Bafaka Balue: A Brief History c.14th Century – 20th Century AD

ETHNIC BACKGROUND

Military Headquarters, Bafaka Balue 1996-2006

Bafaka Balue is a Bantu village, perched on one of the peaks of the Rumpi Mountains, in the Ndian area of the former British Southern Cameroons. The ancestors of Bafaka Balue trace their origins to a man named Ngoe wa Mbongo. Mbongo (Son of Mboe/Mbwe and variously called Nambongo, Nembongo or Nebongo) originated from Kota in the ancient Kongo Kingdom. His ancestors are said to have migrated from Nubia to Northwestern Kongo (present day Gabon). He is said to have fathered other sons: Mbedi, father of Ewale and ancestor of the Duala; Mukuri (Mokwele), father of the Bakweri; Ngoh, ancestor of the Bakossi (who is often confused with Ngoe) and Ekumba, father of Nfoni and ancestor of the Bafaw and Balong.

Ngoe was the father of Esoe or Esoje, who brought forth the Balondo ba Nanga; Nasako, father of Nosueli and ancestor of the Ngolo/Bima; Eta, father of Nakoba and ancestor of the Batanga (and perhaps Bakoko); Elume, father of Nangenoa and Naliomo, ancestors of the Balue and Molukule and Bakoma, ancestors of the Ekombe and Mbonge; Ekozi, father of Nilaze and ancestor of the Bakundu (who are often confused to be descendants of Ngoh). Ngoe is also sometimes associated with Isuwu (a people in Limbe) ancestry.

There are various clans in the Oroko ethnic group, spanning across a galaxy of villages and even tribes. Bareka and Bakutari, which are the most numerous in Bafaka, are for example present in all the villages of the Balue tribe and form a whole village cluster among the Batanga. Other clans or families in Bafaka are the Bonyari, Bondonge, Bobie, Bombori, Dibandakori etc. The Bareka and Bakutari clans of most Balue villages are divided into segments falling under prominent family heads. In Bafaka, there are the Bareka ba Aruma and Bareka ba Ngerime. The Bakutari also appear in segments: Bakutari ba Njambe, Bakutari ba Abene, etc.

HISTORY c. 15th Cent – 19th            

Migration and settlement

The people of Bafaka Balue migrated from Bateka, Bakassi after probably meandering their way from the Congo or Bubi (Island off the coast of Equatorial Guinea) through the Rio del Rey c13th century AD. From Bateka (probably deriving from the noun betika = original settlement), together with their fellow Bongoe family, the Bafaka people reached Beboka and then went to Ikama. A good number of Bongoe people left Bateka to form the present settlements of Balondo ba Nanga, Ngolo, Bima, Balue, Mbonge, Ekombe, Bakundu, Bakoko, Balondo ba Diko and Batanga. The latter, beside the Balondo, went north and spread eastward to found their present settlements.

The group of people now known as Bafaka was, according to one version of oral history, known as Bonadiomo, or descendants of Nadiomo (variably called Naliomo or Nariomo), the brother of Nangenoa and son of Elume Netongo wa Ngoi. According to Tata Nebale Johnson Mesembe, the name, Bafaka originates with the people from the Congo. “The idea that the people were warlike only coincided with the meaning of their original name”. Tata Mesembe said. Proof of this can be found in the presence of settlements with the same name in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Tanzania. As a matter of fact, the people have taken with them such names as Bongila (a farmed area in Bafaka Balue today and also the name of another Congolese settlement just 4Km away from the Congolese town of Bafaka) with them.

Because of the scarcity of living space for the lot of the Bongoe family the Bafaka group moved from Madie, leaving the present settlers there to a place in between Ikama and Madie. They settled around the Spring of Dikwero, discovered by Tata Mosongo Nangia. It is here that a certain Mr Robert Ngombe made a coffee farm which can still be seen today. The boundary trees (maloka-loka/maroka-roka) are also still found there to point to this reality. From there, the Bafaka people moved and settled in the ancient village of Makombo near the former settlement of Dikome Balue. Lack of living space moved them again from there to Betenge, probably formerly occupied by Barombi and/or Bafaw people. They named the settlement after the clay pots that were made here by the former settlers. It would seem they had quite a lengthy stay in Betenge. Here, it is said that Naliomo and Nangenoa’s children parted to form the Lower and Upper Balue peoples.

