Category Archives: Nso Family Union (NFU)

Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Part 4)

If you missed part 1 to 3 you can get them part 1 here , part 2 here: and part 3 here

Nso culture

III-3. STRUCTURE OF THE ŊWÉRÒŊ CULTS

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The Ŋwéròŋ cults group has a huge fenced compound next to the inner and outer palace court yards. The Ŋwéròŋ compound is composed of many open courts, large halls and various multi-storey and basement apartments to house each of the cults. The compound is arranged in residential quarters each headed by a Sheèy who spends nine (now seven) years as a page of the Ŋwéròŋ cults and is assisted by various Nchiyselav (junior pages).
The Residential quarters are:
 Lav ye Ku-un (Senior House)
 Lav ye Teri (Junior House)
 Lav Ngaŋsi (Senior Escorts’ House)
When the Sheèys graduate after their years (7 or 9) of tutelage and apprenticeship they are ranked among the highest members of the Ŋwéròŋ cults group as a Tav Ŋwéròŋ, second only to the most senior Palace Stewards (Atárnto’).
The rest of the compound is divided into cult houses that may each have physical levels of initiation as deep as 3 or even 5.
Ŋwéròŋ has the following cult house:
 Shiŋkaŋ cult – All members
 Shigwàála’ cult – All members
 Kibaraŋko cult – Ŋwéròŋ wo Teri (Junior Ŋwéròŋ )
 Kingaayasi cult – Ŋwéròŋ wo Teri (Junior Ŋwéròŋ )
 Jwiŋwéròŋ cult – Ŋwéròŋ wo Teri (Junior Ŋwéròŋ )
 Yeŋwéròŋ cult – Ŋwéròŋ wo Ku-un (Senior Ŋwéròŋ )
Each cult has a distinctive masquerade that displays during funeral and other celebrations. The level of occultist knowledge and training, and the rules for initiation and promotion vary from cult to cult.
The highest cult and controller of all Ŋwéròŋ is Yeŋwéròŋ with the highest level of Ŋwéròŋ occultism called Ŋwéròŋ wo Wiy or Ŋwéròŋ Vitsée. All senior Ŋwéròŋ members (ngang se Ŋwéròŋ ) are members of the Yeŋwéròŋ cult, but not all of them see Ŋwéròŋ Vitsée. The members rank from the lowest to the highest members of the inner sanctum, the highest of whom are seven members called “samba wir” who control Ŋwéròŋ wo Wiy. Once a member has attained the highest rank, they are only replaced after death.
Member initiation is generally conducted from the lowest Shiŋkaŋ cult through Shigwàála’, Kibaraŋko, Kingaayasi, Jwiŋwéròŋ to the highest Yeŋwéròŋ cult. A member cannot be initiated fully into Yeŋwéròŋ when they have not fully completed initiation into the cults below. A Yeŋwéròŋ member may also choose to go to a lower cult like Kibaraŋko, in order to become a senior member (samba wir), but this is an uncommon occurrence because of the prestige and power that comes with Yeŋwéròŋ membership.
Ŋwéròŋ also has a distinctive music that is produced by a combination of many types of instruments. All cults have a special meeting day for member fraternization and training that may be different from the general Ŋwéròŋ meeting day of Ntaŋrin (one of the days of the Nso’ 8-day week). Outside of death celebrations Ŋwéròŋ music can be played on a special Ntaŋrin when all members (irrespective of cult) are gathered to fraternize, eat, drink and celebrate.

