Bum Village Head and old Missom of Fonfuka gave the following account:

"So far as is known, we come from Mbiripbo (Mbwat). The name of the man who led us is not known. Our first halt was at Nkot which is now on Nso land and is inhabited by Nso people. Aosillun, a son of one of our chiefs, remained at Nkot and has now joined the Nso people. From Nkot we moved to Jottin which is now part of Nso. Jottin was a chief's son and remained behind but the name of his father is now forgotten: from Jottin our people moved to Ngunabum, passing by the independent villages of Din and Jun en route. what these two people were, or where they came from is not known but at that time they were independent people. Din was captured by Nso and Jun by Bikom. From Ngunabum we moved to Sawe, leaving some of our people in Ngunabum. From Sawe we moved to Lagabum, also called Do, the present residence of the chief. The name Bafumbum by which it is also known is the Jukun name for it.

We call ourselves Bum and our language, Nama (I say).

We we arrived there were already people in the villages of Sawe, Fonfuka and Ngong:* We conquered them and made them subject to us. Lagabum was built on an unoccupied site. No one was here.

Of the people captured by us, only Ngong today retains its own language, all the others speak Bum. Mbamlum and Ngong speak the same language.

Interpreter, Keka, says that Bum appears to him to be closer to the Bikom language than to either Nsungli or Nso. The Bum elders agree that their language is closer to Bikom than to the others because they have a boundary with Bikom, build near them, trade with them and intermarry with them

The names of our chiefs known to us are:-

1. Melekun buried at Ngunabum
2. Dikatisa "
3. Muandum "
4. Kamato "
5. Mbemfafa "
6. Mbanake "
7. Yunji "
8. Wasa "
9. Njan (f) "
10. Tam buried at Lagabum
11. Akwa the present chief

Yunji died after a reign of two years and Wasa after three years. We wanted to make Tam the next chief but he ran away, so we made Njan, a woman, the daughter of Mbemfafa, and sister of Mbanake, our chief. Mbanake was the father of both Yunji and Wasa. After she had been chief for four years we sent for Tam who had settled in Bikom. He came and Njan vacated the stool for him.


It was the rapid deaths of the preceding chiefs at Ngunabum that caused Tam to leave Ngunabum and to found Lagabum

Each chief is buried in a separate grave and each year sacrifices are made at their graves. Only the Tala and the Tawon attend and the day is called Tunkwa and the ceremony takes place eight days after the coming of the new moon. Fowls and goats are sacrificed at each grave and libations of palm wine made. I call the names of all the dead chiefs and say:-

"My fathers in the earth you are as god, bless me with good children for the land's sake. Increase our crops; make our trading good in the markets; bless my hunting"

In Melekun's time war was made on Korsin who then lived at Misom (Masin) and we drove them away. What the war was about I do not know. Korsin now attend the Fungom Native Court.

Fitan, one of the Tala, founded Mbwawa while Linane, also one of the Tala, founded Fun in Melekun's time

In Dikatisa's time nothing happened and nothing is known about what happened in the reign of Muandum and of Kamato

Mbemfafa started a war with Biim. What happened was this:

Biim are a small people who were attacked by the Jo who killed the son of the chief and so the Biim asked us for help. We turned out and fought both Jo and Kibo and conquered them. Then the Biim chief invited us to a victory feast in his town. We went and found that the Biim spoke the same language as did the Jo and Kibo so we turned on the Biim people and conquered them. The Jo lived at Nkot. Today there is only Jo man alive and he pays tax trough Biim.

The Biim people are part of our migration from Mbiripbo but as the Biim have married the Ntsangi people who were here when we arrived and they arrived, the Biim language is lost. At first they spoke the same language as ourselves

[This account does not tally with the story that when the Biim called for help , it was found that they spoke the language of Jo and Kibo. What probably happened was that after conquering the Biim, a ruling family was put in charge and this ruling family becoming merged with Biim and surrounding families no longer speak, shall we say, Mbiripbo.]

The reason we attacked them was because they were a small community and we a big one. We conquered them and they joined us and were our vassals up to the reign of Tam when they migrated to Ndumbo way. Mbanake also conquered the Sap people . At this time one Tamana, a Tala, founded the village of Ngunbimbi

[Missom, the tribal historian, states he has made a mistake. He says that the fighting with Korsin occurred in Mbemfafa's time and the war with Biim in Yunji's because in those days the chiefs went to the fighting and the Biim people succeeded in killing Yunji while they did not get the Biim chief.]

Nothing of importance happened in the reigns of Wasa or Njan

Tam was engaged in a conflict with the Bikom who attempted to conquer the Bum people but in the ensuing fighting the Bikom were defeated. Kimbiin, a half brother of Tam, settled at Fonfuka and the following Tala accompanied him:- Funkinta, Kenne, and Gaa and thus was Fonfuka founded.

Kibon, a son of Mbanake, founded Mbalum

[It is probable that Kibon's mother was a local woman since it has been said that the Ngong and Mbalum people speak their own language and Ngong were here when the Bum people arrived. M.J.]

Yai, a son of Mbanake, founded Ngomfesi. All these settlements were founded in Tam's time

Ngong were conquered in his reign. The Ngong first lived at Fonfuka but they migrated to their present site.



