BALIKUMBAT HISTORY

THE BALI-KUMBAT FONDOM

A Presentation By Mrs Regina Galabe Kilo, on the Occasion of BCA-USA 13th Annual Convention

The history of Bali-Kumbat is the same like that of the other four existing Bali Fondoms of the North West Province of Cameroon. The Bali-Kumbat people are a faction of the Chamba people who migrated from North Eastern Nigeria (Yola) during a wave of migrations in the West African region towards the end of the 17th century. Being highly skilled in the use of bow and arrow they fought their way towards the West into the present Republic of Cameroon conquering territories as they marched on. Upon their reaching the grassland region of Cameroon their natural ruler “disappeared” and following total disagreement among the children over who to succeed him, his five children, one of them a woman, who were vying for the throne decided to break up and go their separate ways each taking along his or her own followers. Each faction continued its onward march fighting and conquering the inhabitants of the lands over which they passed until it found a suitable place to settle, usually fertile farmlands. This is how the five Bali Fondoms in Cameroon came into being. The Bali Fondoms are:

  • Bali-Gangsin (Gavabineba)
  • Bali-Kumbat (Nebkoluba)
  • Bali -Nyonga (Nyongneba)
  • Bali-Gham (Nebgamyidba)
  • Bali-Gashu (Gansunneba)

The Bali-kumbat people occupied their present site after defeating and driving away its previous occupants, the Bamunkumbits. Two considerations accounted for this choice:

· The availability of abundant fertile farmlands

· The existence of a central plateau from which they could easily sight and push back their enemies. Till date the Fon’s palace is located on this plateau.

b.) DYNASTY

The founder of the Bali-Kumbat Fondom was Fon Doh GAHNYAMYI 1. Since the founding of the Fondom
the following have been rulers of the Bali-Kumbat people:

  • GAHNYAMYI 1
  • GAHLABE 1
  • GAHGWANYIN 1
  • GAHNYAMYI 11
  • GAHGWANYIN 11
  • GAHNYAMYI 111
  • GAHLABE 111 (1920-1977)
  • GAHGWANYIN 111 (PRESENT RULER)

c.) GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION/POPULATION

  • Bali-Kumbat is located about 15 kms west of Ndop, capital of Ngoketunjia Division of the North West Province of Cameroon. It is bounded on the East by the villages of Bamali and Bambalang, on the West by Bafanji, on the South by Bamumkumbit and on the North by Babanki Tungo and Awing. The population is about 16,000 inhabitants who are predominantly peasant farmers.

· There is also a small population of Bororo herdsmen occupying the hills where they tend their cattle. The population is mostly young with the female population outnumbering the male. Bali-Kumbat has the status of a Sub Division, which also includes four other neighboring villages. It also has Rural Council.

ORGANISATIONAL SET UP

1) TRADITIONAL ADMINISTRATION

Like in the other four Bali Fondoms the Fon is the paramount head of the Bali-Kumbat traditional administration and custodian of the tradition. He is assisted in the execution of his functions by organs such as the “Ndagans” (Kingmakers) who act as his advisers and the Traditional Council which is the legislative organ of the village. Quarter heads are the liaison between the population on the one hand and the Traditional Council and the Fon on the other.

Sectoral committees like Health and Education committees exist and are charged with the monitoring and orientation of specific activities in these domains under the supervision of the Traditional Council or the Village Development committee depending on the specific nature of the activity.

2) BALI-KUMBAT DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION

The Bali-kumbat Development Organisation (BADO) is the catalyst for the development of the Fondom. It identifies and earmarks development projects, looks for the resources needed for their execution and executes them in order of priority.

The present Development Organisation, which we fondly call BADO “Newlook”, is the fruit of a reorganisation exercise conducted on the 31st of July of 1999 after several years of inactivity of the previous Organisation due to some internal squabbles.

The birth of this “Newlook” BADO was greeted with immense enthusiasm by all sons and daughters of Bali-Kumbat who see in the new Executive a high sense of commitment and involvement and the determination to run the Organisation with transparency and under democratic principles. This confidence in their executive has also motivated Bali-Kumbat elements in and out of the village to resolve to make things work out this time around.

The present Executive is made up among many other people in key positions of:

  • President-General: Mr. Dingha Bayin Ignatius (Pay Master General of Maroua Provincial Treasury)
  • Secretary-General : Mr. Anthony Wobga Pasiah (Director of one of the Divisions of SONEL Headquarters, Douala}
  • TreasurerGeneral: Mr. Emmanuel Dinga Banmi (Chief of Service Accounts, Buea Provincial Treasury).

And the humble Speaker with close to 30 years of development work experiences as one of the National Advisers.

Since the putting in place of the new team in July 1999 it has made giant strides to demonstrate its commitment and goodwill. Barely weeks after its installation it embarked on the construction of two modern badly needed classroom blocks and an Administrative building for the newly created Bali-Kumbat High School. These buildings have already been roofed and the children are already studying in the classrooms even though the plastering, flooring and ceiling works and provision of classroom and office furniture still remain to be done.

The new Executive has also embarked on a nation wide tour to launch the Organisation at Zonal level and install Zonal Executives. So far Yaounde, Douala, Buea and Bamenda Zones have been covered. The exercise will be concluded this month at the level of the home zone. All these achievements in so short a time are seen as an indicator that given more means the present Executive can realize many more of the development projects Bali-Kumbat stands badly in need of.

