Ayaba Factor

I am giving you my version of the story of the legend called Ba Ayaba. This is the answer to a request made by Dr Sema Fofung on this forum I must start by dissipating the fact that to the best of my knowledge Ba Ayaba never entered the Police Force. However his story is legendary but he is and was not a legend. He lived in Bali and his compound is still in Bali, just before one gets to Doh Bangu’s compound on the left.His great grand children carry his name. I went to primary school in Bali with Babila Ayaba, one of his great grand sons.

This episode on his life centers on a word. RAM. The Chambers 20TH Century Dictionary  defines the ram as a male sheep, a tup. Three lines away there is another definition; a water ram or a hydraulic ram.


Thus goes the story. When Dr Zintgraft [ in Bali he was and is still called Docta Singri ] arrived and was accepted [another story] by the Fon of Bali,he settled in the Palace and stroke a military alliance with the people. Bali became the de facto capital of the Grassfields. And the well trained local soldiers started to flex their muscles and look more a field. But they could not speak German except for an enterprising young man who had mastered in a short time many german words and sentences. He was at the same time a cook, house boy, mail runner and finally interpreter. His name was Ayaba.

Before long anybody who wanted to communicate with the whites had to pass by him.Consequently when the Germans started to explore the North west  and West Provinbces he was part and parcel of the expedition. He had an added advantage as he could dabble many local dialects. He is responsible for the Ba [the people of] that we find infront of the names of many towns. Each time they arrived a place they turned to him for the name . The locals will say for example, Nde, Tibo, Mufut, Foussam, Ngante,Forchu,Nwa

and Ayaba will say Bande , Batibo, Bafut, Bafoussam,Bangangte,Baforchu,Bannwa

Once you see Ba before the name of any town then know that Ayaba had been there.

It so happened that Ayaba and his masters went on a colonial visit to NSO==BANSO and after a very hectic reception HRH the Fon requested that they in Banso will like to have water rams built in some strategic places in the town as was the case in Bali. Water rams were found in Tih, Djam Djam, Mbad Mandate, Njenka Intelligent, Sang and Boh Bangu.

In Bali the rams were simply called PUMPs.Ayaba therefore never related the word ram to water.But since the Fon had made alusions to water  he immediately cooked up a translation. In translating the reply to the Fon and his people he added that their request had been granted on condition that rams [male sheep] were given to the white man.

At 5am the next day the Officer woke up to the sound of sheep .As he looked through the window there was a sea of sheep. He rushed to Ayaba for an explanation. Ayaba said they were the Fon’s sheep and that he was going to give orders for them to be removed.. Ayaba duely thanked the Fon  on behalf of his master and said his master had counted all of the sheep in the night.He then instructed that they should be kept on palace grounds. Two should be sent by a messenger every Friday to the station in Bamenda.

The rams were built in Banso. For many months two sheep were brought to the station from Banso. As soon as the messenger left Ayaba’s brothers who were waiting will take the booty to Bali.

Before long he had a good quantity of sheep in his compound. The Fon got to know and he became the appointed supplier of sheep to the Palace for ceremonial purposes. And that is how he became knighted by the Fon.

Ayaba became such a house hold name to a point that in gatherings one person will throw,

Who say?  D.O. say!

Who say?  Ayaba say!

As to the question on how and why a Hotel and a Hill were named after him , much had been said and written.


Ba Dinga Daiga

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.