III-4. STRUCTURE OF THE ŊGÍRÌ CULTS

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The Ŋgírì cults group has a fenced compound next to the royal burial ground called Fәm. Like the Ŋwéròŋ compound, the Ŋgírì compound is composed of open courts, large halls and various multi-storey and basements apartments to house each of the many Ŋgírì cults. The compound is tended by a Senior Sheèy and a Junior Sheèy called Taafu (who both spend nine (now seven) years as pages of the Ŋgírì cults). The Ŋgírì compound is divided into cult houses that may each have physical levels of initiation and ranking as deep as 5.
When the Sheèy and Taafu graduate after their years (7 or 9) of tutelage and apprenticeship they are ranked among the highest members of the Ŋgírì cults as a Tav Ŋgírì, second only to the most senior Ŋgírì Lords (Vibay ve Dùy).
Ŋgírì has the following cults:
 Shiŋkaŋ cult
 Shigwàála’ cult
 Wanmabu cult
 Rifem cult
 Moo (Taa Maandzә) cult
 Shiŋwar Ndzә cult
 Nchiy Kibah cult
 Jwiŋgírì cult
 Moomvem (Mbiy a Bami) cult
 Yeŋgírì cult (Ŋgírì Vitsée)
 Subi (Kikum ke Ŋgírì) cult
Each cult has a distinctive masquerade that displays during funeral and other celebrations. In addition Ŋgírì has its distinctive Kikum cult called Subi (a gift from the Oku Fòndom) with a vast array of wooden masks for display during funeral celebrations and other occasions.
The highest cult and controller of all Ŋgírì is Yeŋgírì with the highest level of Ŋgírì occultism called Ŋgírì Vitsée. A Yeŋgírì member may also choose to go to a lower cult like Wanmabu, in order to become a senior member (samba wir), but this is a rare occurrence because of the prestige and power that comes with Yeŋgírì membership. The case of the late Sheèy Isaac Lukong (Sheèy Lukong Docta) is however notable. He chose to forgo Yeŋgírì for the lowest cult Shiŋkaŋ, where he rose to the highest rank that this lowest of cults ever bestowed on a member. To compensate for this choice to sink so low, Sheèy Lukong elected to become a high ranking member of the Ŋgírì cults in the Fòndoms of Mbiame, Oku, Ŋkar, Nsә’ and Kiluun; something that was quite remarkable for a Sheèy to accomplish (some say that is why he baptised himself shuSheèy).
In addition to Subi music, Ŋgírì also has a distinctive music that is produced by a set of varied instruments. All cults have a special meeting day for member fraternization and training that may be different from the general Ŋgírì meeting day of Rәәvәy (one of the days of the Nso’ 8-day week).
III-5. DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN THE ŊWÉRÒŊ AND ŊGÍRÌ MASQUERADES
It is very easy to differentiate between some Ŋgírì and Ŋwéròŋ masquerades but others are rather difficult to discern. Kibaraŋko for example is this dreadfully ugly disproportionate beast with a huge head, while Wanmabu is a handsome looking agile and athletic space alien with red lips. The very tall, agile and feathered Kingayasi for example is a Ŋwéròŋ-only masquerade which is easy to discern. There are also other Ŋgírì-only masquerades like Moo (Taa Maandzә), Nchiy Kibah (Yeye Boy), Moomvem (Mbiy a Bami), Shingwar Ndzә and Rifem, that are easy to spot. Ŋgírì also has the flamboyant Subi cult (Kikum ke Ŋgírì) with its beautiful masked dancers that Ŋwéròŋ does not have.
Other shared masquerades are however pretty difficult to differentiate except when viewed with a trained eye. In general it is often easy to distinguish the masquerades from their hooded escorts (Vilumsi – sg. Kilumsi), The Ŋgírì Kilumsi is often more colorful and adorned with a few feathers, while the Ŋwéròŋ Kilumsi is often just plain looking with no spotted feathers.
Masquerades like Shiŋkaŋ (pl. Meŋkaŋ) are often easily discernible by their headgear and wear. The Ŋwéròŋ Shiŋkaŋ headgear is often more conservative and the Ŋgírì Shiŋkaŋ headgear more progressive. Ŋgírì Meŋkaŋ are also known to be more daring (especially during the Ŋgvәn funeral ceremonies) where some have been known to come out practically naked wearing just g-strings. The Meŋkaŋ are also often distinguished by their bags and their cups with the Ŋwéròŋ Shiŋkaŋ always carrying a distinctive Ŋwéròŋ bag and cup (bar Ŋwéròŋ).
The Shigwàála’ can be distinguished by the structure of their masks. The Ŋwéròŋ Shigwàála’ mask has very distinctive and human-like facial features with the mouth opening to the skies while the Ŋgírì Shigwàála’ has animal-like facial features with the mouth opening to the front.
The Jwiŋgírì and Jwiŋwéròŋ masquerades are rather similar in appearance with the sole difference that Jwiŋgírì has a royal (sometimes leopard) pelt around its waist line while the Jwiŋwéròŋ is controlled by two special cloth yarns that are tied around the loin and controlled by its attendants.
The Yeŋwéròŋ and Yeŋgírì masquerades are distinguished by their masks like the Shigwàála’. In addition the members of the Yeŋgírì and Yeŋwéròŋ convoys have distinguishing staff, the Ŋwéròŋ staff (mbang Ŋwéròŋ ) is a bamboo or wooden staff with distinctive alternating black rings painted on the upper extremity of the staff. The Ŋgírì staff (mbang Ŋgírì) is made of bamboo or wood with short wooden or bamboo blades inserted on the top-most part of the staff on both sides at a 180 degree angle. The Yeŋwéròŋ convoy at times also carries two wooden child effigies called Won Yenso’ or Won Yensa’ (children of Yenso’ or Yensa’) that signify the two sons of the founder of the Nso’ dynasty (Ŋgonnso’ or Yenso’).

