Uncertainty in Mbaw Plain: Two Killed, Five Injured Over Land Dispute


The Mbaw Plain Donga Mantung Division

The Mbaw Plain Donga Mantung Division (© Doug Chaffee.)



Troops have been deployed in the Mbaw Plain as two people have been reported dead during an attack on a disputed farm land. According to what we gathered last Wednesday at about 9.am, some elements of Ntumbaw village armed with cutlasses arm-bushed Njirong farmers in the disputed area, sources say seven people were butchered and two are reported to have died. Two houses are also reported to have been set on fire.  At Press time we gathered from reliable sources that an atmosphere of uncertainty looms large in the Mbaw Plain, Njirong village and Ntumbaw village in Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region of Cameroon. 9 villagers in Ntumbaw are said to have been picked up by Law Enforcement Officers during the patrol. They are now helping the administration to prop into the incident that has resulted to lose of lives and property.
The Senior Divisional Officer for Donga Mantung Division, Ngone Ndodemesape Bernard made two trips to the disputed area at Mbawrong to calm down flaring tempers. Yet an authoritative voice in the Ministry of Territorial Administration hinted us that the Presidency of the Republic has been alerted. According to the hint elite(s) who would be identified for fanning the conflict will be dealt with accordingly. More so, Donga Mantung SDO is quoted to have said during the crisis meeting that he would leave no stone un-turn to make sure that peace rein. North West Governor Lele Lafrique is also expected in the Mbaw Plain. However, allegations are rife at that it is the presence of the CDC palm nursery that has ignited the long forgotten land dispute. Another classified source hinted that both villages may be barred from working farms in the disputed area by a government decision. And that the perpetrators of the act that led to the killing and butchering of farmers will be dealt with. Some weeks ago, some 50 villagers of Ntumbaw village were arrested and taken to Nkambe for their involvement in instigating the crisis. Yet barely a week after they were granted bail this incident occurred. Ever since the crisis resurfaced, the relationship between the two villages has been stale.
Talking to this reporter on phone, HRH Fon Kennedy Nganjo said that it was “ a dark day in our village. This morning at about 9 a.m. some elements from our brotherly Ntumbaw village attacked and butchered five people from Njirong village who were preparing their farms for palms planting. One of them a handicapped Etienne Ntami had his fingers chopped off. My elder brother Nganjo Everistus Shey an employee with SODEPA Jakiri who was butchered  all over his body died on his way to BBH Nso. Four others are on treatment at the Ndu Sub Divisional Hospital. It should be recalled that there used to be a dispute in the area but the administration of Donga Mantung settled the matter in favor of the Rong people. Three appeals by Ntumbaw have been rejected by the government for lack of credible evidence. It is also worth noting here that there is no boundary between Ntumbaw and Njirong at Mbawrong, reason why it is impossible for them to justify their claim to the administration. This cowardly, savage and barbaric  act is unfortunate” he concluded. 
To Ngah Nfor “ If "Njirong" means "over at Rong" and "Mbawrong" means "Rong Plain", one cannot appreciate any Ntumbaw claim without uncoupling these Wimbum descriptive geography of locations. Whatever the Ntumbaw claim, pales in the light of the Wimbum in-house barbaric redress approach reported here. Shame to this anticlimax to our celebration. Until this reporting is seriously contradicted, the reported victims of this Wimbum shame deserve sympathy. Let the magic of our imagination bring out the silver-lining in this tragedy. Until that happens, we are all victims of what we know this far”.

However, the act has been condemned by Wimbum people both at home and the diasporas.

Way forward

It is alleged that this dispute was settled before the court of law. Yet there is a need for the conflict to be mapped with the involvement of chiefs as well as the administration if not it will become a permanent chop pot. The Mbaw Plain is in need of a mediated settlement, or negotiated settlement in addition to adjudication which already took place. The way a conflict is framed, the way in which a conflict is mapped, has implications for the way it can be settled. If the parties come to a mediated settlement, they will take responsibility for the outcomes and resolution. In mediation, the mediator does not rule down as in adjudication. The decision (s) will come from the parties in dispute. It is only in this way can restorative justice, which includes reconciliation, be achieved. In the absence of this, the conflict is very likely to re-escalate and spiral. What has helped post apartheid South Africa is not adjudication. What has helped that country is the truth and reconciliation commissions.
However, with all sorts of elite in Donga Mantung, the question is why are elite(s) reluctant in finding a solution. Who therefore is benefiting from the problem in the Mbaw Plain . The most pathetic thing is that some elite are so educated that we consider them the cream of our society. Perhaps this class of people, the chiefs and prominent notables should come together, and do so urgently, to de-escalate the present situation. It is regrettable to hear that the administration is doing little or nothing in the present situation. When the administration shall come in as they have already done, it will be to interpret the people's actions against the law and then, a ruling will follow, without reconciliation, without restorative justice. Wimbum people need the parties to reach settlement in a mediated forum. Then they can very likely achieve sustainable peace. This is what a write holds in Wimbum Forum. This opinion holds because if there is anything that a nwembum can do, it would, it should, be to support that process of peace and reconciliation. It may be hard for those elite(s) who are fanning the conflict but it is the only way forward. Nothing is more important than peace. A live lost to any family is painful. And it is detrimental to both villages as well as the entire nation.
The Eye Newspaper