On Monday, December 5, 1988, around 10 a.m., a crazy rumor that the college buildings were collapsing spread like wildfire; it is the general panic. Another rumor comes to mingle with the previous one: "the buildings would be on fire". Without question, students rush to the exit doors. Some choose the windows. The narrow exits being obstructed by the moving crowd, the children throw themselves into the void to escape. This is the tragedy of Collège Monthé.
The tragedy of the Collège Monthé was a real apocalyptic scene: about fifty dead and nearly 160 wounded. The magnitude of the tragedy was such that even the President of the Republic Paul Biya and his wife Jeanne Irène went to the scene of the tragedy. But what exactly happened?
Even Paul Biya had gone to the scene of the monthé College tragedy.
The Monthé College (Monthé Private Comprehensive Institute) was a bilingual, modern institution in full expansion: quality teaching, competent teachers, brand new and clean buildings. Indeed, the buildings had 6 levels with 10 classrooms per floor, a real revolution in the construction of school structure in Cameroon at that time. A real gem.
The wish of all the children of the city of Yaoundé was to attend in the monthé college. The expansion of monthé college was not seen favorably by the other founders of the city's colleges who saw their students leave their schools to join Monthé college.
Day by day, their numbers were shrinking like a sore thumb. Even the teachers of the prestigious colleges and high schools of the place all applied to join the supervision of the monthé college where the teachers were very well paid. The situation was talked about even within the state apparatus. We wondered. Who is this Bamiléké, an alien who dared to create a school in the heart of Yaoundé to enrich himself at the expense of the natives?
On December 5, 1988, the day had started well at Monthé College. A most ordinary Monday morning. After the raising of the colors and the performance of the national anthem, the students immediately returned to their classrooms. There was no sign of a tragedy. Around 10 a.m., a crazy rumor that the college buildings are collapsing spread like wildfire; it is the general panic. Another rumor comes to mingle with the previous one: "the buildings would be on fire".
Without question, the students rush to the exit doors. The exits being obstructed by the moving crowd, the children throw themselves into the void to escape. Real apocalyptic scene. We saw children jumped from the top floor and crashed to the ground.
Alerted, Mrs. Monthé who was on the scene, came and began to shout to ask the children to stop this panic because the information that the buildings were collapsing or on fire was false. It was a waste of time. No one was listening. Madame Monthé saw stiff dead children around her. Deeply shocked, lost and in tears, she started her car and decided to leave this hell.
Alerted, the founder of the college (Mr. Monthé) who was traveling to Bafang for sporting reasons (He was the president of the Unisport of Bafang) immediately took the road to Yaoundé. Arriving on the scene, he noted with horror the consequences of this panic movement, of the tragedy of Monthe College: about fifty dead. The magnitude of the tragedy was such that even the President of the Republic, Paul Biya went to the scene. The President instructed an investigation to determine the causes of the tragedy.
The critics of the Monthé College who was behind this drama by having circulated a false rumor about the collapse of the buildings will jump at the opportunity to annihilate Mr. Monthé and his ambitious project. An investigation into the adequacy of the Monthé Institute's buildings to the standards in force will be entrusted to Labogenie.
The first reports of the Labgénie concluded that the buildings had no problems and the construction met the standards. However, influenced by hands lurking in the shadows, the Labogenie made a second mixed report. The State then decided to demolish and close the Monthé College.
After the monthé College tragedy, the students were sent to continue the school year at the Tsinga Fair, which was set up as a temporary site. The State had created a sequestration administration there. The general supervisors were plainclothes commissioners and any grouping was prohibited.
On February 10, 1989, Monthé College was demolished. An investment of several billion CFA francs dynamited in the middle of the school year; the land of the founder of the college was taken away from him without investigation or state of mind for quibbles that never convinced anyone. Despite the steps taken, Mr. Monthé was not compensated. This sudden decision by the authorities to demolish monthé College, a major private institution in the country, in Yaoundé was seen as an attempt to limit Bamileke influence, its owner being a worthy son of the West.
The founder's ordeal
After the tragedy Jean Monthé was incarcerated in Kondengui prison, he nevertheless won his trial against the State of Cameroon and was released. Let us salute in passing, the spirit of solidarity and citizenship of the taximans of the city of Yaoundé who, having learned of the tragedy, had rushed to the scene to transport the wounded to hospitals or to bring the students home without claiming a single penny.
Near the site of the former Monthé College, the Chinese built the Warda Sports Palace. Amazing isn't it? When we know that the Monthé College was destroyed because it had been shamefully concluded that the site was not suitable for construction. So what is this state that could build the largest sports palace in the country on an inappropriate site?