Don’T Kid With Njinikom!
By Yerima Kini Nsom (culled from The Post)
Please, don’t kid with Njinikom! It is the birth place of many national heroes, institutions and ideas. Njinikom here is used in double semantic trust as the headquarters of Njinikom sub Division and other villages in the administrative unit.
This land of rolling hills and deep valleys situated in the heart of Boyo Division of the North West Region, has a prominent abode in Cameroon’s political lexicon. It is here that the former Premier of the defunct Southern Cameroons, the iconic Augustine Ngom Jua was sired. It was also in the bowels of Njinikom that the political colossus was surrendered to earthly creatures when he checked out in 1977.
Jua was Jua. According to the late veteran Journalist Jerome Fultang Gwellem, A.N Jua was an emblematic national figure whose ideological convictions stood tall above partisan considerations.
He possessed and exuded an ebullient faith in the virtuous politics of the general good. To him, such politics postulates the supremacy of general interest over individual gains, partisan and other parochial considerations.
To many, Jua’s political audacity before the very eyes of the much dreaded President Ahmadou Ahidjo, made him a strange phenomenon. He was an enigma in an era of absolute despotism wherein political cowardice and “yesmanship” were the norm. It was reported that President Ahidjo behaved like a monarch to the extent that whenever he told any of his collaborators to jump, they could only ask how high. But not so Jua.
Going by his admirers, Jua was a Daniel and a hater of the status quo. He was a master of thoughtful repartee. Jua was not alone socio-political nursery. Many personalities, who have moved and shaken Cameroon in many ramifications, are people who were either born or educated in Njinikom.
Let us see Njinikom as we travel from Bamenda which is a circa 60 kilometers away. Just after you take the sharp bend at kikfini village, Njinikom centre unveils itself at the foot of the Boyo Mountain. Its habitation is perched on a chain of undulating hills and valleys that make movement in the area a show of ascending and descending. The Boyo Mountain where the Division derived its name stands tall overhead Njinikom with an intimidating posture.
Before you wink, the St Anthony Catholic church edifice captures your gaze. In its own right, it is a piece of architectural marvel that speaks volumes as to how much of a citadel of Catholicism Njinikom has been in the last century. Njinikom is one of the hubs in Cameroon that embraced Catholicism with all alacrity.
It was in 1927 that the Njinikom parish was born by Rev. Father Leonard Jacobs of Dutch nationality. The Catholic faith took a spin and witnessed a leap. Many Christians here were referred to as people who were threatening to be more Catholic than the Pope. In his book “Roman Catholicism in Njinikom-1927 to 2002,” Julius Peters Tohmutain, alias Barrister, holds that it was at Njinikom that the phenomenal Catechist, Michael Timneng, dared the dreaded Kom traditional conservatives to sow the seeds of evangelism. The results of such an onslaught are quite telling today. The Njinikom Parish has given birth to the Fuanantui Parish that was created in 1989 with Rev. Father Obrain of Irish nationality as Parish Priest.
Today, Njinikom is proud to have produced over 30 priests including a Bishop, Mgr. George Nkuo of the Kumbo Diocese. The church also came with St Martin the Porres Catholic Hospital Njinikom that has rescued millions of people from going into an early graves. Njinikom also sits comfortable in the annals of history for being one of the areas in Cameroon to have been honoured with a presidential visit. It was the former President Ahmadou Ahidjo who cut the symbolic ribbon of the Njinikom Catholic Hospital in 1963.
By a sheer design of circumstances, Njinikom is also in the books as the birth place of the Credit Union in Cameroon. It was the then Parish priest of Njinikom, Rev. Father Anthony Jansen, who gave birth to the Credit Union in 1963, the same year in which he created St. Bedes College.
During celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Credit Union at Njinikom in 2013, the Chair of the Cameroon Credit Union League, CAMCCUL, Shey Nfor Musa, said the history of the Credit Union would have been something else without Njinikom. He said anyone who writes the history of the microfinance sector in Cameroon without mentioning Njinikom as the cradle of the Credit Union, does an incomplete job. It was for this reason that the President of the Njinikom Credit Union, Bobe Jacob Wulba, frowned at the crisis in which loan delinquency almost brought the outfit to its knees.
Njinikom is also well known because of the St Anthony Catholic School that was created in 1928. In yet another book titled, “St Anthony School, Njinikom-1928-2012,” Julius Peters Tohmutain, the former Deputy Mayor of Njinikom Council, reveals that the Dr. John Ngu Foncha, was the first Cameroonian to be appointed Head Master of the school in 1942. The book further reveals that the late iconic scholar, politician and philosopher, Bernard Fonlon, A.N Jua, late Bishop Pius Awah and late Senator Francis Nkwain among other prominent personalities, were all former pupils of the school. Prominent politician, teacher and member of the Kom royal family, Bobe C.K Barth, who died last year, graduated from the St Anthony Catholic School in 1945 among others. Bishop George Nkuo left the school in 1966 while varsity don, Prof Paul Nkwi, graduated from the school in 1958. It is reported that the late Fon of Kom, HRH Vincent Yuh II, attended the same school before dropping out a few years later.
While analyzing the peculiarities of Njinikom Sub Division, the former Mayor of Njinikom Council, Terence Chah Bam who died recently, said Njinikom has been the cradle of civilization and modernity and intelligence in many respects. He however regretted that many elite who are well educated have not been using their intelligence for the general good and development of the area.
He said Njinikom Sub Division has a population of over 31.000 people and a surface land area of 75.000 Square Kilometers. Njinikom Sub Division, he went on, is made up of 15 villages which are of the Kom tribe, except Mbueni.
He held that Njinikom is peopled by men and women driven by enterprise and the search for excellence, but regretted that partisan dichotomy, avarice and individualism among elite, make up the bane that is partly responsible for the stunted developmental growth of the area.
According to one of the elders of Njinikom, Bobe Peter Mbeng, alias Kom man, who died recently, Njinikom is where one of the Kom Fons, Fon Lo-oh Nengsha, hailed from before proceeding to the Anyajua royal compound and consequently to the palace at Laikom. He said the remnants of Fon Lo-oh’s compound are still visible at Wombong village today. He added that Njinikom is also on record to have produced some of the early politicians that rocked the country’s polity. He cited the late Joseph Ndong Nyang who became the first, Kamerun National Congress, K.N.C’s local Member of Parliament in 1958. He also revealed that Bobe C.K Barth became the K.N.C’s councilor.
Besides, Njinikom is also in the annals of history for having given birth to prominent national journalists, like Charly Ndi Chia, Boh Herbert, Mary Gorretti Ngong, Ateh Francis, Boh Elvis, Mbom Constantine, Tim Mbom Francis, Finian Tim, Ireanous Chongwain Jean Marie Ngong Nsong, Ngwainbi Percy, Talla Christopher, Bangsi Daniel Song, Heris Nange Tohnain, Clementina Njang Yong, Joy Yusimbom Ful Deng Eric, J.F Gwellem (late and Sylvester Anchang Gwellem late) , late Anne Nsang Nkwain among others.
It is also a breeding ground for national musical artists like Bobe Yerima Afoakom, Ateh Bazore, Mike King, Magasco, D.J Wajaky, T Son Evas, among others.
