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Wokaka Villagers Challenge Njombe 

By Wilson Mengole*

Inhabitants of Wokaka Village in Buea, Fako Division, are at daggers drawn with their Chief, Johnson Njoke Njombe, whom they say “came to office through fraud and intrigues.” One Mathias Monika Ilome, whom the villagers consider as the right heir, states: “The first chief of Wokaka was Monika Eku, who gave birth to two females.

According to the Bakweri tradition, female children don’t inherit chieftaincy. Monika Eku, on his dying bed, appointed a quarter-head, Namme Mondoa, to rule his people as regent and prepare the young Mathias Monika until he grows up and inherits the throne.” The story goes that Mathias Monika was the first grandchild to Chief Eku, born of his daughter out of wedlock. According to the Bakweri tradition, a child born out of wedlock belongs to the grandfather. Thus, Mathias Monika is considered son of Chief Monika Eku.

Asked why he did not become chief as designated by his grandfather, Mathias Monika said: “We applied for land, since our population was growing and we lacked social amenities such as hospital, school and so on. When the land was about to be given, Chief David Molinge Ikome of Upper Muea told us that he was a native of Wokaka.

But we had never seen him participating in any village activity, such as community labour. He brought the present chief (Johnson Njoke Njombe) to challenge my chieftaincy, so that, when Njombe becomes chief, they would share the land and other proceeds. Where Chief Molinge’s palace is [for instance] belongs to Wokaka village,” said Monika.

He added that; “On June 13, 2000, Chief Molinge brought a former DO of Buea, Abubakar Njikam, for consultative talks, which lasted for [only] 10 minutes, proclaiming Njombe as chief.”
“Due to this un-gentlemanly behaviour,” Monika continued, “the villagers decided to petition the Paramount Chief of Buea, who later wrote to the SDO. The SDO ordered for fact-finding consultative talks and the then DO of Buea found that what Chief Molinge and DO Njikam did was wrong.       

“Fresh consultative talks held under SDO Robert Ngambi Dikoume on February 2, 2003, where I, Mathias Monika, was elected chief. The DO, John Diny Ngoe, then asked me to compile my documents for prefectural order, but, to my greatest dismay, I saw Njombe celebrating as chief,” said Monika, adding, “Since then, he has been on my neck and he is a thorn in the flesh of those who do not support him. Monika told The Post that Njombe accused (one) Hadisson and him of stealing his Toyota RAV-4 and a sum of FCFA 2 million.

“We were detained and, now, the case is in court and he has hired four lawyers against us,” said Monika. An indigent of Wokaka, Robert Mbella Embola, said Mathias Monika was born out of wedlock to Chief Eku’s first daughter and, that makes him Eku’s son and the right heir to the throne, according to the Bakweri tradition.      

Embola also mentioned Mondoa’s regency after which Monika was to become the chief. He also corroborated the story of the villagers applying for land to reallocate and get social amenities and other needs. Embola equally talks about how Njombe became chief, saying Njombe’s “… main interest is money, that is why he sold 10 hectares of village land to the Diocese of Buea; this made the natives angry, that is why we had to drag them to court.”      

Appealing to the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation “to act fast because the indigenes of Wokaka are law-abiding,” Embola said, “Ever since Njombe became chief, he has been harassing villagers, seizing people’s goats and saying he is a chief. Peter Ngembo is a victim of such malice.” The said Ngembo narrated same story how Monika was designated chief, adding how the DO and the Paramount Chief of Buea conducted consultative talks where nine kingmakers voted in favour of Mathias Monika.

“But Chief Molinge decided to install Njombe so that they would share the land we were given. Where Chief Molinge’s present Palace is belongs to Wokaka,” Ngembo said. Ngembo alleges that: “Njombe and his nine stooges assaulted me in my house, wounded me with a machete and he collected my lamp; I could not do anything because I was alone.

The following morning, I was hospitalised. I was advised to take him to court, but I don’t have money to hire lawyers since he says he has bought the Government.  “He has also brought in “mujili” (strangers) to fill the village and given them our ancestral land. He broke a widow’s house (Efeti Lyonga) during his coronation as chief and the woman is now living in Buea with relatives,” Ngembo intimated.     

Ngembo, however, said “after severe mistreatment from him and his boys, he wanted to build me a house which I refused. When I am going to the farm, I am afraid because I think I might be attacked by him.” He claims that Njombe set up his own traditional council excluding the indigenes of the village, to prove that they are not natives of Wokaka. “His father who was not a chief is building presently in Lysoka, rather than Wokaka,” Ngembo averred.

Contrary View 

Meantime, Ewule Linsinge, Chairman of Wokaka Village Development Committee, has a contrary view. He narrated the story of the first chief saying both Njombe and Monika came from the same family, which is a royal family.

“That is why the SDO gave him a prefectural order that qualified him as a chief,” said Linsinge. 
“Njombe is a God-sent chief to Wokaka because he has brought development and he rules his people well. They say he has been harassing people; I don’t know and I have never seen it. I think these are all allegations,’’ Linsinge said.  

Linsinge further explained that Njombe’s father was not a chief because he was a pastor and rather insisted that his son should be a chief. Asked about the alleged burning of the village community hall, Linsinge retorted: “Nobody was seen burning the hall; it happened mysteriously.” 

Linsinge, meanwhile, holds that Chief Njombe called on the members of the royal family to come and take their own portion of family land but they refused. Contacted for his side of the story, Chief Njombe, declined saying: “I have too much been on air.” Chief Molinge on the other hand, could not comment due to ill health.

*(ASMAC Journalism Student on Internship)

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