The Fon in Central Committee of the Ruling Party

The Fon in Central Committee of the Ruling Party

In recent times there has appeared in Shundzev a florry of opionions about the adaptation effort of the Paramount Fon of Nso within the wider context of politicking in the Cameroon nation. In one sense everyone has a right to express his/her opinion, but in another they don’t have to give opinions on matters they don’t yet fully understood, and worse to try to give conclusive advice to those who know better. I consider that perhaps some elders in Nso society were being called upon to describe the consolidated Fonship of Nso as it has been surviving through the centuries and adapting to internal and external socio-cultural, economic and political pressures. We will require several academic perspectives to expose the ever changing picture in this process of adaptation which we may call modernization. We will need a series of questions to help focus our responses.

1. What is the Paramount Fonship of Nso?

Decree N° 77/245 of 15 July 1977 carving out the Paramountcy of Fon Nso, as being co-terminous with Bui Division is the authoritative endorsement by Cameroon Government of the German and British Administrations which found NSAW State united and kept it united for meaningful development and consolidate PEACE.

2. What is the historical backing and wisdom of this legal and binding definition?

The German regime to which our Nso territory was assigned in 1884 by King Leopold “partition of Africa” found our native people already well organized, and they sought friendly relations and peaceful submission to them. The Nso refused and were conquered by the German punitive expedition in 1906. The Fon then was Sermbum II who was later shot at Bamenda Station (Kimforkir ke Chisong) and was replaced by Fon Mapri (1907-1910). In 1924 a British Geographer Mr Frederic Migeod visited Nso and found us quite a very organized and consolidated Kingdom. In the 1950s under British colonial government, the Nso joined with the Tikari fondoms to form the South Eastern Federation of Native Authorities together, with the Headquarters at Mbinkar (Ndop), and Papa Vincent Lainjo was the overall Coordinator (Administrator and Financial Conroller). In 1960, the Nso Fondom became a Nsaw Council with Fon Nso as the President and its members were democratically elected from all its villages and developing clans: Nkar, Mbiame, Oku, Noni, Nkum. Later Nsaw became a Sub-division in the West Cameroon Administrative system, and subsequently it became the Bui Division covering all the areas carved out as Sub-divisions, now counting 6: Oku, Jakiri, Mbven, Noni, Nkum and Kumbo. Certainly with this administrative evolution and development, the power and authority of the Fon of Nso was gradually waning and yielding to the state government of the Federated and later United Cameroon Central Government Administration of which the Fonship is part and parcel.

3. Who is a Fon? And Who are the Traditional Rulers?

Fons by modern definition, are agents of the Central Government Administration. This means that they are officially public servants and part of the reigning government, irrespective of the political party holding the government at the municipal, sub-divisional, divisional, regional or national level.

Yet, according to custom and tradition, Fons are the heads of their cultural groups and are elected to office accordingly, to function as such for life. The Fon is therefore the Coordinator of culturally defined institution which is part of the Nation or State, and is already part of the Peace-Keeping system of the country. From time to time, the Fon can be called to serve in divisional or Regional Security Committees. The Fon of Nso is the People of Nso. Fon dze fon bi Nso, a Vitavi vi vidzem wina vikuuy ve vidzem vi dze Nso” He resides in the Palace (Nto’) built and maintained by the Nso people. He is the Prisoner of the Palace for life. He lives with the Atar Ntoh – Fathers of the Palace. He is assisted by smaller Fons and a hierarchy of Nobles (Shuufai, Fai, Yaas, Shey). He is served and protected by “Nwerong or Kwifon Society” a top secret service institution, and he entertains the people of Nso with the Nngiri Society. For the Fon’s and Nso defence, all the adults male citizens are militarized as the Nso Manjong and they are organized as Mfuh Society in every village. Further, the males are regrouped in semi-military Clubs in villages as Jwim, Kwebiri, etc for social and cultural development functions, especially the celebration of the death of their members and notables (nobilities).

