A commission set up to demarcate the boundary between Mbessa and Oku village

Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique paid a visit to Mbessa on Thursday April 21st, 2016. He is the first Governor to visit Mbessa since the conflict started over 30 years ago. This visit had in attendance over 450 women and 100 men of Mbessa alongside the traditional and administrative authorities of Oku and Mbessa. They all assembled at the Mbessa Community Hall seeking for a lasting solution to the boundary dispute.

The Governor called upon the Regional Boundary Commission to delimit the boundary between the two villages following the August 28th 2008 Ministerial Decision. He said the conflict has caused untold human and material damage and it was time everyone abides to the peace process.

A local committee was put in place to carry out the demarcation process. Among the members are two peace volunteers, trained and accompanied by COMINSUD.

The Fons of Oku and Mbessa reiterated their passion for the need for a peaceful coexistence between the two villages as they shared the common position that “there is the need to think of Oku and Mbessa people as one person because they all have a common origin”.

The Governors’ visit came just a day after the Fon of Mbessa led a Delegation to Oku to discuss ways to end the conflict. The women of Mbessa at the end of the meeting remained optimistic as they look forward for a fair and just boundary demarcation process.

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Historic action by Oku and Mbessa Communities in seeking peace

As an aftermath of the peaceful public manifestation walk by over 250 Mbessa a high level consultative peace meeting was held on March 3rd 2016 at the Mbessa Multipurpose Hall.

This meeting had amongst others the Senior Divisional Officers (SDOs) of Bui and Boyo (Nzeki Theophile and Oum II Joseph), the Mayors and Divisional Officers (DOs) of Oku and Belo, the Fons of Oku and Mbessa Villages and a cream of members of their traditional councils.

The historic nature of this meeting is seen in the fact that, in over 30 years, this is the first time a Fon of Oku is visiting the Mbessa Village. The over three hours meeting witnessed frank and open discussions aimed at establishing sustainable peace. Four of COMINSUD’s Peace Volunteers were also able to participate.

Key resolutions from this meeting as agreed by all the stakeholders were that:

  • The people in the disputed land boundary area should shun violence and remain calm for the governor and a regional technical team that will visit the area in the period ahead to demarcate the boundaries of the two communities;
  • More exchange visits between the Oku and Mbessa communities will be carried out to ensure continuous dialogue and sustainable peace;
  • Necessary traditional rites should be carried out by the Fons to enforce peaceful decisions and dialogue.

It is hoped that more efforts will be put to bear for more socio-cultural exchange activities among these communities for sustainable peace as the demarcation process is awaited.

Stay with us to be informed about the progress of this story.

Public Demonstration by over 250 Women of Mbessa Village

February 16th 2016
Over 250 women aged between 25 to 70 years engaged in a public manifestation walk from Mbessa village in Belo Sub Division, Boyo Division in the North West Region (NWR) to Bamenda, the Regional Headquarters of the NWR (33 km). Their objective was to table a petition and their grievances to the Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique. This is as a result of latent boundary conflict between Mbessa (Boyo Division) and Oku (Bui Division) which has been characterised by sporadic attacks by some persons from Oku on the Mbessa community members in their farms.

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The women left Mbessa at 4:00 am carrying each a stem of the peace plant and placards raising issues centred around the fact that Oku presently is the Sub Division of origin of Cameroon’s Prime Minister HE Yang Philemon and most people from Oku perpetrating these aggressions on Mbessa go unpunished…

The placards carried messages such as:

Why is the administration quiet on surprise attacks by Oku on Mbessa?

3 Mbessa killed in 1982, houses destroyed, hundreds rendered homeless, no punishment no compensation, why?

2007/2008 mass burning of houses, destruction of crops, thousands homeless – no punishment, no compensation!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands! No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands!
No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

They arrived at Belo the Headquarter of the Sub Division at around 2 pm and made a stop at the Sub Divisional Office but the Divisional Officer Nicolas Manchang who doubles as the 2nd Assistant SDO for Boyo Division was not on seat (we learnt he was on permission). After about one hour of sitting accompanied with negotiations from the Mayor of Belo Council Tosam Bernard Nenghabi the lone official present at the scene, the women resolved to continue their journey to Bamenda where they hope to meet a listening ear.

The Mayor of Belo Council alongside the Mayor of Njinikom Council, the Member of Parliament Honorable Wainanchi Honorine and the Company Commander Boyo Commandant Passele struggled without success  to convince the women to give him the petition and go back to Mbessa. The Mayor of Belo then invited them to the Belo Grandstand for other negotiations. He was at this point in time joined by the Police Commissioner of Special Branch of Fundong Mr Bezigui. Both still failed. The Mayor invited them to sit for refreshment; they denied arguing that it is a way to waste their time and continued their journey.

The Interim Divisional Officer for Belo Sub Division came at about 6 pm when the Mbessa women had covered over 25 km and were at Mbingo but he could not even talk to the women as they were already saying it is some sort of negligence and lack of consideration from the local administration.

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However, the Mbessa women continued their journey over night. They reached Kejom Keku in Babanki in Tubah Sub division around 2 am and decided to rest before continuing later. It is at that time that the Governor of the NWR Adolphe Lele Lafrique moved to the site when it was exactly 2:10 am. He said he could not wait for them to come right to Bamenda and when he got the information, he immediately took off to meet them on the way.

The governor collected the messages and the petition they had and ordered for vehicles to carry them back to Mbessa while promising to channel the issue to the hierarchy for prompt solution. The women in turn, thanked him and insisted that if within a week nothing is done they will still treck again to Bamenda.

COMINSUD has trained Peace Volunteers (PVs) from Mbessa and Oku in July 1015. This peaceful and very powerful action can be considered as an outcome of this training and the tireless efforts of the five Mbessa PVs to change peoples minds towards non-violent solutions of conflicts and peaceful civic activities.