Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chieftaincy Battle in Besongabang and Nchang.

Chief Tanyi Tambe of besongabang.

Chief Clakson Mbiayorh of Nchang

The Chieftaincy battle in Besongabang has been for too long. This article is an attempt to resolve the issue and even extend the wisdom to Nchang and other kingdoms where they are still fighting for chieftaincy. Cameroon seems like a country governed by voodoo priests and priestesses. There have been a kaleidoscope of verdicts because of nepotism and corruption from the Ministry of Territorial Administration (MINAT). If one camp can have a minister of justice and friends at the Supreme Court, then they too will reverse the previous one. After the reorganization of chieftaincies under MINAT (Degree # No 77/245), MINAT became the sole organizer of chiefdoms, fondoms and Lamibe. To determine the rightful heir will need three considerations: the genealogy of the future heir, customs and tradition of enthronement and geriatric witnesses.
There is no reason why people from the same village should be burning development money in court for chieftaincy. Do you see that people from the same village have been in court; up to the Supreme Court for at least 40 years? Think about all the money they have spent for the lawyers. That money would have tarred roads in Manyu or at least tarred the whole of Besonabang, given every child there scholarship and built at least a modest block house for every family in that village. Another example is Nchang Town where they are divided into two parts: Nfai Nchang (Ghana) and Nten Nchang (Borroro) whereby they don’t talk to each other, until today that I am talking to you. Such is the curse of our division: “you will work, but you will never eat from your sweat”. Perhaps we should say it in pidgin: “you go be like baboon; you go work, but na monkey go chop.”
Many say that, "it is not the chief that matters; what matters is the person who will bring development." Chieftaincy then will be sold to the highest bidder. If it is not the person who must be chief that matters, but it is the development they bring, then one does not need to be a chief to bring development. Until the death of late Dr. Enonchong (MHSRPP), Besongabang did not have drinkable water. Why did he not start by developing the village with his money?  He that thinks he is leading, but there is no one following, is merely taking a walk. If someone wanted to be chief but people don’t want him to rule them, he should leave them alone. If you hire people whose consciences have been seared with money to thwart the truth, they sow spurious screeds, create unnecessary battles, and they end up biting the dust. Permit that we start with the three characteristics that determine chieftaincy in Besongabang and Manyuland.
Firstly, the future heir‘s family should be potentate with no peons lineage. Records tell us that Tanyi Tambe’s pedigree was not tainted. No matter how we want to remove the dark pages of our history, we will not be able. In those days, there was a classification of slaves and free men. Only the freemen had regal blood. While we do no more segregate and make that distinction of slaves and freemen, chieftaincy has not been given to those who had mixed lineage. The argument that though Besongabang has hereditary chieftaincy, it does not matter, is laughable. Others argue that they should evolve like other kingdom. This too is untenable. Which are those societies whose kingdoms have evolved from hereditary to democratic kingdoms?
Cameroon Chieftaincy Law of July 15, 1977 states, “In principles, traditional chiefs are chosen from families that are customarily called upon to carryout traditional leadership role”.  Thus the government recognizes the hereditary process of chieftaincy and the regality of the future heir.
I think the major evolution that Besongabang needs is to stop stigmatizing others as slaves. They should intermarry, and with time that idea of slave and freemen will disappear. After about ten generations, that designation will totally die down. I think it is unfair for those who were born in freedom in Besongabang to be refused chieftaincy on basis that their great grandparents were slaves. That will be possible if they keep separating freemen from slaves family. Nonetheless, let the status quo of hereditary chieftaincy be maintained and respected, and anyone who aspires to that position, should be born in that family.
Secondly, the customs and traditions theretofore and heretofore concur that chieftaincy in Besongabang (and Manyuland) has always been hereditary for the regal family. Although in sections 10 and 11 of the same degree, the government puts the coronation or appointment in the hands of MINAT, it still prescribes for MINAT to follow the customs and traditions of each kingdom. Consequently, MINAT through the Sub Divisional Officer ( SDO) or Divisional Officer (DO) cannot unilaterally appoint a chief, without the vetting process of the parameters I introduced in my preamble above. The law continues, “In principle, traditional chiefs are often chosen from families that are customarily called upon to carry traditional leadership role." It does not leave the people in confusion; it defines the family as, “…a group of people sharing the same bloodline and lineage, that is, from the same father and mother, or just from the same father.” This clause is what qualifies Mr. Clarkson Mbianyor as the chief of Nchang because his father is from Nchang, even if his mother is not. In other words, the degree opens room for “bhebhatrebhohs” while upholding faithfully the purity of the father. Hitherto, the Besongabang people have not changed that tradition, and the Tanyi Tambes fulfill this condition too. Chieftaincy has always been with their family.
Thirdly, history can never be told in the absence of geriatric eyewitnesses. Until corruption entered into the kingdom of Besongabang, Ntenako, Nchang, Ossing and Mamfe (close neighbors) all could testify that the Tanyi Tambe’s family was the rightful heir to the throne of Besongabang.
Therefore, chieftaincy amongst the Banyang perches on three principles. The first is that chieftaincy was and is hereditary. Secondly, the heir must be potentate inclined. Thirdly, geriatric eyewitnesses must sanction their candidacies. These canons have been the bedrock on which chieftaincy amongst Banyangs reposes. The Besongabang and Nchang cases are really a sad situation. Presently, the only people to solve this problem are the young people. If any of your parents are involved in that fight, if they die don’t continue the fight. This fight is not worth it at all. I don’t even see the importance of being a chief that we are spending all that money, time and health.

Until then, the hereditary rule in Besongabang  and Manyuland should continue!

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk. .

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