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Sons and Daughters of the Soil

Land and Boundary Conflicts in North West Cameroon, 1955-2005

Walter Gam Nkwi

Publication Year: 2011

This book makes a rare and original contribution on the history of little documented internal land conflicts and boundary misunderstandings in Cameroon, where attention has tended to focus too narrowly on international boundary conflicts such as that between Cameroon and Nigeria. The study is of the Bamenda Grassfields, the region most plagued by land and boundary conflicts in the country. Despite claims of common descent and cultural similarities by most communities in the region, relations have been tested and dominated by recurrent land and boundary conflicts since the middle of the 20th Century. Nkwi takes us through these contradictions, as he draws empirically and in general on his rich historical and ethnographic knowledge of the tensions and conflicts over land and boundaries in the region to situate and understand the conflicts between Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh ñ the epicenter of land and boundary ñ from c.1950s ñ 2009. Little if any scholarly attention has focused on this all important issue, its pernicious effects on the region notwithstanding. This book takes a bold step in the direction of the social history of land and boundary conflicts in Cameroon, and demonstrates that there is much of scholarly interest in understanding the centrality of land and boundaries in the configuration and contestation of human relations. In his innovative and stimulating blend of history and ethnography, Nkwi points to exciting new directions of paying closer attention to relationships informed by consciousness on and around land and boundaries.

Published by: African Books Collective

Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title page

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Copyright page

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Dedication

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p. vii-vii

To Professor Emeritus, Martin Zachary Njeuma, who rested in the lord on 28 April 2010, without seeing the outcome of this piece of work which we jointly laid . . .

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Acknowledgements

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p. ix-ix

In the writing and completing this book inspiration was received from many people whom I would like to acknowledge. My profound gratitude goes to . . .

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

Some eighty years ago, the German Kamerun which had been administered by Germany since July 1884 was divided into British and French spheres following the . . .

Chapter One - Introduction

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A) Dancing the Plot and Riding the Past into the Present

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pp. 1-9

The Berlin West African Conference (1884-1885), apparently signalled the creeping European economic and political dominance in Africa and accelerated its . . .

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B) Understanding inter-community boundary conflicts within Homer-Dixon Framework

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pp. 9-10

After carrying out research in the sub-region I was tempted to interpret it in the prism of Hommer-Dixon Scarcity Models (1994:5- 40 and 1996:45-46). Thomas Hommer-Dixon . . .

Chapter Two - The Geographical and Ethnographic Survey of Bamenda Grassfields

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Introduction

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p. 11-11

If we are to study the boundary misunderstandings in Bamenda it will be imperative for us to situate the region and the people of the region. This chapter therefore . . .

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A) Staking the Study Area

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pp. 11-15

The Bamenda Grassfields was an important political and economic zone in British Southern Cameroons. As part of the British Southern Cameroons, it was located at . . .

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B) Peoples of the Region

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pp. 15-21

The indigenous people of the area fall into five main groups based on their oral traditions of origin, and broad linguistic and cultural similarities. These groups are: . . .

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C) Traditional and Socio-Political Organisations

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pp. 21-22

The socio-political organisations of the ethnic groups discussed above can conveniently fall into two systems, namely, the centralised and “segmentary” or decentralised . . .

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D) Decentralised Societies

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pp. 22-23

By contrast to the centralized societies, there is the segmentary group of Meta found in what Chilver and Kaberry prefer to call the Tadkon fondom. The Meta occupies the South Eastern . . .

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E) The contending issues of boundary conflicts in theBamenda Grassfields

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pp. 23-37

The general causes of boundary conflicts in the Bamenda Grassfields can be traced under geographical, political social and economic domains. Geographically, the causes of . . .

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Conclusion

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pp. 37-38

ethnographic survey of the Bamenda grassfields. This influenced both the distribution of . . .

Chapter Three - A History of Bambili/Babanki-Tungoh and the Genesis of the Boundary Conflict

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Introduction

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p. 39-39

This chapter examines the arrival of the two communities -the Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh, in the region. It will look at, amongst other things, their . . .

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A) Origin and the Migratory Histories of Bambili andBabanki-Tungoh

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pp. 39-41

Bambili and Babanki Tungoh belong to the Tikar group and speak a language which belongs to the semi-Bantu group1. As already mentioned, the Tikar . . .

