Category Archives: Fon

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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Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Final :Part 10)

If you missed part 1 to 3 you can get them part 1 here , part 2 here, part 3 here , part 4 here , part 5 here , part 6 here , part 7 here , part 8 here and part 9 here: This part ends with the references/bibliography of the whole paper.

VI-4. MANDATORY CULT MEMBERSHIP TRAINING
In the days of old it took many years for a newly inducted member to learn the rules and regulations of the cult. The training on the handling of the cult medicines and fetishes took decades. It took serious training to rise from one rank to the next within the cult house. It took decades before one could become a “samba wir”. This training and tutelage should be re-instated in all cults. If a cult member is unwilling to go through the training they should not be allowed to rise in rank or come out as an escort for the cult masquerade (their financial wherewithal not withstanding). How can such a member who has not learned to manipulate the cult’s occultist spirits and medicines, stroke the totem in the cult masquerade in any public arena?
If the new members were to go through the mandatory training they may also come to realize that if they advance to certain ranks in some cults their diet may be restricted at certain times during some rituals. For examples some cults may restrict their members to weeks of only eating “vikuou, mbaar, shinyaa and ntee – cocoyams, cocoyam leaf soup, eggplant soup and groundnut soup”, no meat products or any starchy foods. Any member who is ready to endure this for the rest of their lives may then want to advance to the ranks of “samba wir”.
When some of these potential senior cult members learn through their training that if they rise to given ranks or assume certain totem stroking functions in either the Yeŋwéròŋ or Yeŋgírì cults for example, they may be forbidden from being buried in a coffin (even a bamboo one) because their spirits could no longer be allowed to be imprisoned (in a coffin), they will consult their families and their other gods before seeking senior ranks in either Yeŋwéròŋ or Yeŋgírì cults.
What is happening today is tantamount to someone coming to a University, registering for classes, paying all their tuition and fees, and refusing to attend classes, but insisting that they should be given the Masters Degree or PhD anyway because they just do not have the time to study and/or attend classes and that by-the-way they have already paid all their tuition. Any University worthy of their name will throw such a person out.
The University model should be adopted at the level of the cults. Anyone who is unwilling to go throw the mandatory training should be thrown out of the cult. This will make sure that new comers will take the time to learn to become worthy members as was the case in the old days. With such a requirement, if the Fòn proposes a title to a visitor who is unwilling or unable to spend the time to learn the roots of Nso’ culture, that visitor can refuse the title and the Fòn will be sympathetic to their decision.
VI-5. MANDATORY CULT MEMBERSHIP OBLIGATIONS FOR LIFE
In the old days cult membership and titles came with lifetime obligations. In 1970 a Sheèy wo Ngang Ŋwéròŋ or Sheèy wo Ngang Ŋgírì contributed an average of 200 FCFA (Two Hundred Francs CFA) on a monthly basis for the upkeep of the cults and other Palace institutions when all their donations throughout the year were averaged. If this amount is compounded as above, it comes to about 2,150 FCFA (Two Thousands One Hundred and Fifty Francs CFA) today. If the system required a Sheèy to contribute 2,000FCFA, every Faáy to contribute 3,000FCFA and every Shúufaáy to contribute 5,000FCFA on a monthly basis, enough would be generated for the upkeep of all cults, all Palace institutions and all lineage, clan and sub-clan compounds.
Again all heriditary Title Holders who need the help would be assisted by their families to meet this obligation, especially given that their compound would also be helped by this contribution.
Many would think deeply when a Titled cult membership is proposed to them and examine whether they can meet this monthly lifetime obligation before accepting. Those who can not keep this obligation will not accept the Titled cult membership.
We also posit that if current Title Holders were given the choice of keeping their titles and meeting up to the monthly obligations or giving up the titles, some will give up their Titles and allow themselves to be “washed” voluntarily. Those who choose to keep the titles and refuse to keep up with the monthly obligtions should be involuntarily “washed”.
VI-6. CREATION OF AN EX-OFFICIO PALACE ADVISORY BOARD
We have proposed the re-introduction of various streams of income that used to get to the Palace in cash and in kind from various Men of Title. To manage these funds we propose the creation of an Ex-Officio Palace Advisory Board whose only role shall be financial oversight and related financial management. This Board will be responsible for setting up a Palace Office with a salaried Manager, Assistants and Secretaries to manage the streams of income enumerated herein and insure that they are disbursed and used efficiently.
The second role of the Advisory Board shall be to work with the Fòn, Vibay, Atárnto’, Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì, to set up permanent income generating streams to make sure that for the next 500 years, the Nso’ Palace institutions are as autonomous as those of successful Kingdoms like those of the United Kingdom and other European Kingdoms.
Such an Advisory Board should be elected from among current and committed Titled cult members (ladies included) and should be given a mandate to complete their task within a specified period of time.