III-6. COMMENT ON FEMALE-ONLY AND NON-PALACE CULTS
In this paper we have examined the four main male-only Palace cult groupings. We did not touch on female-only cult groups like Chong, Kor and Laalir (Lafelir). Even though non-Palace cults were not the object of this paper we would like to make a comment about these cults because some of them do have a direct impact on the Palace cults, and on the social, political and military activities of the Kingdom.
The Paramount Kingdom of Nso’ is organized into lineages made up of clans and sub-clans that are physically built around large communal settlements called compounds. A village may be made up of many compounds comprising various lineages and sub-lineages that may not necessarily be related. Some of the lineages joined the Nso’ as either junior Fòns or very powerful sub-lineage heads. Many of them came along with very powerful cults some of which were surrendered to the Palace and were integrated into the Palace cults, and some of which remained with the lineage.
Most lineage and sub-lineages that are headed by a Faáy or Shúufaáy will generally have a Rum, Nsang, Kikum (Kikum ke Vitsée), Shi-Kpù-Laa-Dzer, Ngang and other cults, or some combination of male-dominated cults. The Rum cult it must be said was a female-only cult that was abandoned in an unknown river when the women could no longer handle the Rum occultism (shiv se Rum), and the men picked it up downstream, rehabilitated it and then surprisingly banned the women from the Rum cult. The favorite Rum cult chant when it comes out at night is “ee wiy ya ki baa ndzee ey” (ladies beware of the madness curse) putting the ladies on guard to stay away.
Some clans and sub-clans have powerful cults (generally male/female) that they preserve to this day, as can be gleaned from the few examples below.
The Do’ Ruun clan in Kitiwum has a very powerful cult called Maakibu that has been a source of conflict between them and the Palace apparently because the Do’ Ruun clan was supposed to surrender the cult to the Palace (specifically to Ŋwéròŋ ) when they joined Nso’ but they refused to do so and have continued to harness the cult.
When the Taaŋkùm clan of Kimbo joined Nso’, they surrendered the Ŋwéròŋ cults to the Palace as we have seen above, but it is rumored that the original Taaŋkùm leader Shúufaáy Tsәmaloŋ kept some of the Ŋwéròŋ occult for his people. To this day, the Taaŋkùm people still claim the remnant cult that they call Laala (Vitsée).
The Sov clan in upper Dzәkwa is known to have produced some of the greatest warriors that Nso’ has ever known. When the Sov lineage joined Nso’, they came with a powerful warrior cult called Mentsәngoŋ, that was principally a chemical warfare outfit that was always dispatched to neutralize the enemy before the main army (Manjoŋ) arrived and decimated them. The Sov still keep their Mentsәngoŋ cult today, despite the difficulties encountered at times by the clan in controlling the Mentsәngoŋ occultist spirits (shiv se Mentsәngoŋ), difficulties that many observers attribute to lack of member training (as was customary) in the art of managing the very complex chemical concoctions of the cult.
IV. CULT MEMBERSHIP INITIATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The power and influence of a Man of Title depends on their initiation and their level of authority within the cults. It is also dependent on the amount of time spent by an initiate to ingrain the rules, occultism and/or medicines and chemicals (shiv) of the cults.

Many observers believe the recent weaknesses that are being noticed in the execution of certain cultural norms are thanks to the fact that many of the cults have either relaxed their membership rules or have not evolved them adequately to suit modern times. To understand this better we must examine what it takes to be initiated and to advance in rank within the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults.

To be continued…

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

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Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Part 3)

 

If you missed part 1 & 2 you can get them here and here:

Nso culture

III-1. FUNCTIONS OF THE CULTS
Over the last 600 years cults have enjoyed a lot of power and assumed numerous functions in the administrative, political, social and cultural life of the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’. With the advent of colonialism, independence and the birth of the new nation state of the Cameroons, the role of these cults have evolved. In this section we examine the roles, responsibilities and functions of these cults as they existed then and as they obtain now.

The main functions of the Taa-Mbàn cult are:
 Royal mortuary services
 Cleansing of lineage heads/compounds
 Inquisitions of suspected witchcraft
 Exorcism of evil spirits and other abominations
 Conduct of expiatory (atonement) sacrifices
The Taa-Mbàn cult members are often assisted in their duties by lower court servants (Vimbaa and Vitan ve Ŋwéròŋ).
The Shishwaa cult performs mainly the following functions:
 Protecting Nso’ institutions from destruction
 Acting as State peace envoys and ambassadors
 Conducting appeasement sacrifices to keep famine at bay
 Preparing the State for periods of drought, infestations and low harvest
 Interceding with the Gods to keep devastating natural disasters at bay.
In addition to the seven Atárnto’ who were automatic members of the Shishwaa cult, other prominent Ŋwéròŋ Lords like Faáy Kuykishwang, Faáy Liiwong and others have been appointed into the Shishwaa cult and co-opted by Ŋwéròŋ as Atárnto’ of the second category.
The Ŋgírì cults group as a primarily fraternal cult has pretty limited responsibilities but performs the following roles:
 Junior traditional administrators (whenever assigned)
 Royal mortuary services (Vibay ve Dùy ve Kpù)
 Royal/member funeral services and celebrations
 Conduct of general state sacrifices (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri)
 Blessing of hunting expeditions (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri)
 Royal Hair care and manicure services (Vibay ve Dùy )
As we shall see below Ŋgírì has not always been happy with this limited role in State government and this has led to various clashes with Ŋwéròŋ.
Since its re-introduction into Nso’ society, the Ŋwéròŋ cults group has played a co-equal role with the Fòn in the administration of the state. As the saying goes “dze wong Fòn wun Ŋwéròŋ ” (the State belongs to the Fòn and Ŋwéròŋ).
The Ŋwéròŋ group has played principally the following roles:
 Executive arm of State government
 Senior Court Stewards and Priest (Atárnto’ ve Samba)
 Guardians of the Royal household (Atárnto’ ve Samba)
 Royal mortuary services (Atárnto’ ve Samba)
 State regulatory officers (hooded Ŋwéròŋ (Vilumsi) as impartial state police)
 Royal messengers, envoys and emissaries
 Custodians of royal property (raffia palm bushes, kola nut trees, goats, chicken, etc.)

