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Titles and Cult Membership in Nso (Part 6)

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

Nso culture

IV-6. CULT MEMBER ETHICAL CODE VIOLATIONS AND PUNISHMENT
Cult members by virtue of their power, influence and societal standing are expected to be epitomes of moral rectitude. Some of these members are actually so required by their occultist rules and regulations, especially given their positions within the Court. Compared to the rest of the public, cult members generally receive harsher punishment for the same crime because they should have known better. Cult members could even be expelled and rusticated from their cult groups (Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì) for the simplest of violations.
Cult members are seriously monitored for character deficiencies like adultery, public drunkenness, gossiping, irresponsibility towards their families and other misdemeanors that could easily lead to expulsion.
It is forbidden for a cult member (or anyone else for that matter) to covet the King’s wife, sit on the Royal throne, commit rape (especially that of a child), harm a pregnant woman, commit murder or commit any similar high crime for which they easily possessed the wherewithal to effect, thanks to the occultist weapons they handled by virture of their cult membership. The punishment for such high crimes by any cult member is generally a sentence to death, when non-cult members are exiled.
Crimes against pregnant women are generally so abhored that even the Kibaraŋko masquerade would stop and make way on approaching a pregnant woman. A pregnant woman also has the right to stop the carriers of the King’s wine (bom) and ask for a sip if she felt thirsty.
Sitting on the Royal throne is considered to be a very serious criminal offense. Punishment for a cult member who is a prince of the rank of Sheèy wo Ngang, Sheèy Wan Nto’ or above is a sentence to death because the culprit is assumed to be trying to usurp the throne. In 1910 Sheèy Wan Nto’ Mbinkar Mbiŋlo is said to have tried to usurp the throne from his uncle Fòn Ŋgà’ Bì’ Fòn I (1910-1947) and was sentenced to death, but he escaped with the help of Shúufaáy Sov and his clansmen (Visov). The Nso’ remained forever grateful to Visov because Sheèy Mbiŋlo later became Fòn Sehm III (1947-1972) and is renowned to be the Father of Nso’ Development.
Another example of a prince who attempted to usurp the throne but was spared the death penalty was Sheèy Wan Nto’ Rәәvәy. In 1907 when young Sheèy Rәәvәy learned that the Germans had executed his father Fòn Sehm II (1875-1907) in Bamenda where he went to pay royalties to the German colonial administration, Sheèy Rәәvәy seized the throne and sat on it. Sheèy Rәәvәy was condemned to death but saved from death by his youthful ignorance and the fact that his mother was not of Mntaár origin so he really could not be King, making his usurpation of the throne an irrelvant act. Even though Sheèy Rәәvәy was spared from death, he still needed to be pardoned by his father the new King Fòn Mapri (1907-1910).

To pardon his nephew, Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) imposed that neither Sheèy Rәәvәy nor his immediate children could ever be elevated to a Faáyship or Shúufaáyship for fear that they might attempt usurping the throne again or they may declare themselves Fòn and form another Dynasty like Dom, Mbiame or Oku. Sheèy Rәәvәy protested this restriction saying that he had voluntarily relinquished the throne and that as a Sheèy Wan Nto’ his children were by right eligible for elevation to Faáy or Shúufaáy. The Fon stood firm on his decision but agreed that Sheèy Rәәvәy’s grand-son or great-grand-son could be elevated to Faáy or Shúufaáy.

To punish Sheèy Rәәvәy for protesting despite the fact that he was kind enough to pardon him for his crime, Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) threw a curse on Sheèy Rәәvәy. The Fòn told Sheèy Rәәvәy that he would never live to see his grand-children. It happened as was foretold, Sheèy Rәәvәy died in the 1920s. History however has a way of correcting for its wrongs. Recently in December 2010, Fòn Sehm Mbiŋlo I (1993-Present) elevated Dr. Willibroad Shasha (a grand-son of Sheèy Rәәvәy) to the rank of Shúufaáy Nso’Bahti. The new Shúufaáy Nso’Bahti returned to the United States of America to a thunderous welcome by many of his constituents.
Despite all these mishaps, cults and their members and Title Holders that walk their halls continue to thrive in the ever expanding and changing culture of the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’. Before we examine the effects of modernity and conclude this essay let us look at the history of the relationship between the cults, an aspect of the culture that has shaped its evolution more than anything else in this modern era of change.
V. HISTORY OF THE TUMULTUOUS RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE CULTS
The Shiswaa and the Ŋwéròŋ cults have enjoyed a very deep and collaborative relationship perhaps because all members of the Shishwaa cult are also ranked among the most senior members of the Ŋwéròŋ cults. The relationship between the Shishwaa cult and the Ŋgírì cults has been cordial (but not deep) because the Shishwaa cult from time to time requires assistance from the Lords of Sacrifice (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri) who are all senior Ŋgírì cults members.
The Taa-Mbàn cult compound is next door to the Ŋwéròŋ cults compound in the layout of the palace. Thanks to this proximity the Ŋwéròŋ and Taa-Mbàn cults enjoy a close relationship. Taa-Mbàn cult members because of the mortuary and divine services that they provide within the Palace, have also enjoyed close ties with the Ŋgírì elderly members among the Lords of Sacrifice (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri).
The Taa-Mbàn cult and the Shiswaa cults share some annointing, emissary and protective services roles and because of this reason the members of the two cults have enjoyed a close and collaborative relationship over the centuries.
The Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults however have enjoyed a rocky relationship in the last century. As we noted earlier in the historical highlights above, the Ŋwéròŋ cults were re-introduced into Nso’ society sometime after 1450. From then till the late 1800s and early 1900s the Ŋwéròŋ cults reigned supreme in the land, and even usurped some of the fraternal duties that were supposed to be performed by the Ŋgírì cults as was the case in Rifem from where the Nso’ people came.

