Written up from rough notes taken this morning.

KOTI WARD (in Gazette as Ikuot)

I went to Koti on the hill above Fonfuka proper. About 9.15. Had arranged to meet Cekun, who is head of compound and son of Missom (d), Nfon (Cekun's y.b.), Nya - a senior man in Kwi'fon. On the way Nya said Cekun was not important in Kwi'fon; he could not make the medicine. (Transpired later he had never even entered.) (But see 11/iv/63).

Reached Koti: assembled in a house, had some difficulty in getting rid of children and younger men as we were discussing secret things.

It is a spacious compound in traditional style: no pan roof.

THOSE PRESENT: Nya (of Kikangko ward); Cekun, Kumli (FBS to Cekun), Nfon (B. to Cekun), Daniel Gwe (youngest brother of Nfon and son to Missom).

Interpreter was Daniel Gwe and also Peter Banga (son of Yangsi-Mata).

Kumli was eldest present; difficult to get age, but he was not born when Zintgraff passed through; says he was a very small boy when Moseley came. Latter stayed at Jitata which is within Fonfuka.

XXD why Kumli did not succeed to Gwe, his father, who had been CH ? (see notes of 9.iv.63).

Succession to Compound Headship

Said that when Gwe died he, Kumli, was young, and Missom (Gwe's brother) was a big man so Missom succeeded. Latter was followed by his brother, Muci, who died.

Then Cekun succeeded (Kumli is almost blind; was led into the house and the others would not start till he had come).


Kwi'fon: Big Men

I asked who Missom succeeded, or rather, whose place he took among big men of Kwi'fon, and whether it was his brother. Was told that none of his brothers, nor his father, nor GF had been 'big men' in Kwi'fon. Missom had never been a chinda there. He was selected to go into Kwi'fon and rule there with other big men because he was already a big man, told the truth, was intelligent, and a good fighter (though not one of the asunggwe). Said such offices are not hereditary (though Nya's control of Kwo' medicine is, see below).

He is a cinawut (man of the country), i.e. is not Alung (royal).

The name of the sahinda is Kumanbo, who was founder of this lineage (see p.13).

This 'family' (clan) has never sent chindas to the palace. Some 'families' who are acinawut do. Moreover, if a man is sent as chinda, then later on he must give a son to Kwi'fon.

Fees: When Missom became a big man in Kwi'fon he gave a goat and the equivalent of four kerosene tins of wine.

I then asked Cekun what he had paid and it transpired that though he succeeded in about 1950, he in fact was never summoned to Kwi'fon; he has not even paid to clap hands to the Fon.

(PK clear anyway from this example, that the position is not necessarily hereditary; moreover fees are very small as compared with Bafut, or Nso' yengwerong.)

Kwi'fon Membership

Ndacum: confirmed that there was a house in Kwi'fon where the most important members met to discuss matters in secret. Ndacum means secret meeting. The ndacum had no medicine or juju. The men chosen to go there were men with sense, were good fighters. They say there is no longer a ndacum in Kwi'fon. It existed until about the time of the locust plague in 1930; after that it began to spoil, or rather it existed till time when court built, then things began to spoil.

The big men of Kwi'fon used to discuss matters there with the Fon; war, making of peace, any trouble. Then they would report to the TUT, discuss their findings there. If TUT (Ntul) agreed then the matter would be publicized throughout the country; instructions were sent to the quarterheads. But if Tut did not agree, the matter was referred back to Ndacum.

I am trying to get at the actual members; those present say Fon Sawe could enter and Fon Saf. Held secret meetings, especially in connection with war. They do not know the origin of the institution. There were no entry fees. Stress that it was in this house that important matters were discussed. Cum means meet secretly. Members are not clear as to principles of selection.

I ask who was Missom's predecessor? They do not know. They say that Muchi (Muci), who succeeded Missom as cpd. head, did not belong to the ndacum; he was a very old man when he succeeded.

He died about 1950; then Cekun succeeded, but has never been called to take Missom's place in nda-cum.

Cekun chosen to act as Cpd. head because he was the eldest son and had sense. He is the eldest surviving son of Missom. This is the rule. When selected as CH - (this automatic on account of his age) he was not led to the Fon. A man can gain the right to clap hands to the Fon by making a presentation, but Cekun has not yet done this.
[Compare Kom handclappers: EMC.]

I am still trying to get at the most important men in Kwi'fon. I ask Nya if sacrifices are made in Kwi'fon.

