|Mpegnoh animating at the death celebration of HRM Ngwefuni II|
Known as Mpegnoh, this scary royal practice have existed long before modern civilization between Bafanji and other villages (especially those from North West and Western regions) in Cameroon.
And this horrendous practice only occurs when a Fon dies. The village bereaved then become the hunting ground for food to the visiting village secret god ‘juju’ (a kind of human spirit totem) –
In March 2012, friends and supporters joined the people of Bafanji to celebrate a year, after the death of His Royal Majesty, Andrew Yemo Ngwefuni II. Born 1935, enthroned Fon of Bafanji in 1964. A leadership role he held till March 13th 2011 when he passed away.
Around Six a.m. said Mrs. Doris P - Just as she was about to enter her kitchen, she saw some young men, over 7 in numbers- coming towards her direction. Among them were two men, each holding a long whip, dressed in thick rope decorated with fowl feathers, with their heads covered in dark cloth mask.
“The moment, I spotted their presence” Doris P, a Bafanji-based woman, professional agricultural-engineer and a domestic animals owner narrates her experience in an interview. “I knew it was them”. With so much strength and energy, they look around for any animal to catch as if it belongs to them. She added
“It’s unfair” said one woman in a crowd from a distance, in a loud and unhappy voice. “…Yes! You have taken my healthy fowls and my goat – are you happy?” she added.
Bafanji is a village situated at the eastern end of Ndop Plain. And it is one of thirteen (13) ethnic groups that make up Ngo-Ketunjia Division in the North West Region of Cameroon.
In a maiden edition of Bafanji Summit Magazine, Pungong Cyprian reports that Bafanji genealogy can be traced far back as from the 16 century. Since then, Bafanji have had twenty-nine (29) Fons – including the present.
However, speaking with a Bafanji notable regarding this scary royal practice which can be far traced to the 16 century, Pa Joseph says: "it has always been the traditional that no woman, man or children owns any property – everything belongs to the Fon".
He [the Fon] owns everything; the land, the fowls, crops…everything – Pa Joe said in a calm voice, with an expression that shows deep reflection of past happening.
So, the reason – he added- mpegnoh moves freely to hunt, catch and harvest anything it desires to eat.
“Even, my giant bunch plantain in my garden was cut away today by Mpegnoh” Pa Joseph said.
Of all the persons I spoke to – none was in support of this practice. They condemned it and criticized the Bafanji mpegnoh for having involved in such unproductive practice –
“It is Bafanji who wants this to continue”. Ma Margaret, a Bafanji business woman. It just pay-back time for Bafanji. She said
Besides, crop growing like rice, maize, groundnuts, pepper, coffee, and bean – it’s worth noting that animals farming constitute a major activity in Bafanji. Through which both women and men have been able to improve their living condition, sent their children to school, and take adequate care of the family medical health care. This has also helped reduce poverty and hunger in the communities.
And thus an invasion by mpegnoh puts a lot of families under stress as they are deprived from enjoying [benefiting] from their investment. And this means lost in terms of revenue and personal satisfaction for the animal owners.
That notwithstanding, there is great hope as people say that the current Fon, HRM Ngwefuon II has demonstrated great interest in eradicating most ancient practices which impede development in the village.