Monday, May 19, 2008

Can Traditional Titles Be Compared?

There is a difference between traditional structures and traditional leadership. Traditional structure embodies the arrangement of the community, the various groups and leadership, the customs and traditions and the culture of the people. Traditional leadership is a more sophisticated term for traditional government. This government with thin the village in general or sub groups in particular.
In the case of the Shey, it is not a leadership position; rather it is social recognition that goes with status in the village just like the Sesekou that is a social title bequeathed on an individual who joi9ns Ekpe and raises to a an upper echelon. Why can’t they be compared if both are within the realm of social recognitions? Even tradition governments have been compared. Take for instance the Prime Minister of England is the same like the President of the United States of America in terms of essence. They have different traditions but the same structures in the way the two positions operate. What the prime minister of England does is the same thing that the president of the US does.
Now look at the military: Though the US Air Force and the US Army have different classifications in ranks (rating) nonetheless, one is sane enough not to think that First Lieutenant of the Army is the same as the Rear Admiral lower half of the Navy. Rather the Captain in the Navy and the Colonel in the army wear the same insignia. How would anyone then get angry if an Army officer said the four stars general in the army is superior to the rear Admiral upper half and then people of the Navy draw their cutlasses from their sheaths that the writer has denigrated their culture?
Now to contextualize the argument, when you use even just DJ Eric’s classification of titles you realize that the Shey is the fourth lowest title. Then in the Manyu Ekpe Sesekou is the highest. That means only the highest title of the Banso people will fit the Sesekou. Yet there poses a problem because in Northwest province their traditional leaderships are intertwined with their traditional governments. Unlike the South Westerners who have separated social leadership from political leadership in the sense that you will have the Chief, Regent, Quarter-Head and Family-head? While in the Ekpe, Obansinjom, Amgbu the titles are arranged from least to greatest. Yet one may know that these titles in the Northwest Province are not given to a common man; he must belong to a level. By the way I am using North West because their traditions are almost homogenous.
The Shey when compared to the Manyu traditional polity leadership it will be equivalent to a quarter-head. It will then be incongruous for anyone to call himself Quarter-Head Sesekou, Listen to that; I mean even you do smile that it sounds ludicrous. So then if the guy wants to keep the title good for him which he could still use when he meets North Westerners for that is where his title is activated and becomes authentic. Within the Manyu community it will be mere cause for raillery indeed for anyone to say Sesekou Quarter-head. Which quarter is he heading anyway?
Since he has no quarter then that becomes a social title and we can now bring it back to social tiles within the Manyu community and thus be able to compare them. I hope you see the logic. If he had a quarter he was leading here in America or he is an errand boy that again will fall under the social ramification and not political.
Therefore, titles are comparable within the setting they find themselves. The Army’s titles could be compared to those of the Navy. The Northwest traditional political leadership could be compared to The South West Political traditional leadership. The Fon is to the Mankon people what the chief is to Ntenako (my City) people. The Fon of Banso is to the Banso people what the paramount chief of Bakweri is to the Buea people. The Fon is to North Westerners what the chief is to South Westerners. Are we comparing two structures? Yes, but within their settings of political leaderships. Now back to social titles, when you disintegrate the social from the political in the Fondoms then you can compare them with the social leadership in Chiefdoms.

Until then, I rest my case.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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