This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Lifongo John Vetinde 64 years old , born on December 24, 1955 and passed away on January 30, 2020. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Lifongo John on February 15, 2020
Uncle j (my dad) was more like a father to me.he was such a great human being -so strong ,bold brillant and a pillar that supported our whole family! Such a huge loss to our family
I have so many good memories with him that I will cherish forever .he has done so much for me and for many people but I just feel that I could not do enough for him, as he left us too soon, you will always be in my heart dad, I remember you always called me Mr White, I miss you and your honest fatherly advice your sudden death came as a shock to me and i wish I had more time to appreciate you.God in his infinite wisdom knows best
May God almighty keep you safe resting and peace till resurrection day ,Amen

Rest In Peace dad 

Your son ngomba John lifongo
Posted by Gordon Nameni on February 14, 2020
My Uncle Lifongo was truly a great man. I feel that I have learned equally more about him with his passing as I did when he was alive. He was so humble that I honestly didn’t realize all of the great things that he did because he just didn’t talk about them. My Uncle Lifongo completed school at the age of 14 and by the age of 19 he had completed a degree to become a teacher. From there, he taught secondary school and later came to the U.S., completed is PhD in French Studies, completed a post-doc, and then became a faculty member at Lawrence University for 24 years. You probably already knew this about my uncle. What you might not have known is that my uncle financially supported all of his siblings and personally paid for the children of his deceased brother to go to school. My Uncle Lifongo also started a non-profit foundation that has regularly given back to grade school children in his village Bota Land. Throughout all this, he was a true scholar that also became distinguished as Fulbright Fellow. If you search for the name “Lifongo Vetinde,” in Google Scholar, you will find at least 10 pages with his published articles, books and citations to his work. Throughout all this, my Uncle was a dedicated father, husband and the reliable “family man,” that people called when times got rough. I had no idea that my uncle had achieved so much or had so much responsibility because during the times that we spent together, he was generally lighthearted and jovial.

In my grief, I have called out to God, “Why did you take him so early?” I then recall that the old Greek playwright, Menander once said, “Whom the Gods love die young.” While my uncle lived to the age of 64, he still had a lot of life left and a whole lot more to give to the world. There are still so many plans that we had talked about that we didn’t get a chance to do. I am only comforted with the thought that God needed another soldier in his army and He needed the soul of my uncle and his indefatigable humor and optimism to galvanize the angels for a cause.

As I mourn for his loss, I have come to realize that my uncle left us with many gifts before he departed. First and foremost, he gave me the example of what a father should be. He always put his daughters first. Not at any moment did my uncle express anything other than unwavering support for his daughter Agnes or Naomi. His love for them was overflowing. I lean on his example for the relationship that I am building with my own daughters.

He left me with an example of what real humility looks like. I would frequently joke and call my uncle, “Uncle Professor Vetinde,” and he would always respond, “please, no titles.” I knew that he understood my humor, but it was my way of offering respect. After working so hard for much of his life, some would gladly accept the title of “professor” or “doctor” but not my uncle. Whether in jest or real conversation, he did not want the title. He wanted people to accept him as “Lifongo John Vetinde.”

My uncle also left me with the example of how to care for others beyond your immediate family. I am sure that there are many who can attest to his kindness. Uncle Lifongo personally recruited me to the non-profit foundation that the started. The mission of the foundation was to support grade school children with books and computer literacy programs in Bota Land, where he grew up. He was very passionate about the work of the foundation. On my last trip to Cameroon I managed to do a little work for the foundation. I took pictures, very good pictures if I may add, of one of the schools that the foundation is supporting. After I sent the pictures to my uncle via WhatsApp, he asked me to go back and take more because they were not good enough! That simple request describes the heart that he had for the foundation and his desire to give back to community.

My uncle changed my life and impacted many lives for the better. I will do my best to carry his legacy forward to my children and beyond. In my grief, I am sad that he is no longer with us, but I also know that God has a plan for him, even in death. I can see my uncle jubilantly contributing in heaven. Knowing my uncle, he would want us to view his parting with gladness in our hearts for he is now with our heavenly father.

That being said, I will close with this poem that exemplifies how I think that my Uncle Lifongo would want us to frame this moment.

* Death is nothing at all – By Canon Henry Scott Holland *
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was;
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near, just round the corner.
And all is well

Uncle Lifongo, I thank you for your life and I look forward to dancing with you again.

