Category Archives: Culture

THE PRESIDENT’S NEW YEAR’S SPEECH

Address: State House, Buea, Federal Republic of Ambazonia
Email: presidency@ambazoniagov.org ⎜Website: www.ambagov.org
Tel: +234 705 600 3909
The Federal Republic of Ambazonia
INTERIM GOVERNMENT

Nation’s Address from H.E Sisiku Ayuk Tabe 31st December 2017

Ambazonians, my dear fellow countrymen, good evening. On behalf of my family and the Interim Government of Ambazonia, I would like to wish you all a happy, and prosperous 2018. We are grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to see another year. We thank Him for all good things we have experienced and even the sad ones too, for He says, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him.” He is our anchor in all situations and at all times -in the past, in the present and in the future. And we are thankful to Him for this day.

This is a special moment for me because the advent of a New Year is often a reflection moment. We look back to the past year and look forward to the new one. As we reflect over 2017, in the context of our independence restoration struggle, it is important to address a number of questions: how we got here in the first place, what the Interim Government is doing to actualize the Independence of Ambazonia, what goals we have achieved, what challenges we face, and what the forward-looking agenda for 2018 is. In that context, I would like to make use of this opportunity to address our ongoing direct action to fully actualize the independence of Ambazonia from the illegal occupation of La République du Cameroun. Post our restoration declaration, you called for the formation of an Interim Government to coerce and channel our collective efforts aimed at running our government from our  political capital in Buea.

You now have one of the most dynamic and transparent Interim Governments and some of the most committed Ambazonians who will remain focused on delivering great results until we get to Buea. Your Restoration Council or Parliament is also being constituted and its members will be announced to you soon. We are very mindful of your expectation that it is representative and manned by very dedicated, committed and resourceful Ambazonians. The goal of this dedicated group of women and men, that of our Ambassadors, our Frontline leaders, that of our country leaders and all leaders of our freedom train is to lead all Ambazonians to total freedom in Buea. The key to making this journey quicker and shorter is UNITY. We must unite for the sake of the our suffering masses, let’s transform unity from the virtuality of social media platforms into the realities and challenges that face us on a daily basis as we ascend our undulating but morally, legitimate and politically charged journey towards the restoration of our statehood. Our people yearn for genuine unity in which we put our differences aside and focus on getting to Buea.

 

I mean the type of unity that we witnessed in the glorious days of the 22nd of September and the 1st of October when our people rose as one, held hands and declared with one voice that we are no longer afraid of being free. I mean the unity demonstrated by you from every little corner across our land, from the borders of Nwa, to Akwaya, and down to Bakassi, from the hilltop of Oku, to the plains of Ndop, from the shorelines of Victoria, to the mighty Mount Fako. Yes, unite, from the heartland of Manyu where our people have shown tremendous resolve and to the banks of the River Mungo where even nature reminds us that we no longer belong. This is a patriotic call and I appeal we all heed the call.

HOW DID WE GET HERE? My Fellow Ambazonians. In 1953, British Southern Cameroonian representatives in the Eastern House of Assembly in Enugu seeking self-autonomy declared “benevolent neutrality” and walked out of the House. This marked the birth of the fight for an independent Southern Cameroons – the land and territory that God blessed us to live in and raise our children happily. Till date, we have never gained that unconditional independence. Our land is illegally occupied, our resources indiscriminately exploited, and our people assimilated and marginalized in political, economic and social spheres in a union with La République du Cameroun (LRC) that never was since 1961. For more than half a century, we have been deprived of our inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Looking back, I am thinking of major political figures like Emmanuel Mbella Lifafa Endeley, John Ngu Foncha, Solomon Tandeng Muna and Augustine Ngom Jua who believed in the vision of an independent Southern Cameroons and fought till their dying times. Think of activists like Albert Mukong who suffered brutal and inhumane treatment in the infamous Kondengui prison for fighting injustice that engulfs Ambazonians within the LRC system. Think of statesmen like Ambassador Henry Fossung, Barrister Fon Gorji Dinka, Njoh Litumbe, Nfor Ngala Nfor, Augustine Ndangam and the many others who have sacrificed all their lives for the liberation of Ambazonia. Think of nationalists like Cho Ayaba and Ebenezer Akwanga who have lived out their lives in exile seeking and fighting for a free Southern Cameroons. Think of former Supreme Court Justice Ayah Paul Abine, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Niba who endured the stink of Kondengui for standing up to LRC to ensure that the educational and legal systems are consistent with our culture. I cannot leave out Comrade Tassang Wilfred and Barrister Bobga Harmony who are now in exile for standing up against the systematic assimilation of our people. These are the fathers of Ambazonia. They are our true patriots.

 

If you do not remember why we are here, think of the Buea University students who were raped, killed, arrested, and bathed in sewage by armed security forces of LRC. Think of those protesting lawyers who were publicly beaten and humiliated by police officers and their wigs and robes seized. Think of when Member of Parliament for Jakiri Honorable Wirba Joseph denounced LRC’s despicable repression of university students in the rostrum of LRC’s Assembly House. Think of 22nd September when over 2 million of us within the territory of Ambazonia and across the world peacefully attracted international attention to our fight for freedom. Think of the 1st October independence declaration when millions of you marched to the palaces following the declaration of independence by the Governing Council. In return, our unarmed citizens who were carrying peace plants and shouting “no violence’ were beaten, shot, killed and kidnapped by armed LRC soldiers. If you still doubt why we are here, remember the over 400 Ambazonians who have been killed by armed security and paramilitary forces of LRC during peaceful protests and assemblies.

