The Fon of Kom, HRM Vincent Yuh II, has instituted very drastic measures modifying certain traditional practices in order to curb excesses and also check the transmission of tuberculosis. The laws which were enacted by the Kom Kwifoyn , the Supreme law making institution of Kom, were made public recently.
Prior to the institution of these measures that were taken at the Kwifon session of March 10, 2010, the Kom traditional society has been experiencing some sort of human rights violations, particularly in the areas of succession, and inheritance; a subject that made other tribes abhor the Kom tradition.
“We know of successors (brothers or nephews) who drive away the widows together with their children, who seize property from the children given by their late father, who sell all the land they inherit,” says Nsom Joseph of BUCREP Yaoundé.
The measures instituted included the prohibition of successors from selling out or giving out any parcel of land they have inherited without the consent of the widow(s) and children of the deceased. It obliged every successor to abide strictly by the rules of succession in Kom.
The other laws, still bordering on succession problems, insist that that the village head must endorse any such act when the parties are agreed. It puts the enforcement of these laws squarely on the village head who is answerable to the Kwifoyn in case of any such violations.
On the village heads themselves the law obliges them to give out or sell any piece of land only after the consent of the Village Council. Furthermore the laws prohibit any village head who has not performed the traditional rites of initiation as a Bobe (Compound Head) called in the Kom language iyuo, from presiding over any such ceremony. It empowers but the Bochong (owner of the Chong society) to preside over such rites in any village where the village head is not qualified.
On health, the Kwifoyn, considering the rampant spread of tuberculosis in the Fondom, prohibited the habit of a senior or father sipping wine from a cup before offering it to the junior of child. This measure was meant to curb the spread of the deadly disease. These laws were enacted against a backdrop of so many complaints especially from widows and orphans whom successors have chased out of their own compounds where they were born and bred.
The Kom tradition of matrilineal succession has often come under fire from some unscrupulous individuals who do not even understand what it means. Recently in Njinikom during a funeral Mass the Rev Father Yufanyi Evaristus exhorted the relatives of the widow from behaving like others. This pulled a lot of criticisms from some diehard proponents of violation of widows’ and orphans’ right condemning to poor priest for daring into a domain which was not his.
According to this reporter the matrilineal system of inheritance faces the same problems like patrilineal inheritance. All of them would have been perfectly good if those who inherit keep to the laws. It is not uncommon to hear in a patrilineal system how a child succeeded the father and threw out even his own blood brothers and sisters out of the compound and owned all the property. Thus it is not the system that destroys the people but the people who destroy the system.
Since Fon Vincent Yuh's accession to the Kom thrown he has carried out lots of modifications that have been welcomed by the people. One such modification concerned death celebrations. He banned all night death celebrations following complaints of atrocities and excesses committed in the night in the name of these celebrations.
Also the exploitation of widows and orphans to present a big basket of corn flour was curbed. The basket was reduced to half, just about 3 tins as against close to seven tins before. He also banned the consumption of beer in entertainment houses during death celebrations.
Kom sons and daughters all over have seriously acclaimed these recent laws although it generated a lot internet wars.
The last part of the laws was a levy on all villages to contribute the sum of 15,000 francs into the njong-Kom secretariat yearly the sum representing the njong goat (Njong Kom is the errand boy of Kwifon).
The laws were signed by the Fon HRH Vincent Yuh II, Bobe Kwifon (the head of the Kwifon lodge) and copied the Divisional Officers, the Mayors and the Gendarmerie Brigade Commanders of Belo, Njinikom and Fundong, the Chief of Police Post Fundong, the village heads and all the Bo Chongs.
By Nke Valentine
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