Nya, who is an elderly man, inft


Sacrifices in Kwi'fon

Says that sacrifices are indeed made in Kwi'fon: the beak of a fowl is split and the blood goes onto the juju (which is a pot), then they stick a feather on the blood on the pot.

Sacrifices are made when there is big trouble; they also make a sacrifice when there is a new member for the NDA KWO'. In fact the medicine is that for Kwo'. There is a nda-kwo; a man who pays the fees, five fowls and five calabashes of wine, may drink wine from the juju pot; also he need not run when kwo' appears; such are also eligible to act as kwo'.

The three big people concerned with the kwo' medicine are the Fon, Nya and Ful. [NB: all are Alung.] When they are making the medicine, no others would be present.

The drinking of wine from the pot gives power; but there is no infusion of herbs.

XXD why may Ful - a 'prince' enter? Say that all princes may enter and see the things of kwi'fon if they pay. Here princes are not excluded from kwi'fon providing they pay (see later notes: this confirmed by all). Any man of Bum proper may pay to 'see Kwi'fon'

ENTRY OF CESU TUTSU: These may enter kwi'fon; if pay fees they see the kwo', enter ndakwo. Pay fowl to see kwi'fon; pay more to see kwo, etc.

XXD on functions of kwi'fon and ndacum: say they only discussed, tried cases. It was the 5 or 6 big men of tut who 'hold the world' (the Fon of course is included in this). Noted that none of those present are cesu tutsu, but Peter Banga who is acting as one of the interpreters is Alung.

p.23: [Koti ward, Nya, Cekun, Kumli, Nfon infts.] XXD re houses in kwi'fon quarters; there is a house for BABE: masks are kept there, also the gongs.

There is the nda kwo'; there was the ndacum; also a house for the chindas serving there.

XXD re maskers: there is MABU who goes first when kwi'fon is going out; followed by kwo' then by man bearing a double gong (latter can be struck by any member of kwi'fon).

But only a man who has had one or more children and paid the fees (see earlier) for sacrifice to be made on the pot - the rest to be eaten by members of nda kwo' - can wear kwo'.


WORK OF KWO': It is to attend cry-dies; it would also appear at any big festivals, such as the December Ibin. When kwo' goes abroad he spoils things, breaks them, tries to catch big men, e.g. compound heads who have not yet paid. If such a man is caught and refuses to pay, then he will sicken and eventually die because kwo' has power. If he pays, then Nya provides the medicine which will remove the sickness. The medicine for healing the sickness given by contact with kwo' by those who have not paid is kept in the kwo' house.

WORK OF MABU: It is to take news; that is, to give instructions. In old days he would also take the wrongdoers (on orders of kwi'fon and/or Fon) to kwi'fon.

JUDGEMENT OF CRIMES: Then big men would discuss in the ndacum (the Fon would not be there, but would be made privy to the findings). If verdict is death, then send Mabu to take the man and kill him in the bush. They say that Mabu would be a man from Bum proper, and not a foreigner. [Check.]

As far as the Ndakwo' is concerned, NYA is the head of it (after the Fon).

SUCCESSION: NYA succeeded his father, who had looked after 'the medicine of Nkwo'.' The medicine has always been in the charge of Nya's 'family' - lineage. They say, however, that for the ndacum Missom was chosen, not because of succeeding a member of his family but because he was a cinawut who had sense; he was able to make peace.

Nya's ancestor was originally at Ngunabum; he left there because there was fighting. No further knowledge of traditions. His name was Wa-gha-du. He died at Ngunabum. Gives his name to the Sahinda.

  1. WAGHADU, at Ngunabum in Ghamba quarter there. (Is Alung.)
  2. GA (son to Waghadu; came to Kikangko (ward of Fonfukka), brought earth from grave of Waghadu; placed a stone to mark it so as to make sacrifices at Kikangko. Ga's mother was Naka and her father was Hsing (Shing). Full name of Ga is therefore Ga-Naka-Hsing.
  3. DOM (son to 2). As a young man he was given the nickname Jato, because he was light-skinned; so known as Jato-Dom. Died about 1939.
  4. KIMBI-NDOM (same father, different mother from 3) succeeded; died c.1948.
  5. LAKA (same father, same mother as 4) s. 1948, died c.1954 (after Fon's accession).
  6. NYA - present man; son to 3. Had succeeded c.1954. Fon sent word to him when he became CH to come and look after the kwo' medicine. He is an elderly man, perhaps in his sixties.


p.26 XXD about instructions in use of medicine. A man teaches his younger brothers or, if he has none, then his sons. Nya himself was taught medicine by his father. Nya himself is training his own son, since he has no brothers.

