Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Little Known Mbengbu Prides Self in Sustaining Her Culture & Dev't

Little Known Mbengbu Prides Self in Sustaining Her Culture & Dev't

Follow me as I take u to Mbengbu land where the locals have refused to put on hold their developmental strides and cultural identify on the rationale of the ongoing Anglophone Crisis recently worsened by the outbreak of COVID-19.
These are the people of Mbengbu/Upper Wumnebit
Mami Nung Deborah Demonstration How they Used to Catch Tadpoles and Fishes

Since 2016, most if not all village development associations in Meta, Mbengwi have stopped holding their usual annual general meetings on the basis that home is unsecured. Most leaders and key members of these associations live in urban towns and being soft targets for non state armed groups who often prey on such well to do elites for ransom, many now dread stepping foot back home. Even the Meta Cultural and Development Association (MECUDA) is on hibernation mode. 

These associations have home branches but unfortunately, most exist in oblivion. Villagers prefer gathering as Christians in churches, mourners at funerals or traders in the markets than seat down as seekers of development in their village. Whenever they rally in their palaces or community halls, it is often to benefit from the distribution of aide either sent by organisations or their external sons and daughters. A.G.Ms thus become a thing of those outside.
These are the Newly Bought Plastic Chairs that were being Celebrated
Pa Ticha Celestine, Demonstrating how he Blew this Whistle to Communicate with his Hunting Dogs 

This however hasn't been the case with the people of Mbengbu. Existing as an outskirt quarter under Njindom village in Lower Medig zone of the Meta clan in Mbengwi Central Subdivision, Mbengbu has Upper Wumnebit as lone and closest neighbour. Wumnebit is herseld an autonomous village but because of the closeness of some of  her people to Mbengbu, though under two separate chiefdoms with long constituted development associations, the duo in April 2016 decided to form a Mbengbu/Upper Wumnebit Development Association (MUWDA)

In the beginning, sons and daughters of these two areas used to return home from Bamenda, Kumba, Kribi, Douala etc for their A.G.M and to reunite with family. However, when the ongoing Anglophone Crisis escalated in 2018 into an armed conflict, they stopped coming. This didn't in any way deter those resident home from continuing to march on with the vision based on the foundation that had been laid. The membership attendance and financial contributions dropped drastically but the remaining villagers never put on hold their activities. As their hands had been put on the plough, they resolved never to look back, never to let the crisis or corona stop them from reaching their destination.
Meeting Session
Blowing Flutes

Their 2020 AGM was thus held on Easter Saturday after which they embarked on realising a plastic chairs acquisition project with their past little drops of financial contributions that were already making an ocean. Before, the association had acquired 19 plastic chairs and recently resolved to step up the number to 60. After successfully obtaining the new chairs, they held an exceptional meeting to celebrate. 

It was on Monday May 11th 2020 that the old mothers, fathers, children and few youths rallied to reap the fruits of their labour. They spoke only their vernacular, Meta, ate only traditional dishes like water fufu and erro, corn fufu and ndole, achu and yellow soup, porridge cocoyams and drank palm wine. In addition, they brought out traditional artifacts they used in the days of old for exhibition. 
Porridge Cocoyams/Plantains, Traditional Meal of the Meta People

Koki, Achu, Water Fufu and Corn Fufu Wrapped in Plantain Leaves

The management of Rainbow Radio, the lone community radio station in Mbengwi took advantage of the gathering to embark on an off air sensitisation of the population on COVID-19 preventive techniques through its Chief of Programs, Fongoh Primus Ayeh himself being a son of the area and president of the association. After the sensitisation, some fortunate persons that responded to quizzes on the pandemic were offered Rainbow Radio branded personal hand sanitisers while facemasks still from the management of the station were offered to all present. 

Amongst the exhibited artifacts of the Mbengbu/Upper Wumnebit people were traditional tree climbing ropes, flutes, fish catching nets, calabashes, wooden bowls, plates, baskets, walking sticks, drinking cups, horns and lots more. Some of the exhibitors took time to explain how some of the items were made and used, this to the great admiration of those who were seeing the items for their first time. 
Rainbow Radio Branded Personal Hand Sanitiser and Facemasks that were Distributed
Exhibited Wooden Bowls

Ndikara Lawrence is one of the villagers. As a youth, he was amazed with the items and said, "I'm very shocked because I never knew such things do exist. Based on what I've seen today, I'm keeping them in my mind to live to tell my grand children so that they too can tell others. Really, Mbengbu/Upper Wumnebit is the place to be" For the sake of posterity, he proposed that a museum be constructed in the area to preserve the items for the next generation. 

A majority of sons and daughters from this little known community labour in rubber and cocoa plantations in the South and South West regions of Cameroon. Just a handful live in urban settings and not up to four abroad. Mbengbu has so far produced a retired police officer, a Presbyterian Pastor and a journalist, this reporter. The older generation based on their mentality didn't value higher education probably as a result of poverty or mindset. As such, their girl children grew to get married while the boys could only do unskilled labour. 
Reporter & Grandpa in the  Raffia Bush Tapping Palm Wine for the Occasion
Exhibited Calabashes

Today, these unfortunate ones are correcting the mistake by sending their children to school. If not of the ongoing Anglophone crisis whose main inadmissible fallout has been the shutting down of schools thus living the children of Mbengbu/Upper Wumnebit stranded, they would've been advancing academically. 

Over 90% of the villagers are either the very old or too young. Upon attainment of a reasonable age, most youths here travel out for greener pastures, better life or quality education. The Njindom Cultural and Development Association (NJICUDA) had extended pipe born water to Mbengbu but differences in reasoning between the two fons (that of Njindom and Wumnebit) has all this while hampered the intended extension of the very pipe born water to Upper Wumnebit. While the duo seemingly clash on ownership of the people, the people themselves have resolved that development shall remain their binding force while each each person knows to which palace he/she pays allegiance.
Villagers Aware of COVID-19 Pandemic, Wash Hands for Prevention

Climbing Rope
Traditional Fruits

Pa Sobah Cornelius Demonstrating How He Used to Smoke His Long Pipe

1 comment:

  1. Mr Ayeh Fongoh,
    Congratulations for this incisive write up . I appreciate every word of the content . It is a vivid picture of the people and their history. You have told the story as it is . The area is just to familiar to me . I used to farm in that area with my late aunt from Njindom Palace. Your jourhenalistic prowess is demonstrated here . Keep it up . Let sentimental writers of Meta history come and learn from you.