With everlasting love and respect.
Your nephew,
Gordon Nameni
Posted by Ayo Coly on February 11, 2020
Dear Lifongo, I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that you are gone. I was planning to call you for one of our long chats when I heard the sad news. We met as colleagues and, over the years, you became a friend and brother. I am at a loss for words. I used to call you Le Senegalais du Cameroun. I know that your friends and colleagues in Senegal are in grief. You were loved by all. French and Francophone Studies, as well as African Studies, have lost a great scholar. I was personally honored to have my name on the back cover of your magnificent book on Sembene. Repose en paix mon frere aime.
Posted by Medchev1 . on February 9, 2020
I remember, during the 2006 Accra, Ghana edition of the African Literature Association annual Conference, Lifongo and I decided to take time off from the conference one day to visit the Accra Makola Market. We had no agenda other than just taking in the sights and sounds of the market. Toward the end of our tour of the place, a bread seller came up to us, trying to convince us to buy her bread. Lifongo and I spoke with her a bit, even if we were not interested in buying the bread. As we left her, she said "ogorro champion," pointing to Lifongo. We asked her what she meant, but she just smiled and walked away. We never figured out her meaning. Since that time, I have called Lifongo 'ogorro champion.'

Lifongo, my brother, you were indeed a champion, and a champion you will remain! Godspeed!! Mohamed Kamara
Posted by Uchenna Uwakwe on February 9, 2020
Professor Lifongo Vetinde was a great scholar who demonstrated the measure of humanism in the African spirit. Responses to the contributors in the editorial process of the book project, African Cultural Production and the Rhetoric of Humanism, is sufficient proof of other legacies that I am yet to learn about him. It is indeed a shocking news to my entire family in Nigeria.
However, we relish the fact that he lives on in his works and contributions to humanity.
Posted by Cecile Ndive on February 8, 2020
Chiefie ( when you were born, you were named after the chief of the village ) Lifongo, weh, the news of your passing is a big shock to all of us who knew you.

What a loss! All of us in the diaspora and the whole village are still trying to understand it. You were the one that mothers evoked when they wanted to encourage their sons to believe that hard work pays.

We will miss you, my dear chiefie, but your achievements will forever be recalled as an example in the whole Wovea clan.
Rest In Peace in the arms of the Lord.
Posted by Adrien Pouille on February 8, 2020
Dr. Lifongo Vetinde was undoubtedly one of the most kindhearted, tolerant and generous persons I have ever known. These are character traits that my friends who had the chance of meeting him brought up upon learning his passing. He was equally a great scholar totally committed to his work with his students and colleagues. He used all the means at his disposal to contribute to humanist efforts made around the world and has left a wonderful legacy behind. Rest in peace my friend!
Posted by Dalia Khattab on February 7, 2020
Professor Vetinde was such a great professor. He played a major role in teaching me about important issues in Francophone countries and introduced me to the world of French cinema. He always greeted me with a smile and reminded me to think positively. His laughs filled every Bjorklunden language immersion weekend and like others wrote, were infectious. I'm grateful to have met Professor Vetinde. Although I only knew him for my 4 years of college, he left a huge impact on me. He will be deeply missed, que son âme repose en paix.
Posted by Jackson Edie on February 7, 2020
Uncle Lifongo (DAD) , I still can’t believe I am writing a tribute because of your passing . Words cannot describe this difficult moment, but if this is the last time I get to say goodbye then I know I will do so with the knowledge that I consider myself blessed to have lived this life as your nephew and as your son.
You touched so many lives by your selfless and countless acts of kindness, always giving and never expecting any favours in return. Your dedication to a cause was what set you apart. For every institution you worked for, you laid the path for others to succeed.
The benefits of your hard work is a living testimony for me and for the so many young men and women you took under your wings at a personal and professional level.
Uncle, you were and will always be an inspiration to myself, the entire family and anyone who worked with you. You have left a void in the family that will never be filled.
While we mourn today, we also take comfort in the fact that your mission on earth would have been fulfilled. We thank the Lord for your life and for sharing you with us and bade you farewell until we meet again.
Your Nephew and Your Son,
Ngomba Jackson Edie
Posted by Sabrina Johns on February 6, 2020
Prof. Vetinde was a great communicator and positive, father-like figure to me. He had a great sense of self, and helped me to become more comfortable with my ethnic background as a mixed race person with black heritage. He will be sorely missed, and the lessons he taught, both inside and outside the classroom, will stay with us forever.