4. What other powers and privileges has the Fon?

i) The Fon is naturally the head and member of the National Social Security System at the local and ethnic group level. Hence, we say “The fon has 800 Eyes”

ii) The Fon must be an informant to the national government. As such, he informs and is the most informed. He is automatically part of the ruling government of the nation.

iii) The Fon is the Head and Coordinator of all development strategies and projects in his jurisdiction and seeks the assistance of all his subjects and the government with their modern technologies.

iv) The Fon rules through an Advisory Council which he can modify according to the nature and complexity of the problem to be addressed.

v) He inherits the royal harem of which he adds more in his time according to custom and tradition.

vi) He must head the African cultural religious system, and indeed his is the High Priest, whose functions he delegates to a Fai Taawong. Yet he can still aspire to other foreign religious creeds like Christianity and Islam. Indeed, the Fon is welcome to any religion.

vii) He appoints the nobility to which he delegates some local functions as he is himself the cumulative NOBILITY which is sacred.

viii) He must learn to adapt quickly and rapidly to socio-cultural and political change in order to advise and guide his people to current and future development and change. The more educated, the better, as that increases his capacity to understand and cooperate with the ever changing modern world system and culture.

ix) He must protect and defend the land so that it is properly occupied and used by his people and strangers according to customary clan boundaries to ensure peace.

x) He must discuss often either directly or through delegation with the national government administration for action within the territory of his Fondom to assure order and progress.

xi) He rules and communicates to all Bui people through Public-Market announcements “Kinsa-waiy

5. What are the implications of Fon Nso collaborating with Central Committee of CPDM ruling Party?

When elections take place, and a new government is formed, all citizens irrespective of their political party, must join hands, to help the government to implement its development Plan and Programme. And it is both an advantage and privilege for any Fon to serve in the various committees that work to implement the Programme because his own region or territory and projects will no longer be forgotten. Besides, as an informed citizen, he will be facilitating the authorities, to avoid errors of the past and get projects completed. We know that some contractors are virtually thieves who want profits without respecting their contract terms.

i) The Central Committee of the CPDM is NOT a Public Service institution which pays salaries to its members although there are officers who run the institution like any management or administrative institution who are paid. It is an honour to be a member and to pay a fixed sum every month to help it to run. Members of the CPDM Central Committee are usually elected during the Ordinary Party Congress.

ii) Members have to pay a regular monthly fee to help the Party to run properly. They can also make donations at other times

iii) Member are assigned in specific technical committees to assist in shaping some policies.

iv) As members of the Constituted Corps, one is invited to give new Year wishes to the Head of State or to sit in Tribune A during 20th May Celebration and thus accompany the Head of State, Regional Governor, Senior Divisional Officer, to celebrate big national events.

v) One may be delegated to some sub-division to re-organize the basic organs of the CPDM Party periodically.

vi) Depending on the members’ technical or professional formation like Professors one may be appointed to serve in some Board, or Government Corporations, if one is lucky.

vii) Opportunities to get well informed on political orientation of the government in the ever changing world are available.

viii) Several learned Fons and Traditional Rulers are members of the CPDM Central Committee: Mankon, Bali, Bafut, Balikumbat, Bafaw, Foumban, etc. Why not Nso?.

and owners of Big Corporations presidents such as Fotso, Nyat, Bayero, Amino are also members.

ix) The Fon of Nso is a member of North-West Fon’s Union of which he was once the President and now the Vice President.

x)The Fon of Nso has international friends such as Gaddaffi of Libya, the people of United States of America, etc.

Conclusion: The power and strength of Nso Culture is its capacity and ability to adapt by adopting new cultural values, dropping its archaic ones and opening up for positive change through opportunities like Ngon-Nso Cultural Festivals and Religious Inculturation. However, there are some injurious limitations such as the Fon contesting for elective parliamentary positions with other citizens. Supposing the other citizen wins, what happens?

Best Regards

Prof Daniel N. Lantum (Wo Bastos)

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