something was wrong with him. I went upstairs, tried to touch him and opened his eyes and it was all blue, no flicker. We lowered him down and pumped him until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics took over and said he had been dead for a few hours.
We all feel bad that he has now died.
Brother Brendan Geary
Before his death, Brother Ronald Hickman was a member of a little known catholic order known as Marist brothers. He served the order as teacher in Cameroon and in the UK.
Francis Ngwa Spoke to Brenda Geary,a Marist brother
Q How did you receive news of the death of Brother Ronnie?
I was contacted by Monsignor John Armitage who is the vicar general of Brent wood diocese because Susan his cousin contacted father John.
Q Who are the Marist brothers?
The Marist brothers are a Roman Catholic religious group founded in France in 1817 for christian education, particularly in schools and Brother Ronnie was a member of that order. The Marist brothers came to England in 1852 and brother Ronnie was the last Marist brother to be teaching in England.
Q How Did Brother Ronnie Become a Marist brother?
He went to a school called St Chads college in Wolverhampton.
And he was taught by Marist brothers. In a programme of contacts, he made a decision to ask to join the marists brothers . He became a Marist brother in 1979
Q When you become a Marist brother, apart from teaching, what else do you do?
You live in a community with other people so prayers are an important part of our lives. You work with other people not just in teaching but in other aspects. There are other brothers who do lots of other things like psychologists, facilitators, etc.
Q You knew Ronnie personally. How was he like a man and a brother?
He was a very very intelligent man, very very bright with a remarkable knowledge of many many things. He was a musician, a good linguist, a scientist and had a good knowledge of history, culture generally and theology. He was a very interesting teacher. He had a great capacity to take complex scientific ideas and make them accessible to students.
Q What will the Marist brothers lose with his death?
We will lose the last brother teaching in England. We lose someone with a particular outreach to young people in the east end of London. We also lose someone with a great love of Cameroon and Cameroonian culture and Cameroonian people.
Robert Tamanji. London
I came to know late Ronald Hickman alias Ngia Ndeh as a veritable member of Cameroon North West Cultural Association UK (CNWCA UK). Our first meeting was very thrilling,engaging and soul searching, reasons being that i was so amazed with his succinct and pristine Cameroon accent in pidgin English.This immediately made me to draw closer and closer to this prolific individual of European skin but with a Cameroonian accent.His bubbly and characteristic style gave me the willingness to continue to know more and more about his eccentric life style.His eccentricity and the aura around him made him a people’s person.
A few weeks ago while celebrating the life of his departed mother at Victoria House alias Tah Ndi in Daltson lane,Ronald Hickman in his befitting North West attire continued to thrill,entertain and mesmerise every one with his agility and dexterity in articulating in Pidgin English.Ronald Hickman easily relates with every one, always putting a smile on people’s faces and his high sense of humility and simplicity makes every one to always laugh.But as nature will have it, after the celebration of his mother’s life, a week had just gone past and i did receive the shocking news that Ngia Ndeh is no more. The untimely demise of Ronald Hickman is a poignant reminder about immortality. Just as Donne John one of the Metaphysical poets says in “Death Be Not Proud” that although death is mighty and despair, death cannot kill a redeemed soul.Ronald Hickman who has been snatched away from us by the evil hands of death,his soul has already been redeemed and we should find some solace in his death as he is happily seated on the right side of God in Heaven while watching over us as we mourn his passing on.
Ronald Hickman meant so much to so many people from different perspectives and he will for ever be remembered for that.Without any iota of doubt, Ngia Ndeh(Ronald Hickman) epitomizes love,unity,peace and optimism.He was just an inspirational figure that wittingly or unwittingly touched the lives of many people and it is bizarre, incredible and unthinkable that he left us when we needed him most.
Unlike his fellow European compatriots who came to Africa with a cynical,hidden and diabolic agenda or plan to colonize,subjugate and exploit the Africans, Ronald Hickman alias Ngia Ndeh our hero came to Africa(Cameroon) with a clear and open mind to educate,to empower, to create awareness and help alleviate illiteracy and end the poverty that is very endemic in Africa. Ronald Hickman was such a true breath and a man to be reckoned with because of his untiring commitment and dedication to the African cause. He was always talking of going back to his country Cameroon and this goes to confirm that Ronald Hickman physically is a European but internally he is an Africanist..
