Fundong: The Heartbeat Of Boyo Division
By Yerima Kini Nsom (Culled from The Post)
The capital of Boyo Division in the Northwest Region, Fundong, is situated some 70 kilometers from Bamenda. Fundong is also used as a generic reference to Fundong Sub Division or Fundong municipality which is a total of 52 villages. Fundong that is also called the Abassakom area, is the seat of the administrative and the kom traditional institutions.
Among other issues, Fundong stands out distinctively among the four Sub Divisions that make up Boyo Division. It is the fief of three capitals. Besides being the Divisional Capital and capital of Fundong Sub Division, Fundong plays host to the Kom traditional capital, Laikom.
As soon as you turn your back on Njinikom Municipality at the Koini Bridge, the Fundong hospitable breeze kisses you. As you meander in your journey to urban Fundong, your eyes feed on the green vegetation that covers the rolling hills and deep valleys that make up the attractive topography of the area. The farms are everywhere on steep hills. The ridges are a tell-tale that you are in the citadel of tapestry of over 60,000 struggling people who toil and moil and owe their living and existence to subsistence agriculture. Here, the challenge of the authorities has been to ensure a peaceful co-existence between farmers and grazers.
Cowards coming to Fundong for the first time are reported to die many times while waiting for their real deaths as they zig-zag through the hairpin bends on the Koini hill. Some drivers who drove to Fundong for the first time recently, said they used only the forceps of courage to manoeuvre through the snaky Koini road. After doing the rungs of the Koini hill, you settle on Boyui, the first village in the Sub Division that has honored the nation with one Senator, Barrister Honore Ngam.
Boyui, which has Yindo Kuh as its leader, is also in the books to have provided the nation with a Member of the National Assembly, Hon James Ntam, during the 8th legislature. Boyui that is predominantly catholic was the first village in Fundong Sub Division to have a priest, Rev. Father John Ngong Kubuo, of blessed memory who was ordained on April 26, 1981 in Buea. Boyui is also known for some of its prominent families. They are: the Mbungsons, the Ntams, the Ajuoh Ngams, the Maghas among others. In the days of yore, the current Principal of GSS Belo, Chia Oliver Ankiambom and his younger brother, Chia Eric Ntam, the environmentalist of blessed memory, epitomized the academia in Boyui village. They were venerated for drinking deep down the fountain of knowledge in the United Kingdom in the 8os. Generally, some two prominent families known as the Ntams called the shots in the educational domain. The late Bobe Simon Ntam who was an Inspector of Education and the late Bochong Jerome Chia Ntam was a Catholic school teacher. The late Bobe Lucas Fultang, who a court interpreter virtually conquered the Boyui as the king of grammar. He spoke English with a caressing accent that hearkened to all the diktats of phonetics.
Within a wink from Boyui, a semi-urban aroma welcomes you at Alim, which is pompously and metaphorically called Etoudi. Alim had a place in the geopolitical lexicon of this country for the first time when it offered one of its elite, Hon. Albert Ndim Waingeh, to serve the nation as Member of Parliament in the 80s and the early 90s. Alim is also the native village of three priests. They are Fathers Evaristus Akem, Joseph Kain Nchitu and Brother George Waingeh. In those old good days of Alim, the late Bobe Sayong Afkua, walked tall above his peers with gratitude to God for having given him a brilliant son that was studying overseas at the time. The son today, Prof. Joseph Ngwain Yong, is the Director of the Higher Technical Teacher Training College (ENSET) Bamenda. Alim, whose head is Yindo Nchituh is a shout away from some institutions in Fundong town. Of no insignificant status is Ameng village that is home to the multitalented Dr Louis Munteh, a university lecturer of international renown, medical practitioner and an examiner at the European Patent office. Given the hilly nature of Boyo Division, Fundong town is exceptionally considered a plain. It has relatively flat land which is what militated for the transfer of the Sub Divisional headquarters from Njinikom in 1973. Government Bilingual High School, Fundong, the prison, and other state offices, are constructed on good flat land.