It is difficult to present an exhaustive list of the Njinikom elite. But the few prominent ones that quickly come to mind are: Hon. Albert Ndim, educationist and former parliamentarian. Dr Tosah Ngam and Eric Njong of Buns construction company in Yaounde, Martin Ndichia, Senator translator/interpreter, Richard Diom Ngong, translator, Richard Ngeh Yuh, Translator, Eric Kombem, Chamber of Commerce in Yaounde, Bobe Stanislaus Ngoh Nkwain of the UN in New York, Dr. David Kini Chiabi, law professor of Criminal Justice in New York, Dr. Natang Jua of the US, Dr. Roseline Jua of the Bamenda University, Hon. Paulinus Jua, Former MP, Dr. Arnold Mbang, Hon Evaristus Njong, Bobe Valentine Nkeh, Dr. Martin Chia Ateh, Terence Akoni, Dr. Martin Ateh and Dr. Mathias Chiano. Others include: Dr. Henry Jick, Dr. Walters Gham of the University of Buea, Police Commissioner, Francis Ngong Fultang, Prof. Therese Nkuo Akenji, Christopher Ngong Diang, Bobe Benedict Akem Fultang, Mgr. James Toba, Vicar General of the Buea Diocese, Rev. Father Ignatius Waindim, Rector of the St Thomas Aquina’s Major Seminary, Bambui, Jude Nsom Waindim the erstwhile Secretary General of the Bamenda City Council, educationist, Ajuo John Ngam , Captain Ignatius Akoni, Dr. Joseph Yuh Kijem, Dr. Irine Njuakom, Bochong El. Lawan Bako, UDP Chairman, Retired Police officers, Bobe David Chiatoh, Barrister Mary Concilia Anchag, Richard Jam, Retired Prison Administrator, Lucas Kijem among others.
In the past few decades, Njinikom has had its own sip of the vinegar of sad times, with death doing a bountiful harvest of its elite. A pall of darkness fell on this area when its political leader, Hon. Senator Francis Bochong Nkwain and his daughter Anne Nkwain Nsang passed in 2014.
Other prominent Njinikom people that death has harvested over the years include: Dr. Isidore Timti, Dr Ngong WikuoPolice Commisioner, Christopher Bung, Anacletus Ngeh Mbah, Prince Henry Ghechi Kini, Prince Isidore Diyen, Prince Denis Akoni, Prince Ghebesalu Rev. Father Ivo Ndichia, Bobe Clement Waindim, Sylvester Ngeh, Bobe Francis Nkuo, Bobe Polycarp Yonghabi, Pius Yonghabi, Bobe Anthony Bong Mbuyongha, Donatus Wainmbah, Dr. Kini-yen Kini among others.
Contrary to what obtained before at Njinikom, modern religion savours a harmonious and cordial relationship with tradition. This was made possible by the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, an idea by Pope John Paul II that encourages the church to embrace the positive aspects of culture and tradition in Africa. Unlike the case before, it is likely that one will see masquerade dances like the Token, the Mukong or the Kutufu animating church occasions at Njinikom. Njinikom is also a shrine for dreaded jujus like Kwabula of Kikfini, Nchuofo of Bobong, Ngang of Muloin, Nantang of Tsinifoinmbi and Toko of Yang.
Traditional authorities are omnipresent at Njinikom. A stranger in the Chill and Cheer of Bobong village would be told that the most important personality there is Yindo Fultang. Just like you have Yindo Mbah of Njinikom, Yindo Ngong Nangeh of Muloin and Yindo Ngahnabi of Timfoinbi and Yindo Commansen of Yang. Do not pretend not to know Bobe Kwifoin Wain Ngong Nangeh of Tsinifoinmbi.
Although Njinikom is a citadel of the church, pagan activities still triumph here. The consulting of fortune tellers is still a way of life among many Christians. It is likely to see a Christian who has attended first mass, heading to consult a diviner or a fortune teller at Ibaichi to find out what will happen to him or her in future. Others go to fortify themselves against death.
After losing hope with the witch doctors, the same people still come seeking for solace in modern health centres. Besides, the Njinikom Catholic hospital, there is the Njinikom Sub Divisional hospital at Wombong, the government integrated Health Center at Mbueni and the Catholic Health Center.
Njinikom has its own share of secondary schools. The oldest secondary school in the area is the Jua Memorial College, JMC, created by late AN Jua in 1976. Others include the Georgian City Academy created by Prof. Paul Nkwi; G.H.S Njinikom, G.S.S Kikfini, G.S.S Muloin and G.T.C Mbueni.
