By Tata Mbunwe
Indigenes of Fako Division, predominantly the Bakweris, are gathering in Limbe today to launch the much-anticipated Mbando festival.
This ancient cultural event, which has been dormant for several years, is set to unfold from December 9 to December 16, encompassing six towns in Fako – Buea, Limbe, Tiko, Idenau, Mutengene, and Muyuka.
Themed “Unity, preservation of our cultural heritages,” the festival signifies the resurgence of a cultural celebration that once served as a unifying force for the Bakweri people in the past.
The Paramount Rulers of Buea and Limbe took the initiative to breathe life back into this cherished tradition, recognizing the need to counter the influence of modernity on indigenous cultures.
The Buea Paramount Chief, HRH Dr. Robert Esuka Endeley, highlighted Mbando as one of his projects during his coronation in March 2022.
The primary objective behind reviving the festival is to rekindle the cultural flame of the Bakweris.
It also aims to introduce younger generations to the customs and traditions that define their heritage.
For many young Bakweris, this year’s Mbando festival marks a unique opportunity to witness an event that has been absent from their lives for an extended period.
The excitement among the youth is evident as they actively engage in the festivities.
“As a young person, I’m very enthusiastic and positive about the outcome of this Mbando because our young generation, my generation, are deviating away from the tradition,” Inoni Njie, a young Bakweri native, told a local news outlet.
“This is a medium for us, the young people of the tribe, to come together and learn our traditional values.”
Over the next week, Fako towns will buzz with a range of cultural activities, featuring a canoe race, traditional wrestling, dancing, folklore performances, and more.
The rich cuisine of the Bakweris will also come under spotlight during the festival.
The organizing committee, in a press release, described Mbando as one of several initiatives undertaken by the Bakweris to breathe life into diminishing aspects of their culture.
“The Mbando ya Hvako is a truly unique and captivating event that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Hvako (Fako) people,” the committee wrote.
Aside from the Mbando, plans are underway for the construction of a Bakweri cultural center in Buea. It will include a museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich tapestry of Bakweri traditions.
As the beats of traditional drums resonate through Fako, the Mbando festival stands not only as a cultural renaissance but also as a testament to the determination of communities to safeguard and pass on their heritage to future generations.