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Governor Overrules Dissenters as Donga-Mantung Belligerents Settle for Peace  — The Fons and notables of Njirong and Ntumbaw have agreed to bury the hatchet and walk the path of peace and reconciliation after 40-years of animosity over a land dispute

Fon Kennedy Nganjo of Njirong

With a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other, the SDO of Donga-Mantung, Theophile Nzekie, delicately brought belligerent parties in a 40-year-old land dispute, Njirong and Ntumbaw villages, to agree to a future of harmonious cohabitation. But the hard won peace was put in jeopardy after some external elites of Ntumbaw later disavowed the agreement, reached in October this year, in a petition dispatched to Northwest Region Governor Adolphe Lele L’Afrique.

Lele L’Afrique, however, flatly rejected the petition recently on the grounds that it was filed beyond the statutory deadline. Both the petition and the recent peace deal negotiated by the SDO of Dongo-Mantung were motivated by the 2004 verdict of the Land Commission, and Lele L’Afrique deemed that a challenge to that decision eight years later was legally untenable. The governor also noted that the Land Commission based its verdict, which recognized that the disputed land belonged to Njirong, on facts, and no amount of petitions would change that decision. It is not yet clear whether the petitioners have given up the fight and embraced reconciliation or are seeking other avenues to challenge the 2004 verdict of the Land Commission.

Donga Mantung SDO Theophile Nzekie convened a reconciliation meeting in October 2012 at Mbawrong, a locality in the area, after tensions flared once again between the two belligerent communities that paradoxically have been united over the centuries by a web of inter-village marriages and cooperation on social issues.
In the reconciliation meeting, Nkekie warned that he was ready to use the big stick of the law if the parties did not agree to give peace a chance. The SDO used colonial era maps and other administrative documents to demonstrate to the quarrelling parties that the decision of the Land Commission was fair and objective.

During the very tense meeting, attended only by the Fons of Njirong and Ntumbaw, their notables and village development association chairpersons, both parties made claims to the disputed parcel of land, which has been used over the years for agricultural purposes. The SDO, however, used documentary evidence to prove that the land in fact belonged to Njirong village, as determined by the 2004 verdict of the Land Commission.

Nzekie then asked the representatives of Ntumbaw whether they wanted him to strictly apply the law by implementing the verdict of the Land Commission or preferred the option of dialogue. They opted for reconciliation. Following the peace agreement, the SDO warned that the authorities will not tolerate troublemakers who are intent on scuttling the peace.

While many residents and elites of both Njirong and Ntumbaw are optimistic that the dispute has been laid to rest, the recent petition by external Ntumbaw elites is a reminder that the peace is still fragile and may need vigilance and leadership to hold.

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