Children playing in Bafaka Balue, 2016

Nangenoa’s line went north to become the Balue ba Ngenoa (Bonji, Betenge, Bona, Itende, Ebobe, Dikome, Mofako etc). Naliomo’s progeny moved southward perhaps to reunite with their Londo brothers of the south. They met resistance from the Barombi whose temporary settlements were scattered all over the Southern Balue forest. The Bafaka people championed in the conquest of these lands and established their last prehistoric settlement at the foot of the Bore wa Bafaka (lit. the Bafaka Rock). Since some people from the same Bonaliomo group had remained in Weme (originally Womeε = rest or place of rest) and Pondo (Mefondo = a place with many palm trees), the settlement at the foot of Bore wa Bafaka was called Oŋa Mboka (up town or the village which is up [hill]). It appears the people first had an organised society at this place. The people’s first known ruler at the time was a warrior named Numa Mofa (whose traditional and official title was Motia Ewanga). He probably succeeded his father or uncle, Mofa ŋ’ Etongo. When the British took over the Germans in Kamerun, Ewanga had already become an old ruler. He died in 1926, a few years after being named Paramount Ruler of present day Southern Balue by the British.

The present settlement of Bafaka was founded by a young hunter, Itoe ŋ’ Ifaka, whose Dioh title was Nefenda sometime between 1850 and 1870.

Leadership

It is unfortunate that today people have lost their grip on the knowledge of their past leaders and the titles they bore. Today, the term Chief now seems to be as indigenous to us as the term Moto. According to the late Headmaster, Mr Noto Michael Ngoe, an Oroko ruler was formerly known by the title of Mori or Mokondi. A Mori/Mokondi who exercised control over other Bali/Bari was known as Mori/Mokondi Monene, an equivalent of today’s Paramount Ruler. The Balue for example recognised Etuke of Kumbe Balue as Mori Monene until 1919 when the British deposed him. He named Ewanga of Bafaka as his successor on the premise of blood relations (both were Bareka). According to Ngoe, the Bakondi were appointed from families but the situation changed with the arrival of Germans and worsened around the 1950s when young educated elite had sprung up to vie for chieftaincy.

Chief Dr A. J. Mokube

The first Mokondi/Mori of the Bafaka people was Nadiomo, who led the people from Betenge Balue to Oŋa Mboka. He was probably succeeded by Mofa ŋ’ Etongo (Dioh title was Nekenoa), his grandnephew. This ruler seems to be the most obscure of Bafaka leaders in history except for the fact that he was once Sango wa Morimi and High Lord of Bekini). He was succeeded by his son, Numa Mofa (Ewanga).

The following is a list of Bafaka rulers with their probable dates in power:

  1. Mori Monene Nadiomo c. 1790 – 1830
  2. Mori Monene Mofa mo Nekenoa c. 1830 – 1875
  3. Mori Monene Ewanga Numa Mofa c. 1875 – 1926
  4. Mori Monene Ngerime Esubu 1926 – 1961(?)
  5. Mori Mofa Namakia 1961 – 1978
  6. Chief Massa Martin Moleke 1952 (as a government administrator) – 1995 (as Chief after death of Mofa Namkia)
  7. Mofa Johannes 1995 (not fully crowned)
  8. Chief Massa Martin Mbotake Mokube 1996 – 2000
  9. 2000-2002 (No Chief – Regency of Tata Marius Itoe Sakwe)
  10. Chief Engelbert Nongoh 2002 – 2003
  11. Chief Dr Mokube John Ahmadou 2003 – present

Listen to the anthem of Bafaka Balue composed and sung by Blessed Efilo wa Ngoe:

Watch out for full document soon!!!

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