Mbessa is a village in Belo Sub Division,BOYO Division in the North West Region of Cameroon.Mbessa shares boundaries with Oku, Ndin (Noni), Akeh, and Kom. Mbessa is ruled by a 2nd class chief who is under the paramount Fon of Kom in Boyo Division. Mbessa is located at the hilly site of the western highlands of Cameroon.
The people are involved in some small craftwork. This concerns woodwork for masks, statutes and some equipment like stools. Baskets woven with grass are made and used for putting corn fufu (‘kel’). Masks are also made for juju’s. Other carvings are used for decorations in churches, doors, stools etc
The traditional dress is the embroidered material made especially with white on black colors or with some other common colors in the North West Region. (Bikom Style) Others use the embroidered gawns with jumpers. Also very common is the typical wrapper and blouse that girls and women wear.
In Mbessa houses are constructed with typical mud blocks and grass rooftops or corrugated iron sheets. The difference with that of the Fulanis' is that the Fulanis' have traditional round huts, which are now being gradually replaced. A few of these round huts still exist in Afua. The main Fulani settlement at Ijim Mountain forest is a palace in itself and does not have this typical Fulani huts. as seen below
Thus the traditional gown and thatched brick house characteristic of grassland people are very common in Mbessa. The picturesque site shows corrugated rooftops near and far and also symbolizes an improvement in the standard of living of the population.
CARNIVAL FESTIVALS AND DANCES
Mbessa is blessed with very beautiful dances. These are executed in men’s groups, women’s groups and youth groups. Traditional grassland rhythms characterize the music of the people. The popular rhythm of the ‘Natang -a jang" dance, "Menang" dance, "Nkah" dance, "Ndong" dance and "Njang" dance are very common and appreciated in Mbessa as well as in other parts of Boyo , Bui , Menchum , Ngoketugia, Mezam division and the country at large. . Others include ‘Ndong’ dance, the ‘jang’ or xylophone dance, ‘fibweing’ , the ‘Chong’ dance and ‘ "Manjong" dance"Nfuh" and other special dances are enjoyed by the people and are good potential for tourist events.
Musical instruments include drums, xylophones, flutes and rattles of various kinds.
HISTORIC AND CUTURAL SITES
The main historic site is the Mbessa Fon's palace which is the seat of the Mbessa people. Other cultural sites include the Timati museums , Akuongwa Cave, "Abe" Itinikum, and "keti" where some traditional shrines exist for the cleansing of the people at the beginning of the dry season.
The staple food of the Mbessa people is Corn fufu, ‘katikati’(chicken roasted with its feathers, cut in small pieces and cooked in red oil with spices) with huckleberry, a local vegetable specie. This food is greatly enjoyed by the people. A guest knows he/she is well treated if large lumps of this foodstuff are served to them. Pounded colocasia with various soups and a small variety of other meals are coming in with the cultivation of potatoes and beans. A special meal and drink made from guinea corn is also a delicacy used for ceremonies.
SITUATION OF THE WOMAN
Mbessa is practicing patrilineal inheritance, unlike the Koms that practice matrilineal inheritance pattern. This places the Mbessa women in a better position in the village.
Marriage in Mbessa is a respected institution. There are three main types of marriages that are contracted in the area. These include:-
The traditional marriage - It comprises about four steps - consultation or the introduction of the supposed couple; the knock door- during which the traditional rites are performed with some eating and drinking and exchange of some token gifts of firewood, oil, wine, and kola nuts. The third step is the real traditional marriage or “Ndoavi “. This is done on an agreed day in the home of the fathers and uncles. The bride price is given. The amount varies. On another day the ‘Ndoavi’ especially for the mothers is done. During this period oil is given at varied quanties.The bride is partially anointed with cam wood. The would-be husband brings her gifts of loincloth, bracelets and other gifts in a box. At about 4 am she is then taken to her husband’s home. There is feasting i.e. drinking and eating. The final step called “Chah-wi” comes after the “Ndoavi” and comprises heavy feasting. However the "chak-avi" can come even after the court and church mariage.ie This can be done several years after the ‘Ndoavi’. The girl is beautified with traditional ornaments and fully anointed with cam wood all over the body. “Ndowain” is at the period of delivery. Special planning and food rites are observed. And the occasion takes place at the girls mothers home. The child pepper “Fisus” is eaten which comprises dry meat cooked in a lot of oil, with salt
The marriage contracted at the civil registry - this follows after the traditional marriage. Done at the council office in the presence of witnesses. The scope of this depends greatly on how the family wants it to be.
Church wedding - This is emphasized by those who are Christians. They believe in having the marriage solemnized in a church in Western style. The magnitude of the wedding depends on the resources available to the couple
The implication of these ceremonies to development has to do with the way and manner in which resources are allocated and used.
Divorce is not very common but traditionally it is deemed effected when the bride price is totally paid back or when the girls father takes to himself all the children of his daughter.
The treatment given to widows depends greatly on the family background of the couple. In some families the widow is taken over by the brother in law, while in others, where the sister in laws son takes over the inheritance, the widow could decide to have children with the uncles of the man or the successor.
Burial rites are not very traditional these days. When a person dies and is buried, e.g. the husband, the “ Ndoah efuh*” the house in which the widow and her mother in law are found, the food of the dead ”abana ndoah efuh” is prepared and put in a traditional tray woven with grass and put in the middle of the compound. The daughters cook the food while the sons provide drinks. The significance is that when this is provided then you have effectively mourned the dead.