 Royal/member funeral services and celebrations
 Conductors of State Commerce and Trade
 Peace keeping and crime prevention
 Fire fighting and prevention
 State judiciary officers (with Vibay – State Councilors)
 Execution of death and other sentences
 Law enforcement officers (hooded Ŋwéròŋ (Vilumsi) as impartial state police)
 State sanitary inspectors
 Palace house keeping
 Management of palace reconstruction and maintenance repairs
 Managers of public works (road, bridge, public hall and other construction projects)
Over the years Ŋwéròŋ has done its best to keep this stranglehold on power to Ŋgírì’s detriment and with sometimes devastating consequences.
III-2. CHECKING THE FÒN’S POWERS
To the naïve observer, the Paramount Fòn of Nso’ appears to be the almighty Monarch whose word is law and whose decisions are final. That is how the Nso’ people would like the world to see their King, because the King is Nso’ and Nso’ is the King and the Nso’ think of themselves as the most powerful Kingdom of the Savannah grass fields. The reality is however different. As a wise people the Nso’ are painfully aware that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. For this reason, the Nso’ people in the last 600 years have put some real checks and balances on the power of the King, through the cults. The Taa-Mbàn and Ŋwéròŋ cults have the power to discipline the King for negligence of duty, autocratic behavior, recalcitrance or any other behavior unbecoming of a King. They may even judge, condemn and execute the King for treason or other serious high crimes and misdemeanors like extrajudicial murders, full incapacitation or complete dereliction of duty.
Ŋwéròŋ disciplines the Fòn through a process called “kur Fòn”, which literally means “tying the King”, but which in reality amounts to putting the Fòn under “House Arrest”. The King is not allowed to leave the Palace, and no one is allowed to visit him. The Palace is put on lockdown and only select Ŋwéròŋ pages (Nchiyselav) are allowed to enter or leave the Palace. No music or noise making is tolerated in the Palace or in the city within a certain perimeter from the Palace. Only Ŋwéròŋ is allowed to play some funeral and mournful music continuously until the situation is remedied. This continues for as long as it takes for the Fòn to repent, pay the stated fine and promise to act like a King deserving of Nso’ people going forward.
In recent years Fòns have been subjected to milder versions of this punishment, when they are summoned to the Ŋwéròŋ compound, put against the Ŋwéròŋ inner court wall, and literally scolded as if they were children.
Fòn Ŋgà’ Bì’ Fòn II (1972-1983) is the only King in recent memory who was subjected to an actual “kur Fòn”, during the early part of his reign when he had serious disagreements with his senior wives. He humbled himself greatly after that punishment.
The Taa-Mbàn cult disciplines the Fòn through a protest called “sah kifu ke Mntaár” or “sah Mntaár” in short, which means “Mntaár leaf protest”. When the Mntaár landowners are dissatisfied with the way the state is being run or with some Palace edicts or with the Fòn’s negligence of certain atonement and appeasement rites, they show their protest by their leaders coming together and invading the Palace in the early hours of the morning armed with nothing but plant leaves (usually the kikeng leaf – dracaena peace plant) in their hands. They silently stand in the open Palace square (Maandzә Ngay) until the King
comes out and addresses their grievances to their satisfaction. The King’s reaction on such occasions is usually very swift because the Taa-Mbàn cult members are “owners of the earth” (Atar Nsai) who could easily invoke the spirits of the ancestors to smite the King. Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) and Fòn Ŋgà’ Bì’ Fòn I (1910-1947) are known to have endured this Mntaár protest during their reigns.
Cases where an actual King was judged, condemned and executed by Ŋwéròŋ and the Mntaár Lords are rare. Very often victims of such executions are ambitious princes who have attempted to usurp the throne. However in 1910 Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) was executed because he had ordered the extrajudicial killings of some princes who were his rivals for the throne and of Shúufaáy Taaŋkùm (Tsәmaloŋ) when he disagreed openly with him. Ŋwéròŋ and Mntaár ordered his execution and Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) was assassinated at Vikuùtsәn (near Sov) when he was on his way to pay royalties to the German colonial administration in Bamenda.

To be continued…

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

 

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Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Part 1)

MEN OF TITLE, POWER, INFLUENCE AND CULT MEMBERSHIP IN THE PARAMOUNT KINGDOM OF NSO’

Shey Stephen Shighan Shemlem PHD from S3 to S4 wrote a paper which i refer to as a compendium or a pamphlet on Men of title,Power, Influence & Cult Membership in the Great Paramount Kingdom of Nso in January 2011, posted on shundzev online forum precisely on the 31st of January. This was like a New year present to the Nso folks that year. This Paper covered close to 35 pages enough to be classified as a book.

A few years ago, following our debate on some of the Nso online groups and our culture, the classification and the misconception of the 7 and 10 Vibaays respectively, i thought that his works could be of immense assistance to many of us lovers of our roots to understand the rich and cherished culture the Nso kingdom us built upon.

Due to the many pages of the Material, i have decided to share them in parts maybe weekly to help grasp in detail and digest what he took pains to research and put on paper for posterity. This paper is therefore not my work but that if the person mentioned above.

