By Fai Cassian Ndi
There was joy and overwhelming jubilation at the Luh Palace Courtyard in Donga Mantung Division of North West Region of Cameroon as thousands gathered to welcome the newly seated fon of Luh village. The euphoria that greeted the public presentation of the newly seated Fon Ivo Wepke III could be likened only to the swearing-in of a head of state given that it takes several years for villagers to witness such an episode that comes once in a lifetime.
March 30, 2014 entered into the annals of the (Wi)mbum people as the day that history repeated itself in Luh village “particularly as the fon is back in the palace” in the local parlance they say. The euphoria was fabulously prescribed in the brightness of the sky which also demonstrated that the gods of Wimbum land were elated; the ancestors too as well as the living forces that had waited for this day for the past two years ever since Late Fon Kilese disappeared.
The over 15.000 people that stormed the Luh palace courtyard since morning had been expressing their emotions through singing, dancing, gun firing and masquerade displays while waiting for the opportune moment that God has chosen. The palace courtyard was in a beehive mode from the early hours of the morning up to 3:15 pm, when the (kwifon) emitted warning signals that something serious was about to take place. The courtyard was cleared and the drums that were echoing into the wilderness seized suddenly, there was total silence when a long line of empty body-members of the “kwifon” emerged from the left side of the entrance. Movements were restricted, talking and whispering too except for the leader of the “kwifon” who had the crushing authority to pass the message to the people, the gunshots that accompanied every step of the fon and little bird that sang a positive note from the nearby kola nut tree. It was a moment of solemnity, a unique moment whereby the supreme authority of the village spoke it intelligence and at the same time looked into the future of all the villages in Mbumland. Not in a hurry anyway yet moving at a snail pace in a predefined majestic steps. The sound of the gong was immediately accompanied by few
The kwifon has also said that you will have good harvest this year and that the villages in Mbumland should flourish with twins, this is the message from the “kwifon”, the leader hammered into the ears of silent populace.
The “ye-nwarong” as the juju that accompanied the fon in his first public outing is commonly known in Mbumland took 1 hour 28 minutes to move round courtyard. Those who were late could be seen in a mad rush from far distances because no one wanted to miss a glimpse of the first public appearance of the fon and or magnificent cultural splendor. More so not only to be told to get the message from the kwifon. But as they approach the palace courtyard in that rush, no one asked them to stop yet they all got frozen, speechless and could only tip-toe to catch a glimpse of every little step. Directly behind the “ye-nwarong” as tradition demands was HRH Fon Ivo Wepke III, “the lion; the tiger” who since his enthronement some four weeks ago was catapulted to oversee the village. This is so because the fon incarnates the lion and tiger which symbolize power. As guardian of costumes and tradition, and the guarantor of development only the “kwifon” has the right to present him to the public. His public presentation doesn’t only symbolize power but above all the authority that comes with it reasons why when the newly seated fon was about to get back into the palace, a goat was slaughtered. It is at this stage that the powers of the ancestors have their words. Those who are specialized in reading traditional signs left Luh village with smiles on their faces because when HRH Fon Ivo Wepke stepped on the blood of the sacrificed goat the signs were very clearly portrayed that he is the true leader of Luh people, we were latter told. In fact the (Wi)mbum people have one unique tradition and its splendor is inhabited in the manner that it is, practiced, preserved, protected and inculcated.
