Frederick Wiyfengla Yiran (Mformi), a Cameroonian who died January 30, 2011 at the age of 58 in Saint Cloud, Minnesota was honored posthumously on January 16 by the Governor's Commission on the Statewide Martin Luther King Celebration which took place at Concordia University, St. Paul.
Fred was a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist in Education and participated in many folk arts programs regionally.
He painted murals with children and taught young people to build and play drums in camps and classes throughout Minnesota; particularly in St. Cloud , Bemidji , Minneapolis , and Duluth .
He did extensive work with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, built an African house for the Wilder Foundation and appeared on Newton 's Apple.
It is believed that he reached over 5,000 students in 20 years as an artist, musician and African drumming instructor.
One of his trademarks is teaching about "the basket of knowledge" - the brain - and how important it is to put things in the basket and share them with others.
His sense of humor was legendary. Embedded in his teaching of drum making and playing, were the values of respect for elders and respect for the earth.
The award was received by his wife, Janette who said the recognition meant a lot "because he was all about community, being the best you can. For him to be recognized posthumously means a lot to the family in terms of leaving a legacy behind" she added.
The late Fred arrived US in the early 1980s. He bagged Bachelors degree in Fine art from Bemidji State University. He also had his Masters degree in African Arts from St. Cloud State university.
He was an accomplished, instrumentalist, master painter, carver, sculptor, jewelry maker, poet, singer, performance artist and an arts and culture educator.
A family man and a devout Christian, Fred was a devoted member of his community. He is left behind a wife, Janette and three children namely; Alemni, Yenran and Lemntsav.
The late Fred was popularly known as Mformi, a title that was bestowed on him by the paramount King of Nso in recognition of his altruistic service and excellent arts work in the community.