I am thinking of Amin Benjamin, a computer engineer and a technology entrepreneur role model who was gunned down in his prime by LRC soldiers on October 1 st . He studied in India and returned home in high spirits to invest in his own people, but little did he know that his life would be cut short. I am also thinking of the assistant Mayor of Ndu, Martin Fon Yembe who was tear gassed to death not on the streets, but in his own residence on October 1. How about the 800 plus, injured through indiscriminate close-range live bullets fired by LRC armed security and paramilitary forces during peaceful associations. I am thinking of that 93-year grandmother Mrs. Sarah Afah in Ekona who now lives with a fractured head after armed soldiers break into her home, tortured her and hit her forehead with the barrel of the gun. Additionally, I am thinking of the 14-year girl Wiyfengla Eileen Fola who miraculously survived close-range live bullets that shattered her right eye and face in Kumbo. She has lost her sight and her ability to hear and speak well for life. And she is currently in dire need of finance to undertake reconstructive eye surgery abroad. Furthermore, I am thinking of 24-year ZAMA BELDWIN who lives in Mankon. He was shot in the back at Mile 6 Mankon on 1 October. His spine was shattered beyond repair. He is now stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. At the time of the incident, Zama had completed high school and was about to start university education in the sciences. Think of the over 4000 Ambazonians who are either locked in jails across LRC territory, kidnapped, killed or missing. I am thinking of 42-year Dzenjo Germaine, a single mother of an 8-year son and an office assistant in Victoria. She was arbitrarily arrested from her residence on 21st September, taken to Yaoundé and detained at SED, later charged with terrorism, sponsoring terrorism and Secession, like any Ambazonian who has been arrested, then transferred to Judicial Police and currently in Kondengui Central prison without any hearing or trial. Significantly, I am thinking of activists, journalists and teachers, including Mancho Bibixy, Penn Terence, Eselacha

Martin, Tsi Conrad, Kwabeh Zacks, Tah Emile Agwe, Tamngwa Marvin, Awah Dzeyangha Jnr, and Kingah Valentine, who are still languishing in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen and warders who view them as second-class citizens and slaves in LRC. I make this lengthy narration to remind you that we did not ask for the present situation, it was forced upon us. A joint request by both the lawyers and teachers for a forum where some of the grievances could be discussed fell on deaf ears. La République instead decided to embark on a campaign strategy of bribery and corruption in order to instigate division amongst our leaders. When they did not succeed to bribe nor divide them, they resorted to intimidation, brutality and indiscriminate arrests. Today, as I have just stated, Yaoundé’s prisons are overflowing with innocent people, who have been denied justice and their only crime is that they are Ambazonians. It is a similar situation in the prisons of Buea where we learnt only last week that close to 500 of the detainees have been poisoned through the food offered to them. Bamenda, Bafoussam and Douala prisons are full, there are equally countless others that La République’s army has killed and buried in mass graves that are still to be uncovered. Right now there are about 40,000 refugees across the border in Nigeria. This is where we are and how we got here.

At this time. I will like to use this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to His Excellency Muhamadu Buhari, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Governors of Cross River state, Benue State, Taraba State, and of course, the good brothers and sisters in Nigeria who have opened their country to host all of our people. May God bless them and may God bless Nigeria. To family members of the dead, those injured, missing, and kidnapped, we want to say our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. We also want to convey the grief and the sadness and the anger that we feel. My Fellow Ambazonians Let me be clear why direct action is our only way forward now. In any fight for freedom there are four broad phases: collection of the facts to determine the justness of the cause; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all of these stages in LRC. It is an established fact we have been assimilated and marginalized in our educational and legal cultures as well as in economic and political access since 1961 by LRC government. Reputed international organizations including the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International have confirmed this fact. Catholic and Protestant Churches on Ambazonian territory with over 80% followership across Cameroons have documented this injustice and have offered practical recommendations to LRC.

The United States, the United Kingdom and France have condemned significant violations of the rights of Ambazonians by LRC forces and urge both parties to dialogue. The African Union and the United Nations have noted same. On the basis of these conditions, the Ambazonia leadership sought to negotiate with LRC for a peaceful separation and peaceful neighborly co-existence. The leadership took a first step and pledged to call off sit-in strikes from schools throughout the territory on 8 January 2018. Yet, for over one year since we started ghost towns, civil disobedience and peaceful protests, the president of LRC has deliberately refused to recognize our quest for autonomy and has failed morally to sympathize with the families of innocent Ambazonians killed, injured and missing in Ambazonia. LRC has rather labeled us secessionists, called us terrorists, and has ordered armed soldiers to shoot and kill Ambazonians. To exacerbate the crisis, Paul Biya declared war on over 8 million Ambazonians and over our territory on 30 November. My Fellow Ambazonians. It is now clear to all of us and to the international community that LRC and Ambazonia are two separate people with defined internationally recognized territories, justice systems, education systems, and social norms. These are the hard, brutal facts for why we are on an irreversible path to complete independence. Should LRC consistently refuse to engage in good faith negotiation, any separation through military confrontation will end up in the kind of tense neighborliness that exists between Israel and Palestine. By waging war on us, they thought it was going to be the secret that breaks our backs and end our resolve and fortitude to pursue our inalienable right to freedom and selfdetermination. But our youths have demonstrated the highest level of resilience and courage in the face of an immeasurable level of adversity. The resistance efforts demonstrated by our youths has taken Paul Biya by surprise and his regime is now so embarrassed. I feel privileged and proud that we are blessed with such youthful exuberance in Ambazonia, Southern Cameroons. We have youths that would rather choose to die rather than live another day with the corrupt and oppressive regime of La République du Cameroun. This Interim Government stands with the youths and supports them because self-defense is a universal human right protected under the charter of the United Nations.

