Manyu Traditional Rulers Association and Mgbe: Wisdom and Knowledge of Jurisdiction is Fundamental 0

For over 550 years, Manyu has existed in what is now the Southwest region of the State of Cameroon. As centuries have passed, challenges and even deadly wars have visited the Manyu people but their strong cultural institutions have been fundamental to their survival and progress. The principal institution that has held the Manyu nation together is Mgbe. Mgbe has always been responsible for maintaining the well-being of all in Manyu and for centuries, it has been involved in running Manyu villages socially, politically, and judicially.

On the 16th of April 2024, the most disgraceful scenes ever recorded in Mgbe were witnessed in Nchang village, Manyu Division. Videos are viral in which members of Mgbe Echokoh Nchang, headed by Sessekou Ebai Ayuknso and members of Mgbe Echokoh of Membanoka Lodge were engaged in fist-fighting. This is an act of unacceptable cultural sacrilege. Manyu Mgbe Supreme Council acted swiftly and listened to the perpetrators of this scandalous act. On the 24th of April 2024, the Supreme Council passed judgment with fines for the guilty party, Sessekou Ebai Ayuknso and his Mgbe Nchang Echokoh Lodge.

Since that judgment was pronounced and fines communicated, the guilty party has taken the matter to the Manyu Traditional Rulers Association (MATRA) to register their objection and signalled an intention to appeal. MATRA has now called for an extraordinary meeting on the 8th of May 2024 in Okoyong village to offer an opinion on the judgment of the Manyu Mgbe Supreme Council. This is unprecedented, unconventional and worrying. Scores of Mgbe members and Sessekous in the UK, Continental Europe and North America have over the last few days registered their worry at this ill-advised move from MATRA.

Disturbed by what happened in Nchang, and keen to look like hard rulers, MATRA risks damaging themselves and their authority now and in the long term. It seems wishful thinking for MATRA to believe that they could somehow intervene and solve this matter by annulling or challenging the decision of the Supreme Council. Any action from MATRA at this juncture will invite a tsunami of disdain, disgust and disrespect for that organisation. Nfor Mbi Oruh of Nkpot, Nfor Orock John Mbi of Okoyong and Nfor Orock Ferdinand of Egebekaw and many traditional rulers in Manyu were not members of Mgbe when they were selected by their villages to be chiefs. They subsequently joined Mgbe for…(left blank intentionally). It is evident that Mgbe is the Supreme authority and its matters cannot be adjudicated by MATRA.

The intention of MATRA to create an appeals procedure to question the authority of Mgbe is reckless as only Mgbe has the authority to amend its decisions. Sessekou Ebai Ayuknso and his Lodge know what to do. Mgbe is not subject to political and village authorities’ impulses, wishes and opinions. That is why the police and gendarmes called to the scene in Nchang asked Mgbe to deal with the matter.

Manyu is telling MATRA loudly and clearly that their impending attempt to undermine the authority of Mgbe is equivalent to walking on broken bottles. Nowhere has that message been more deafening than in the Manyu Community in the US, UK and across Europe where the matter is being discussed at every MECA meeting, village association, wake, birthday party and Mgbe session. These discussions are tremblings saying an earthquake is coming to MATRA if it attempts to intervene with 550 years of cultural precedence.

Manyus, at home and in the diaspora are extremely livid with the cultural disgrace and thuggish behaviour displayed in Nchang village on the 16th of April 2024. MATRA must remain wise and not overstep their authority. This is a message of caution, not a threat. The Great Chiefs Mbeng Bessong, SA Arrey, Tataw James and many others would never have considered a so-called appeal against a judgement passed by Mgbe.

Law and order are the foundation of a functioning and civilised society. Without law and order, chaos would reign and the scenes in Nchang would be the norm. In any civilised society, there is a separation of powers and in our Manyu nation, there is a role for our Chiefs, but this is not one of them. Mgbe reigns absolutely in Manyu and will continue to reign supreme all the days of our lives and during the lives of our descendants.

By Sessekou Isong Asu and Nfor Mgbe Barrister John Ntuiabane, Mgbe UK