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NOWEFU, Not A Private Property 

By Lawrence Kihkishiy, Yaounde

For the past two years, the press, particularly in Bamenda, has been hammering on the Northwest Fons’ Union and the peak of it was Sunday, December 20, 2009 when the CRTV radio programme, Cameroon Calling, dished out a good chunk of it to its listeners.

I listened to two elders, parents of children, big children I must say, husbands of quality wives, colleagues of responsible men and women, friends of men of goodwill; I heard them spilling unnecessary emotions that could tear the airwaves. There was everything but calm and respect. The programme focused on the need for reconciliation between Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle and the former President of NOWEFU, Fon Chafah XI of Bangolan. Then we heard about forgiveness and reconciliation, for the good of the Northwest Region.

This overdose of this issue dished out to the public only shows how the media has reduced the Northwest to two individuals. It gives the impression that they have a problem as individuals when in reality there is none. These are two people who were involved in the management of an institution, and they are still members of the institution, even if titles are causing small debates.

We should talk NOWEFU and not petty quarrels or insults, with some people taking delight in calling Fons by their names. The problem should be, and Ntumfor said it in his interview on Cameroon Calling, the lack of verified information, and he said he has played his part and that the sons and daughters of that Region should now take their responsibilities. Then suddenly some people find time to play the mediation for reconciliation. I agree that reconciliation is a quality tool for modern living.

Countries like the Republic of South Africa have examples for the world. NOWEFU is not the property of Fon Chafah and Ntumfor. It is a public organisation that has a constitution and an executive team, ranging from President, through Secretary General to Treasurer. Some Fons do not even know Ntumfor, and some younger ones are succeeding their fathers, and they have never met with Fon Chafah. How do we get forgiveness and reconciliation when the outgoing Secretary General of NOWEFU does not hand any report to the new team?

There can be no place for mediation when an account cannot be given to the people who donated money for the construction of a house. I do not see how it becomes an issue of Ntumfor and Fon Chafah when some of the money that was wasted by the Olanguena team in the Ministry of Public Health, of which FCFA 40 million was signed out by Fon Chafah cannot be accounted for, not necessarily by the Fon himself. If Ntumfor put in money for the setting up of NOWEFU as reports say, then it is only normal for him to ask for feedback, and even publicly talk about the money he spent.

We of the media forget that there is a Governor, Divisional Officers, MPs and other Mayors who are supposed to lead development in the Region. It is there that when the rains come, people in Kumbo stop going to Bamenda because the marshy road in the Babungo area becomes flooded. It is there that electricity can go off and it will be normal that it is reinstated in three days, for lucky areas anyway. The budget has just been voted, yet the Northwest organises the highest number of fundraising events to build schools and roads.

Yet some money is lying somewhere for those development projects. Ntumfor and Fon Chafah have no role here; instead they are victims of the underdevelopment, for we know how Ntumfor had to go the extra mile to get electricity to the people of his own village. NOWEFU is important, but we should go out for the team that managed the Union, not making as if when Fon Chafah and Ntumfor would have started exchanging best wishes or paying visits to each other, we would have succeeded. Far from it.

Under normal circumstances the Governor and members of the civil society should set up a team to investigate and produce a report. Why are we sitting as if that Region is void of authority, void of men of integrity? In the beginning we said that the projects of NOWEFU would be a pride for the Northwest. That was when the harvest was still going on. Now the pride is being reduced to two people; wrong.

When the news broke that the Fons were to form an association, I told myself that some politician was simply preparing their political capital. At one point a delegation of Fons went to the Presidency and nothing has been known so far about that visit. It comforted my fear. The division that came in at the inception is another issue.

Each Fon runs their Fondom with their traditions that are not shared by the other Fondoms. If it is to promote culture, the Fons have enough qualified messengers to send for such arrangements. Nothing really serious warrants such a union. The differences in the level of education, population and wealth only worsen the mix-up.

If the Fons must meet to make an opinion on national issues, then they should request that the House of Chiefs be reinstated, so that each Fon sets up their team and contribute to debates following the norms. While there, they can clearly explain the meaning of auxiliary to the government, for some have taken it to mean that if the government errs, they should sing praises.

They would then request a more serious support from the government, with a backing from the National Assembly that votes their budget. What we see today should simply be scrapped and let the civil society take up its responsibility and let the various subjects of the Fons come up with good initiatives to protect and support their traditional institutions. For with the trend around, we risk tapping our Fons on the back one of these days.

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