VII. CONCLUSION
It is our hope that this detailed analysis has provided a good insight into the inner working of the Nso’ Paramount Kingdom Palace and its institutions, the most important of which are male-dominated cults.
Hopefully our suggestions for the future will be followed so Nso’ culture can be modernized responsibly in a way that will ensure its survival for the next 500 years.
As time marches on, Nso’ culture will evolve. We pray that the Nso’ people should remain conservative and glued to their traditional norms as they advance and modernize their culture to suit the evolving times as their forefathers did for 600 years under circumstances that were more trying and more turbulent than the present.

VIII. REFERENCES

VIII-1. “An introduction to Nso’ Culture”, Vol. I, by Faáy Woo Lii Wong (Joseph Lafon), 2001 VIII-2.”Introduction to Nso’ History”, by William Banboye, 2001
VIII-3. “The Ndzәәndzәv Dispute: From its beginning to its ending”, by Faáy Woo Lii Wong (Joseph Lafon), 1999
VIII-4. “Nso’ Historical Timeline: An Illustrated and Annotated History of the Paramount Tikar Kingdom (Fòndom) of Bui in Northwestern Cameroons”, by Sheèy Shiyghan Stephen Shemlon, PhD, (to be published).
VIII-5. “The Core Culture of Nso’”, by Paul N. Mzeka, 1980.
VIII-6. “Sov! Sov! Our Glorious Heritage”, by Rev. Fondzefee Charles Tangwa, 2008.
VIII-7. “Dr. Bernard Nsokika Fonlon: An Intellectual In Politics”, by Prof. Daniel Noni Lantum, 1992.
VIII-8. “Fon Nso’ Sehm Ataar (1947 – 1972): Father of Nso’ Development”, by Prof. Daniel Noni Lantum, 2000.
VIII-9. “Royal Succession In The African Kingdom Of Nso’: A Study In Oral Historiography”, by Bongfen Chem-Langhëë and Verkijika G. Fanso, 2008.
VIII-10. “A History Of The Church In Kumbo Diocese (1912-1988)”, by Joseph Lafon (Faáy Lii Wong), 1988. VIII-11. ” Ŋgonnso’ Cultural Festival 2010 Magazine”, by NSODA, 2010.

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Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Part 9)

If you missed part 1 to 3 you can get them part 1 here , part 2 here, part 3 here , part 4 here , part 5 here , part 6 here , part 7 here and part 8 here :

VI. NSO’ CULTURAL MODERNIZATION AND THE FUTURE
There has been a lot of talk lately about the rapid degradation and modernization of Nso’ culture. Some have postulated that this has been caused by the cheapening of the cults and the admission of foreigners to master our occultist secrets and thereby gain too much power and influence in the Nso’ Kingdom both within and outside the Palace Court. Some have pinpointed to specific examples of individual influences of these recent immigrants (still considered foreigners) in our Palaces and cult groups, and claimed it as the root cause of this degradation.
Looking back at Nso’ history we can note that immigration and the structured absorption of immigrants has been the greatest strength of Nso’ culture over the last 600 years. The reaction from those who consider themselves authentic Nso’ has as expected always been resistive to the integration and empowering of new comers. This is what happened when newbees like Ndzәәndzәv and Taaŋkùm were catapulted to the number two and three spots in the land while old Mntaár Lords like those of the original Mbiiŋgiy lineage were relegated to Tárnto’ status. It was even new comers like Tsenla’, Do’ Ruun and Do’ Ŋgvәn that became recognized as Mntaár Lords while some original Mntaár Lords could only be promoted to Faáy Won Jemer ve Fòn with their moribund Taa-Mbàn cult.

