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TRACING THE BAKWERI ORIGIN (MOKPE)


The Bakweri’s use of the term Mokpela Nambongo to refer to a free-born Bakweri. This gives rise to the nomenclature whereby “Mokpeli” could be termed as child of Nambongo. Other examples may include Kul’a Kombe, meaning Kulu, son of Kombe. Ittman reports that the Bakweri’s claim the same ancestor as the Dualas.

Historical records show that the Mokpes originally came from the Bomboko (Womboko) country of the South – Western slopes of mount Cameroon. Isolated groups reached the river Mungo while others moved through the creeks where they met with Duala and Mungo fishermen, as seen in the villages of Mudeka and others that lie along the road to Douala itself. Sprouted groups also progressed in their migration and mingled with the coasters of Ambas Bay and the Mbokos.



The two villages in the Bakweri land with unusual traditions of origin are those of Maumu village, who are rumoured to come from the Songe river in the Kumba area. A similar thing also applies to those of Bonjongo (Wonjongo) village who claim to be descended from Njonge, a man from Ebonji on the creeks which is the reverse of the usual direction of migration. Apart from these two villages, all other Bakweri villages believe to be directly or indirectly from Bomboko country via the North of the mountain.

The tradition of Gbea (Buea) states that one Eyeh Njie son of Tama, and grandson of Lifanje used to come from Bomboko to hunt on the East ward side of the mountain with a friend Nakande. Nakande used to hunt near the site of the present Bonakanda (Wonakana), while Eyeh Njie moved to the Mosole (pronounced moszoleh) stream near the present Gbea. It is here that he built his first shelter (luwondo) in which he slept and smoked the meat of the animals he killed during hunting.


It was not long when Eyeh Njie decided to bring along his wives and planted gardens to his settlement he had made near the Mosole stream. He called this place ‘LIGBEA’ which means a place where work is in hand. This settlement became permanent as he was later joined by friends and relatives from Bomboko. The name of this settlement “Ligbea” was later changed to Gbea when the Germans had no place for the ‘Gb’ in their alphabets, so to ease the pronunciation, they called it Buea, as it is today.



Meanwhile, Nakande‘s settlement also became permanent as it was named Wonakanda, a name stemming from Wonya Nakande, children of Nakande.

It has also been suggested that frequent eruption on the mountain deterred the early occupation of Gbea. No record on the Mokpe people existed before 1841, when they appeared as the ‘Bakwerians’ a form of Duala name Bakwedi.




THE PATRILINEAL NATURE OF THE MOKPE EXPANSION



The genealogy of the chief’s family of Buea indicates four generations between Eyeh Njie who arrived Gbea about 1770 and Kuva Likenye who died in 1894.

The founding of new villages in the Mokpe expansion shows that one man, with a few relatives and friends could move to a place and the new settlement will be named after their leader. The prefix “wo” or the word ‘Wonya’ meaning children of or descendants of was commonly used to enable the people trace their origin.


Villages - Suspected founders or leaders

Wonjongo - Njonge, a man from Ebonji

Wonakanda - Nakande, a hunter and friend of Eyeh Njie.

Woteke - possibly Teke Mokake

Wovilla - possibly descendants of Billa Teke

Wonyanangoh - possibly Nangoh.

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