Being a science teacher for so long at Sacred Heart Mankon in Bamenda Cameroon,he has overwhelmingly transformed so many lives as many of his students bear testimony to this call.He has sowed seeds in his students that will grow into new seeds and by so doing, this will help transform and change lives and make the world a better place to live in because of Ronald Hickman’s legacy.The demise of our beloved Ngia Ndeh also coincides with the remembrance week as we remember the heroic generation that paid the ultimate price for our ultimate freedom.In the same line Ronald Hickman will be remembered for offering his life for the cause of humanity.
As we all mourn the shocking passing away of Ronald Hickman,we should also concentrate to remember him for his huge legacy he has left behind.He would be remembered as the man who always put a smile on people’s faces.He meant so much to many people and his high sense of humour and dedication to the African cause and humanity makes him a man of our time.May his soul find everlasting peace and solace in the bossom of the Lord as we remember him.Farewell beloved brother Ronald Hickman alias Ngia Ndeh.
Nana Mike. London
Adieu “Ngia Ndeh”, You will be remembered in more ways that one: your smile,sense of humour, you even make racism seem a thing of the past and your love for humanity was well beyond lip just service. You are gone but your legacy remains. Your presence was always a pool where differences in colour, race, language, taste met and melted away. I am only happy as I know you are where you rightfully belong.Cameroon and Cameroonians will sorely miss you. Thanks for all you did to the human race and till we meet to part no more.
A tribute to Brother Ronald Hickman aka Ngia Ndeh
‘I am because of you’
Brother Ronal Hickman aka Ngia Ndeh – what a testimony! The life of our dearly departed brother Ngia Ndeh epitomised the true meaning of humanity. Ngia Ndeh was an enigma to everybody – both Cameroonians and British alike. He did not fit any stereo-typical mould, because he was ‘human’. His generosity, curiosity and kindness transcended the norm. He turned heads whenever he expressed himself as a ‘white-man’ (‘oyibo’) in his favourite Cameroonian pidgin English, jaws dropped when he tucked into his favourite meal – ‘achu’; further, some thought it was all an illusion when he whipped out his traditional drinking cup made from a cow’s horn. Further, everything was capped by his dawning of the traditional North West Grass-field dress regalia. Wow – what a genuine brother!
Ngia Ndeh epitomised one who embraces with his heart, mind and spirit. In the 11 years that he spent as a lecturer at Sacred Heart College, Mankon, Bamenda, he opened his being up to the North West culture, and by so doing embraced Cameroon. He localised himself not just physically, but also spiritually. His heart fused with all things Cameroonian. He spoke the language, wore the dress, ate the food, and drank the wine – he must have been touched to have been transformed. He must have been receptive and open-minded to have been transformed.
Ngia Ndeh therefore leaves us with a number of very important legacies despite his relatively short time with us. Our lives become meaningful only when we see ourselves through the eyes of others; ‘I am because of you’. He became who he was because of Cameroon, and his beautiful God-fearing heart. This lesson holds true for us all as we relate to each other in Cameroon, Africa, and Globally. He was still British, but also became Cameroonian, and subsequently a Global Citizen – cherishing his dual heritage. He also leaves us with a certain proof that there is something magical in the air in Cameroon. There is something addictive – The True Cameroonian Spirit. Brother Ronald Hickman could not resist this spirit of generosity, kindness, hospitality, friendship, and brotherhood that hit him, and engulfed him as he touched down on this beautiful, tropical equatorial country. He was infused by the brightness of the golden star. This brilliance saw the community say farewell to him in Wolverhampton in a dignified and memorable manner.
Brother Ronald Hickman aka Ngia Ndeh – thank you for reminding us about the capacity for love and beauty of the human heart, and that ultimately, there is only one race – The Human Race, and One Creator – The Almighty God; thank you bro – ‘I am because of you’!
Please leave your tributes to Bro Ronnie in the comments section