Njinikom is also known to be the hub of the historic Women Movement, the Anlu that played a decisive rule in the K.N.D.P campaigns in 1958. The idea of self-reliant development in the area was created here in the mid 80’s with the birth of the Njinikom Area Development Authority, NADA, piloted by Prof. Paul Nkwi among other leaders. This wonderful idea has since degenerated into a conflicting conglomerate of splintered satellite groups.
It very difficult to make an exhaustive list of the very prominent families that stamped the Njinikom identity in those old good days. But one cannot write a complete story about Njinikom without mentioning the Juas, the Nkwains, the Kinis, Yong Mbangs, the Wallangs, the Komtanghis, Kwis, the Fultangs, the Ngandis, the Bohs, Tims, Nsoms, the Mukalas, the Waindims, the Mboyonghas, the Ntangtis, the Mbahs, the Yonghabis, the Njongs, the Ndichias. Do not forget Thomas Ngeh Mai, alias Bochong Ramabe and Alphonsius Ngong, alias Bochong School at Bochain quarter. There is also Bochong El. Lawan Bako of Kikfini, Bochong Yindo Fultang, Peter Akem of Bobong and late Bochong Jerome Chia Ntam of Bobong.
They were some teachers whose names pupils dreaded because they carry the potency of school discipline. They are Bobe Clement Waindim (alias vague), Bobe Polycarp, Bobe Polycarp Yong, Yonghabi, Philip Keh, Protus Muchim, Bobe Francis Nkuo, Teacher Francis Khing, Teacher Diyen, Elias Ngwainmbi, Teacher Nkwe, Jerome Fuchi, Teacher Njua, Teacher Joe Diangha and Teacher Ngam Lah Peter, Leonard Nyonguo, Teacher Yibain, Teacher Denis Mulesiwi Akoni, Teacher Anthony Kufoin among others. The catechists: Michael Tim Neng, Ateh, Bobe Gregory Boh Nakeh, Bung, Marcus Nkwi among others, have contributed so much in nursing the growth of the Catholic Church at Njinikom. A host of secondary schools teachers also gave a kink to academic life at Njinikom. Former students of Jua Memorial College will easily remember Anacletus Ngeh Mbah, Cyprian Ajangha, Chiabi Ignatius, Charles Yong, Richard Mbah Hilary Diom, Emelda Yonghabi, Richard Diangha Ngong, Gregory Muluh, John Tita, Mbeng George, Ibu Cletus, Stephen Nfor, Gaston Modeste, Mr. Foto, Kuma Richard, Alphonse Chiafukeh, Joseph Muh, Aloysius Chah Bam, Joseph kimbo, Joseph Ndi Ngam, Christopher Ngam Nsom, Emmanuel Nkuo,Nke Valentine, Ignatius Chiambeng, Rose Nyonguo, Ngam Richard, Eric Bainsi, Joe Ndim Yuh, Primus Chiakeh, Primus Kini Gerald Gama, Richard Ngam, Muam Livinus, Judith Bi jam, Richard Diom Paul Kiawi, Nicholas Mbi, George Kimoh, Mr. Tefuh, Johnson Sulem, Francis Ngong Fultang, Celestine Acho Kuma, Hilary Diom and many others.
Instead of singing anti-heroes, we should hail these patriots for building minds and contributing their own quota to the construction of the country’s intellectual enterprise.
They impacted academic and moral knowledge on many people who move ad shake public affairs today in Cameroon.
The fear of the teacher to every pupil at the time, was the beginning of wisdom. If you were late for classes in the morning, be sure to have good “hot coffee” which was merciless weeping. The worse was even when one stays away from church activities.