As one moves on and passes the Post Office building, the ABADU hall is perched on the right hand side of the road. The edifice stands tall as a metaphor that speaks volumes about the self-reliant development of the people. Just opposite the gendarmerie brigade, the council building towers majestically as a piece of architectural marvel in its own right. The building is in consonance with the massive development mission of the Fundong Mayor, Denis Awoh Ndang. The CPDM Mayor who took over the council in 2013, seems to be a moving encyclopedia of how Fundong could be transformed into a veritable urban Eldorado. The mayor who is a civil engineer by training, told The Post that besides his professional knowledge, he has tapped so much from experts in different fields and even elite that he is bubbling with ideas and projects on how to fully develop his municipality.
Before the Anglophone crisis viciously cropped up as a damper, Mayor Ndang was in a process of dressing Fundong in full urban robes by way of road construction, provision of potable water and other development projects. The mayor has an ambitious plan to link the major villages to the divisional headquarters with good roads. This include the following villages: Akeh, Achain, Ajung, Mbenkas among others. Of the over 52 villages, only two of them are ruled by second class Chiefs. They are Fundong and Abuh. Fundong is under the traditional leadership of Bobe Ngo’o while Yindo Gham calls the shots as the village head of Abuh. The compound of the village head of Mbam stands out clearly because of its royal aura. Before usurpers maneuvered their way to that compound, it was an undisputed nursery of kom Fons. Small wonder that occupants are normally chosen by the Fon . The villages of Achain, Akeh and Ajung are headed by fons. Other villages that partly make up the Fundong municipality include, Ngwah, Aduk, Mboh, Ibolem, Luh, Yuwi, Fujua, Meli, Mentang, Ibaiso, Mbissi, Ngwainkuma, Muteff, Mbongkisu, Bainjong, Ikui-Ijua.
Laikom that is lodged in the bowels of hilly patches of forest, is a class of its own. It is the traditional capital of the Kom people who make up the majority of the natives of Fundong Sub Division and Boyo Division as a whole. It is also where the Kom people reportedly settled before spreading to the nine valleys of kom when demographic growth became an issue.
Fundong is also the hub for some tourist attractions. Besides the green rolling hills, cliffs and caves, there are the German Pyramids in Mentang village, some few Kilometers from Fundong urban. The Germans constructed the pyramids as a platform which was they used to watch distant places during the colonial administration of Cameroon. When one mounts the pyramids, he can see Bamenda and Wum effortlessly. German pyramids are also found at Ijim, an area that is noted for its prominent mountain forest. There is also the Kom-Wum forest reserve that is abode to rare species of chimpanzees and other apes. 80 percent of that forest belongs to the Fundong municipality. Do not also miss out on a very big cave situated between Laikom and Abuh. The cave used to attract a lot of bat-hunting as people searched for protein.
Fundong central is a small town, nestled in the western highlands of Cameroon. It is endowed with a vast expanse of picturesque views and landscape. According to one of its elite, Senator Honore Ngam, the people of Fundong municipality are industrious, resilient and imbued with a never-say-die spirit. To him, the people, have managed to transform the hilly location that their ancestors settled in, into a space of great economic potential. Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s it was, together with Banso, the biggest production basin for Arabica coffee in Cameroon. Today, Fundong remains a major production centre for Arabica coffee and other crops. The Fundong people are politically dynamic as power at the local level has been alternating between the SDF and the CPDM parties, the Senator remarks.
