Bangolan Crisis: Silence Curfew Declared

Angry villagers from Bangolan in front of the Governor's office

Angry villagers from Bangolan in front of the Governor's office

 

A “silence Curfew” has been declared on the village of Bangolan, a locality in Ngokutunjia Division of the Northwest after an attempt by some kingmakers to dethrone Fon Chafah XI last month failed. Several men and boys have fled the village for fear of being arrested by elements of the Battalion D’Intervention Rapid (BIR) that was recently deplored there on the orders of the Governor of the Northwest Region, Adolph Lele L’Afrique. Many schools are closed while the streets and market squares of the village are virtually disserted. 

Speaking over CRTV Bamenda last week, the governor said “The fake kingmakers and notables took advantage of the absence of Fon Chafah and enthroned a fake Fon. As we arrived in the village on February 19, 2016, we were received by a hostile population that refused to concert with us and instead the people erected barricades and stoned some of the vehicles that accompanied me. He has promised to see those behind the act prosecuted.

Several villagers who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said they fear for their lives if the return to Bangolan. They talked of several villages mostly men beaten up by the BIR to force confession out of them. “They have no regards for the elderly” one of them confided to us in Pidgin English. There have been cases of rape perpetrated by the forces of law and order on young girls according to some villagers. They say many Bangolan people have taken up refuge in neigbouring villages and others have fled to towns like Bamenda, Kumbo and Douala.

Close to 500 villagers from Bangolan on Wednesday February 24, 2016 staged a sit down protest in front of the governor’s office in Bamenda to demand an end to torture and massive arrest of youths by the army. They were rather referred to go back to the SDO for Ngoketunja, Kwela Valery for a solution.

Bangolan youths rally to call for release of king makers in front of governor's office

Bangolan youths rally to call for release of king makers in front of governor's office

The crisis in Bangolan began earlier this year when the Fon reportedly repented and become a born-again Christian. As a result, some of the kingmakers said he returned to the palace to destroy palace artifacts, antiquities and ancestral stones in keeping with his new found faith. They say he even boycotted the Bongolan Cultural Festival on the pretext that he was not given permission to leave his job. The “Ngumba reportedly called him severally for dialogue but he failed to show up. It was because of these reasons that the kingmakers announced on February 3, 2016 that the throne of Bangolan was vacant.

One of the kingmaker said they had no intention to dethrone him but used the announcement as a means to dialogue. Fon Chafah was only suspended and not dethroned he said. But what aggravated the situation he continued was an interview Fon Chafah XI granted the press in Yaounde on February 15, 2016 when he promised to deal with those that purported to have dethroned him when responding toa question on why he was still attending the Council of Fons meeting when he had been dethroned.

Angered by his remarks, the kingmakers when ahead to enthrone his younger brother, Mbipefa James. Fon Chafah got wind of it and returned to Bangolan. Believing that he was still very popular, he asked the SDO for Ngoketunja to accompany him to the village. Here the SDO erroneously conducted an election in the palace court where only four of the 31 kingmakers present voted for Fon Chafah as against 27 for Mbipefah James. The kingmakers proceeded to perform the rituals to crown the new fon.

It was after this that the governor of the NW arrived Bangolan and held discussions with the opposing camps. It’s not exactly clear what happened but he ordered the arrest of James Mbifepah crowned Chafah VI alongside his kingmakers. This provoked the villagers to barricade the road blocking the governor and his convoy from leaving Bangolan with the new Fon.

Sofar most of the kingmakers have been including the new fon and their sympathizers are detained in Bamenda, while the arrest of others still continue.

 

By Abongwa Fozo and Akumbom Elvis

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