There are many categories of Yahs, almost all of whom derived directly from the palace in earlier years. Of late, beginning with Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947) Yahships have been awarded to certain important lineages without regard to direct derivation from the royal lineage.
The highest-ranking Yah is Yah Yefon (Fengay or Queen Mother). She is the third ranking personality in the land (after Shufai Ndzendzev and Shufai Taankum) by status, administrative and religious function.
Upon assuming the throne the Fon appoints a Yah Yefon from among his female children or his sisters if his birth mother is no longer alive. Yah Yefon is treated like a Fon in all aspects except in special greeting (“bun”). She represents Yee Nso (Ngon Nso), the founder of the Nso dynasty.
The present Yah Yefons that are still alive today are; (At the time this article was written)
Yah Yefon Sehm Mbinglo I
Yah Yefon Ngah Bifon III
Yah Yefon Ngah Bifon II (Yah Adela Nsaidzeka Meyeh)
Yah Yefon Sehm III (Yah Rose Wirnkar)
Yah Yefon Ngah Bifon I (Yah wo Faa)
Yah Yefon Mapri (Yah wo Nso La)
The next Yah in rank is the Yah Yeewong (mother of Nso). She is the second representative of Yee Nso (Ngon Nso), the founder of the Nso dynasty.
When Ngon Nso died around 1421, her son Leh who assumed the throne created the title of Yeewong and Yefon to be combinable and held by a single individual. The two titles were later on separated with Yefon holding the higher title (very silently) and Yah Yeewong the next (very publicly) with a rank equal to Fai Taawong who is also appointed by the new Fon at the same time as Yeewong.
A few Yah Yewongs that are still alive today are:
Yah Yeewong Sehm Mbinglo I (Yewong wo Ntoh Nso)
Yah Yeewong Ngah Bifon III
Yah Yeewong Ngah Bifon II
Yah Yeewong Ngah Bifon I (Yeewong wo Kim Kikaikom)
Yah Yeewong Sehm II (Yeewong wo Jem)
Most Yahs of status in Nso today are descendants (inherited) of former Yah Yefons and Yah Yeewongs.
A few notable examples of these reigning Yahs are:
Yah wo Kai Jakiri (Successor of Yeewong wo Nturkui)
Yah wo Abakwa Jakiri (Successor of Yeewong wo Kih Kiyan)
Yah wo Mile 3 Bamenda (Successor of Yeewong wo Roo-Kong)
The next rank of Yahs is based within the palace household, Yah Nkonin and Yah Yeela (leaders of the Fon’s senior wives – Kfem se Fon). They act as managers of the Fon’s household. These two Yahs must be of Mtaar origin. They also organize the Fon’s farm work in collaboration with the Yeesums.
Every Shufaiship of high standing and with historical underpinnings can also have a Yah. A famous Yah in this category is Yah wo Taankum. It is still unclear why some of the big Shufaiships are allowed to create secondary Yahships but the lineages themselves do not have a Yah of the main lineage compound.
The last category of Yahs are those that are crowned by the Fon in collaboration with the Shufais or Fais. The process of naming and enthroning a Yah is very involved. The Fon cannot name a Yah without approval from the Yah’s lineage or extended family. The Yah needs to do the very public “kibunfon” and a grand “kitar yiy” for the family and the public at large to recognize her as a Yah of standing. Recent examples include the “kibunfon” carried out by Yah wo Shusum (Sov), and Yah wo Mbassy in Nso Palace.
Researched Shey Stephen Shemlon (PHD)
Complied and edited by Shey Tatah Sevidzem