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Analysis: NOWEFU’s Appointment With Destiny 

By Peterkins Manyong

Last Sunday, November 29, something fascinating happened in Nsongwa Village in Mezam. The Fons of the Division, led by the Fon of Akum, met to take a position on the persistent crisis in the Northwest Fons’ Union, which is stalling the development of the Northwest. A crisis most manifest during PM Yang’s recent Northwest visit. (Recall the drama involving the three fake Ntumfors)

The high point of the Nsongwa meeting was the lament of the very outspoken Simon Nkwenti who blamed the Fons for what he termed their retrogressive attitudes. Why, Nkwenti reportedly asked, should Fons give somebody a title and turn around to ridicule him? He cited the case of Barrister Nico Halle who was given the Ntumfor title over ten years ago by the over 350 Northwest Fons. Then, out of a sudden, three unknown Ntumfors were paraded before the very Northwest population. Why were these same persons not also given those titles in public and presented to the public as was the case with Nico Halle?

This conduct, Nkwenti said, dampens the spirit of hard work among the elite. Nkwenti’s intervention pricked the consciences of the Fons, many of whom confessed that they were not aware, let alone be part of the mafia reportedly conceived by Fon Francis Aneng of Bafmen and executed by his lieutenant, Fon Thomas McAkam, NOWEFU’s Secretary General. The Fons promised to discuss the issue and take a position.

The meeting held against a backdrop of preparations to celebrate the "disappearance" of Fon Yakumtaw of Bambalang, a founding father of NOWEFU, from December 9-18. (He headed the Steering Committee of the Northwest Fons Association, NOWEFA which gave birth to NOWEFU).

There are three occasions in traditional African society which bring people together: birth, marriage and death. Unity among Northwest Fons is, therefore, imperative at the funeral of a man who had done so much for NOWEFU. But what do we see? NOWEFU whose main objective is to promote harmony is preparing to attend the Bambalang "cry die" and perform funeral rites in dispersed ranks.

Those who think such rites are a mere formality deserve to be told in blunt terms that they are sadly mistaken. This necessitates a brief sojourn into the metaphysical-what the westernized mind terms the realm of "fantasy and the supernatural". Every human being has a body and a spirit. The spirit of the dead person wanders about until the body is given a befitting burial. After that it leaves for the spirit world; call it heaven, hell, limbo or purgatory. Before doing so, the spirit is duty bound to be present during funeral rites performed over its former body.

This analyst had the opportunity of confirming this, thanks to a "witchdoctor" in Wum. (The compound word "witchdoctor" is an anomaly. Somebody is either a witch or wizard who kills, or a doctor who cures). The metaphysical expert, after failing to convince your analyst that the spirit of the dead man was present, said he could prove it. He dipped his hand into his bag, which contained some powder, and rubbed the substance on the face of your doubting Thomas. "Look at the coffin; but be careful not to look at him directly in the face. Believe it or not, the dead person’s spirit was seated on the coffin looking at the mourners in the hall.

Stories about dead people appearing in visions and even physically are not all the fabrications of demented minds as most psychiatrists claim. Those who disobey the wishes of dead relatives sometimes pay the supreme price. It happened in Baba I when a popular teacher died. He had instructed that his 15-round ammunition revolver should not be used during his funeral. His elder brother disobeyed the order. The weapon exploded and wounded 18 people. Stories also abound of corpses refusing to be transported or buried away from the place which the man prescribed while alive.

A ghastly motor accident which caused the death of more than half a dozen people on Sabga Hill some years back, reportedly stemmed from the violation of the dead man’s will. Persons pronounced clinically dead have come back to life and testified that they met their late parents and relatives. Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, did not recognize any world apart from the present one. He had to die nine times to confirm that he was mistaken. His wife got tired of announcing his death until he was finally buried.

The above account was not intended to bamboozle the reader, but simply to explain that funerals are not wasted ventures. The tradition of turning mirrors to face the wall when a corpse is lying in state is performed even by those who reject stories from mortuary attendants pertaining to "talkative cadavers" who are often ordered to keep quiet when they become unbearably cantankerous.

The belief in the insensitivity of all dead bodies was shattered in the case of a magistrate whose bloated corpse would not enter its coffin until it was well scolded and threatened with abandonment at the Bamenda Hospital Mortuary. The corpse immediately "behaved itself". The magistrate was presumed to have committed suicide. The gravity or consequence of defiling a corpse is best known by practitioners of Necrophilia (sexual relationship with dead bodies).

The very noticeable gap often perceived among those who dance in circles during funerals is believed to be unconsciously created for the dead person who is quite often also a dancer.
Fons who will be in Mbaw Yakum (Bambalang) from December 9-18, should therefore, know that Fon Fosi Yakumtaw will keep them company and that his spirit will not be happy with those fomenting trouble in NOWEFU. It is therefore imperative that they mend their ways before attending to "what could happen to them there if they don’t, can best be explained by the anthropologist.

NOWEFU’s leadership missed a golden opportunity to sink differences by boycotting the funeral of Ntumfor’s mother. The Bambalang "cry die" may be their last chance. They should not say they were never warned.

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