Nso culture

I. INTRODUCTION

This treatise examines the structure, roles, membership and responsibilities of Regulatory and Fraternal male-only societies in the administrative, social and political life of the Paramount Kingdom (Fòndom) of Nso’ in the Savannah grass fields of North Western Cameroons.
The Paramount Kingdom of Nso’ (founded by Princess Ŋgonnso’ around 1387) is the largest and currently the premier Kingdom of the Tikar race in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kingdom is made up of the four sister Kingdoms of Nso’, Mbiame, Oku and Dom, (with the overall Paramount King resident in the Fòndom of Nso’), and vassal states like Ŋkar, Nsә’, the Noni Fòndoms and other smaller Fòndoms.
In all, a total of 25 (twenty five) Fòndoms make up the Paramount Fòndom of Nso’, with a current total population estimated to surpass one million citizens within and outside of the territory of the Paramount Fòndom also called Bui Division, in the North West Region of the Cameroons. Of these 25 Kingdoms, 4 are direct descendants and/or offshoots of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty. The other remaining 21 were integrated either voluntarily or forcefully between 1400 and 1890.
Here is a full listing of the Kingdoms of the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’ with some annotated details:
Nso’ – Paramount – Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty (circa 1387)
Mbiame – Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty offshoot (circa 1575)
Oku – Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty offshot (circa 1652)
Ŋkar (intgrated circa 1820)
Nsә’ (integrated circa 1850)
Kiluun (integrated circa 1830)
Ndzәrәm (integrated circa 1875)
Ndzәrәm Ŋyam (integrated circa 1875)
Ndzәәn (integrated circa 1830)
Gwan – Kitiiwum (integrated circa 1820)
Roŋ – Taasai-Mbam (integrated circa 1410)
Nchokov – Ndzәnnso’ (integrated circa 1410)
Gashoŋ – Ndzәnnso’ (integrated circa 1400)
Yun Din – Upper Din (integrated circa 1860)
Fònto Din – Lower Din (of Nso’ Legend – integrated circa 1884)
Djotin Kinengti (integrated circa 1860)
Djotin Fònti (integrated circa 1860)
Dom – Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty offshoot (circa 1800)
Lassin (integrated circa 1860)
Ŋkor Korchi (integrated circa 1860)

Throughout this essay, the number seven (7) appears very prominently (and often) when discussing title and senior cult membership rankings. Since our research has not discovered any cultural, social or historical significance of the number 7 (samba) in the Nso’ Paramount Kingdom, we can only conjecture that since all decisions of either the councilors or cult leaders were made by majority consensus, the odd number 7 was chosen for the number of senior decision makers to prevent any possibility of deadlock in decision making.
We may appear vague in our analysis at times considering our hands may be tied and we are forbidden from exposing certain cult secrets, but we remain explicit enough for the reader to understand the points we are attempting to clarify. Some details may be shocking to the non-Nso’ observer but rest assured that some of what is said here was last practiced more than 100 years ago.
We start by examining the administrative setup of the Kingdom to understand the role of the Court Councilors (Vibay or aShúufaáy), the Court Stewards (Atárnto’), other Title Holders (aFaáy, aSheèy), and their membership in the cults. We further examine each of the cults in detail to elucidate what membership entails.
The responsibilities and societal expectations of Men of Title and guardians of the occult are higher than those of regular mortal men of the society, so we shall include a section on these societal obligations with explanations of the reasoning behind them.
A lot has been said about the degradation of Nso’ culture and we conclude this essay with some suggestions of a few remedies which from our point of view can modernize Nso’ culture while ensuring its survival for the next 500 years.
Please note that in this write-up, some of our Lamnso’ language forays may not be in strict conformity with the latest directives from the Nso’ Language Society. Despite the fact that we have tried our best to respect these directives and delayed the release of this paper to ensure conformity, we are painfully aware that some avid readers may still find issues of concern, so we sincerely crave your indulgence for these orthographic variations. You will also notice that we combine both British and American syntax (including Pidgin), something that may be considered sacrilegious by some English language aficionados.

II. TITLE HOLDERS AND CULTS
In this section we examine Title Holders by lineage in three categories:
  Dùy (Extended Royal Family)
  Ncheèlav (Commoners and Retainers)
  Mntaár (Visale – Free Commoners and Aboriginal Nso’ Landowners)
Title Holders belong to all three categories above and their ranks range from the highest Kibay (pl. Vibay) or Shúufaáy to the lowest Sheèy. The Title Holder’s membership in a cult is however not only determined by whether they are Dùy , Ncheèlav or Mntaár, but also by other intricate considerations.
The cults in the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’ are divided into four groups (two principal and two subsidiary cults):

o Ŋwéròŋ Cults:
 Principal cult grouping
 Regulatory in nature
 Members are mostly Ncheèlav with some Dùy and some Mntaár
 Has Masquerades
o Ŋgírì Cults:
 Principal cult grouping
 Fraternal in nature
 Members are mostly Dùy with some Mntaár and very few Ncheèlav
 Has Masquerades
o Taa-Mbàn Cult:
 Subsidiary cult
 Expiatory in nature
 Membership is exclusively Mntaár
 Has no Masquerades
o Shishwaa Cult:
 Subsidiary cult
 Interlocutory in nature
 Membership is exclusively Ncheèlav
 Has no Masquerades

We now examine each of the title groups and their cult membership with a view to understanding the power base of each cult as determined by membership.

II-1. SENIOR COURT COUNCILORS (VIBAY VÈ KOV)
The highest ranking administrative civilian authority or Title Holder next to the King (Fòn) in the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’, is the Court Councilor who is called a Kibay (pl. Vibay) or Shúufaáy (pl. aShúufaáy) . The highest ranked aShúufaáy are the original ten lords from Kovvifәm (Vibay vè Kov – Vibay ve tiy se taakibu) who came as Kings (Fòns) or senior princes between 1450 and 1800, and submitted their people and culture to be integrated into Nso’.
Here below in order of rank (numbers 1-10) and category are the ten Vibay ve Kov.
Dùy (The Seven Great Lords – Vibay ve Samba)
1. Shúufaáy Ndzәәndzәv (joined Nso’ as a Fòn)
2. Shúufaáy Taaŋkùm (joined Nso’ as a Fòn)
6. Shúufaáy Ndzәәndzәvtsәn (senior Nso’ prince of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty)
7. Shúufaáy Yùúwar (senior Nso’ prince of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty)
8. Shúufaáy Shùv (senior Nso’ prince of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty)
9. Shúufaáy Lùn (joined Nso’ as a renegade Kiluun prince claiming Fònship)
10. Shúufaáy Waiŋsәәri wo Yer (senior Nso’ prince of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty)

