Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cameroon:Restitution of Bambuko First Class Chiefdom May Soon Become A Reality

By Christopher Ambe                                        

Mention the name Bambuko (interchangeably called Bomboko) and someone knowledgeable about the history of Fako Division of Cameroon will tell you that it is the origin of Bakweri people.                           

     Although the Bambuko clan is found in two administrative units of the Southwest Region of Cameroon namely -Fako and Meme Divisions, the Bambukos are said to be people of the same descent and tradition.

Bambuko used to be a first class chiefdom until “something went wrong administratively” and for decades it was not referred to as such.  

     In the past, “The Bambuko traditional Community was organized into three classes of leadership stools ,and succession to all was purely hereditary: from father to son. The First Class was kinghi .This stool was held by the successor of the Bambuko Ancestor, Founder and Tribal Chief,Namolombe whose area of jurisdiction was the ‘ Bambuko Country of Victoria Division’. He was the Bambuko Chief Priest and occupant of the ancestral abode, ISUMA’

Chief Kinghi Liwoto II
    “On the advent of the British, the occupant of this stool became the Chairman of the Bambuko Native Authority and Customary Court President”, according to Chief Kinghi Liwoto II of Efolofo,of the Bambuko area.

It emerged during a recent consultative talks that in the traditional Bambuko community, kinghi was first-class chiefdom, Ekwulu Mesangwu was second-class chiefdom and Bewangi was the third-class chiefdom.

     Chief Kinghi Liwoto II of Efolofo, who now has been fighting for 22 years- by way of petition-writing to the Cameroon Government, for the restitution of the First Class chiefdom of Bambuko , is said to have recently won the attention of Prime Minister Philemon Yang, who reportedly instructed the Senior Divisional Officer for Meme to investigate the situation and report his findings and recommendations back to the former’s office.

    It was on the strength of the PM’s instruction that last February 6 the 2nd Assistant SDO for Meme, Nelson Yongkuma,sitting in for the Senior Divisional Officer Koulbout Aman David, visited Bambuko and met with chiefs of the area, in the Palace of  Bokosso, to find out if actually Michael Liwote,successor of Namolombe who  founded Bambuko was  a first class chief.

      Chief Kinghi Liwoto II of Efolofo,who succeeded late Chief Michael Liwote in 1994,  made during the February 6 consultation talks, a presentation justifying his clam to be recognized as a first-class chief and provided some documentary evidence to  Mr. Yongkuma for his appreciation and onward transmission to hierarchy.

     Talking to reporters after the talks, the PM’s envoy Mr.Yongkuma noted, ‘It is possible that Bambuko clan can be classified as a first class chiefdom in Meme Divison. Since the matter is at hand and there is a correspondence from the Prime Minister’s Office, we will prepare our report and send to the powers that be.”

Mr. Nelson Youngkuma
 Mr. Yongkuma said the holding of the meeting was prompted by the fact that some chiefs of the clan argued that Chief Michael Liwote was not first-class chief.

But at the February 6, 2016 meeting, there was no public opposition to Chief Kinghi Liwoto’s request for restitution as first-class chief.

    According to Chief kinghi II, he was not happy that the Meme Administration in 1995 classified him rather as a third-class chief.

 “ This was a grave  administrative  mistake that… let usurpers continue on the throne of First Class Chief of Bambuko Chiefdom Stool of Limbe  ’’ noted  Chief Kinghi Liwoto II  in his address to the PM’s envoy last February 6.

Chief Kinghi Liwoto II argued that F.B Manga Williams who died in 2005 had only “usurped” the throne of First Class Chief of Bambuko Chiefdom Stool of Limbe. He added that he (Chief Kinghi Liwoto II) had opposed the “pre-consultation talks convened by the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) for Fako on January 1, 2007 meant to return usurpers to the throne of the First Class Chief Bambuko Chiefdom of Limbe contrary to the 1977 Decree.

“This ushered in an era of a vacancy in the throne of the First Class Chief of Bambuko Chiefdom stool of Limbe which has run for over ten years now”

Thus, the visit of the 2nd Assistant SDO for Meme to Bambuko for consultative talks on the instruction of the Prime Minister, is widely interpreted as the imminent assertion of Chief Kinghi Liwoto II as First Class Chief of Bambuko Chiefdom Stool of Limbe”

      The Bambuko Chiefdom, according to Chief  Kinghi Liwoto II,is  “the land of history and origin of the bantu Culture in Cameroon.

“The aborigines of this chiefdom are Bambuko people and the language spoken is Bambuko

“The chiefdom stretches around the lower slopes of the Cameroon Mountain on the North and East, from about longitude 9o 15’ East, towards the West and South down to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean at Sanje in latitude 4o15’ North, and 9oEast”

     Chief Kinghi noted, “The Bambuko chiefdom covers an area of 1198 square miles administratively shared into five subdivisions namely:Mbonge,Muyuka,Limbe 1,Limbe 2 and West Coast, in line with the Government Policy to bring the administration closer to the people”

He added that “all these people were originally included in the administrative Division of Victoria in the German and British Colonial eras as the ‘Bambuko country of the Victoria Division’. Victoria Division was made up of five ethnic groups, namely:Bambuko,Bimbia.Moungo,Balong and Bakweri.To these five was later included bakolle(Bamuso) now in Ndian Division yo make six in 1930”

     But today, the Bambuko Country of former Victoria Division is administered under five administrative units called subdivisions: Mbonge, Muyuka, Limbe 1, Limbe 2 and West Coast.

    Chief kinghi stated that Efolofo means the chieftaincy stool of Limbe. adding that the Efolofo palace has only two graves-that our late father and mother.
 “Here we are standing on the roof of the ancestral abode, “Chief Kinghi Liwoto II, who has been fighting for 22 years for the restitution of the First Class chiefdom of Bambuko, told reporters. In 1924, my father Michael Liwote was removed from Victoria and sent here to kumba division …”

 Chief kinghi II strongly considered the consultative talks of February 6,2016  “ as a mile stone towards bringing to a close the vacancy in the throne of First Class Chief of Bamabuko Chiefdom stool of Limbe as it assures the beginning of the end of our restitution struggle for the ‘assertion of chief kinghi Liwoto II as the First Class Chief of the Bambuko Chiefdom stool of Limbe”
Origin of Bakweri

 In his expose to the PM’s envoy, Chief Kinghi Liwoto II, who graduated with a law degree from the University of Yaounde many years ago, pointed out that Bambuko is the origin of Bakweri.

    He stated: “History, tradition and culture show that the Bakweris are the descendants of Bambuko. In paragraph 12 of his Bakweri Intelligence Report of 1935, Mr. W. M Bridges, and DO wrote that the name Bakweri means emigrants from Bambuko who settled to the South of the Cameroon Mountain. In fact, Mr. Bridge’s explanation of the name suggests the absence of any ethnological distinction between the descendants of Bambuko and settlers from the original villages, a premise which holds that every true Bakweri man or woman must have a relation in Bambuko”

      The Chief used the meeting to launch an appeal to “our bakweri brothers to lend their support to this restitution struggle, noting that “No matter how fresh a branch of a tree is, the future of the tree depends on the stem of the tree. If the stem dies, the branch too must die”

     Chief kinghi Liwoto II expressed regrets that some so-called 3rd chiefs of the Bambuko area had on January 27, 2016 visited the Office of the SDO for Meme to express doubt about his claim to be recognized as First class chief.

As at now, the people of Bambuko are patiently for the government to restitute Bambuko as a First Clas Chiefdom with Chief Kinghi Liwoto as their Paramount ruler.

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