The enthronement machinations that led to the rise of Sehm Mbinglo I to the Nso throne are no secret to the Nso people again. As one whose father, Taa wo Faanjang, was one of the key actors in the enthronement Council, and having taken to myself to follow up keenly the intricacies that were involved, I recorded the following as the machinations that bedeviled the process:
-The sudden and unexpected “disappearance” of Fon Ngah Bi’fon III left the King makers and the Nso people quite confused as to the choice of the successor. This came from the fact that the Nso succession practice does not permit the throne to be vacant for more than a day. It should be noted that Fon Ngah Bi’fon III hours before his disappearance in the night was seen around town in his car doing his usual transactions. It was therefore in shock that the Nso people Rose to the sound of the “Ngem” announcing that the Nso Sun had set. This announcement set the King makers the more in confusion.
That was when the enthronement machinations started as potential candidates and their supporters entered into conclaves to design strategies to cause their choices to be accepted.
Among the potential princes were Shey Kee from Mantum, Lawyer Gabriel Mbinglo, Shey Ayori and Prince Patrick Mbinkar Fondzeyuf. Of these Princes, the ones with political and financial backing were Shey Kee and Lawyer Mbinglo. Shey Kee had the backing from business and political gurus like Shey Isaac Lukong whose position was implicitly that of the Administration and Government. He was equally backed by Shufaay Ndzeendzev. Shey Kee was described as the CPDM choice. Understanding the political mindset of the Nso people in the early 90s with the prevailing political atmosphere in Cameroon as a whole and the Northwest Region in particular, coupled with the “hatred” against the militants of the party, it was logical that Shey Kee’s camp had to work extra-hard to succeed. The arrival of Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, added to the suspicion that a CPDM candidate was going to be imposed on the Nso people, reason why the resistance became stiff.
Lawyer Mbinglo had a similar had his own support as well in Shufaay Ndzeendzev but not from the Administration or ruling party, because he was a noted militant of the SDF. Even as SDF, he could not have the support of Nwerong because he openly supported the Ngiri against Nwerong during the 1989 Mbor Crisis. According to one of the King Makers this researcher spoke with, Lawyer Mbinglo lost the trust of Nwerong on the day the Nchelav pursued Yeengiri to Squares and removed the Mbor (the emollient leaf) from the heads of the Ngang se Ngiri who were wearing them to Meluf to initiate a new member. Nwerong claim the Mbor leaf is their sole prerogative. On this day, after the Nchelav had completed the act and left for the Palace, Lawyer Mbinglo who was sitting in front of “Atlantic Photos Studio” at Squares got into the next Bar, (Sala’s Bar) and bought crates of beer for Yeengiri. That to Nwerong was considered as complicity with Ngiri against Nwerong. His candidature could not therefore pass without Nwerong’s support.
On his part, Shey Ayori who was lobbying for support in Faanjang, even in the absence of Taa woo Faanjang, who was in the Palace, was not a popular candidate. According to the same source, Shey was not popular because he was not a generous man. Many condemned that weakness in him and wrote him off the list of potential candidates.
Lastly, there was Prince Fondzeyuf Patrick, who was so popular among the commonest Nso man for his social interaction and remarkable generosity out of very little he had. Apart from that he was noted for his sympathy towards any afflicted and suffering. Prince Fondzeyuf equally enjoyed a 100% support from Nwerong, and aTaanto for:
-his unwavering support for Nwerong during the Mbor Crisis during which he was stoned in the Ngiri santum causing to lose a tooth for supporting Nwerong.
For mastering and promoting the culture of the Nso people and for his respectful nature towards the traditional instructions and those who incarnate them.
From another perspective, Prince Fondzeyuf was at the time a strong grassroots militant of the SDF and understanding the popular sway at the time, even among a majority of the King Makers, the probability of him going through was very high.
Above all, the voice of the gods through the Nso Mntar had him as their choice as reported from the messages brought back. It should however be noted that in 1983, when Ngah Bi’fon III was enthroned, Prince Fondzeyuf was seized and enstooled as Faay Taawong but he rejected the post with the pronouncement that he was destined for a higher position (Fonship)than that
Many who knew his background very well agreed that the position of Taawong for him was a calculated attempt to disrupt his future greatness. When therefore he was chosen, many did not doubt, though few were those who were expecting him during the machinations process.
It was during all these machinations that Nwerong stepped in and seized him, enthroned him in the Nwerong santum and then announced to the world that the Nso Sun had reason before the other King Makers and the other lobbying camps discovered they had been beaten.
It was in the aftermath of the Nwerong act that resistance from Ndzeendzev, aTaawong and Ayiywong, and others that a stalemate arose as the New Fon stayed with Nwerong while the Nwerong ritualistic music resounded throughout that night.
Following this unexpected turn of events, the wisdom of the Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, played a great role in the mediation. It was thanks to this wisdom that peace was reached and the process of enthronement was taken over as tradition demands.
It should be noted that at the disappearance of the Fon, the Sultan arrived before Midday and took over the running of the Nso Palace before the new Fon was enthroned.
The rise of Sehm Mbinglo I to the Nso throne could be compared but to the rise of Sehm III, (Mbinkar Mbinglo) to the Nso throne. Both Fons were first enthroned by Nwerong before Ndzeendzev and other King Makers came in later. Such procedures challenged and disrupted the established enthronement procedure.
Bulami Edward Fonyuy
The University of Bamenda-Bambili