FONFUKA - June 10th 1960

Ful Mwancum and Ndifon BalaAt 9.30 a.m. the Fon went off - to the sound of oliphants - with the D.O. (we are keeping right out of this). Yesterday he said he would send a cinda to show us round Fonfuka but the D.O.'s visit has dislocated plans for the moment. But word has evidently been passed to Daniel Bang, for Emmanuel appears to instruct us in Bum.

Emmanuel thinks he was born in about 1935 but is not sure. He finished school, having failed Standard VI, in 1955, having been sent to the Baptist School at Ndu, and was baptized at Belo. He then went to work on theTiko plantation for a matter of two years, but was allowed leave for home after the first year. He has been back here in Bum since May 15th attending to 'country matters', namely his betrothal and pending marriage to Pastor Dom's daughter Helena. He had few difficulties understanding instruction at Belo: he says the Bum and Nkom languages are very close. He finds it hard to earn money here. Since his return he has been going from compound to compound, helping in building houses and stores, making doors, etc. But he earns no cash for this - he is fed and maybe gets small gifts. He thinks he will have to return to Tiko a few months after his marriage and says he quite likes it there.


- father (addr.)
- mother
- male
- child
- male child
isa'oenda, pl. asa'hoenda
- family
lumfi nom
- mother's brother
- my brother (mother's child)
- my brother (father's child)
- father's brother
- father's father
- mother's father
mother's mother
- father's mother [mistake?]
anene baba mu
- the mother of my father
anene nini mu
- the mother of my mother
ajamti nini mu
- my mother's sister
ajamti nom
- my sister
- successor
- successor to compound
nda, pl. asoenda
- house

Any man who succeeds his father as compound head is addressed as 'father' and Emmanuel so addressed Cabo, here in Fonfuka.

wudoenda - man of the house
anenda - woman of the house
yong oe gha - thank you
mtong-te ma - I salute you
mtong te halama - I salute you all
isa'nda baba mu - root of the house of my father
isa'nda nini mu - root of the house of my mother
isa' - also means buttocks
ijisi buumi - language of Bum
limbum - language of Wiya

Other terms:

Kom Bikom
Fwoel Bafut
Aghoem Wum
So' Nso'
Ndung Ndu
Mbot (or d?) Mbot
Waat Wat
Jikum Jukun
Nyong Bali Nyonga
Nggwo Babungo
Nggi Where Bum comes from in Nkambe.

He says that when the Fon is dying or dead the expression is bi'la' ya fe lo - the country is sick - and that in the old days a year might pass before the death of the Fon was announced.


Noticing the doma cloth in our house he thought the Fon was staying there since it is put up in his bedroom round the walls wherever he is.

We ask if cloth is really woven here now? He says no. People buy white cloth, mark out the design, oversew it with fibre and then send it to Takum to be dyed. But weaving was done here in the past (presumably narrow-loom pieces sewn together?)

The Fon sometimes sleeps at Su-Bum - which he asks to be distinguished from Su-Aghoem - but rarely at other places excepting Fonfuka, though he visits them during the year.

He says that formerly people were taking over 1000 kola nuts in 'Kaiya' to Takum: it took four days. They went from here to Nggong, then Dumbo, Kwe, Takum. (Wonder if this was in German or early English time, i.e. along Kentu track.) People don't like headloading now. There is very little kola grown here, as the nuts are bitter in taste, and "draw". Palm oil is brought in from Fuwang (Fang) who sleep at Su-Bum and go to Nggunabum where the Hausa buy it up. But men from Nchanti and Kamine bring their palm oil here (Fonfuka) to sell. There are a few Fonfuka men who go over to Fuwang and Koshin to buy up palm oil for retailing here.

We try to get the word for a branch of the isa'oenda (corresponding to e.g. kisheer in Lam Nso'). He says there is no word. "Brothers should live together unless they quarrel"... "Separate compounds are still one family." His own real father Cabo has died and his elder brother has succeeded. He takes the title of abeboen but does not change his personal name. Yes, some women have sleeping huts at farmlands where they stay a few days while working there.

Emmanuel says that the only villages which retain their own dialects now are Nggong, Mbuk, Buwabuwa and Mbamlo. Sawe and Saf speak the same language as Bum proper, or can.

The small horn used by Kita' yesterday to preface his praises (we thought cob perhaps) is from some sort of buck found in the hills, now rare - cows are "driving" them.

[More language on tapes. Emmanuel goes off with some salt in which we have hidden some coins .]

We spend much of the rest of the day dividing up our loads into easily carriable portions, buying some kola, and cleaning the T/R which needs constant care. The "Boys" find a ready market for our beer bottles.

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