2. POTENTIALS OF BALI-KUMBAT.

Bali-kumbat is endowed with both natural and human resources, which if well exploited can yield important economic gains for the population.

a.) NATURAL

  • Fertile farmlands for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops.
  • Touristic attractions such as the central plateau on which the Palace is located and the caves and other archaeological sites which can be found on the adjoining hills and slopes.
  • Abundant marshland for the cultivation of rice and all season vegetables.
  • Extensive raffia palm bushes for production of the much-relished palm wine and local building materials and furniture and crafts.
  • Eucalyptus plantations for the production of poles and timber for roofing.

b.) HUMAN

  • A youthful hardworking population
  • A new breed of local elites made up of retired people come back to settle in the village.
  • A new crop of intellectuals to be found in all walks of life

3. PROBLEMS FACED BY THE BALI-KUMBAT PEOPLE.

In spite of all the assets listed above Bali-kumbat people still find themselves making only small strides in development as a result of numerous problems they face. These problems can be classified under the following categories:

a.) HEALTH

  • Very limited health provision for the population. The lone Health Center constructed way back in the 60’s has become too small to meet the health needs of the growing population and lacks basic technical equipment with the few existing ones outmoded and ill adapted. I have the list of equipment needed here with me.
  • Inexistence of potable pipe borne water: As a result the population resorts to fetching water from polluted streams. Hence the rampant cases of water- borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid fever, and cholera, to name just these.
  • The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS due to ignorance.
  • Early pregnancy among girls: Lack of proper Management often results in serious health problems for the young mother and sometimes the child.
  • Malnourishment in children due to lack of affordable sources of protein.

b.) AGRICULTURE

  • Lack of access to agricultural input (good planting material, credit, fertilizer, phytosanitary products) The result is low yields and low income.
  • Poor road infrastructure for the evacuation of produce from farm to home and from home to markets.

c.) RURAL ELECTRICITY

  • Inaccessibility to electricity by a majority of the population.

d.) INFORMAL EDUCATION FACILITY..

  • Lack of a multi- purpose hall for educational and social events

4. EFFORTS DEPLOYED SO FAR TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ISSUES.

a.) HEALTH:

The Bali-Kumbat Development Organization has constructed a new modern block at the Health Center which now accommodates the Out Patients consultation, the Maternity, the Propharmacy and the Chief of Center’s office. Although there is need for further extension to meet the needs of a Sub Divisional Hospital which the hospital is projected to become in the near future the most urgent need now is the provision of equipment and drugs for the existing structure.

Concerning potable pipe-borne water supply the Government installed a Scanwater system in Bali-Kumbat several years ago. This system which uses a diesel plant to supply the suction pump was unreliable and worked only for nine months and failed. There is need to rehabilitate the system and render it more dependable. This means finding an alternative reliable power supply source for the pumping system.

b.) AGRICULTURE

  • Farmers are being encouraged to work in groups to benefit from existing loan schemes but the problem of collateral and high interest rate often discourages them.
  • Motorable roads leading to the Palace, heavily populated areas, and round the plateau have been realized through the community effort using labour intensive methods, but lack improvement and maintenance

c.) RURAL ELECTRIFICATION:

  • Through a Government grant Bali-Kumbat was recently connected to the national electricity network. However, the distribution still leaves much to be desired as not up to one tenth of the population has had electricity connected to their houses. There is need for many step down transformers to be installed to tap from the high-tension lines.

d.) INFORMAL EDUCATION FACILITY.

It is unfortunate that the need for this facility has always been shelved in favour of other more pressing needs. But it has become increasingly important for educational purposes. A multi-purpose hall apart from hosting meetings, social and cultural events will have a resource Centre attached where in the population will be educated and informed on topical issues like HIV/AIDS and young girls taught skills that will provide them an income and keep them off the streets thereby reducing their chances of contracting the deadly disease. The hall can also generate revenue, which the Development Organisation will plough back into some village projects.

5. FUTURE PERSPECTIVES:

Our immediate goal is to complete and equip the two classroom blocks and Administrative building at the Government High School. The equipment of the Health Centre is one of our major preoccupations and we will intensify our effort at soliciting aid for the attainment of this objective even as the Government High School projects are going on.

Next in our scale of priority are the rehabilitation of the pipe borne water supply system and the construction and equipment of the multi-purpose hall. We cannot situate these projects within time frames because of our lack of means.

The rural Electrification, road infrastructures and Agricultural input problems are no less important but due to our very limited means we can only do very little at a time. So far the Financing of the few projects that are either completed or ongoing has been through voluntary contributions by Bali-Kumbat sons and daughters and the assistance of some benevolent non Governmental Organisations like the former Swiss Association for Technical Assistance (SATA), now HELVETAS.

With the devastating effects of the economic crisis and the present low income level of most Cameroonians, voluntary contributions don’t amount to much these days, and so project execution is very slow. Bali-Kumbat people are no doubt committed to the development of their Fondom but are highly limited in means.

That is why we stretch our hands out to benevolent individuals and Organisations in and out of Cameroon first to acknowledge them and then to solicit their support and assistance. The present Executive of the Bali-Kumbat Development Organisation (BADO) is made up quite dynamic people with a high degree of integrity and we can say with very minimal risk of error that any aid chanelled through them will be judiciously used. We thank all our benefactors in advance. May all our efforts be blessed.

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