The forces of occupation in our territory, especially those deployed in Mamfe and the rest of Manyu are suddenly realizing that no matter how equipped and trained an army can be, it cannot break the will of a people who have been incessantly deprived of human dignity and freedoms. Because of the bravery of our youths in resisting the foreign occupation, we are now hearing that mothers of soldiers sent to fight in Mamfe from La République du Cameroun, are crying out loud and asking their children to defect from La République’s army and not have to die fighting a senseless war against the peaceful People of Ambazonia. The other day, Le Messager newspaper actually reported that almost 700 of La République du Cameroun’s soldiers deployed to fight in Mamfe have defected from the army, not also wanting to die fighting a meaningless war. If francophones are defecting and refusing to fight, how much more do we expect of our Ambazonian brothers who are still in the army? Why would you want to go to war against your own brothers and sisters? My appeal to you is to come back home, join us and let us fight a more worthy and dignified cause. WHAT IS THE VISION? Now let me talk about the vision of our direct action to independence. Our goal is to achieve recognition of Ambazonia as an independent, democratic, sovereign state in the international community of nations. The Interim Government is working concurrently on eight basic steps to restore full independence of Ambazonia. First, demonstrated cultural group: It is well established that Ambazonia is a unique cultural group – education, legal, and politics – running from the northern to the southern zone with 13 counties: Boyo, Bui, Ndonga-Mantung, Fako, Kupe Muaneguba, Lebialem, Manyu, Meme, Menchum, Mezam, Momo, Ndian, and Ngoketunjia. Second, a history of institutional assimilation, annihilation and marginalization. There is no gainsaying and denying that Ambazonia has witnessed these since 1961. We are reminded of the actions of those before us, like the late Dr. John Ngu Foncha, Prime Minister of West Cameroon and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon from October 1st, 1961 to May 13th, 1965—who led a delegation of Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) to the United Nations in 1994 to request that it support their movement for greater autonomy in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions under the despotic regime of Paul Biya. Prior, he had resigned from the Cameroon’s People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) in 1990 because of institutional assimilation and marginalization of Ambazonians.

The Interim Government continues to work with the living fathers of Ambazonia to demonstrate this need at the international level. Third, independent representative system of government: At the fourth Conclave in Nigeria, the Conclave resolution established the Interim Government of Ambazonia, established strategic departments and my humble self Sisiku AyukTabe assumed the position of first President. As required, I have since formed a cabinet which comprises of ministerial departments, headed by dedicated Secretaries of State, each working hard to develop and produce guidelines and map out strategies on how to operate and manage sectors under their department. It is on this basis that our territory is named the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (although the UN books and governments recognize our territory as Southern Cameroons).

Fourth, economic means and stability: According to a report of August 2017 by the International Crisis Group, at the time of the1961 referendum, the UK and some developing countries were against the option of full independence for Southern Cameroons on the grounds that it would not be economically viable and that it was best to avoid the creation of micro-states. The argument has since been disproven. The Interim Government is preparing guidelines and developing rules and mapping operational strategies to demonstrate that Ambazonia has the economic means and stability to establish and protect our new state. These documents will further show that the economic means will not bankrupt LRC upon the full independence of Ambazonia. Fifth, no other option: Independence is an inalienable right. The Interim Government is working with various stakeholders to demonstrate there is no other better option to independence. The International Crisis Group report affirms this Ambazonia right to independence.

Although France and the UK treated Cameroon as a colony, it was legally in fact an administered territory. Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant of 28 June 1919 states that the international “mandate” status applied to “colonies and territories” that, as a consequence of the war, had “ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them” and that “are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves”. The regime of “trusteeship”, introduced in 1945 by the newly created UN, granted more rights to former colonies and territories and was consistent with the UN’s wish to gradually end colonisation. Sixth, cultural groups: Our social groups are made of traditional rulers and the various cultural groups at home and in the diaspora. The Interim Government is working to engage them to document wide support for Amabazonia. This is often demonstrated through a referendum just like our ancestors and parents voted in a referendum in 1961 to join LRC. Seventh, support from nations and international community. This has been the major diplomatic offensive of the former Governing Council and will continue to be the major task of the Interim Government. A comfortable support is said to be established when a government official recognizes Ambazonia as a state and offer to host an embassy of Ambazonia. And on behalf of the people of Ambazonia, I will like to thank Mr. Arne Gerecke, Member of Parliament of the Free Voters Party in Germany for taking our case to the European Parliament for discussion at that level. After Ambazonia is recognized by national governments that host our embassies and our referendum is endorsed by the AU and UN, then we would have achieved recognition of Ambazonia as an independent, democratic, sovereign state in the international community of nations. This vision underpins all our conversations and direct actions.

