A Presentation by Dr. Nick Ngwanyam
On the Occasion of the review of the book The Modern Kom Society, by Joseph Nsom; on 1st July 2017, at the Blue Pearl Hotel Bamenda.
It is my pleasure to be here with you and to talk about this book: The Modern Kom Society- Culture, Customs and Traditions, by Bobe Joseph Nsom.
I was given a specific task at this book launch. I was asked specifically to come up with an idea or project that can promote the Kom society in one way or the other after reading the book.
I felt uncomfortable because book reviews follow certain rules, logic and style that I am not conversant with. However, in view of my specific objective which seeks to bring out lessons that can be useful for your development, I am very much at ease with this approach.
I am intimidated by the number of Professors from the Kom land and I asked a couple of questions to understand why me? I did realize after reading through the book that it was necessary for me to bell this cat because I am an outsider and would tend to look at the Kom tradition objectively with no bias nor hidden agendas.
It is very difficult to write a book and edit it yourself and hope to be perfect. We all have blind spots and you need a total stranger to pick the issues for you over which you will gloss for years on end without being concrete. So an outsider needs to gloss over the Kom tradition and culture to see the hidden areas of conflict and interest.
On a general note, I will like to congratulate Bobe Nsom Joseph for writing this particular book. It is always a challenge to write. It costs money and it is also more challenging when you deal with a community of people (Cameroonians) who do not like to read except for examination purposes. One expression from the book which needs to be elucidated or put in inverted commas is ‘sipping mimbo’. That phrase would not make sense to many people beyond our context and it has not been explained. So much for the distractions.
‘A nous mouttons’ as they would say in French. Or put different, let us go to our business of the day.
1) What are those things that are found in the Kom culture that can bring development (promote) or impede same?
2) What is development? Who is responsible for development? Who can contribute to it positively? Are some people excluded? What are the factors that allow for proper development of an individual, a people, community and nation? Are the Kom people through their culture aware of these issues?
To develop (promote), is to get better and to improve on many fronts. These are personal growth which starts with the growth of the mind through formal and informal education and training. It is linked to ones’ ability to think critically through complex situations; with an open mind which allows one to see both sides of every coin while making informed choices, providing simple workable solutions to the complex issues, effectively and efficiently for the benefit of common good.
The mind must be teachable, flexible, accommodating and can think out of the box. Be ready to change your perspective and also listen to others because no one knows it all. The person must be able to give and take, be proactive and should take risks. Be responsible for the outcomes of your decisions and actions. The person must be ready to invest (mind, spirit, souls, material, education, friendships, networking, forgiving etc).
Development is a product of the mindset/habits/culture/tradition which themselves, depend on education and training. If the mindset is static, development is stifled. If the mind is dynamic and positively, then the individual grows, there is economic growth, there are infrastructural changes and many other things we call development. There is peace and satisfaction.
So what is the mindset of the Kom man?
What drives him? What motivates him? What does he look forward to achieving? What makes him feel like a man? What gets him out of bed early in the morning? What would give him sleepless nights? What is the crown he seeks to achieve?
Generally, the human being no matter his color is motivated by needs. Maslow has classified them into what is well known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Kom people and Cameroonians as a whole need to understand this pyramid otherwise they would spend their lives running in circles and would get nothing out of life.
What are the challenges faced by a Kom man? Which are the common pressures he has to live through daily? He has his culture/ tradition, his understanding of the concept of God and the spirit world in general, his level of education, his exposure to the outside world, his economic strength, his profession and his marriage.
All these issues are very complex and when problems arise, culture alone is not enough to help the troubled mind. Your culture was put in place when you settled at Liakom and defined some ground rules. It was considered a big self-sufficient kingdom with is government and laws. That became part of the wider Cameroon embracing new religions, education and supreme laws so nothing could stay fixed.
Kom people must bend reasonably with the tide and fit into a bigger picture that respect the laws of nature.
What was very important then does not have the same weight today. If you killed a lion with a spear it was worth something. If you killed a lion today in Kom with a double barrel gun, it does not have the same weight. If you do not understand that, then there would be no development as such in Kom.
This is the foundation of the truth. The value systems have to give because nothing is static.
According to Maslow, there are five basic levels of human needs. There is a sixth which is abstract yet very important. All human beings grow vertically through this pyramid and get stuck where they chose to. The basic level for all human needs is physiological (food, water, air, excretion, sex, sleep). The second is security and safety (jobs, housing, economics, the absence of violence of all sorts). The third is the need for love and association with other human beings because we are social beings (agape, filial and Eros love).
The fourth is EGO. I am; self-pride, me, I and myself, it is about me, what is in there for me, do you know who I am?