Mntaár (The Three Aboriginal Great Lords – Vibay ve Vitaar ve Nso’ Mntaár)
3. Shúufaáy Tsenla’ (senior Nso’ prince of the Ŋgonnso’ Dynasty)
4. Shúufaáy Do’ Ruun (joined Nso’ as a Fòn)
5. Shúufaáy Do’ Ŋgvәn (joined Nso’ as a Fòn)
Shúufaáy Ndzәәndzәv and Shúufaáy Taaŋkùm automatically belong to both the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults because they are respectively the Second and Third ranking civilian personalities in the land. Before their enstoolment (installation) a candidate for Shúufaáy Ndzәәndzәv or Shúufaáy Taaŋkùm (like the candidate for the Kingship – Fònship) because he is of the Dùy lineage, is generally a member of the Ŋgírì cults. Upon installation he automatically belongs to the Ŋwéròŋ cults pending performance of the initiation rites.
Shúufaáy Ndzәәndzәv Tsen, Shúufaáy Yùúwar, Shúufaáy Shùv, Shúufaáy Lùn and Shúufaáy Waiŋsәәri wo Yer are all members of the Ŋgírì cults by virtue of their belonging to the extended Royal family Dùy. Their membership in the Ŋwéròŋ cults even though guaranteed because they are Vibay is still a matter of negotiation. Upon completion of the negotiations (that may last years) they then become members of the Ŋwéròŋ cults pending performance of the initiation rites. Shúufaáy Lùn surprisingly appears to have some prerogatives with the Ŋwéròŋ cults that appear to place him in rank above the other four aShúufaáy listed above.
There have been a few instances when membership of one of the above in the Ŋwéròŋ cults was revoked (albeit temporarily). The latest case was Shúufaáy Yùúwar whose Ŋwéròŋ cults membership was revoked after he had a dispute with the King, Fòn Ŋgà’ Bì’ Fòn II (1983-1993). Shúufaáy Yùúwar was temporarily replaced in the Court by Shúufaáy Tsәn Ŋkar. The revocation of Ŋwéròŋ cults membership is said to have led to Shúufaáy Yùúwar’s untimely death.
The three Aboriginal Mntaár Lords (Shúufaáy Tsenla’, Shúufaáy Do’ Ruun and Shúufaáy Do’ Ŋgvәn) are neither members of the Ŋwéròŋ nor the Ŋgírì cults, even though the same is not necessarily true for other newly elevated Court Councilors who have been assigned to the Mntaár lineage. This non-belonging of the leading Mntaár Lords is an extension of the Kovvifәm Agreements of 1411 between Nso’ and the Visale (Mntaár) that balanced power between the three branches of the State: Ncheèlav (Regulatory), the Mntaár (Land Ownership) and the King with his Dùy Royal family (Administrative). It was agreed sometime after 1450 when the Ncheèlav acquired the Ŋwéròŋ cults, that making the Mntaár (represented now by their three Lords) part of the Ŋwéròŋ cults would give them too much power especially since they had also ascribed to themselves parental rights to the mothers of all future Kings. When Ŋgírì was introduced the same restrictions on the Mntaár Lords were extended to Ŋgírì.
This automatic exclusion of the highest ranking Mntaár Lords from the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults has however produced some vexing disputes over the years when the Mntaár Lords have agitated and claimed the rights to have their own branches of the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults. A few decades ago (1970s/1980s) this led to the Maakibu Masquerade Crisis that pitted Shúufaáy Do’ Ruun against Ŋwéròŋ and the Paramount King. The issue was peacefully resolved and Shúufaáy Do’ Ruun retained his Maakibu masquerade but with very high restrictions on where the masquerade could go and how its members could decorate themselves on Maakibu outings. Recently however the Do’ Ŋgvәn Crisis of 2010 did not end so well. When Shúufaáy Do’ Ŋgvәn decided to create his own Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults, the reaction from Ŋwéròŋ was swift. His compound was destroyed and he was forced to seek refuge with one of his children (sub-lineage Faáy) in Kikaikom. The Cameroon administration and the Paramount King of Nso’ are still investigating the incident.

The Three Aboriginal Lords are however members of the Taa-Mbàn cult. This is arguably a toothless cult with no masquerades, whose expiatory powers and influence have waned over the years. Since the conditions of 1411 have greatly evolved in the last 600 years it may be a good idea to revisit the Kovvifәm Agreements and allow the leading Three Aboriginal Mntaár Lords to belong to both Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults as is the case with the other Seven Lords of the Court (Vibay ve Samba).
II-2. COURT STEWARDS (ATÁRNTO’)
The Ncheèlav Palace Stewards (Atárnto’) are part of the commoner/retainer class even though some of them actually came as Kings (Fòns) or senior princes. The most senior Stewards in the Court are the Seven Ŋwéròŋ Stewards (Atárnto’ ve Samba), listed below in order of seniority (1-7
1. Faáy Maàmo (joined Nso’ as a renegade Babessi prince claiming Fònship)
2. Faáy Faanjaŋ (came with Ŋgonnso’ from Rifem in 1387)
3. Faáy Mbiiŋgiy (original Mntaár who later absorbed renegade Mbisey and Kijem princes)
4. Faáy Kùynto’ Ncheèlav (former Palace retainer and Ŋwéròŋ page)
5. Faáy Kùynsә’ (renegade Mbiame prince with matrilinial ties to the Nsә’ Fòndom)
6. Faáy Tsәnkày (former Palace retainer with ties to the Ndzәәn Fòndom)
7. Faáy Nsәәnè (joined Nso’ as a renegade Mbiame prince claiming Fònship)
Since the Atárnto’ are the most senior members of the Ŋwéròŋ Regulatory Society (including the cults) they are forbidden from belonging to the Ŋgírì cults as part of the agreement that separates the Regulatory cults (Ŋwéròŋ ) from the Fraternal cults of the Royal Family (Ŋgírì). This separation can still be traced to the extensions of the Kovvifәm Agreements of 1411. However given a little unknown power of the Fòn that we shall examine below, some Atárnto’ have at times in history been appointed to play prominent roles in the Ŋgírì cults.
All Seven Ŋwéròŋ Stewards (Atárnto’ ve Samba) are also members of the all important interlocutory cult called Shishwaa.