The members of our Tala are:-



1. Ndito Mlun
2. Ngon Mata Fonfuka
3. Kimbe Fonfuka
4. Timanjan Fonfuka
5. Lena Gunakimbi
6. Njimbon Fofio
7. Kimbe Mbambum
8. Misson Fonfuka
9. Ngon Sap
10. Wajon Mbambum
11. Njan Fonfuka
12. Ngwe Sawe
13. Fan Mbuabwa
14. Mundi Fun
15. Yajo Lagabum
16. Akwa Lagabum
17. Tinku Ngon
18. Tsiafon Ngaa
19. Bia Mbu

The Mbu people were on the land when we arrived. They fled before us and settled with the Jom. In Tam's time they came and settled at Mbu and so attached themselves to us. Jom is now a deserted land and is near Tso in northern Nigeria.

Ngunabum is today a small palace and has no Tala.

Njan of Fonfuka is a woman. She is the daughter of the present chief's sister who is dead. Though she is both a member f the Tala and of the more important Tse or council she is not a member of the native Court, nor does the Tse want her to be a member because her priestly duties debar her from sitting as a court member. One of her important duties is to wash ceremonially the chief in order to cleanse him of religious pollution.

The Tse



1. Ndito Mlun
2. Ngon Mata Fonfuka
3. Kimbe Fonfuka
4. Timanjan Fonfuka
5. Misson Fonfuka
6. Njan (f) Fonfuka
7. Lena Gunakimbi
8. Tsiafon Ngaa
9. Yajo Lagabum
10. Akwa Lagabum

[These ten form the governing or ruling body and it will be noticed that none of the conquering villages, i.e. the local or indigenous inhabitants have a say in the matter. The same state of affairs is found in the Wiya and Nso clans. M.J.]


Fulani Raids

When the Fulani made a raid on us they pitched their camp at Ngunabum. we attacked them and scattered them and they rebuilt their camp at Fonfuka. When we learnt of this we went after them but arrived too late to save one quarter of Fonfuka which had been surrounded and all the people captured. On seeing our warriors arrive, the Fulani cleared off with their prisoners. We killed a good many of them and they never returned to raid us. I was only a child then, carried on my mother's back. We have no caves in which to take refuge such as the Dumbo people have.

In German times we were made to work on their road and we did so, hence none of us were killed by the Germans, but it was very hard work. The Germans killed many of the Dumbo people who refused to work on the road.

My son, Samba, reached Standard VI in the Bamenda Government School but did not pass it and he has now been turned out of the school on the grounds of his age. I want the government to give him work to do.

[I informed the Bum chief that by law only a certain number of pupils were allowed in a class and if after reaching a certain age they were still in it, they had to make way for younger pupils, and that there was no prospect of Samba remaining in the school. It was also unlikely that a post could be found for him as Standard VI was now the minimum qualification and Samba did not possess it.]

Both Akwa of Lagabum and old Missom of Fonfuka state that up to the arrival of the Germans, elephants abounded in their country as elephants were mostly hunted with spears, there being but few guns and gun powder was scarce.

Afterwards guns increased and so did hunting and the elephants went away towards Takum, so that now there are no elephants here and it takes a walk of two or three days from Lagabum to find elephants

Tribal Notes - Bum

[The Village Head, Ngong, of Tsaf, was for ten years in the Bamenda leper camp and is still a leper. He complains that nine men of Nkot (Banso) are on his land and refuse to pay tax to him. He states that there is an ancient and agreed boundary between his land and that of Nkot and wants permission to sue them to make them pay tax to him or else to leave his land. He states that there has been a continuing trespass lasting some six years. I told him to take action to get the boundary settled which will then show whether these men are on his land or not.]

He asked what he was to do with the tax tickets for these men. I pointed out that the settlement of the boundary would settle that issue also.



1. See the Din tribal notes. Part of Din came from Ngong and say that Ngong was founded by Bum. This statement is, I think, incorrect and that of Bum correct, namely that Ngong were already established when the Bum migrants arrived

The following notes are from Mr Cadman's report of 1923.

The name of the Bum chief is Kwa and the estimated population from four to five thousand inhabitants composed of fourteen settlements spread over a considerable area of land. The clan name is Alung and unlike some of the neighbouring clans the hamlets are not formed into several groups but each village is dealt with directly by the clan chief.

The village heads are formally appointed by the clan chief and it is the custom for him to appoint the chosen son of the deceased village head. Succession in this clan is from father to son.

On examination it was clear that the village heads acknowledged the suzerainty of the chief Kwa.

Bafumbum is the name by which this group is known. It is of Hausa origin and was adopted by the Germans. The main road from the south to Ibi on the Benue passes through this area and the people are more advanced in consequence.



Extracts from the Bamenda office file on the subject


Not divided, all property goes to one individual who may grant gifts of the property to other relatives. Property includes horses, house-hold goods, farming implements, farm live-stock, clothing and woman with the custody of children.

  1. When father brother and son survive:- Eldest brother.
  2. When father and son survive:- Eldest son.
  3. When brother and son survive:-Eldest son.
  4. When brother survive:- Eldest brother.
  5. When father and minor son survive:- Father.
  6. When no male issue of man exists then no male issue of wife's family inherits.
  7. When no relation of man of woman and no male issue property inherited by woman who marries a man of her choice and he takes full possession.

In cases 1, 2, and 3 an inheritor is instructed to enter into possession by his elder relative.

A man may marry his deceased brother's wives, children born after marriage, are the children of their natural father. If the dead brother died without male issue the first male child born after his death

For further information contact Ian Fowler