His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, celebrated his name day on 17th February 2009 with the children of Orthodox African families in Northern Cameroon on the border with Chad. At the Church of Ss. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, in the village of Datseka, next to straw huts, the people sang hymns in their many dialects and danced. On a missionary journey to see for themselves the results of the missionary effort in the Cameroon, His Beatitude and those following him were warmly welcomed by the citizens, local leaders, and representatives of other faiths.
Addressing His Beatitude in the Church of St. Raphael in Datseka, built by Abbess Eugenia of the Monastery of the same name in Mytilene, His Eminence Gregory, Metropolitan of Cameroon, wished His Beatitude many years on his name day and asked for his continuing support for the mission. “Whatever is done is the work for which we are inspired by the zeal of the Primate of our Patriarchate, who did not hesitate to travel thousands of kilometers from his See in Alexandria, to reach the Northern Cameroon to celebrate his name day with the Orthodox Christians of the African Savanna,” said the local Metropolitan, emphasizing the significance of the visit by His Beatitude – the first Patriarch of Alexandria to reach this border region of sub-Saharan Africa.
Addressing the local people and especially the youth, His Beatitude said: “I want you to keep your traditions in our churches. Keep your language, your tradition, and the way you express your thanks to God, with hymns sung in your language, your tones, drums, dance. And know that, in this manner, you are not outside of the tradition of our Church. Remember how many times in the Old Testament the chosen people of Israel thanked and praised God with the drums, songs, shouts and dancing … .”
The traditional dances gave a particular hue to the welcome of the Patriarch of Alexandria, both within and outside of the churches, especially the war dance of the Cameroonians called the “Gourna,” which is similar to one of the ancient “Fire Dances.”
His Beatitude, who the previous week had met with His Excellency Dr. Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon, in Yaoundé, received the gift of official recognition of the Orthodox Church and the Holy Metropolis of Cameroon on February 12, 2009.
Metropolis of Cameroon (7/20/2009)