To be continued

 

 

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Nso Radio Stations suspended from Reporting on KWA

Peter Esoka of the National communication council visited Kumbo a week ago and suspended all talks about Kumbo Water Crisis (KWA) on all radio stations giving a warning particularly to HelenKriss.

Photo by Cameroon Mirror.

Public opinion holds that the KWA invited Peter Esoka of the Communication Council to Kumbo to close down HelenKriss but the situation on the ground only earned them a warning for inciting the public to riot through their broadcast. This maybe true or not but the fact is that all radio stations operating in Kumbo have been asked to desist any report/news  on the  recent water crisis.

Where did the Nso people Fail?

Dialogue failed between the Palace, the council, the KWA and NSODA on a lasting solution for the control, management and ownership of the water. For close to 9 months now the crisis has escalated to the extend that no negotiation can be reached as the matter has been handed over to the Ministry in Yaounde that has in turn formed a crisis committee headed by the Governor of the North West Region. The coming of external forces from the Ministry of mines and power and now communication council is proof that the Nso people had left the crisis off hands and could not give peace a chance. Many have accustomed blame to different kinds of groups and people.

  1. Politicians and politics:

Majority believe that the situation has been blown out of proportion by political instincts. The CPDM using the Fon to pull down the Mayor and SDF, while on the other hand the SDF pulling the Mayor against the CPDM and the Fon. Could this be the main reason? This write says NO…Taking a close look at some politicians, we have seen many SDF militants standing for the palace against the council but this assertion can not me under-looked.

2. NSODA EXCO Vs The Council and settling of personal scores.

Some have accused Nsoda as the reason for the fuse. Some have gone to the extend of quoting personal conflicts between the Nsoda president and the mayor of Kumbo council claiming that their conflict over a project has pushed them to work against each other. This writer after thorough investigation found out that these men of substance had always put the development of the community at utmost priority. On the 1st of January 2015, these two camps sad an agreed to work on a common platform for the good of Nso. The whole Nsoda exco led by its president stormed the home of the Mayor without notice to spend New Year with him and proposed the role of an elder in the Nsoda Council. The said Mayor welcomed the proposition with joy and was even amongst those decorated by Nsoda the 2nd of January 2015 and duly signed by the Paramount Fon of Nso. These gestures alone spoke volume and that they could work together irrespective of their personal issues. The interest of Nso was top priority.

Mayor Njong has always been at the events organized by Nsoda and the Fon, we saw him in Tatum at the Start Of Ngonso and despite his ill health on the second he sent his deputy to represent him for his award, an award he could turn down like others.

These are many other reasons we know, greed, ergo, arrogance, pride, love for money, power and you can name them may have contributed to lead us to where we are now. But One thing i found wanting played the main evil to land us all into trouble.

3. The so called Advisers:

My experience as one that followed the crisis closely, tells me that, the Mayor and the Fon are being misled. Their advisers have done them no good but used the two leaders to project their images and become indispensable in the crisis. This could be either by the political party members or by those selected to play the advisory roles in these two institutions. Yes some used the crisis to settle scores, an example is a Fai Oliver that works at the DO’s office. During my search for peace when the crisis started, i explained to him the willingness of Mr Njong Donatus to dialogue with his father  after a meeting with him and that i needed the SDO to convene a meeting with just the two of them (The Fon & the mayor) since it was alleged that the Mayor was obstinate.

I thought that i was sharing a piece of good news to be ushered to the SDO as he could assist me to meet the SDO immediately, but i was wrong. Fai Oliver who was on self suspension from the palace, now saw an opportunity to make amends with the palace. He immediately ran to the palace to tag Shey Tatah Sevidzem as one of those citing with the Mayor against the Fon, he then questioned who Mayor Njong was to be convinced to meet the Fon? I was only part of the solution not part of the problem.

When the Fon’s advisers got this news, they immediately alerted the Fon and before i arrived the palace after my meeting with the SDO, i was already advised to disappear and that my presence was at stake and could lead to my Sheyship relinquished.

This story may sound one sided but the raison d’être is to expose the role of the advisers, how they acted without facts and reason. their facts to them became their ideas and as soon as you did not agree with them, you were against them. The single story should not also be read alone without others that we know.