His sahinda is one of Alung.

Asked how pending troubles known; they say that any man who is a ngambe' would report to the Fon if bad thing was coming, then action is taken: would be discussed by ndacum and by tut.

As far as sacrifices in kwi'fon are concerned, this would be decided on by Nya, that is if sacrifice on kwok pot is concerned.

XXD origin of kwo' and from whom got. Says that kwo' has always been a part of kwi'fon.

XXD why called kwi'fon here, and not ngwerong; they say changed the term because living among and near people who used this term.

If epidemics come to the country a medicine called FAM is placed on the roads and in compounds. It protects people against witch-awung. If a witch steps on the medicine, he dies. Many people have this medicine.

XXD origin of TUT: they say it is the same as the ndamgong of Mbot; does work like ndamgong. I said there were not 9 members discussing all matters, as in Tut here. They admitted there were differences.

Founder of Nya's clan was a king's son from Mbirribo. They do not know his name. Waghadu who was at Ngunabum was already a remote collateral; they can marry other Alung.

XXD Acinawut: origins: They say some were met here in Bum when Alung arrived; some had come from Bikom, Oku, or Fungom side. Asked to name some and their origin. Did not know.

I asked Cekun and Nfon about the origin of Kumanbo; if they came from Kom or elsewhere, they did not know (see later notes).


[Interpolation in notebook listing "Big Men".]

[1927 LIST. Pollock [Assessment Report] gives Missom: the Fon completed it in 1962 as follows:

KANGHE (Nggunakimbi) cinawut. Those present did not know who took his place as successor in kwi'fon [in fact Chiafuen, chinda, of Fonfuka].
CHIANJA (Lagabum) cinawut and chinda. Successor was not a big man in kwi'fon: the man who succeeded him as Compound Head would be known to Cenji of Njinijua [succeeded by Njia of Lagabum, not in ndacum].
LENGA NYI (Fonfuka) cinawut: those present do not know any more [Wabaa succeeded him].
KANGHA TUNG (Buwabuwa) cinawut - not know any more [succeeded by Diatang, cinawut, sister's son, is at Buwabuwa].

[Bracketed information added later.]

I give the list here of those marked by Fon Bum (1962) as being 'Big men or inner council of Kwi'fon - ndacum - in 1938. The list of 1938 drawn up by Kwanga included other important men:

NDA-CUM in 1938
MISSOM-(KOTI ward) cinawut, ndacum (see genealogy, Cekun present CH).
KIMBI-NDOM (Kikangko) Alung ? ndacum ?) owner of kwo' medicine (1963 inft.)(Nya present holder
KUMANGGA (Fonfukka) cinawut - ndacum succeeded by son WABAA.
FANG-YEKAN (Buabua)Alung ndacum ? I think merely important; succeeded as CH by Bualma - not in 1962 list.
FONAMON (Ngën) cinawut Not known who successor was.
CHU (Lagabum) chinda and cinawut. He gave son to kwi'fon as he was a chinda. Not known who has taken place in kwi'fon.

Other big men in 1938 list of Fon:

DIANG of Fonfukka (also called NDIFOBA) brother to present Ndifoba (BALA), a prince, grandson of a former fon; not a member of ndacum. He had succeeded KIMBI-YUENDONG (who was a prince); held position similar to Ful's. Saw Kwi'fon but not of the ndacum.
NDANSA (Fonfukka) no information.
CHIACHU - (Fonfukka) no information.
BANGA (Ngën) cinawut. Succeeded by TACOE (TACIA) - who is now most important man in Kwi'fon (1963 - inft. see later notes).
WANGGO (Nggunakimbi) no information [see Part II ?]

p.30 All say that Alung can never be taken as chindas for kwi'fon, though they could see kwi'fon if they paid. But a waajamtu of the Fon (sister's son) could be taken as chinda.

Acinawut could be chindas but were not necessarily taken; e.g. Kumanbo lineage states that it has never given chindas (anyway in living memory).

They deny that male twins were taken into kwi'fon. The Fon had no such automatic right. Female twin was not taken as a Fon's wife.

XXD - if any waajamtu of Fon had ever been a big man in kwi'fon. Say never heard of such a man.

