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The Mboma Phenomenon And The 

By Ernest Sumelong — Many people might be surprised that a simple allegation of “a mboma (python) swallowing a girl in a hotel” got such a mammoth crowd (an estimated 10,000 people) streaming to the premises of the hotel in question, wanting for hours to confirm that the story is true.

They were, however, disappointed that they didn’t confirm what had only been a fairy tale in the town. Those who are unfamiliar with the University town of Buea will, definitely, be surprised at the excitement the people showed towards what has now been considered false alarm.

The coming of the University of Buea, UB, in 1993 also brought along a phenomenon called “mboma”. This sought to explain an occurrence where wealthy men, especially from Douala and Yaounde, arrived in town on weekends and preyed on girls. At the time, up to say 2005, certain popular hotels were known to have albums of university girls “available for service”.

Often tired of “worn out and expensive girls” in the bigger cities, the men of libidinal excesses, who were soon referred to as Mbomas, found a new outlet in Buea for fresh and less costly babes who were only too willing to provide sensual pleasure. Thus, on an average weekend, manslaughter of girls usually took place in hotels, with UB girls using what they have to get what they want.

Over time, it explained why, ordinary “innocent” girls from modest homes in rural poor settings soon transformed themselves into classy, highly fashionable babes ready to be taken. Some parents, who reportedly came visiting their daughters barely two months into the academic year, could hardly recognise them. Their little innocent daughters had transformed overnight, in both stature and comportment. Their cubicles had been transformed into warehouses for the latest technological gadgets and furniture.

The rooms of many of the girls were by far better compared to their family houses. Besides Limbe that is traditionally known as a tourist destination in the Southwest Region, Buea became another tourist hub as it provided the raw material for Mbomas to enjoy life in Limbe. With a population of over 17,000 students, majority of them girls who range between 18 and 30 years, the UB student community served as a fishing ground for babes.

The relationship between the Mbomas and the girls was and or is still mutually beneficial; the men get the fun and the girls get the money. There are countless hand outs to buy; rents for hostel rooms are exorbitant; the prices of food and other basic items only rise to the sky, while generalised hardship is the main characteristic of student life in Buea.

Nonetheless, the money from Mbomas often comes with an extra luggage. Stories abound on how men transformed into pythons in hotel rooms and swallowed girls whole; some said girls practically lost their wombs after a sexual encounter with some of the men who use juju and charms to increase their wealth. Yet other girls reportedly shared in the sorrow of men who were allegedly HIV carriers. Those who were (are) usually hard-hit by this phenomenon are the average University boys who, out of penury, usually lose their girlfriends and even fiancées to the rich men.

It explains why many boys we saw openly rejoicing on Saturday, in the heat of the hotel saga, insisting that the girls should be taught a lesson for going only after men with money.
The hard part, however, is that none of the stories has ever been substantiated with proof; for example a man caught in the act of swallowing a girl or transforming into a python.

To say that all the girls choose this path of ease and fashion, would be to put the matter simply and even denigrate the girls’ population of a much respected UB student community, many of who exhibit strong Anglophone values of decency and scholarship. Whether the Saturday story is a hoax or not is beside the point, but one thing is certain; that the story of Mbomas swallowing girls has long existed in the minds of people and all they need now is confirmation.

First published in The Post print edition no 01480

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