Fundong is in past glories for also being the headquarters of the former Fundong Sub Division that was part of Menchum Division. In those days, life was sweet and delicious. All roads in kom led to Fundong for national celebrations. Preparing to attend May 20 celebrations in Fundong was a whole project for many young people. There used to be beauty contests like “Miss Menchum”. Any young girl who won the contest was the envy of her peers. Then, talk would be rife that the laureate would have the privilege of warming the Do’s bed. At one time, when one beautiful lady from Fujua won the contest, onlookers sustained tongue-to-ear gossips that the then DO, Rudolf Douala Itoe, was itchy for an eventual romantic onslaught with the new miss. Urban life in those days was equally marked by the “oldest profession”. Casanovas went to a surreptitious brothel behind Bobe Sanga Ndumndain's and Bobe Misa Yongnain’s bars to quench their libidos in all tranquility for a small fee that ranged between fcfa 200 to FCFA 500. In the recent past, there was also a popular joint called "Libande" somewhere behind the Fundong grandstand where people with a few coins to spend usually gathered to make merry; not leaving the famous "Ndo Coffee" which was later transformed into a Guinness depot. There were names that moved and shook the town in various domains. They were stars in their own right. They were Joe Karate, Bread Maker, Emarks photos, Mama Matina, Kende among others.
Fundong gained prominence as a seat of the Catholic Church when the missionaries constructed the first church in Fujua sometime in 1913. The Catholic school stood tall as an academic and moral education institution. The teachers at the time were bywords of disciplinary rigour and academic excellence. Mr. Bernard Kuma Komtanghi, Mr. Boniface Nchituh alias German, Mr. Francis Nkuo, Sylvester Ngeh, Stephen Kongso, Jerome Chia Ntam, Mrs. Mafain, Mrs. Komtanghi, Leo Kuh among others, took turns in building young minds in the school. Small wonder that they produced brilliant pupils in the 70s likes of Denis Awoh Ndang and Cyprian Ngolah, that later studied overseas.
Fundong had a glossy academic life and a new lease of urban vivacity when GSS was created in the 1979-80 academic year. After one M. Boniface took care of the school for a few months, a son of the soil, Albert Ndim Waingeh, was appointed principal in 1980. Waingeh who was described as a shrewd administrator, is known to have made one of the shortest speeches on earth. It is reported that one History teacher, Mr. Mbitazi had some grievances against the school administration. He then assembled the students one morning and began ranting with derogatory remarks against the school authorities.When Waingeh came, he dismissed the issue in a very taciturn and laconic manner. Hear him: “My dear students, consider that nothing has been said here this morning. Go back to your classes!”
Wild beliefs were rife about the mystical potency of certain areas and the people in the area. One of them is the belief that the “gods” of Fundong are actually lodged in a natural swimming pool in River Juafueff in Fundong, known as Chimni. Each time the then Parish Priest, Father Joseph Holznetch, went to swim there, talk would be rife that he had gone to commune with the “gods” of Fundong. Every stormy rain or cyclone was attributed to the “gods” or mami wata. The fear of the marabous at the time was the beginning of wisdom. There was the belief that such people used their mystical powers to take away life with ease. In one ugly scene in Fundong in the 80s, one marabou from Mentang village called Bo Nkemsi, harvested the ear of one Hausa man with his sharp teeth and swallowed it in a hurry. There soothsayers like Fallaman, Ningem who were gods of those who believed in superstition and were eager to avert any misfortunes on them in the feature.
Besides other things, Fundong is also the citadel of frightful jujus like Nantang Yoh of Muteff, Munen of Yindo Mathias of Abuh, Nantang of Yindo Gham of Abuh, Beng of Aduk, Muguo of Fallaman of Fundong, Muguo of Foinadzii of Mbam and Nantang of Bobe Ngoah of Fundong among others.