Fellow Ambazonians, Looking forward, my priority will remain the economy. Our economy will be our lifeline. Without a strong economic base our social models and welfare will be at risk. Last week during a high-level meeting with our international partners and friendly nations, I was asked why I think we are ready for the restoration of our independence now; and what are assurances that we could not possibly turn out to be another failed and violent state? I looked into the resilience in the eyes of our people and found the answers, and yes, we are ready for our independence because of the following reasons: 1. Our Human Capital 2. Our Natural Resources and 3. Our Political Maturity I understand a lot among us will quickly say we are a people, we have a territory and now we have a government, but the obvious question that will come to mind will be how sustainable will this people, government and territory be? Let me assure you that our nation will be sustainable, peaceful and prosperous. The people of Southern Cameroons have one of the most educated population in the continent and I can state without fear that we can easily find a person with a college/high school education in every home in Southern Cameroons. The opportunities presented by our abundant natural resources are endless from our fertile agricultural lands suitable for agriculture, timber, cocoa, coffee, tea, heavy gold, iron ore, bauxite, diamond, oil and gas deposits and as a vibrant and hard-working people, we will be the food basket in the sub-region.

I understand the uneasiness and uncertainty of our brothers and sisters who are currently employed and working with the government of LRC and private institutions in Southern Cameroons. Yes, I am in your shoes, and I feel the uncertainty in you. The questions that elude all of us in our dying need for this independence is; how prepared are we for it? What if this independence is granted to us tomorrow, then what next? Who are we going to call for our electricity, telephone, water supply, pharmaceuticals, gasoline, shipping, road infrastructure, airports, and hospitals that will uphold the basic necessity and standard of living of our people? Rest assured that the Interim Government is in extensive and advanced negotiations with major companies and stakeholders in the USA, China, UK, France, Nigeria, South Africa and Germany and they are ready to step in and offer their products and services to the people of Southern Cameroons. Rest assured that there is a lot of work being done in the background away from the noise and frenzy of social media, and Yaoundé is aware of some of these engagements with friendly nations and this explains their desperation and assault on our people. Our priority will be to open up paved farm to market roads to facilitate the transportation of our farm produce to markets, particularly in Nigeria, strengthen and develop our budging IT sector, and make Silicon Mountain a major IT hub in the region and we will expand on our service industry through small business creation to encourage and support our entrepreneurial youths.

THE SCHOOL QUESTION: Permit me to shift attention to the lingering schools resumption question. Many people are asking whether schools will resume on January 8th as we had previously announced. You will recall that in that announcement, we listed the conditions under which we will support school resumption. The conditions included La République du Cameroun withdrawing all her troops from our streets, the unconditional release of Mancho Bibixy and thousands of other detainees. As you are already aware, none of these demands have been met as I speak. On the contrary, hundreds of our people continue to be massacred daily, we have more detainees in prisons today, – more than the number it was when we first made this demand. The situation is worse when you factor what is happening in Manyu into the picture. In Manyu in particular, schools cannot re-open because every child as I speak is in the refugee camp, forced from their home by occupation troops. Teachers too are either in refugee camps or have escaped to unknown safety, if they have not been slaughtered by LRC terrorist forces. Many of the schools in Manyu and elsewhere in our territory have been burnt down by soldiers or gendarmes of La République du Cameroun, as we recently saw them burning homes in Kembong. Faced with this stark reality and handicap, we are asking ourselves, how can we say children should go to school when most of the schools no longer exist? How can we say children should go to school when they will be burnt alive in their sleep by La République’s terrorist forces just like they did to Presbyterian Secondary School (PSS) Bafut? How can we say children should go to school when they will be raped and robbed daily by La République’s soldiers? How can we ask children to go back to school with such high levels of insecurity on our streets which are flooded with gendarmes, soldiers and police, ready to victimize, shoot and kill just because they are Ambazonians? How can we say that children go back to school, when our streets are flooded with spying, secret agents who are ready to kidnap any child with no remorse, then turn around and ask for a ransom? How can we ask that children go back to school when Mamfe and the rest of Manyu cannot go to school? How can we say children should go to school when their peers, teachers and parents are suffering in refugee camps or languishing in jails? That would be a manifestation of poor judgement, recklessness, and above all a show of lack of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Manyu and other parts of Ambazonia that have been hit very hard by the crisis. It will be an abuse of compassion and empathy which are virtues that we pride ourselves in. I would like to seize this opportunity to reiterate the conditions under which school resumption would be given a green light. Your Interim Government will immediately encourage school resumption once La République du Cameroun fulfills the conditions listed below:

  1. A withdrawal of all their troops from all the towns, markets, farms, and streets of Ambazonia.
  2. The unconditional release of Mancho Bibixy and all other Ambazonians currently illegally detained in different detention facilities across La République and colonial facilities in Ambazonia.
  3. The return of all refugees to the safety of their homes and the commencement of compensation procedures to the physical and material damages inflicted on them and all the other victims across Ambazonia.

