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Regional News of Thursday, 5 February 2015

Source: The Sun Newspaper

Fon Forbuzie lashes out at North West fons

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Fon Forbuzie has lashed out at North West Fons, saying one who stripped Nico Halle of ntumfor title was out of place and accuses First Class fons of betraying the course of traditional leadership.

Fon Forbuzie Martin Asanji, Fon of Chomba fondom and Adviser of the North West Fons Union (NOWEFU) was in Buea last January 17, 2015 to witness the coronation and installation of the new chief of Sasse village.

He together with Fon TTT Tegenecha of Zang-Tabi village presented a traditional stool and staff to the new chief who seemingly did not want to collect the gifts, or was influenced to do so.

The Fon of Chomba comes back to this issue and uses the opportunity to address several other burning issues. He spoke to The Sun’s Atia Tilarious Azohnwi and begins by justifying why he travelled to Buea.

It is significant to me because I have lived another experience, which is that of witnessing the enthronement of the traditional ruler of Sasse. I saw a lot of colour, a lot of tradition, taking us many years back especially as Sasse is a legendary village.

This place is full of history. This was a revival of culture given that the throne was vacant for over 20 years. I’m happy I was part of it in order to establish contacts between Chomba village and the people of Sasse.

You presented a gift to the new chief of Sasse that was seemingly received in reluctance. Are you comfortable with that?

No, no. A chief hardly leaves the throne. He sits on the throne and things come and meet him on the throne. So, there was a little lapse. He sent his agents to come and collect it. But I preferred to walk to the throne to hand it to him. There wasn’t anything difficult.

Even in front of the throne, the chief of Sasse would not stand to receive the gift; neither did he even touch it with his hands. Is this part of the lapse you are talking about?

Well, ask him that question, not me. With the new fight for titles like that of chief, is it safe to say that our culture is deteriorating?

Culture is advancing, evolving, progressive and dynamic. Those who think that culture is deteriorating are making a mistake. For example, what explanation do you give for the clamour for traditional titles?

Our subjects are fighting for traditional titles because no matter what other title they are given, no matter what position they have, they could be dropped. But traditional titles are kept for life. So, our elite want to attach traditional titles to whatever they have because this will remain with them.

You talked about traditional titles accompanying the bearer for life. But we know of the case where Ntumfor Nico Halle was ‘stripped off’ his Ntumforship by some of your colleagues. Are you biting words?

The title was not stripped off him. He still is Ntumfor. We’ll continue to call him Ntumfor until he dies. Don’t get people wrong. A Ntumfor title remains until the bearer dies. He will die with it. If he stood in front of me, I’ll address him Ntumfor.

Have you ever heard him being addressed without the title of Ntumfor attached to his name? It always precedes his name.

As adviser of the North West Fons Union (NOWEFU), what kind of advice have you been giving your peers?

I advise them to do the kind of thing I’m talking about; which is that we should know that our traditions will continue to be dynamic and evolving.

That we should guard against those things that are reducing tradition to a mockery and again, they are only a few fons that are creating situations that cause us to question tradition. But on a whole, tradition is getting stronger and stronger and the future is promising.

The fons are highly educated and highly intelligent. Some of them are very rich. Don’t tell me they are rich because of the sale of land. There are some that are naturally rich; who are working and looking for wealth and they are making it not from sale of land. How many fons are selling land?

Many are those who have seen Fon Forbuzie Martin Asanji as being behind the problems of NOWEFU given that you are an adviser. Do you share in their opinion?

Well, may be because I’m more of a straight forward person. I have questioned that issue of Ntumfor; why a leader of the North West Fons Union had to suspend him.

Look at the situation. That title was given to him in a conference of traditional rulers from the North West. It was wrong for one individual to go on the radio and suspend it.

This is what I have questioned all along, even today. I say that action was wrong. For example, today, the Bakweri people, chiefs and the Sasse people have enthroned a king today.

You saw the ambiance and the population and then tomorrow, somebody goes to the radio and says the man who was crowned today is no more chief. That is tom foolery. That is stupidity. And that is what I have challenged all along and I will continue to challenge it.

You say all of these, but as adviser of NOWEFU, you seem to have moved no way to solve this problem.

We are moving. Do you know that even my colleague who caused that suspension is regretting for having made that announcement? And of course, Ntumfor is still moving around with his head high. And because that title seems to have a lot of meaning, people are clamouring for it. They are moving to their own fons to make them ntumfor.

It is ridiculous because ntumfor is not the only title that we have in the North West. We have thousand of titles. Why are people so interested in that one?

This is because Ntumfor (Nico Halle) took it, polished it, glorified it and made it very important.

In my village (Chomba), the title of Ntumfor is not important. There are bigger titles in my fondom. In my fondom I don’t even give Ntumfor titles to anybody because the title is not important.

But coincidentally, we decided in the North West to give that to Ntumfor (Nico Halle). He took it and made it important. I remember I was here in Limbe to interpret that title, same in Douala and Bamenda. After that, many saw the importance of the title and many are now fighting for it.

As adviser of NOWEFU, do you advise your peers to move to Yaoundé to ‘beg’ money from senior officials?

Why do you talk of begging money? I don’t like the word begging. What do you mean by begging money? When someone comes to my palace and I give them a loaf of achu to eat and a calabash of palm wine, will it be that they came to beg for food? It is part of our culture that the palace is a hospitable environment.

Whoever is in the palace is out to give entertainment. We have to implant this in our culture that whoever is in a position of governance – Minister, General Manager – if a fon comes, you should appreciate the fact that he has come.

Give him petrol money. Why not? It is his right. Give him food to eat, give him drink. And if you cannot give these things materially, give him an envelope that can take care of that. If you want to call it begging, it is your idea, not mine.

What has become of the issue of senior fons and junior fons in the North West Region? What has been your advice on this issue?

I don’t subscribe to that. I’m challenging this thing of first class, second class, and thirds class fons. It’s again a colonial mentality. What will be done to a third class chief that will not be done to a first class chief? In the North West, there is a common denominator. Every chief is called “mbe”.

The so called first class fons and in the north west we have only five, are betraying the course of traditional leadership. I challenge them all. They are betraying our course because for example, they think they should be the spokespersons for the other fons.

Take five fondoms: Kom, Mankon, Bafut, Nso, and Bali. Put them all together. What is their numerical strength vis-a-vis all the other fondoms put together?

So again, it is tomfoolery to think that some fons are more important than others and you begin to class them first class or second class. Take note, When traditional rulers were gazetted, none was gazetted as first class, second class or third class. Where did all these come from? It’s all nonsense.

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