Thank you, Prof. Vetinde for all that you've done to help and serve others throughout the years.
Posted by Maram Bàlla on February 6, 2020
I am shocked and cannot believe that our friend and colleague Professor Lifongo Vetinde is gone. One of the nicest and most caring persons I have ever met. Always looking to connect and bring people together. He will be sorely missed.
Posted by Dain Lopez on February 5, 2020
Professor Vetinde had a huge impact on my time at Lawrence and it is difficult to imagine the campus without him. In his classes he brought an enthusiasm for the authors he was teaching and the importance of their writing that was contagious. Doing the seminar in Dakar with him was a highlight of my time at Lawrence. He taught me by his example that each chance to get to know others, whether it's an invitation to share a meal or an offer to join a dance or just a simple 'hello', is an incredible opportunity that we should embrace wholeheartedly. I will remember him not only as a great scholar and teacher, but also as a compassionate human being with an unforgettable laugh. His kindness and sense of humor will be greatly missed.
Posted by Laura Winterstein on February 5, 2020
Professor Vetinde showed me a new way of looking at and experiencing the world. I think of him and the class discussions he facilitated often. He died too soon and I will hold his family and all his students in my thoughts and my heart.
Posted by Cosette Bardawil on February 5, 2020
Thinking about Prof. Vetinde makes me smile. He had a calm, comforting presence in the classroom and he was kind, knowledgeable, and silly. I'm thankful to have been his student. He expanded my view on the francophone world and he made the senior capstone experience enjoyable and memorable. Merci pour les cours et pour votre présence agréable. C'était un grand plaisir de vous avoir connu.
Posted by Maria Carone on February 4, 2020
There are people that, however shortly, cross your path in life and are able to leave an indelible mark with their kindness, warmth, gentleness and genuine heart. I will miss this dear colleague, fine man, exceptional scholar, and compassionate person. Farewell, dear Lifongo, may your wonderful smile live on.
Posted by Stevi Parmentier on February 4, 2020
I remember the first class I took with Professor Vetinde. It was a class on Senegalese literature right after he came back from his Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship in Senegal. He was so passionate about the material he was teaching, so excited to share everything he learned. It really left an impression on me. I will miss his passion, his philosophical lectures and his smile.
Posted by Sepi Shokri on February 4, 2020
I will never forget the time I spent with Lifongo in Dakar, as those memories were some of my fondest during my time at Lawrence. Taking classes with him and working with him on my French Capstone project opened my eyes to so many amazing African writers. There is a hole in my heart today after hearing the news of his passing. The impact he had on my life is unforgettable. His laugh and smile were infectious. He will be greatly missed.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Lifongo John on February 15, 2020
Uncle j (my dad) was more like a father to me.he was such a great human being -so strong ,bold brillant and a pillar that supported our whole family! Such a huge loss to our family
I have so many good memories with him that I will cherish forever .he has done so much for me and for many people but I just feel that I could not do enough for him, as he left us too soon, you will always be in my heart dad, I remember you always called me Mr White, I miss you and your honest fatherly advice your sudden death came as a shock to me and i wish I had more time to appreciate you.God in his infinite wisdom knows best
May God almighty keep you safe resting and peace till resurrection day ,Amen

Rest In Peace dad 

Your son ngomba John lifongo
Posted by Gordon Nameni on February 14, 2020
My Uncle Lifongo was truly a great man. I feel that I have learned equally more about him with his passing as I did when he was alive. He was so humble that I honestly didn’t realize all of the great things that he did because he just didn’t talk about them. My Uncle Lifongo completed school at the age of 14 and by the age of 19 he had completed a degree to become a teacher. From there, he taught secondary school and later came to the U.S., completed is PhD in French Studies, completed a post-doc, and then became a faculty member at Lawrence University for 24 years. You probably already knew this about my uncle. What you might not have known is that my uncle financially supported all of his siblings and personally paid for the children of his deceased brother to go to school. My Uncle Lifongo also started a non-profit foundation that has regularly given back to grade school children in his village Bota Land. Throughout all this, he was a true scholar that also became distinguished as Fulbright Fellow. If you search for the name “Lifongo Vetinde,” in Google Scholar, you will find at least 10 pages with his published articles, books and citations to his work. Throughout all this, my Uncle was a dedicated father, husband and the reliable “family man,” that people called when times got rough. I had no idea that my uncle had achieved so much or had so much responsibility because during the times that we spent together, he was generally lighthearted and jovial.

In my grief, I have called out to God, “Why did you take him so early?” I then recall that the old Greek playwright, Menander once said, “Whom the Gods love die young.” While my uncle lived to the age of 64, he still had a lot of life left and a whole lot more to give to the world. There are still so many plans that we had talked about that we didn’t get a chance to do. I am only comforted with the thought that God needed another soldier in his army and He needed the soul of my uncle and his indefatigable humor and optimism to galvanize the angels for a cause.

As I mourn for his loss, I have come to realize that my uncle left us with many gifts before he departed. First and foremost, he gave me the example of what a father should be. He always put his daughters first. Not at any moment did my uncle express anything other than unwavering support for his daughter Agnes or Naomi. His love for them was overflowing. I lean on his example for the relationship that I am building with my own daughters.