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B) Geographical Locations and Daily Activities

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pp. 41-43

Geographically, the villages of Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh formed the group that made up the Bafut Native Authority Area of the Bamenda Division of the Cameroons . . .

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C) From Fraternal Friends (up to 1950s) to Fraternal Enemies?

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pp. 43-45

The people of Bambili/Babanki have lived at their present sites for more than a century. From the period when they arrived at their present site to the early 1950’s, . . .

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D) Contending issues: causes of the boundary conflictbetween Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh

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pp. 45-53

The causes of the boundary dispute between Bambili and Babanki- Tungoh can be examined under political, economic, social and psychological . . .

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E)The Manifestation of the Boundary Conflict c. 1950 -1955:The epoch of Law Suits

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pp. 53-57

The boundary conflict was manifested in three principal ways: from c.1950 to 1958 it was mainly in law suits filed by the contestants; from 1958 to 1973, when . . .

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F) Decision on Land Dispute Between Babanki-tungoh AndBambili Agreed Upon By The Bafut

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pp. 57-65

1. That the area in dispute was allocated to Bambili following the Westmarcott Boundary of . . .

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G) The War Period

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pp. 65-78

It is interesting to bear in mind that before the 1991 outbreak of war, the 1973 peace accord had been violated. On August 1, 1981, the Fon of Bambili . . .

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H) The 1995 War

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p. 88-88

Farming continued in the disputed area, in defiance of the terms of the 1994 Commission. There was every evidence to show that conflicts caused by . . .

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I) The Wesmacott’s myth: a commentary

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pp. 88-93

Mr. A.B. Westmacott was the highest British colonial administrator known in colonial jargon as the resident in the Bamenda Division in 1958. As at 1958, the . . .

Conclusion

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pp. 93-98

Chapter Four - The “Cold” Years, 1995-2005

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Introduction

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p. 99-99

This section focuses on the cold period when there was no overt outbreak of hostilities amongst the two communities but which at the same time . . .

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A) The Complaints Period

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pp. 99-106

On 8 July, 1998, His Royal Highness, the Fon of Bambili, addressed a letter to the Divisional Officer of Tubah complaining about the Babanki Tunguh people . . .

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B) The Koungo Edima Commission

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pp. 106-114

The Bambili-Babanki Tungoh “tug of war”, so to say, over their common boundary which was causing considerable headache not only to the two communities . . .

Conclusion

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p. 115-115

Chapter Five - Consequences of the Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh Boundary Conflict and Some Suggested Solutions

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Introduction

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p. 117-117

The boundary conflict between the two neighbouring villages of Bambili and Babanki-Tungoh had lasting ramifications which have adversely affected the socio-economic, cultural . . .

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A) Social Consequences

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pp. 117-130

Socially, both villages suffered considerable number of deaths during the wars. Much property like houses, cattle and other fixed assets were damaged. Men, women and . . .

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B) Economic Consequences

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pp. 130-131

Economically, whenever, the boundary conflict flared, it was difficult for fresh vegetable and other farm produce from the fertile boundary area to be transported . . .

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C) Political Consequences

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pp. 131-134

Politically, the boundary conflict exposed the weaknesses or the inability of the administration to solve the boundary conflict. The Fon of Babanki-Tungoh . . .

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D) Efforts at Resolving the Boundary Conflict

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pp. 134-145

The previous chapters reveal that the boundary conflict between Babanki-Tungoh and Bambili has been caused by a piece of fertile land which lies between . . .

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E) Why the attempted solutions failed

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pp. 145-151

The reasons for the failure of the attempted solutions are many and varied. First of all the belligerents refused to cooperate in the search for peace. On . . .

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F) Suggested Solutions

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pp. 151-154

Boundary conflicts are as old as human beings and there have always been ways and means adopted towards the resolution of boundary conflicts. At times . . .

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Conclusion

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pp. 154-159

The Chapter has focused on the consequences of the boundary conflict between the belligerents. It has further examined some of the solutions . . .

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Chapter Six - General Conclusion

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pp. 161-167

Boundaries and borders are very much ubiquitous in our daily lives. More often than not we come across borders and sometimes we are either ignoring them or . . .

Appendices

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pp. 169-215

Notes on Sources

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pp. 217-230

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956579075
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956578924

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2011