Note - that if Fon's daughter given in marriage and brideprice received, then her son would be called waajamtu and would rank as a cinawut, and Fon would have the right to take a son for kwi'fon to serve at the palace. Female waajamtu could be given out in marriage. But if princess was not given in marriage, i.e. no brideprice paid, then her daughter ranks as a princess - munto (this later information from Njifoba).

General term for kwi'fon quarters is Ndakwifon

General term for chindas is asicisoendaso (I think this should be asu-cisoendaso.)

If a big man in ndatut or ndacum committed a serious wrong he could be removed from his position.

Name of medicine associated with KWO' is afukugha. This is the real power of kwo'. The gongs which are struck have no power; they give forth no power. All were emphatic about this.

The gongs at present in kwi'fon were made at Babungo.

SOCIETIES OWNED BY NYA: Këlënkum: this is a dance, in which feathered caps are worn; comes out for cry-dies; has no other work. Does not know origin. Payment for membership is two fowls and wine.

He has no other things.

Cekun and Nfon don't own any dances or medicines.

Daniel Gwe is the youngest surviving son of Missom: acted as interpreter. Another man who came in later (not admitted to secret conference) was James, son to Muchi.

Photo taken: numbers 1 and 2 at F16, T 125 - of Cekun, Nfon, Nya, also Peter, Dan, etc.: Number 3 - big men of Kumanbo (Kumli, Cekun, Nfon): 4 - Cekun: 5 - Nya: 6 - Dan and James.


JUKUN CLOTHS: Doma. As I was leaving Koti I saw 4 doma cloths slung over a line. Cloth was bought in Bamenda - white calico. Then Daniel Gwe and Nfon make designs with leaves [i.e. oversew it with raffia or some other vegetable twine. EMC]. Then Daniel takes it to Takum, which is two days' journey away, where it is dyed. The dyeing of these four cloths cost £6 to £7. They were then brought back, leaves removed, hung on line so as to catch the eyes of buyers. Would sell £7 to £10 each. They do not take them afield. They learnt the craft from Missom who learnt it from Takum.

Photos taken with Nfon standing in front of one.

p.32 NYA's compound - Kikangko.

Went up to Nya's compound with Nya and Peter Banga. A large compound. Nya's own apartments were trellised off. House of Këlënkum had kirang (raffia fronds), over door; medicine plants growing close by. Outside was a headstone, that of Jato-Dom. Laka and Kimbi Ndom and Ga are buried elsewhere; not buried here because there is not enough room. Don't have communal grave. Confirmed that only the Fon would pour wine on the grave. Nya plucks fowl feathers and puts them on grave. When sacrificing he calls name of Waghadu and then successors; Laka last. Reluctant that I take a photograph, so I did not press the matter.

Gravestone indicates the position of the head of the dead man. He lies on his left side, with right arm uppermost. Nya, when he sacrifices, splits beak of fowl so that blood goes on stone; he calls the names of all predecessors here. Brother of Jato-Ndom, i.e. Kimbi-Ndom is some distance away.


Koti and Kikangko are wards under the control of Njifoba who is the bitek for this part of Fonfuka, i.e. most senior men. If any trouble, elders meet in his compound. (Later told that there are similar groups elsewhere in Bum, e.g. Shuo meets under Ndito at Mulung.)

Later, Daniel Gwe comes to see me in Fonfuka. He brought a faded photo of Missom and asked me to get a good print made. Title which Missom was given in English times was Konci, it was given by the Fon. Missom was the name given to him by his mother and father.

Note Nya's title was Mfo'ghoem (equivalent of Mfomi-) given to him by Mfu'.

Visit from teachers at Baptist School in the afternoon. Mr Kwangga, son of the late Fon, looked to be in his late 'twenties, light-skinned and very tall. Explained my work; started recording a list of Bum nominals with his help.

Kwangga asserted that cinawut meant a person who was outside a society, not a member; denied it meant commoner; simply meant people not of Lagabum, that is who were not of that group, were not Alung. (However, see later notes: is a non-member, but is extended to cover commoners.)


Headmaster, Mr Nkarakwi (Joseph) is from Mbor: recorded a few words of Mbor from him.

Situation re. nda cum is still not clear. The trouble is that the house itself was destroyed soon after 1930 and never rebuilt, because kwi'fon was no longer a power in the land; there was no occasion for big men to meet regularly; hence discrepancies over who would be the big five - on the whole it was agreed that the number was about five. Nya, who had been mentioned, is important as a medicine owner only.

Note that succession goes through brothers, and then to most senior in next generation.

Next Day Contents Working Notes
Sally Chilver's Field Diary Glossary Published Account

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