Lenale Ndem UNESCO Club Cruwns Mafua Dorothy Ndikum

Lenale Ndem UNESCO Club Cruwns Mafua Dorothy Ndikum

HRM Fonjinju Tatabong Alexander of Lenale Ndem Palace in Melong, littoral region crowned Mrs. Dorothy Ndikum as Mafua of Befuah (Queen of Chiefs) following her dexterity in coordinating a live CRTV Monday Show in Melong. Mafua Dorothy is sub director of television production of CRTV Mballa II Yaoundé. She decided to produce Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) Monday Show out of the studio in Melong after one organized in Kumba, meme Division, south west region of Cameroon. Lenalendem Palace situated in Melong, Moungo division, Cameroon was imported from Lebialem some 65 years ago by a woman called Mama Mafuankeng Forminka Esther. She was married to Mbe TATABONG, a native of Lewoh-Lebialem, an ex-German soldier who participated in the First World War in 1914. Many years later, Mafuankeng lost her husband and because of some misunderstanding within the family and because of the need to protect her numerous children, decided to carry them and escape to Melong. The choice of Melong, she said, was because when she got married in her youth, her husband used to trek with her from the village through Dschang-Santchou-Melong and to Bare Market for business reasons. Bare, according to her, had the largest market in the whole region in those days. During her numerous journeys to Bare through Melong, she understood that Melong had fertile soil for farming. Secondly the place was the furthest ; where she could hide her children for security reasons. Concerning the misunderstanding back home, she explained that when her husband died people around her developed some sort of jealousy towards her and the children because of their hard work. While already settled in Melong she started by acquiring a piece of land from the natives to build a house for her and her children and another piece for farming. She started with cocoyams, groundnut, banana, corn, vegetables etc.

When she realised that she had acquired enough to feed her children, she started to build a small shop in the roadside on the Bafoussam-Douala highway. This was to sell some of the crops. She did this with the help of her children. The shop was built with local material and she sold cola nuts, bananas, vegetables, pineapples and groundnut to passengers on their way to and fro. Asked how many children she had left the village with, she answered : « In the Nweh Tradition where I come from, it is forbidden for a parent to count his or her children. If you started counting them God will say you have had enough and may not give you more or even decide to take some away ». This is why each time people asked how many children she had she always answered that it was God alone who knew the number of her children and not her herself.

Within the time, one of the sons, TATABONG Alexander, decided to join the Cameroon Army. The reason was that he wanted to replace his late father as a German soldier. He was recruited and served in the Gendarmerie for 35 years. During these years of service, he went across the country and so created a lot of relationships for himself. Just like his late father, he collected artefacts and carvings from all regions of Cameroon. He added them to what his late father Mbe TATABONG had left. In order to promote what had been started in Melong by his mother Mafuankeng Forminka Esther, he created a museum. With close to 2800 pieces of art and crafts. The government inaugurated a UNESCO Club there and it is today one of the biggest in the country. He has also built a palace in accordance with the mother’s plans. It has natural symbols, as God’s Will translated as LENALE-NDEM in Nweh Language of Lebialem. The small shop built by the mother has been transformed into a big commercial centre thanks to the efforts of her son Tatabong Alexander, the whole family and friends. It receives over 10000 visitors daily; be they from Melong community, travellers from West, North West, parts of South West and Mbanga and Douala from Littoral. Tourists also come in to enjoy themselves in the market.

Because of the leadership roles of Tatabong Alexander, he was crowned Chief of Lenalendem Community. A monument for Mama Mafuankeng has also been erected in the centre of the palace. It is 1m 80cm tall and 1m 60cm wide, weighing 1000 Kg (one ton). This monument represents her entirely; showing how she left her native Nweh land with her children to Melong and the present population of Lenalendem. Twenty carvers from different regions of Cameroon too ten years to complete the artistic work. The monument was finished and inaugurated on 7 November 1997. It is placed on the grave of late Mama Mafuankeng in the inner temple of the palace. Tourists and visitors can exceptionally be allowed access only on special traditional days and after the performance of certain rites. Mama Mafuankeng died at the age of 95 leaving behind so many children that she refused to number and we have no right to do so. She created a whole village known today as Lenalendem. The cultural richness of the palace would have attracted CRTV to choose it for organizing the Monday Show which brought together several thousands of spectators and participants the 14th December, 2015.

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