The appointment of a new traditional Babadjou Chief, in Western Cameroon, is generating many comments. At 17, Sambakeng Kaffo Langevin was made king of this group on 6 May. And for some, he is too young to rule. For them, it would even be a first in this area of the country! It is however common to see child-chiefs or teenager-chiefs in Bamiléké kingdoms.
In January 2016, Djeutsa Sonkoué Adrien, 13 years old, took command of the Batcham chieftaincy. It has occurred for a chief to be appointed as such, just after their birth.
“Indeed, if the son of a king is born shortly after the death of his father, the Council of 9 dignitaries could appoint him as heir to the throne”, explains Léonard Fandja, dignitary in the Bantoubo chieftaincy. The latter reveals that if the chief is appointed while still very young and therefore unable to undergo the initiation rites (La’akam), a temporary chief will assume power until the king is fully capable of assuming his duties.
Mr. Fandja even took control of the Bantoubo chieftaincy in the Ndé department, for 14 years. “His Majesty was appointed when he was only 10 years old. I stood in for him until he was 24; enough time for him to even get his engineering degree”, he continues. As a reminder, chiefs in Bamiléké country are like presidents. And the first advisor is the equivalent of a prime minister.
Monique Ngo Mayag