These are the conditions under which the Interim Government is going to approve school resumption. We encourage every parent to ensure that their children stay home for their own safety. It is part of the numerous sacrifices that we will pay for our freedom. The good thing is that when it is all said and done, those children would have had a better future than what La République du Cameroun currently offers them. PARLIAMENT: In the past one year, we have been appealing to all Southern Cameroons Parliamentarians and Senators to draw inspiration from 1953 with the Enugu Eastern House of Assembly and leave LRC’s parliament and return to Buea and join the struggle. So far, other than the Hon. Joseph Wirba, all of them still remain in Yaoundé. Now their terms are over. Unfortunately for them, we have resolved that LRC will not be organizing any elections on our territory. Our invitation is therefore still out there to all the representatives to take this time and do some soul searching and join the revolution before it becomes too late. We have gotten to the point in this revolution where you no longer can remain on the sidelines. Fellow Ambazonians, Our freedom is a given right. We shall never retreat or surrender, else the blood of the fallen like the blood of Abel, cries out against us. At the 4th Conclave, Comrade Mancho Bibixy was declared the face of the revolution for the restoration of our statehood. We remember him and thank him immensely for his patriotism, leadership, sincerity and fearlessness in the face of adversity in captivity. I know many of you have been worried today after hearing the news about his ill health. I want to reassure you that he is being looked after and the doctor has confirmed that there is no serious threat to his health presently.

We cannot forget the rest of our compatriots under illegal detention; Comrades Penn Terrence, Asaah Patrick Ndangoh, Abang, Maxwell, Numvi Walters and hundreds more who remain in the captivity of LRC. We fight to honor our elder statesmen, Barrister Fon Gorji Ndinka, Ambassador Henry Fossung, Mola Njoh Litumbe, Dr. Nfor Nfor Ngala, Pa Augustin Ndangam, Prof. Carlson Anyangwe and many more. We will never retreat nor surrender until the aspirations for a free Ambazonia dreamt by all of us and our leaders who have gone before us: H.E. John Ngu Foncha, H.E. Dr. EML Endeley, H.E. Augustin Ngom Jua, H.E. S.T Muna, Chief Ayamba, Pa Albert Mukong, Dr. Bernard Forlon and many more. We have never come this far to freeing our country, hence we cannot go back to our vomit. We have never seen the collective resolve of our people this strong for a free Ambazonia. Nobody ever imagined we all as a people across all age groups and walks of life: teachers and lawyers, taxi drivers and ‘okada riders’, professionals and ‘buyam sellams’, farmers, our people serving in La République’s security forces, petit traders, the unemployed, youths, nurses and doctors will come together with such resolve.

Let us continue to withstand all forms of brutality and remain resilient till we have our country back; a country with responsible and accountable public service, backed by strong institutions, not strong people; a country that respects democratic institutions and Human Right values, a country where people and not power is in charge. This will always remain the pillar of our country and our communities. Let us thank God for taking us this far and let us equally thank Him in advance for the many victories he has for us. Permit me to end this address with a quote from Afeni Shakur and Frantz Fanon: “Nobody in history has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them”. Afeni Shakur. “Freedom fought for is better than freedom compromised”. Frantz Fanon:

Short live the struggle,

Long live the Federal Republic of Ambazonia,

May God bless you all.

Happy New Year!

Sisiku AyukTabe Julius

President

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Cameroon: Nso: Titles in the Paramount Fondom of Nso (part 4) Yah

If you missed part one to three on Nso Titles, do not worry, you can still read part 1 here; part 2 here; and part 3 here;

II-3. YAH

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.

Yah Yefons

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

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Cameroon: Nso: Titles in the Paramount Fondom of Nso (part 3) Fai

If you missed part one on Nso Titles, do not worry, you can still read part 1 here; and part 2 here;

II-2. FAI

The highest rank of Fai is the Atarntoh (all Nchelav), with the “Atarntoh ve Samba”, leading this group. These are family heads of some of the most influential lineages in Nso. In Fact some of them actually submitted themselves to Nso as Fons between 1450 and 1800, but it is unknown why they were made Nwerong leaders instead of Duy or Mtaar Vibai.

Unlike the Vibai who are councilors of the court, the primary role of the Atarntoh is that of Palace stewards, priests and guardians of the royal household. Atarntoh also sometimes act as advisers to the Fon.

In addition, the Atarntoh are members of the “Shishwaa” society whose principal duty is to keep Nso land free of famine. “Shishwaa” members are also responsible for protecting Nso institutions from any destruction and also act as the Fon’s peace envoys.

Here in order of seniority are the “Atarntoh ve Samba

1. Fai Maamo (Nchelav)

2. Fai Faanjang (Nchelav)

3. Fai Mbingiy (Nchelav/Mtaar)

4. Fai Kuyntoh Nchelav (Nchelav)

5. Fai Kuynseh (Nchelav)

6. Fai Tsenkay (Nchelav)

7. Fai Nseeni (Nchelav)

All “Atarntoh ve samba” are only lower in rank to the ten (10) ” Vibai ve tiy se taakibu”.

The next category of Fais is the “Won jemer se Fon” (the Fon’s sisters’ sons). Since most of these are Mtaar (aboriginal Nso), they have a separate quarter called TaaMban (next to Nwerong’s compound). Their principal duty is to carry out inquisitions, expiatory sacrifices and cleansing rituals.

Here in order of seniority are the Fai “Won jemer ve samba

1. Fai Nsame (Mtaar)

2. Fai Mbivtinmbang (Mtaar)

3. Fai Kii Mbala Nseeni (Mtaar)

4. Fai Jem Njavnyuy (Mtaar)

5. Fai Menjey Tooy (Mtaar)

6. Fai Jem Kinga (Mtaar)

7. Fai Kii Kiyan (Mtaar)

All “Won jemer se Fon” are higher in rank to ” Vibai ve duy ve kpu”.