The chequered history of self-reliance development in Njinikom is long and undulating. Glowing tributes should be paid to Bobe Omer Mbang and Ben Ntam (alias teacher) who pioneered the NASO, Njinikom Area Social Club, an initiative that triggered self-reliant development in the area. The spirit of self-reliant development in Njinikom has remained resilient and even sacrosanct to the assault of detractors. That is why even when, NASO, NADA, NADECO and other initiatives pale into inexistence, there is always something for the sons and daughters to anchor their development spirit on. Njinikom elite in Yaounde led by Maurice Kube should be lauded for keeping the flame alive. They created NJIVAS to keep the development spirit alive, despite the odds. NJIVAS has become a formidable rallying force.
The vivacity of sporting activities in the good old days is what made Njinikom what Njinikom really Njinikom. Njinikom was the citadel of soccer. One cannot help recalling with nostalgia, the heydays of teams like Boyo Rocks, Kom Mountain Rogers, Grave Diggers of Bochain, Njinikom Sportive, Medical, Timber Club, Scorpions of Fuanantui and many others
They were tough players in the days of Yore, like Mukube (David Chiatoh former mayor) Joseph Chiwo, Father Patrick Lafon, Leo Kimeng, Leo Foinkejem, Kombe Douala, Joe Mayele, Gabriel Jomo, Stephen Yua, Linus Mbah (I swear to God) Aloysius Boh, (Rev.Father), Sebastian Ndifoin, Martin Munang (alias epese). When it was time for the medical Cup Competition, the lone college in the area, Jua Memorial College, would field a team called BENFICA Social Club. Late Anacletus Ngeh Mbah, who was a literature teacher in the school, coordinated the team. The late Njua Emmanuel Ngeh, who served Government School, Baingeh and Government School Yang, as their pioneer Headmaster, was the lone Division II referee at the time.
Life in those days was not only sweet but delicious. If you were a young man and did not enjoy life at Congo Bar, you would certainly be at club 185 in the company of some pretty damsel, twisting spinelessly to rhythms of makossa while also “dry cleaning your liver” with beer. There was also Mont Carlo bar opposite the petrol station. Only old boys and girls will quickly remember Charity Bar Wombong. Monoprix was a supermarket in its own right.
Business was vibrant and the economic ticked. Bobe Christopher Chiakeh, Bobe Isidore Ngam (alias Bo Monoprix), Bobe Stephen Tosah (alias I-go-try), Bobe Joe Ndong, Bobe Anthony Yuh, Bobe Samuel Adi (alias Bo Haricot), Bobe Vincent(bo Leo), Tom Njam, Bobe James Song (alias nawain James) Kombe Douala, among others, epitomized the business community at Njinikom at the time.
. Njinikom was also known for its park boys. A few of them can readily be remembered. They are Aywie (Ndongka) Kwamong, Joe Tatah, Marcus Bulawa, No mind them, Adventure (Chiatoh) Lapiro (peter Nyincho). Njinikom equally stood tall on account of its professional drivers. There was Prince Max Nkwain, Bobe Patrick Fung, Chuang chang, Bobe Momjang among others were stars because they turned the wheel skilfully in the muddy roads. Denis Tosam and Yama were stars in their own rights for being the only prominent mechanics at the time. Panel-beating and weltering at the time was the preserve of Bobe Francis Jum, alias repairer.
Although Njinikom is the heart of Catholicism, the catholic does not enjoy absolute monopoly there. The Baptist church is also very present, especially at Wombong, Kikfini, Muloin, Mugheff and Tinifoimbi. Small wonder the current Executive President of Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC, Rev. Ncham Godlove, hails from Wombong in Njinikom sub Division.
One of the Njinikom elite in Yaounde, Bobe Horatius Tohnain, describes Njinikom as paradise on earth and a land of hospitality. He told The Post that “There is a billboard at Kikfini that welcomes people to the Njinikom municipality. Whenever I reach there, it is like I should start murmuring “home again, again” because of the nostalgia in me”. Due to the ongoing crisis, many people are choking with nostalgia because they cannot visit their “sweet home” without putting their lives on the line. Cry the beloved Njinikom!