The fifth is Self Actualization. Prof Nkwi had a dream to be a Professor. Prof Akenji had a dream to become a Vice Chancellor. They have attained the high goals they set for themselves. They have reached the summit. The motivation and the drive have taken them to level five.
Level six comes to people who are motivated differently. They are not contented with personal gains and titles nor the worship and praise from other mortals.
They ask the question; I wanted to be the Vice Chancellor, now that I am the Vice Chancellor, so what? AND SO WHAT; IS THE QUESTION EVERY KOM MAN AND WOMAN SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES.
This question is very revealing to a searching soul and brings one face to face with the emptiness of our being if we are spiritually mature. How many Kom people have reached this level?
Every human being who seeks to understand development and wants to bring development while desiring to be a good manager and leader must grow and reach the 6th level. This is the transcendental phase where you are led by the spirit.
It is a spiritual phase at which we go beyond self-interest and greed. We look beyond ourselves and our immediate families to the general society at large.
We seek to work for the common good and we take the focus off our being and place it on others. The only reward we seek is the true happiness of having been useful to others in truth.
This is the only place that true happiness, giving, sacrifice, agape and development reside. Our time, efforts and resources are poured out to this cause. How many Kom people have reached this level? Are you part of them?
Where is the Kom man in this narrative?
After reading through the book, I realized that the Kom man is driven by ego. He wants the title of Bobe in all its forms and shades and thinks it is the ultimate.
That is the first problem amongst the Kom people that will limit your development or retard it. You must go beyond titles; reward those things that contribute to the growth of common good. Titles by themselves do not amount to very much.
Secondly, you cannot contribute much to common good nor can you help your selves if your pockets are empty. Your good intentions are not good enough. Wishes cannot become horses. You need money and logistics. ‘Affaire Nkap, affaire tres seriuex’.
The Kom man must learn how to make money.
Development is about sound economics. On this note I would say all Anglophones must learn the art of making money genuinely by creating businesses and cottage factories to produce goods and services. These tend to add value to systems for which we are paid. Learn to solve community problems for which you are paid.
We can learn from the Ibos and the Bamilekes. We have to fight the civil service and white collar job mentality, otherwise development would not come. Learn to create your own businesses and learn to work with each other in teams. Make agriculture a business.
A third and most disturbing area of conflict is the issue of inheritance in the Kom land. I understand many are for the matrilineal inheritance while less than 20 percent are for patrilineal inheritance. This will be a perpetual source of conflict but given time and other social pressures the patrilineal inheritance will take over especially if you intermarry with other tribes who think differently.
As the off springs become more educated and build their homes and businesses out of the village, the matrilineal inheritance will become symbolic gestures of simple houses built in the village to serve that purpose. The real economic platforms of the families will be passed on through patrilineal inheritance especially when these children are educated and can create businesses of their own.
In concluding, please, let us look at the title of the book again; The Modern Kom Society. It tells us there was an ancient Kom society that is gone and there is a future Kom society on the way.
I will like us to understand what growth, development or success should mean to us as adults. An Adult should be one who is between 25 and 30 years, is living a purposeful life, is productive, disciplined with creative, managerial and leadership skills. He/she leaves in the fear of the Lord. Success before 25 means making it at school and going on target. When we start to accumulate wealth, talent, political positions, cars, businesses and estates, we think these are indicators of success.
True success ( development) is when we use what God has given us in every shade and colour including our talents and disposition to help those that are lesser than us to rise through life and be better than what we are or would ever be. That is my assignment for Kom people and all Cameroonians.
My job today has been in view of making a better future Kom society which is only possible by changing intelligently and positively under the influence of time and the world around us. This will happen because you and I are ready and willing to change and go the extra mile before calling on others to change. Change starts with me. Do not look on to others; do not blame others, the government, the gods, the climate and the geographical location. It is about me. No excuses.
If I must leave you with one word today, that would be, change starts with me so I must be open minded and seek to change actively.
Remember the question you should always ask yourself.
I am so and so, AND SO WHAT?
Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, MD 677764674.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR KOM PEOPLE & ALL CAMEROONIANS TO READ AND GROW:
1. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
2. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective, People by Steven Covey.
3. Why ‘A’ Students Work for ‘C’ Students And ‘B’ Students Work for Government, by Robert Kiyosaki
4. The Power of Self Disciple; No Excuses, by Brian Tracy.
5. Developing the Leader Within You; Developing the Leaders Around You, by John C Maxwell.
DR NICK NGWANYAM, MD
CEO ST LOUIS GROUP
P.O. Box 661 BAMENDA
NORTH WEST REGION
REP OF CAMEROON
REP OF CAMEROON
TEL( CELL) +237- 677 764 674
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)