The last category of Fais are lineage or sub-lineage heads. There are scores of Fais (too many to be listed) in this category and are drawn from all the segments of Nso society the commoners (Nchelav), the aboriginals (Mtaar) and the extended royal family (Duy). All Fais in this category are lower in rank to all Vibais, the Atarntohs and “Won jemer”

The process of en-stooling is elaborate, grande and very public, whether the Fai assumes the stool by inheritance, extension (“kisheer”), elevation (from Shey) or appointment by the Fon (fhum or buh).

Shey Stephen Shemlon (PHD)

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Nso Titles in the Paramount Fondom of Nso (part 2) Shufai

II-1. SHUFAI

Administratively the Shufai is the highest authority that is next in rank to the Fon. The Shufai belongs to the select council of “taakibu” advisors of the Fon.

The highest ranked Shufais are the original ten lords from Kov Vifem (Vibai ve Kov). They sit on stones (instead of stools) in the Fon’s court to signify their permanence as advisors to the Fon. All of the ten lords from Kov Vifem came as Fons between 1450 and 1800 and submitted their people and culture to be integrated into Nso.

Here below in order of rank are the  ten Vibai ve Kov Vifem (Vibai ve tiy se taakibu):

1. Shufai Ndzendzev (Duy)

2. Shufai Tankum (Duy)

3. Shufai Tsenla (Mtaar)

4. Shufai Do Run (Mtaar)

5. Shufai Do Ngwen (Mtaar)

6. Shufai Ndzendzev Tsen (Duy)

7. Shufai Yuuwar (Duy)

8. Shufai Shuv (Duy)

9. Shufai Lun (Duy)

10. Shufai Wainseeri wo Yer (Duy) <—- about to change

It should be noted here that in matters of state duties Yah Yefon (Fon’s mother – the queen mother or her  representative) is ranked third after Shufai Ndzendzev and Shufai Tankum.

Because of the pacts drawn at Kov Vifem before the palace was moved to Kimbo, it was very difficult  for any Fon to promote any Fai or newly arriving Fons to the rank of Kibai. The ten Shufais from Kov Vifem fought very hard to maintain their number at ten from 1825 when the palace moved to Kimbo until the reign of Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947).

Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947) insisted on increasing the council of advisors to include Fais with a broader view of the modern world that Christianity and European colonialism were bringing and to better advise the Fon on matters of Education, Trade, Commerce and Industry. Despite stiff resistance from the ten Vibai Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947) convinced Nwerong of the necessity to increase the number of “taakibu” councilors and in 1929 he elevated Fai Sov to the rank of Kibai.

This elevation angered the most senior Kibai (Shufai Ndzendzev) so much that a rift was created with the Fon. This rift ran for the next three decades and resulted in the Ndzendzev crisis of 1956/1957. Despite this, the1929 elevation of Fai Sov opened the door for the elevation of other Fais to the rank of Kibai.

Here in order of seniority (year of elevation) are the Shufais that were elevated by Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947), Sehm III (1947 – 1972), Ngah Bifon II (1972 –1983) and Ngah Bifon III (1983 – 1993).

1. Shufai Sov (Mtaar)

2. Shufai Nkavikeng (Duy)

3. Shufai Kuy Meliim (Mtaar)

4. Shufai Ngangndzen (Mtaar)

5. Shufai Nsaansa (Duy)

6. Shufai Mbisha (Duy)

7. Shufai Kuyla Yer (Mtaar)

8. Shufai Kii Kitiwum (Mtaar)

9. Shufai Rookov (Mtaar)

10.Shufai Nkim Vekovi (Mtaar)

There is a third category of Vibai that are all of the extended royal family (Duy). These Vibai are considered lower in rank to Fai Taawong and Yah Yeewong. They play the role of state councilors of sacrifice and are also prominently in charge of the Fon’s burial.

Here in order of seniority are the seven Vibay ve Kpu:

1 Shufai Bashwin (Duy)

2. Shufai Njavnyuy (Duy)

3. Shufai Ndzendzev Ntintin (Duy)

4. Shufai Dzem (Duy)

5. Shufai Bambuy (Duy)

6. Shufai Koongir (Duy)

7. Shufai Taaway (Duy)

Only an existing Faiship can be elevated to a Shufaiship. Neither the Fon nor Nwerong can create a new compound or lineage and immediately elevate it to a Shufaiship. The process is complicated and drawn. The Fon must not only obtain the consent of the other Vibai (willingly or by coercion), he must get the consent of both Nwerong and Ngiri who must admit the new Shufai as a “ngang” Ngiri and/or “ngang” Nwerong.

In addition to these impediments the Fon must also contend with the “parents” (extended family and lineage) of candidates for elevation to a Faiship or a Shufaiship or for a newly created Faiship. It is considered an affront on a lineage for the Fon or Nwerong to attempt to elevate a Faiship to a rank that will be considered higher than that of his fatherly lineage. This is largely due to the tacit agreement in Nso society that someone cannot inherit a Faiship or Shufaiship when his father is still alive. This would be interpreted as an attempt to kill the father. For this reason a new Faiship cannot be created or elevated  without authorization from the “father” Faiship to create the new “Kisher” (extention) of the family lineage.