These are the situations i found for myself, my three visits to the Mayor met with the same people. That is where the decisions were cooked and no matter how you pleaded for the change of approach, no one was willing except the Mayor himself. I asked and proposed win-win situations, of all the people in the room, no one ever believed they could be a way except the mayor who could see that things could be talked over and handled in a mature way. But when you leave, they force him to their ideas, sometimes claiming that what the mayor is doing is against the law by not taking over the control of water and managing it. I am sure this would have convinced him enough. I kept asking myself of these people had nothing more to do in life than to sit in the Mayor’s office and carve out strategies to convince the mayor their way. I kept asking them is the interest of the community was of any importance to them. It is true that majority if not all of them were SDF militants. The most striking of them was that some of them came from neighboring villages to show you how they were bent on misleading our leader. The council has its own role played which of course we can resolve easily through elections but we can not let things go out of hand before we intervene.

Otherwise why will someone deceive business people in the absence of the Mayor to close their shops and go to Tobin to welcome the Governor who never showed up and nothing has been done about it, yet we expect them to close their shops. Why will people like Manya from Shisong has his soya place locked up for answering the Fon’s call? All these were bad advices from council advisers.

The palace on the other hand blocked me away completely from the Fon. Some Two persons who have completely hijacked the rule of the palace into their hands made it clear that they could not sit in dialogue table with Shey Tatah.  They have  even ursuped the powers of the Nwerong that even when they were suspended by the same Nwerong, the Fon threatened to “quit” with them. They are the cause of the movement of the Fon up and down from one meeting to another to no avail. An incident that urged one pastor to shame the Nso people for treating our father the Fon the way we did. He thinks that we have lost respect for our Fon which I couldn’t agree with him more. Thanks to him some of us started thinking before our Great leader the Fon.

Two meetings in the palace were canceled simply because Shey Tatah was invited by Nsoda to attend. The vice president was asked to send me off before the meeting could hold, when Shufai Bamfem was invited all the way from Bamenda for the crisis. When the Nsoda president refused to send me off, the meeting was postponed to another date when i will not be available.

Many other Nso people have been denied access to the Fon who could be of help to the crisis by the same people. Nso people are aware of this and we know the fate of what befell them some months back. But the process did not last long. Shufai Ngairine has been hammering on this times without number.  Of recent i received a mail from one elite stating that these same advisers are bound to destroy the Nso kingdom, i asked how and he said that “The people are not only blackmailing people to the Fon, but write very unprofessional letters to the administration minimizing the administration even the Governor. And it would appear the administration is bent on reducing the strength of NSO Kingdom.”

I felt a vein cut off my leg, i did not only take his words serious but looked at the number of people that have been suspended from the palace, the Boko Haram letter that circulated in Nso, the list of the Nso Water board/committee that circulated, the list which portrayed that these people are only interested in their position and the money they will earn than the community interest, and most devastating, the Fon’s New year speech over City community radio that reduced Nsoda to nothing. If not of bad advice, why will a good princess, known for her great works in Nso be lured to read the Fon’s speech on the declaration on the board of Nso Water when Shufai Yuwar is (standing) sitting there at the event? The picture below can show the incident for itself.

Nso palace

To conclude, i want to reiterate that, although the reasons advanced in 1 & 2 above and many more may have played a mayor role to have things out of hand as we do now, i am of the opinion that the advisers to our leaders did not help things out. They helped to put things ablaze and until the “rotten tooth is pulled out of the mouth, it shall continue to chew with caution” Ola Rotimi in The gods are not to Blame. I shall always stand by the throne…

i know many like Fai Oliver will now twist the content of this mail and rush to the palace and tell the Fon how much I fight against him. I remain a loyal Nso protector of the Fon and most especially the throne. And I think that his advisers need to give way to peace by either letting the Vibaays do their work and give Nwerong the chance to protect our Kingdom…

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

 

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Identifying African Diaspora Organizations in the Nordic States

Identifying & selecting African Diaspora Organizations in The Nordic Countries:

Our office  in the UK ADEPT would like to Identify all African Diaspora Development Organizations in all the Nordic Countries. This would mean all Diaspora Organizations that carry our Development Activities in any of the 54 African States.
We Intend to Identify/select at least 15 to 20 of such Organizations in each of the Nordic States and seek ways on how to practically assist them in their promotion to African Development.
This can be done through Organizing training Seminars in Capacity Building and Fundraising.  We expect you to either send us an email with a brief description of your Organization and the latest or list of projects you have carried out or intend to carry in Africa. The Contact person’s details are very important for feedback and the selection. Kindly Spread this info to all your networks on African Diaspora groups.
In November 2014, ADEPT organized a similar Conference in Copenhagen at the Scandic and Radisson Blu Hotels respectively in close collaboration with the African Chambers of commerce, The Danish refugee Council, ADDR and Filip Buff Pedersen from the Danish Mission counsel training on fundraising.
Details of the conference can be seen here: http://sheytatah.dk/first-african-diaspora-development-forum-ddf/
ADEPT is a Platform i work with as a Volunteer and it is an interactive and informative platform gathering African diaspora and migrant organizations. The main objective of the platform is to promote the contribution of the Diaspora to act as a development actor for Africa. More About ADEPT can be seen on this Website: http://www.adept-platform.org/
 
Kindly forward the list of the organizations to following:
 
Shey Tatah Sevidzem:  sheytatah@gmail.com
 Ntende Peter.:               ntendepeter@gmail.com
 
The Final Selection shall be done with ADEPT Administration from the list we shall compile and send.
Please do not forget to share to all African Diaspora Organizations in the Nordic states. 
 
Kind regards
Shey Tatah

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