It is difficult to present an exhaustive list of Fundong elite that have served the nation in one way or the other. The following are some of the elite that yours sincerely could remember. They are: Julius Mih, Choves Loh, Dr. Praxidis Nain Wainkem, Prof. Paschal Kum Awah, Hon. Ntam James, Ngam Meredith, Charles Yong from Mbam, Gerald Gama, Kijem Calista Fonchang, Fuchi Emmanuel, Chia Oliver, Ghangha Linus, Amos Lainsa, Dr. Ngwain, Feni Peter, Martin Diom, Dr. Ghangha, Fuchi Cyprian, Waingeh Albert Ndim, Ajuoh John Ngam, Chindo Celine, Godfrey Gama (alias Bo New Deal), Dr. Victor Waingeh, Dr Kenneth Mbene of Boyui, Dr Donatus Mbeng of Alim, Dr Njong Divine, Lt. Dr Luchuo Engelbert, Commissioner Kuma, Animbom Evaristus, Chindo Ignatius, Nuh Michael, Thies Mubang, Dr. Simon Mbeng, Fr. Augustine Nkwain, Ansama Romanus, Joseph Kitu, Chia Peter, Moses Fultang, Nkuo Joachim Yuh, Collins Songbi Chiatoh, Ndi Henry Ngeh, Br. Cyprian Ngeh, Sr. Vera Ndifoin, Joseph Kitu, Awunti Batalzar, Gideon Ngeh, Rudolf Yong, Charles Ntam, Ndvii Oliver, Kiyong Gilbert, Kuma Peter Kombain, Abdu Bello of the Cameroon Embassy in Egypt, Shefou Oumarou, Seini Oumarou, Hasan Oumarou of the University of Dschang, Joro Hamidou Ibrahim of the Prime Minister's Office, Kiyong Oscar, Wainachi Lawrence, Nchituh Matilda, Kuoh Johnson, Chrysanthus Kiyam, Prince Emmanuel Yibain, Bobe Augustine Nyambi, Max Diyen, Eric Ngoo, Jam Lawrence, Mbungson Felix, Mbungson Evaristus, Ntam Victor, Petra Mih, Awombeng Aaron, Frederick Magha, Henry Magha, Cornelius Njam, Chysanthus Ngwain, Protus Magha among others. We must also mention persons like late Sobo Jonathan, who one time mayor of Fundong Council, late Prince Francis Chia Ngam, popuarly known in the area as Chia Fukuin. The municipality also has a cream of civil administrators who are making the Abassakom man proud in their different jurisdictions. Prominent amongst them are Dr Stephen Ngai Ngong who is the current DO of West Coast (Idenau) in Fako Division, and Diyen Jam Lawrence, the DO of Garoua Boulai in the East region. Fundong is also home for some national journalists. They are: Choves Loh, Colbert Gwain Fulai, Rigobert Manigha and George Muam. The Mbororos at Ijim, Mentang, Mbam, Bainjong and other areas make up an integral part of the Fundong population. Prominent among them are the Ardos of Ijim and Mentang. In those old days when the Abassakom Area Development Union was created, the late Bobe David Mbanghinu, from Abuh, was about the big man of the area.
In the 70s and 80s, Fundong town was a hub of business vivacity. Bobe Sanga, Bobe Misa Yong, Joe Atah, Martin Song (alias Martin Cicam), Ndola, Mr Dominic, Dan Pinyin among others, constituted the arrowhead of the business community in Fundong. Late Bobe Emmanuel Nikang was the lone mechanic in Fundong back then. Ben Chisikain stood tall as the most prominent barber while Martin Akoni took care of the abattoir.
Fundong natives had the penchant of nicknaming administrators in the local itanghikom language on account of their characters. One Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, was nicknamed Ngong “Adzii” for the simple fact that he had a very big wound on one of his legs. Another SDO who proved to be a full-blown Casanova, was nicknamed Ngong “ndumsi”. This was just a sarcastic way of portraying him as a serial womanizer. Yet another was nicknamed "Bo Mikehli" because of the many buttons that adorned his double-breasted suit.
Fundong town is highy cosmologic. Before the upsurge of the Anglophone Fundong was exponentially into a full-blown urban area. The construction of beautiful structures, including hotels all over the place was very luxuriant.