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…

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Kumbo Horse Race Back to Track

The Kumbo Horse Race used to be one of the annual event that made news in the national territory likewise the Ngonso Festival. Some 25 to 30 years, the race was organized by the Guinness company and this did not only make Kumbo known but also broght the Mbororos out of their isolated camps. The economy used to boom as these Mbororos could spend every dime they saved for this event.

image

Of recent not much has been talked about the race especially since Guinness left the management and control of it. Others tried but were not very successful, maybe because of the cost it entails. One thing remained in people’s mind was the description of the winner. It was always and usually a little boy that won. One very conservative was called Shaidou…

Kumbo horse race

This year’s horse race switching name from Kumbo Horse Race to Bui Horse Race was organized thanks to the visit of The city of La crosse in the USA by the Kumbo council to give their counterparts another entertaining event that could keep an indelible mark on their minds as they departed Kumbo today. The event met with the Whole Bui Administration attending, Four councils Kumbo, Jakiri  Nkum and Oku fully participating in the Bui horse race., members of parliaments and other dignitaries. Images and more info was offered by Shitu Adamou who covered the colorful event into its entity.

This gave room for speeches from the various stakeholders and Invitees. The Mbororo community could be seen jovial especially as the ladies had the freedom to express their joy through dancing and other forms of entertainment.

The Men on their part exhibited their culture as Lee Rache, the head of delegation from La Crosse to Kumbo council was  honoured during the race at the Tobin municipal stadium by the Mbororo community as WAJIRI of the Mbororo community in USA.

The Horse Race proper was met with many challenges as the competition was tough with as many contesters as possible. Interestingly the interest shown by the young ones moved the crowd as they cheered and supported them.

It should be noted that the Race is sponsored by the following , Tadu Dairy 500,000frs, Kumbo council 250,000frs, and assisted by  Jakiri & Nkum Councils, PMUC 100,000frs each. At the semi finals stage, 20 horses participated with 13 from Jakiri sub division, 5 from kumbo central and 2 from Nkum. The finals saw 9 from Jakiri and one from kumbo central. The first three winners were all from jakiri sub division.

Although or maybe the prizes are the the pulling force, one can lament that an event of such magnitude with such sponsors, a little more could be done to elevate the prizes coupled with the risks, distance and other costs incurred. The 1st went with a cash prize of 150,000frs, carton of savon and a school bag. the 2nd prize was  100,000frs with same items and the 3rd with 75,000frs and same items. The last seven went home with can amount  of 25,000frs and a school bag each. These prizes were handed by the Bui administration, The visitors  from La crosse, Mayors and MP’s respectively .

 

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

and Shitu Adamou

 

 

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NDECA Annual Festival 2015

The Nseh Cultural & Development Association (NDECA) Annual Festival took another uplifting.

Pick by heifer

Picture by Heifer

The event that runs from  the 26th through the 27th of Decemebef was graced by a series of activities. Apart from the usual “juju’ display and the cross country race, the youth came in with more innovative activities.

Ndurum mountain

The beautiful landscape is the Ndurum mountain as we know Nseh to play a very strategic positioning in Nso as it shares boundary with the Donga Mantung Division and another wiimbum Clan. The Nseh Fondom is known for its great Zion Choir headed by Godlove Wirajing and serves as one of the powerful Four Fondoms of the Ngonso Dynasty in Bui.

Nseh palace

The Fon of Nseh Is known for bringing and encouraging development in Nseh, reasons for which he is called the Father of Development and loved by his people. This could be the key reason to maybe why the festival this year was spiced with new ingredients amongst others a football final between Nwansha FC and Beshi FC where Nwansha carried the day by 2 goals to zero.

The Yaounde Branch of Ndeca made the festival special in that apart from the Jangma Nseh dance of  Yaounde, they provided every traditional dance for the festival with an envelope. This put smiles on their faces and motivated them more to present the best in them.

Jangma

The Jangma dance that performed at the palace also visited the Ndagon compound where this dance originated from and returned home with good advice.  Worth noting that the family head of Ndagon is the father of Banin Emmanuel founder of Jangma dance in Yaounde.

This festival used to run hand in glove win the Ngonso Festival which unfortunately did not take place this year. It should be recalled that Nseh lost its National chairmanMr Wirkom Abubakar 2 months back in a ghastly accident on his way to the village to make preparations for the the said Festival…In this regard, the festival took time to reorganize its national executive.

Coming up next in February shall be the Mbiame Festival from the 3rd to the 10th of February 2016:

 

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

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Trailer blocked Babanjou road

Babanjou

Traffic became an issue yesterday and today at the Babanjou – Bamenda highway as a trailer lost control and blocked the main road. This meant that passengers had to wait up till 3 hours to be able to use a one way path in the push to cross ever… All had to come down of their vehicles to give way for the cars to struggled to the other side of the road before continuing their journey.

Babanjou

It should be recalled that this is not the first time this same village is experiencing transport difficulties. Early this year, people spent days on the road due to poor roads at the said highway. Babanjou is the village that links the West and North West regions immediately after Santa when coming from Bamenda.

Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)

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