This haggling with lineage heads on elevations and awards even occurs between the Fon and his own brothers of the extended royal  family (Duy). When the Fon attempted to replace Shufai Tsenla Yer with Shufai Bambuy in the rank of “Vibai ve Kpu”, he faced a revolt from almost half of the royal family despite the fact that Fai Bambuy was the descendant of a Fai Taawong. The Fon finally won the day with support from the senior Vibai and Shufai Tsenla Yer lost his position in the “Vibai ve Kpu” ranks, but retained his Shufaiship and in addition gained the title of Ngang Nwerong, a title which was not automatically granted to the “Vibai ve Kpu”.

As shown above Ngah Bifon I (1910-1947) defied all odds to elevate the Sov lineage to a Shufai. Other Fons following him encountered similar problems. When Fon Sehm III (1947-1972) attempted to create a new Faiship with Professor Nsokika Bernard Fonlon as head, Fonlon’s extended lineage of Jem objected. It took until Ngah Bifon II (1972 – 1983) to reward Fonlon with a Faiship (Fai Ntoondzev), after he and Nwerong convinced Jem that Fonlon was no longer their son but a symbol of Nso given his relations with the external world that permitted him to interact with big world leaders like the Canadian Prime-Minister and bring portable water to Kimbo. The pressure was too much for the Jem lineage to bear. They relented and Fonlon became Fai Ntoondzev.

Professor Bernard N Fonlon

A few years after the creation of the Ntoondzev Faiship, Ngah Bifon II (1972 -1983) attempted to elevate it to a Shufaiship but failed. This time the strong objections came from Nwerong who felt elevating a Nchelav Faiship to a Kibai would diminish the power of the Atarntohs in “taakibu”. It took until Ngah Bifon III (1983-1993) for Nwerong to be convinced that the same reasons that necessitated the elevation of Sov in 1929 could be equally compelling in the elevation of a Nchelav Fai to a Shufai. Nwerong accepted the argument and Ntoondzev was elevated to a Shufaiship a few years before Fonlon died in 1986.

Here  is the list of Shufais in the recent category discussed above:

1. Shufai Tsenla Yer (Duy)

2. Shufai Rookov Meluf (Mtaar)

3. Shufai Kiron (Mtaar)

4. Shufai Tsen Nkar (Duy)

5. Shufai Keeri (Mtaar)

6. Shufai Ntoondzev – Fonlon (Nchelav)

7. Shufai Kuyntoh Wonntoh (Duy)

8. Shufai Taankum Kuy (Duy)

Ntoondzev’s  elevation to Shufai opened the way for other Nchelav Faiships to be elevated to Shufaiships. The case of Shufai Langhee is notable  among Nchelav Shufaiships not only because Nwerong outwitted the Fon but because of the astonishing collaboration between Nwerong and Ngiri to achieve this.

Langhee was a Nwerong page who went through the traditional palace stewardship of nine (9) years. He graduated automatically as a Shey and started the Langhee lineage. When the original Shey Langhee died, the Langhee Sheyship was elevated to a Faiship and his son Professor Chem Langhee who succeeded him as the first Fai Langhee quickly rose in Nwerong ranks. He endeared himself to the extended royal family by marrying a princess. Fon Ngah Bifon III (1983 – 1993) whose daughter Fai Langhee married attempted unsuccessfully to elevate Fai Langhee to a Shufai after his success with Ntoondzev. The other Vibai strongly objected because in their eyes “Chem Langhee was no Fonlon”. However, an unusual collaboration of Ngiri and Nwerong convinced Fon Sehm Mbinglo I (1993 – Present) to elevate Langhee to a Shufai.

This unusual but welcomed collaboration of Nwerong and Ngiri was recently aired again when in 2003 Fon Sehm Mbinglo I (1993 – Present) saw the need for a Fai in the American diasporas and created Faa America Faiship. In 2004 when Fai Faa visited the palace with the Fon who was returning from medical treatment in the United States of America, both Nwerong and Ngiri wanted to have the charismatic Fai Faa America as a “ngang”. So, in a strange chain of events, they tricked both the Fon and Fai Faa to commit Fai Faa as both a Ngiri and a Nwerong member. The only way to resolve the issue was for Fai Faa America to be a “ngang” Ngiri and a “ngang” Nwerong. To do this, the Fon had to elevate the Faiship of Faa America to a Shufaiship. Negotiations for this elevation took two (2) years because of some resistance from the Vibai despite the fact that the Fon really had no choice when confronted with the Nwerong and Ngiri political chicanery. Shufai Faa America completed his en-stoolment and “kibunfon” as the newest Kibai in December 2006.

As we can see from above, the elevation of a Nchelav (commoner) to a Shufaiship is rare, but some have been elevated in recent times to increase the realm of the Fon’s councilors.

Here is a list of some recent Nchelav elevations to Shufai:

1. Shufai Kuy Ka (Nchelav)

2. Shufai Langhee (Nchelav)

3. Shufai Taashiv (Nchelav)

4. Shufai Kitav (Nchelav)

5. Shufai Faa America (Nchelav)

Elevation to the rank of Shufai is a very public event that involves the whole palace, Nwerong, Ngiri , Duy, Nchelav and the public. The preparations take time, the celebration is grand and the event is registered in public memory. The “kibunfon” of the new Shufai is memorable and is generally followed by a “tee shishur she Ngiri” or “tee shishur she Nwerong”,  a “fum mfuuh” and a grand “kitar yiy” for the family.

