By Fai Cassian Ndi
|The making of the Queen mother|
There was fanfare in Babungo Fondom today March 14, 2015 as thousands gathered at the palace esplanade to witness the coronation of the Queen Mother, Nchio Mayani. Excitement escalidated when the supreme regulatory fraternity-Kwifon or Ngumba summoned all the queen mothers to line up facing the sacred forest for the unexpected. It was at this point that one of the queen mothers from among the queens was chosen. She was placed on a stool and robbed with cam wood. A red feather and a porcupine quill was placed on her head and a special walking stick handed to her. While members of the secret society were performing the coronation, the other queen mothers chanted in approval of the decision. Two other queen mothers and two princesses are also chosen carryout errands for the Nchio and rob her with cam wood for some days.
The colourful coronation rite which was performed by the Babungo “Ngumba” (supreme regulatory fraternity) was a mark of honour and recognition to the most loyal, faithful and dutiful wife of the fon. Nchio in the Babungo dialect we were told means Fon’s Mother who has been enthroned by the Kwifon or Ngumba and who deserves the same respect like the fon. Traditionally, when the fon is enthroned, the mother of the fon must one day be enthroned as queen mother. This was exactly what transpired today at the Babungo Palace. In the Babungo traditional setup, the queen mother is automatically the administrator of the Royal family and she wields the same powers like the fon. She is equally the adviser of the fon and is responsible to settle minor cases between the queens, princes and princesses. The queen mother also has a front role to play during the marriage of princesses. In the absence of the fon, she is authorized to receive royal gifts and keep them for the fon.
|Queen being enthroned|
As earlier hinted, the queen mother is honoured by both men and women. She is never shake hands with commoners and doesn’t share seats with them as well. She is also entitled to a special staff and drinking calabash.
History holds it that the most recent queen mothers in Babungo palace are the mother of Fon Sake II who was known as Nchio Minkee, the Mother of Fon Zofoa II-Nchio Mafuan and the newly enthroned the mother of Fon Ndofoa Zofoa who is now known as Nah Mayani.
Zofoa Dorothy (from Nigeria)
I was very impressed and in fact I am very satisfied with the way things unfolded here today. The massive turnout of youths is a clear testimony that the future is assured. I am also happy that our culture and tradition has remained intact and I have observed that foreigners as well as tourists are becoming more interested in what is happening here. I think the future is bright for Nikai and our tradition.
Deaconess Susan Okolo (Nigerian)
|Zofoa Dorothy and Susan Okolo|
It was thrilling. In fact I personally enjoyed the way the kids danced and how they were doing it. The masquerade display was fantastic. In my country we have similar feasts but there is just a light difference. When I was told of the Ngumba I thought it is the one that women do not see, but my fears were washed when I was told that it is for the public. It was fantastic and I will have a lot to tell my family and friends in Nigeria when I return.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)