Such rapid promotion of the newcomers often led to serious resentment that at times resulted in assassinations like that of Faáy Sov (Foinso’) in the 1840s.
In this debate some have even questioned whether someone of Berber origin (Mbororo or Fulani) could be a senior ranking member of a Nso’ cult or even the Paramount Fòn of Nso’. When we look back at history we realize it may already have happened given the Nso’ Kingdom’s very efficient policy of assimilation and acculturation by at times forced intermarriage. It is very possible that a Mntaár Lord could have married a Berber woman whose daughter, grand-daughter or great-grand-daughter became the Fòn’s wife (wiyntoh) and produced the next King, afterall the only requirement was that the future King’s mother should be from the Mntaár lineage. Recent Fòns’ matrilineal lineages have been traced to Kitukela-Ndzeng, Dzekwa, Meluf, Nturkui-Kikaikelaki and Sangfir-Mbam. Given the integrated nature of the families in these communities with the Fulanis and Mbororos in the last few centuries, can we be so certain that none of these Fòns have Berber blood through their matrilineal lineages?
Pushing the argument further, we have many vibrant Mntaár sons in the diasporas like Wo Ngomrin and his siblings. If one of these young men marries someone of European or Asian descent who later produces a daughter or grand-daughter who becomes a wiyntoh, isn’t it conceivable that we could have a kimbang (white) Fòn? As Africans, thanks to Kenya we are proud to have an Obama in the American White House, so may be we should accept the possibility that decades from today a Cherokee (American Indian) King could proudly say: “My son ‘Ŋkarjume Thasungke Witko Nso’bani (Ŋkarjume Crazy Horse Nso’bani) is the Paramount King of the Powerful Tikar Kingdom of Nso’ in the African Savannah grass fields”.
VI-1. ROOT CAUSES OF NSO’ CULTURAL DEGRADATION
From the analysis we just made in this essay we posit that these apparent degradations cited above are just symptoms of a deeper desease that is eating into Nso’culture in this modern era, a disease that must be cured if the culture is to survive. In this last section we examine this disease and propose some remedies for it, in a bid to save Nso’ culture from eventual collapse.
The problems affecting Nso’culture are four-fold:
 The collapse of the system that maintained our traditional institutions (from the Palace through the cults to our individual lineages) structurally, morally and financially.
 The relative ease of induction into the cults which has led to an avalanche of unworthy Men of Title being admitted into the inner fold, with full powers and influence in the Palace Court.
 The collapse of the required mandatory period of training and apprenticeship for cult members as well as members of the inner Palace Court.
 The collapse of the system of checks and balances that has led to corruption within the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults as well as the inner Palace Court.
All these problems can be corrected if we can just go back to what used to obtain in the old days and modernize it appropriately as we propose below.
VI-2. REMEDY FOR THE MNTAÁR LINEAGES
Some of the skirmishes that have been encountered lately with the Mntaár Lords and their associated lineages which recently exploded in the Do’ Ŋgvәn Crisis of 2010 can be remedied by allowing the Mntaár lineages to belong to the Ŋwéròŋ cult, since most of them are free commoners. If this is accepted we can then 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).
VI-3. CULT MEMBERSHIP INDUCTION UPGRADE
We propose that the conditions for admission into the Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults should be severely revalued upwards. In 1970 it used to cost (in goats, fowls, palm wine, salt, oil, firewood, constuction and roofing materials, etc.) about 150,000FCFA (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Francs CFA) to become a Sheèy wo Ngang Ŋwéròŋ or Sheèy wo Ngang Ŋgírì. If we compound this amount at an average 3.0% – 5.0% annual inflation rate (conservative estimate here) and add the 50% devaluation of the FCFA this amount is about 1,650,000FCFA (One Million Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Francs CFA) today. If we tell any Tukov Kimbinin who wants to become a Sheèy wo Ngang today that it would cost him 1.5 Million FCFA to do it, he would think twice before accepting that tan, kibam or bar that he is trying to buy from a Sheèy or Taafu in the dark corners for 10,000FCFA. Tukov Kimbinin will even say NO if the Fòn calls him and tries to give him a title. It would also stop the Sheèy and Taafu from distributing titles indiscriminately.
Titles are a prerogative of the Fòn (even aSheèy who are kishers of lineages must be approved by the Fòn), so the traditional institutions must make sure that only the Fòn can award a title.
Such an amount will be very helpful in that it would provide enough for the other cult members to feast on and enough would be left over to distribute to Kibam ke Fòn, Kibam ke Vikiyntoh and Kibam ke Ŋwéròŋ and/or Kibam ke Ŋgírì. It will also be enough to provide for the upkeep and upgrade of all Palace institutions.
In addition, the cults will be ridden of unworthy candidates if they apply the same upgrades to their initiation and rank promotion fees.
The amount will be upgraded commensurately for aFaáy and aShúufaáy. For the inherited titles, the new Title Holders will use the opportunity to bring their families together to contribute for the enstoolment. Part of these family contributions will also go to the upgrade and upkeep of the new Title Holder’s compound, thus preserving a vital part of the Nso’ culture that is also falling apart (the lineage, clan and sub-clan compounds).

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Shey Tatah Sevidzem

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