Welcoming the newly seated fon of Luh village into their midst were the fons of Ntundip, Kocchi, Njap, Mbaah, Sob, Ngarum etc and at the VIP table were Hon. Awudu Mbaya- Questor at the National Assembly, Hon. Esther Ngala Ntala-MP for Nkambe Centre Constituency, Bunyui Jonathan-Mayor of Ndu, Martin Fon Yembe-1st Deputy mayor of Ndu, Hon. Talla Kwalar-Former MP and CPDM Section President, Shey Henry-SG Kumba City Council cum President General of Wimbum Cultural and Development Association, Rev. Pastor Paul Mbunwe-President of Luh Cultural and Development Association, Samson Wepsi-elite and MC of the occasion just to name these few. In fact, it was a moment of communion and a cultural fiesta that brought home all and sundry as well as every other person that matter. It was also a moment for youths to partake in promoting their culture and tradition as every woman, man; young, old, rich and poor had a place and something to offer to the palace. A unique moment that all the daughters of Luh village happily offered a chicken each to the palace and above all, an exclusive occasion that when Fon Ivo Wepke emerged from the palace inner court dressed in purely traditional outfit, the palace esplanade went into a fuss of mad joy. It took more that 41 minutes for the palace guards to restore order, stop the drumbeats and the xylophone for the second part of the programme which was reserve for speeches.
Fon Ivo Wepke III Speaks Out
In his keynote message to the Wimbum people and especially the people of Luh village, HRH Fon Ivo Wepke III prescribed love, togetherness and honesty. He said he is not only the fon of Luh village but fon of Wimbum people because he would spare no effort to make his own little contribution towards the emergence of villages in Mbumland as well as contribute to peace and stability for the welfare of all. He warned against gambling and the smoking of marijuana by youths adding that anyone who is involved in any of these activities should beware that he will not condole with. “I never knew that I had this great population behind me. You are the power that I need because where I am short of energy I will surely need that you all push be from behind to forge ahead with the development of our village”, he added. He called on the people of Luh to always pray for Hon. Awudu Mbaya given that he has proven that he is governed by the spirit of love and togetherness, “Let us pray that one day he is made minister in this country. I have been running up and down for the past years, and finally here am I, if I knew that that is how you all loved me, I won’t have”, he emphasized. He concluded by calling on the population to join hands with him so that they could take the bull by the horns as stated by the mayor of Ndu who in his speech exploded that the emergence of Ndu council area will begin from Luh village.
Enter LUCUDA President
In his speech, Rev. Pastor Paul Mbunwe, the President of Luh Cultural and Development Association-LUCUDA expressed gratitude to the administration and the living forces of the village as well as the entire people of Mbumland for their timely support. He described Fon Ivo Wepke III as a development luminary and a man who all his life has been working hard. “We thank God that he granted our prayers”, he continued. According to LUCUDA President God has given Luh village a man who will champion the development of the area.
Hon. Awudu, Hon. Esther Ngala Applaud Luh People
The Member of Parliament for Donga Mantung Centre appreciated the people of Luh for the sense of maturity in welcoming the new fon. He said the massive turnout was a true testimony of the attachment the people have in the respect of the Wimbum traditional setup. He said they (the MPs) had to abandon work at the national Assembly to drive home overnight to be part of the historic event given that it takes time for it to happen. “Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi came here and told us that the palace shouldn’t remain empty, and I am happy the people of Luh respected it”. According to Hon. Awudu, the enthronement of the seated fon of Luh remains and will remain the pride of the Wimbum people given that if one part of the body is sick, the entire system will not function properly. Implicitly, he was reminding the Wimbum people that if the Luh palace was empty, Wimbum people would not have been a happy people. “Your Highness, here are your people, here are the people we also represent in Parliament. In fact here we are: The hunters your people sent to parliament to vote good laws and lobby for development projects for the emergence of Donga Mantung Centre Constituency”. He called on the population to respect traditional institutions and to stand firm behind their ruler especially on the day he (the fon) will be presented to the administration.
On her part, Hon. Esther Ngala expressed joy and satisfaction to be part of a new way. She commended the efforts of the people for choosing the right man to lead them. “I have been told that your fon is a dynamo and a development oriented person, we are really grateful to have lived this lifetime event”.
On the other hand, the mayor of Ndu council, Bunyui Emmanuel said that the emergence of his municipality will start from Luh village. He used the occasion to announce to the people of Luh that this year, the Ndu council will organize a cultural festival whereby all the rich tradition and culture of the Wimbum people will be exhibited. He called on the new fon as well as the National President of LUCUDA to come closer to the council so that they could work as a team to achieve development.
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