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.
Late dethroned Fon Vugah’s Wife:Beaten and forced to sit beside husband’s remains.
They set him on fire. The former Fon burnt to chars. This new development in the Kedjom-Keku royal scandal has sent shock waves rippling across Northwest Fondoms.
Fons Blame Administration
The Northwest Fons Union, NOWEFU, in a communiqué to Governor Koumpa Issa, have expressed indignation at the delay by the administration in resolving the matter between the late Fon Vugah and the Babanki people. This delay and snobbish attitude of the Mezam administration in particular, they say, led to the torture and beating to death of their colleague.
The communiqué, dated Saturday, January 21, done at Mbengwi and signed by Fons Chafah, Angwafor, Forbuzie and some other 20 Fons, reads: “Aware that as a union of the traditional rulers of this province, we had all along implored the administration to speedily investigate the illegal and abominable expulsion of the Fon and his family from his home, his palace and his village, thereby forcing him to misery… constantly and repeatedly we have been appealing to the administration to arrest, try and punish these people who committed this vandalistic acts to no avail”.
The Fons are requesting that for once the Kedjom-Keku people, literate or not, should be made to understand that Cameroon is a state of law and no community can be repugnant to traditional customs to deprive a traditional ruler of a home and above all of a God-given life and go unpunished.
They call on the administration to bring the murderers of Fon Vugah to book.
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.
The SDO for Mezam, the DO for Tubah and the State Counsel for Mezam arrived at the bridge at 1 pm. Too late. The irate mob was already digging a grave along the highway to receive the roasted corpse of Fon Vugah. With mounting tension, the administration and the forces of law and order barely succeeded in restraining the mob from interring the corpse.
The charred remains of Vugah were then conveyed to Bamenda Provincial Hospital mortuary. More than three-dozen people would be arrested in connection with the murder of Fon Vugah. Some 20 young men and women willingly walked up to the forces of law and order and surrendered themselves to be arrested.
Origin of Babanki Fondom Crisis
The late Vugah II inevitably had secured the wrath of his people apparently by destroying ancestral shrines, selling all the cultural artefacts, and seizing land from people’s wives and his brothers, and selling them off. When he unilaterally sold some fertile farmlands in 1991 to a certain Alhadji Yusufo Danpullo, against his late father Fon Vubansgi’s will, Babanki’s farmers attacked Danpullo’s cattle, which grazed on their land causing damage to crops. In retaliation, the graziers burnt 200 farmhouses and several barns of foodstuff. Several farmers were arrested, tortured and detained in Tubah and Bamenda Up-Station.
The matter later went to court and the verdict therefrom, favoured the Babanki farmers. The then Governor of the Northwest Province Bell Luc Rene, created a Land Consultative Commission that granted the farmers circa FCFA 50 million in 1994, which Danpullo was asked to pay and leave the farmlands. He together with other graziers reportedly snubbed the decision.
In June 2004, the entire farming population of Babanki and their Fon Vugah went to Bamenda to attend a court session that pitted two detained Babanki men; Messrs Moses Alukeh Awoh and Simon Matien, in connection with the farmer-grazier conflict. It is alleged that the Kwifon poured libation barring Fon Vugah and warning him against the dangers of returning to the village. He obeyed.
He is said to have tabled a resignation letter at the Mezam Administration, calling on the Kedjom-Keku people to enthrone a new Fon. In the said letter, which The Post procured a copy, he reportedly enumerated problems plaguing the village, especially farmer-grazier conflicts.
On June 5, 2004, he was dethroned and replaced by the current Fon H RH Benjamin Vubangsi, 42, who works with FAO in Yaounde. The occasion took place at the palace courtyard and was heavily boycotted by the Mezam administration that has refused till date, to recognise Benjamin Vubangsi as Fon of Babanki.
Late Fon Simon Vugah II, 56, inherited his father’s throne, late Fon Vubangsi, who died at the age of 90. The Kwifon society, which is the supreme authority of the village, dethroned Fon Simon Vugah II for failing to solve serious problems that are said to have plagued the Babanki people for over 20 years.
Bafanji-North West: Death Of Fon Ignites Ancient Tradition
Entire fondom rids head of hair as tradition demands
The passage of the Fon of Bafanji, HRH Fon Ngwefuni II, to the celestial world has ignited history’s most unorthodox practice in modern day. With the passage of this “light or fire” to eternity early March, the entire fondom, thus thrown into mourning, is subjected to living in darkness, and the lot of his plethora of wives, as well as the entire woman folk in the clan, go bare body effective from the day passage to the Great Beyond was made known.
So it happens that the people of Bafanji Village, in Balikumbat Sub-Division, had been in darkness ever since their light went out on March 13. Though, the darkness is evident in the village, kinsmen in Diaspora are not indifferent to the issue as each is alleged to show concern and respect to Bafanji’s history maker Fon Ngwefuni II who has led the people for the past five decades.
Against this backdrop kinsmen gathered on facebook to discuss possibility of new light to lead the people of ‘Lunglie Mangie.’ And from all indication this was but a daunting task.
According to Luke Nchichupa’s post, on Bafanji Community in facebook group, “The speed with which the sad news spread around reminds us of the great change every society is witnessing thanks to Information and Communication Technology. Change in the way information circulates is clear sign that change will one day come to the throne. Our cultures have not changed, our tradition still remains. But change will sweep across every society with time.”
He continues that people have been debating the nature of leadership for as long as records have been kept – certainly as far back as Homer and his peers. “The topic continues to fascinate and enthrall us today, but the way in which we assess leadership roles is changing. Bafanji is not left out, as new leadership has already emerged.”
As tradition demands, the entire Fondom shaves when the Fon disappears, irrespective of status
Thus the news of the process of installing the new Fon, picked from the numerous princes, is greeted with sighs of relief.
Bafanji elite in Cameroon last week thronged their village for the first part of traditional rites to that effect. Traditionally, every Bafanji son and daughter is said to have lost the father, and must mourn by shaving his/her hair.
It is the wish of Bafanji girls that the eradication of this show of shame that passes for tradition be among the first traditional rites to be addressed by 33 year-old HRH Fon Ngwefuni François who was presented to the entire village last Thursday March 24. It is important to note that he is presently a pupil Magistrate at the National Advanced School for Administration/Magistracy (ENAM).
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