By Joe Dinga Pefok
Cameroonian authorities have been silent on the fact that a number of prominent Fons (traditional authorities) of the restive Northwest Region, where the authorities claim things are under control, did not travel to Yaounde either for the consultation meetings with the Prime Minister or for the national dialogue proper, that ran from September 30 to October 4, supposedly focused on the Anglophone Crisis.
Three of the five First Class Fons of the Northwest Region; Fon Angwafor of Mankon, Fon Abumbi of Bafut, and the Paramount Fon of Kom, neither took part in the consultation meetings nor in the dialogue proper. Significantly, Fon Angwafor of Mankon is as well the 1st Vice National President of the ruling CPDM, while Fon Abumbi of Bafut is a member of the Central Committee of the CPDM as well as the a former National President of the Northwest Fons Union, NOWEFU.
Another major absence was that of Fon Francis Aneng of Bafmeng in Menchum Division, who is one of the only two member s of the Political Bureau of the CPDM from the Northwest Region. He was also the last National President of a united NOWEFU.
When the Anglophone Crisis started escalating three years ago, quite a number of Fons in the Northwest Region abandoned their villages and ran to Yaounde, and a few to Douala, on the pretext that their lives were seriously under threat by Separatist fighters commonly known as ‘Amba Boys’. However, the only 1st Class Fon in the Northwest Region who abandoned his village and ran to Yaounde was Fon Dr. Ganyonga of Bali Nyonga, who is, as well, a member of the Central Committee of the CPDM as well as a Senator appointed by President Biya .
The Fon of Nso, Sehm Mbinglo II, a former National President of a united NOWEFU, who is one of the two 1st Class Fons of the Northwest Region, that is currently living out of the region, did not run away from the Nso land. He defied all the odds allegedly mounted by a cousin of his who was one of the first people to join ‘Amba Boys’ in Nso, to settle scores with the Fon. Two of the Fon’s sons were brutally killed following a false accusation that the Fon sacrificed a young and an unnamed virgin to use witchcraft against ‘Amba’. Seemingly, following the trauma and other effects of the incident on the Fon’s health, he was taken away from Nso, for medical attention.
National Dialogue Attended Only ‘IDP-Fons’
When President Biya announced, on September 10, the holding of the national dialogue, the Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, who he designated as National Coordinator, started holding consultations at his office in Yoaunde. The delegation of Northwest Fons failed to show up for quite some time. There were two main reasons: first was that, unlike the Southwest Chiefs Conference, the Northwest Fons Union has, in the last few years, been in factions, and none of the factions is active. So, the Northwest Fons currently have no legitimate leader under the canopy of NOWEFU that can talk on be half of all of them.
However,The Post learnt that one of the former National Presidents of a united NOWEFU, Fon Chafah XI of Bangolan, who is based in Yaounde, and who is also a Northwest Senator appointed by President Biya, took the initiative to form a delegation of Northwest Fons to meet the Prime Minister. He contacted some Fons who are in the Northwest Region, like Fon Aneng of Bafmeng, and tried to convince them to come down to Yoaunde to join those of them who are now referred to as ‘IDP Fons’ in Yaounde. But none of Fons, living in the Northwest Region, accepted to travel to Yaounde for the event which ‘Amba Boys’ consider as a CPDM affair. It was clear to all the Fons that, if they made the ‘mistake’ to leave their palaces and travelled to Yaounde, they would not be able to return to their palaces. So, all the Fons in the Northwest who were contacted by Fon Chafah, refused to travel to Yaounde. Not even the plea of the Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, who hails from the Northwest Region, could change anything.
At the end of the day, Fon Chafah was forced to constitute a delegation comprised solely of ‘IDP-Fons’, to meet the Prime Minister. Of course, there were questions as to the legitimacy of the delegation of ‘IDP –Fons’ that met the Prime Minister on Thursday, September 26, in the name of Northwest Fons and people, considering that these are Fons that had long abandoned their palaces.
However, one of the two 1st Class ‘IDP-Fons’, Sehm Mbinglo II of Nso, was not in the delegation that met the Prime Minister. He reportedly refused for unknown reasons, to be part of that delegation. Nevertheless, he attended both the opening and closing ceremonies of the national dialogue. All the Northwest Fons who attended the national dialogue were all ‘IDP-Fons’.
Traditional Rulers In Partisan Politics
A majority of Fons in the Northwest Region, including the three First Class Fons, have, despite the odds including threats, courageous stayed back in their Fondoms, during these three-year long Anglophone Crisis. So far, a few Fons have been kidnapped by armed men, who later released them after the payment of ransoms. Fortunately, no Fon has been killed, so far, in connection to the Anglophone Crisis.
The main bone of contention that traditional rulers, in general, in the Northwest Region, had with a majority of their subjects or the population, for many years before the eruption of the Anglophone Crisis, was their involvement in partisan politics. Almost all Northwest Fons had, under the manipulation of their CPDM elite, or for their selfish interest, become members of the ruling CPDM, whereas the demand of the population was that traditional authorities who are supposed to be fathers of all their subjects, should not be involved in partisan politics.
When the Anglophone Crisis erupted, the demand by the population of the different Fondoms that their Fons should leave the CPDM became stronger. Some of the Fons rather decided to run away from their villages to Yaounde and Douala, instead of dialoguing with their people.