Paramount Chief-Elect – Fru Ndi Key Saga: “Limbe Chiefs have by this singular act shown the world that they are puppets”
By Ndifor Richard, Historian/Civil Society Activist
The chiefs claimed they are not quarreling the paramount ruler for handing the key to Fru Ndi but for doing so without having the mandate to do so since he is not yet coronated. However, the post newspaper reported that the same paramount chief had handed the same key to the SDO for Fako.
Why the Limbe Chiefs didn’t question his authority to do so to the SDO, only goes to show that there is politics at play behind their reaction. It is also safe to suggest that there is tribalism or regionalism at play here. That such a symbolic key is handed to a “ngraffi” man is enough to stir such anger among the chiefs.
One will ask if Fru Ndi is a public enemy or better still if the SDO for Fako is more important than Fru Ndi. The politico-traditional system in Cameroon and other parts of Africa makes chiefs the embodiment of their subjects. Politically, religiously and spiritually, they assume special powers over their people.
But the question of whether chiefs should play active partisan politics still remains a vexed issue, which will continue to generate arguments.
It is often said that chieftaincy is still an important institution looking at its contribution to national development over the years.
The contribution of chiefs to democratic development, civil and environmental matters, in both the country and the continent at large is enormous. But the relevance of the institution will largely be measured by the conduct of the chiefs themselves.
Today the respect some chiefs commanded in their chiefdoms and even beyond have withered away because they have taken partisan political positions.
Some of them will do everything, including attending political rallies and sometimes chairing other purely political meetings in a bid to obtain monetary gains. Worst still, some have without any shame openly declared their support for political parties and even canvass for votes on their behalf.
This results in their subjects who support opposing political parties directing their anger at them. It has been so especially as the chiefs sometimes attempt to coerce their subjects to join their preferred parties.
Some will promise throwing their weight and that of their subjects behind specific political parties, forgetting we are living in a time where traditional rulers cannot exercise their power capriciously.
Most chiefs were goaded into the political arena by corrupt politicians who enticed them with ‘brown envelopes’ and other forms of inducements, a situation which denigrates the image of traditional rulers.
Politicians of the CPDM in particular have continued to court traditional rulers because of their perceived influence over their subjects. But the stark reality is there for all to see. Chiefs who have adopted a partisan political stance have often ended up embarrassing themselves as their preferred candidates usually lose elections in their areas.
Sadly, some chiefs no longer command any respect in their chiefdoms as they have been divested of all honour and integrity because of their partisan political positions which angered their subjects.
The Limbe Chiefs have by this singular act shown the world that they are puppets in the hands of political elites and therefore do not deserve our respect. Such a shame and disgrace to African tradition and custom.
Mimi Mefo Info