BABANGI FONDOM CAMEROON
Why Dethroned Babanki Fon Was Murdered
The tragic exit of destooled Fon Simon Vugah II of Kedjom-Keku (Big Babanki) began in the dawn of January 19, when his former subjects caught him sneaking into the palace in the night. In the morning, they had escorted him to the borders of Bambui and Babanki, which objective was to beat him and abandon him there. But that seemed not to satisfy the enraged Babanki people.
Fon Vugah II’s Last Days
When Fon Vugah was banished by his people in June 2004, he took refuge in Mankon Palace. A week before he met his death, he joined Fon Angwafor III of Mankon, Fon Forbuzie of Chomba and a host of others to wish the Northwest Governor happy New Year. On January 19, he would depart unceremoniously.
His former subjects escorted him down the Bamenda-Babanki-Fundong highway and gave him a thorough beating. Women, men and children, using clubs, destroyed the former Fon’s residence and forced out one of his wives who had accompanied him to Babanki.
Together, they were thrashed until the Fon almost gave up the ghost midway to the border. Half dead, the Fon was wheeled in a cart to the Fembveng Bridge that separates Babanki and Bambui. In a pyre of grass, Fon Vugah was set ablaze as if to confirm his death.
History of An African Kingdom
The town of Bafut is a town in Cameroon in the Northwest Province, to the North of the city of Bamenda. Once autocratic, increasing tension, military conflict and finally defeat at the hands of the Germans in the Bafut Wars (1901 – 1907) turned Bafut into a part of the German protectorate of Cameroon (Kamerun Schutzgebeit) during the reign of Abumbi I. After World War I, the Fon of Bafut and his people became part of the British protectorate of the Cameroons or British Cameroon. The Bafut Wars were a series of wars fought in the early 20th century between the troops of the Fon of Bafut and German-backed troops of neighbouring fondoms and German troops. It is famous for Image Metadata. The location of the palace of the Fon of Bafut, the residential dwelling of the Fon and his wives and counsel which now houses a museum. The nearby location of the botanical garden of Savanna Botanic Gardens, which noted naturalist Gerald Durrell helped plan, is located near the town. The presence of the Bafut market, which is a very vibrant one in the area, occurring every eight days, selling fruits, spices, vegetables, meat and animals. The town of Bafut is probably best remembered as the place where the famous naturalist Gerald Durrell came on two animal-collecting expeditions in 1949 and 1957. Durrell wrote two accounts – The Bafut Beagles and A Zoo in My Luggage – on his travels in Bafut, and created a mini-TV series, To Bafut with Beagles. The Fon of Bafut is the fon or Mfor (ruler) of the village of Bafut and its adjoining areas in the Northern Region of the Southern Cameroons
Bafut Palace is located in the heart of the Bafut kingdom in northwest Cameroon. The palace has been the fulcrum of political power for over 600 years, and is still a center for religious rites and traditional ceremonies. The site comprises over 50 buildings arranged around a central shrine, which are used by the Fon (king), his wives, and the royal court. The Achum Shrine is the spiritual core of the site and houses an important fetish. Built entirely of wood and bamboo, and covered with thatch, the shrine is an impressive example of traditional religious architecture. The entire site is surrounded by a sacred forest in which medicinal plants are gathered and offerings are made to spirits and ancestors.
In the early 20th century, a terrible fire set by the Germans during the Bafut wars ripped through the royal compound, consuming the central shrine and surrounding buildings. Though the shrine was rebuilt by 1910, it took until 2007 for the reconstruction and renovation of these structures to be fully realized, thanks to generous preservation assistance by the World Monument Fund.
Traditional Role of the Fon
The Fon had titular powers in pre-independent Cameroon. He had multifarious functions:
He controlled external relations and internally he made laws; All justice was done in his name, he was the final court of appeal and had power of life and death over his subjects; As chief priest he offered sacrifices to his ancestors and interceded with them for the welfare of the people; He presided at important festivals, the most important being the Abin e Mfor, the dance of the Fon. The Fon was assisted and advised by titled royals – the most prominent among them being the Mamfor or the mother of the Fon, either his real mother or a sister. In addition there were two fraternal assistants called Ndimfor (the elder brother) and Muma (younger brother). However, none of these royals served as regent in the case of the Fon’s death or indisposition. The body which actually shared power with the Fon and deputized for him was the council of elders or Kwifor. The strength of Kwifor lay in its role as a council of kingmakers and was thus a check on royal power. The Fon acknowledged this and tried as much as possible to avoid confrontation.
There are two other older palaces of the Fon of Bafut.
- The old palace of Mbebli, also known as Ntoh Firloo was built by the Bafut people when they first arrived from Tikari some 400 years ago. It contains the tombs of the first three Bafut kings Firloo, Nebasi Suh and Ambebi. Libation for the famous Bafut annual dance “Abin e Mfor” begins here.
- The palace at Njibujang contains the tomb of the 8th King of Bafut Achirimbi I.
The original palace was built out of wood and liana. The complex and the central shrine were burnt to the ground by the Germans in the Bafut Wars, but was rebuilt over the period 1907 – 1910 with help from the Germans after the signing of the peace treaty. Its buildings represent both colonial influences and indigenous vernacular architectural styles, and are mostly made of fired bricks covered by tiles. The residence built by the Germans for the Fon presently serve as the guest house, and also houses a museum.
List of the Fons of Bafut
Some of the notable Fons of Bafut are:
Firloo : the first king of Bafut
Nebasi Suh : the second king of Bafut
Ambebi : the third king of BafutAchirimbi I
the eighth king of BafutAbumbi I ( – 1932)
the ninth king of BafutAchirimbi II (1932 – 1968)
the tenth king of BafutAbumbi II (1968 – present)
the eleventh king of Bafut.
BAFUT TRADITIONAL DANCE
Traditional dance by women and men in the kingdom of Bafut. When the women are dancing they sing about their kingdom. The dance of the men is about something else; they wear animal masks which contain the different metamorphosis of the king. Usually they dance at funerals, festivals and homages.