He left me with an example of what real humility looks like. I would frequently joke and call my uncle, “Uncle Professor Vetinde,” and he would always respond, “please, no titles.” I knew that he understood my humor, but it was my way of offering respect. After working so hard for much of his life, some would gladly accept the title of “professor” or “doctor” but not my uncle. Whether in jest or real conversation, he did not want the title. He wanted people to accept him as “Lifongo John Vetinde.”

My uncle also left me with the example of how to care for others beyond your immediate family. I am sure that there are many who can attest to his kindness. Uncle Lifongo personally recruited me to the non-profit foundation that the started. The mission of the foundation was to support grade school children with books and computer literacy programs in Bota Land, where he grew up. He was very passionate about the work of the foundation. On my last trip to Cameroon I managed to do a little work for the foundation. I took pictures, very good pictures if I may add, of one of the schools that the foundation is supporting. After I sent the pictures to my uncle via WhatsApp, he asked me to go back and take more because they were not good enough! That simple request describes the heart that he had for the foundation and his desire to give back to community.

My uncle changed my life and impacted many lives for the better. I will do my best to carry his legacy forward to my children and beyond. In my grief, I am sad that he is no longer with us, but I also know that God has a plan for him, even in death. I can see my uncle jubilantly contributing in heaven. Knowing my uncle, he would want us to view his parting with gladness in our hearts for he is now with our heavenly father.

That being said, I will close with this poem that exemplifies how I think that my Uncle Lifongo would want us to frame this moment.

* Death is nothing at all – By Canon Henry Scott Holland *
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was;
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near, just round the corner.
And all is well

Uncle Lifongo, I thank you for your life and I look forward to dancing with you again.

With everlasting love and respect.
Your nephew,
Gordon Nameni
Posted by Ayo Coly on February 11, 2020
Dear Lifongo, I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that you are gone. I was planning to call you for one of our long chats when I heard the sad news. We met as colleagues and, over the years, you became a friend and brother. I am at a loss for words. I used to call you Le Senegalais du Cameroun. I know that your friends and colleagues in Senegal are in grief. You were loved by all. French and Francophone Studies, as well as African Studies, have lost a great scholar. I was personally honored to have my name on the back cover of your magnificent book on Sembene. Repose en paix mon frere aime.
Recent stories

A salute to Professor John Lifongo Vetinde

Shared by Gordon Nameni on February 15, 2020
He came he learnt;
He came he studied;
He came he researched;
It was time to go;
And he went;
A man full of longsuffering, temperance and faith.
He came he taught;
He came he tutored;
He came he lectured;
It was time to go;
And he went;
A man full of gentleness, peace and meekness.
The time came;
None could stop him;
His time came to go;
None could stop him;
A man full of love, joy and goodness.
Goodbye my friend;
Goodbye my brother;
Goodbye my blood;
See you yonder.
Georg Ekosse, Senior Professor

Not Cousins- Brothers

Shared by Gordon Nameni on February 15, 2020
As we grew up, our parents made us to understand that cousins were not cousins, but brothers and sisters. Therefore, John never called my father uncle but Pa Litange, and we all knew the mother as Iya Gbwai. Hence, I always referred to him as Brother John or Brother Vetinde. We played together, we ate together, we sang together and we danced together. We gave counsel to one another and encouraged one another in the path of success, and we shared our successes together.


Brother John
Mola Vetinde
Professor John Lifongo Vetinde
We will always be together

Georges Ekosse
Senior Professor

Ana Lifongo?

Shared by Chelsea Peeters on February 4, 2020
I am absolutely shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the passing of this amazing man.  As a French major at Lawrence, not only did I have the opportunity to take many classes with him, I also had the opportunity to travel to Dakar, Senegal with him and fellow students for a term abroad.

Any time I ever think about him, I think of his smile and innocent chuckle. He was always very amused and open minded to learn about the evolution of the worlds of his students. During our time in Senegal, he opened our eyes to things we would never have experienced by staying on campus.

The running joke of our time in Senegal became “ana Lifongo?” which means “Wherr is Lifongo?” in Wolof (one of the native languages of Senegal). He was often running late to class because he would get caught up in a conversation with anyone and everyone about anything. Professor Vetinde was always in a good mood. If he ever was in a bad one, he never showed it.

I happened to be back on campus about three months ago and was lucky enough to catch up with him. It was completely by chance because he happened to still be around at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. So thankful for that time. We ended up talking for at least a half hour.

Youwill be missed, Professor.
Merci pour tout ce que tu as fait pour moi et tous les autres élèves.