By Tangyie Akum
Gwendoline Munshi had heard rumor that she was a spouse –to- be of a traditional ruler in Nkambe subdivision, Donga-Mantung of Cameroon but she just laughed at it.
Little did she know that what she considered rumor would be a reality in her life, as her foster father Ngome Shadrack Madugu, reports say, had secretly married her off to a traditional ruler (fon) in the Nkambe subdivision after collecting bride price.
Born in December 1973 of Esther Ntala, Gwendoline was raised by her foster father Ngome Shadrack Madugu, since her biological father was unknown, until she became an insurance broker in Buea.
She rarely went to the village but when her foster father died she went for the burial in Nkambe and stayed there for some days, only to be surprised by palace notables, sent to take the fon’s new ‘wife’.
As she resisted, she was told how her marriage with the fon had since been concluded by her foster father who just passed on.
Shocked by such a revelation, an enlightened Munshi sneaked out of the village and returned to Buea, where she briefed her counsel, Barrister Njilla Stephen Esq. of BI-JURAL LAW FIRM,BUEA, in the hope that he would initiate legal action against the fon to protect her client’s Human Rights.
Barrister Njilla confirmed the violation of Munshi’s rights to The RECORDER and condemned such human rights abuses in Cameroon. He urged the media to do more in exposing illegal and inhuman acts.
The lawyer told The Recorder that there is no room for forced marriages in Cameroon. Legally-speaking, he said no marriage may be valid without the consent of both spouses –to-be.
Barrister Njilla disclosed that his office was already working on the file and would lodge a complaint with the appropriate authorities to ensure that Munshi’s Human Rights are fully protected. He said Munshi was now living in hiding to avoid confrontation with the village notables over the issue.
Barrister Njilla also cited Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Cameroon is a signatrory, which states, “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”
There are reportedly many cases of forced marriages in some Cameroonian villages, which, regrettably, go unreported.