We shall in the next part examine the title of Fai which is next in rank to the Shufai, with some  Fais (especially Atarntohs) having functional and administrative ranks that are higher than some Shufais.

Shey Stephen Shemlon (PHD)

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Nso Titles in the Paramount Fondom of Nso (part 1) Military & Civilian Titles

This paper shall be shared into parts to give readers ample time to be able to grasp something about the Nso Titles and its administration in the Paramount Fondom of Nso. This paper is based on the research by Shey Stephen Shemlon wo Vilan (PHD)

The Paramount Fon Of Nso

The Nso Paramount Fondom (Kingdom) is made up of the three brother Fondoms of Nso, Mbiame and Oku, (with the Paramount resident in the Fondom of Nso), and the vassal states of Nkar, Ntseh, the Noni Fondoms (Din, Mbinon, Lassin, Nkor), and other smaller Fondoms like Ndzerem, Kilun, Ron, Ndzeen, Gashong, Nshookov, Kijem, Tev, Mboon, etc.

This essay on titles and titleholders applies to practically all of the Fondoms of the Paramount Fondom of Nso, although the appellations might vary in some cases from Fondom to Fondom. However, most of our discussion is going to center around the Paramount Fondom of Nso from which most examples in this treatise will be drawn.

The titles will be analyzed in two categories; civil and military. Although controversies surround all titles nowadays, this essay will concentrate on an analysis of civilian titles where most misunderstanding abounds.

It is necessary to bring some clarity to the categorization of titles, title hierarchies and meanings, duties and obligations attributed to title categories and the processes surrounding title awards; because the reigning confusion in the field of titles is seriously undermining our tradition and eroding our culture. Some have even posited that if ignored, the bastardization of our traditional titles could spell death for our culture.

To buttress the point, just imagine what would happen to British culture if any Tom, Dick or Harry could declare themselves a Lord or Knight themselves a Sir or Lady when they so desire. Or, imagine what would happen if an Earl woke up one day and decided that the Earl title was too low for him and declared himself a Lord, demanding all the rights and obligations due him.

It is the need for this clarification that has necessitated this expose.

I. TITLES AND TITLE CATEGORIES

There are two categories of titles in the Fondoms of Nso:

1. Military Titles

2. Civilian (Social, Religious and Administrative) Titles


I-1. MILITARY TITLE CLASSIFICATIONS

Military titles are assigned to the military hierarchy as recognized in the Fondoms of Nso:

General (Nformi – all grades)

Platoon or Legion Commander (Ngwang – all grades)

Squadron or Regiment or Company Commander (Tav – all grades)

Special Forces Intelligence Officer (Gwei – all grades)

Other Derivative Military Titles

Military titles have so far generated less ambiguity and confusion, principally because a Ngwang for example is the same title in Nkar, Din, Oku or Mbiame. Gwei is the same in all Fondoms. There is also no confusion with the various regiments or squadrons (Samba, Nchoro, Jwim, etc.), even when it comes to the Derivative titles that these regiments and companies confer on their warriors.

There is still some ambiguity however as to which military title is higher than which civilian title especially since most of these titles are now just ceremonial titles, modernity having infused another dimension to our concept of chivalry or achievement and moderated our need for wars of conquest and assimilation.

No one has however attempted to rank Nformi Bah or Nformi Gham for example among the Vibai for well known administrative reasons that seek to keep authority over the military with the Fon and his councilors. For that reason we will keep the classifications separate and not attempt to merge and rank civilian and military titles.

1-2. CIVILIAN TITLES

Confusion still reigns in the category of Civilian (Social, Religious and Administrative) Titles because of the preponderance of presumption and usurpation that permeates present day Nso titleholder circles especially in the diasporas of the Cameroons, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Cases have been reported where people would decide to anoint themselves Sheys, Yahs, Fais or Shufais and insist to be treated with all the dues and prerogatives of the title.

Cases exist especially in the diasporas where people were conferred lesser titles and they decided that they deserved higher titles, either out of ignorance of the system of traditional honors and awards or because no one around them knew the truth or understood the system any better.

This confusion however does not exist in the case of inherited titles. Nobody will dispute the Kibaiship of a Shufai Tsenla for example when a new one is installed and accepted by the family. In the same light no one will ever dispute the heir to Yah wo Kiyan for example if She is properly installed.

With the non-inherited civilian titles that are awarded or newly created by the Fons, confusion abounds.

We shall analyze each of these titles separately to bring clarity to the categorization of titles, the processes of title awards, title hierarchies and meanings, and the duties and obligations attributed to title categories.

I-3. CIVILIAN TITLE CLASSIFICATIONS

Civilian (Social, Religious and Administrative) Titles can be classified roughly as follows in descending order of status:

Shufai (Vibai – all categories)

Fai (all categories – some Fais rank higher than Vibai)

Yah (all categories – some Yahs rank higher than Fais and Vibai)

Shey (all categories – some Sheys rank higher than Fais, Yahs and Vibai)

Other Derivative Titles (some rank higher than Sheys)

II. CIVILIAN TITLE CATEGORIES AND RANKS

The highest civilian title next to the Fon is Shufai. There are various categories of Shufai, some lower in rank than the next categories of Fai and Yah. Even though some Sheys may be higher in functional rank than Fais and Yahs, it is rare to see a Derivative (Secondary or Tertiary) title that supersedes the other titles in rank.

We shall examine each of the title categories extensively in order of rank.

Shey Tatah Sevidzem

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