Origins of the Tribe
The general name “Bakossi has come to refer to the people on the immediate western and eastern slopes of Mount Mwanenguba and Mount Kupe who share Ngoe as a common ancestor. According to oral tradition, Ngoe is said to have “appeared on Manenguba Mountain.” He and his wife settled on the western slopes at Mwekan and had many children, the number and birth order differing according to oral traditions of the various clans. From these slopes their offspring migrated to different areas. However, two sons, Anngoe (Nninong) and Ngemengoe (Bangem), remained with their father in the north.
One son, Asomengo, was prompted by a family clash to move southward, occupying land which stretched from a little south of Muambong to the Ngomelenge (Efoto) River (near Mambanda), and from Mount Kupe in the east to the Mungo River in the west. Some of Aso Mengo’s children, however, remained north. Over time, some lines of descendants aligned themselves with Anongoe’s children (Nninong) at Elom, becoming the “Elom-e-Nninong.” The others who insisted on their original identity became known as “Elom-e-Muetan.”
Another son, Kaahmogue (Elung), clashed continually with his brothers in his pursuit of land. Among Kaahnogue’s children, however, there were two groups of “deserters” who wanted to settle and stop fighting: the Elung (who remained in the area) and the Balong (who migrated farther south).According to one tradition, the Nhia were those who left the Nninong clan to gain land in the highlands (present day villages of Mwabi, Poala and Ekambeng). It is said by some that the Elung clashed with the Nhia and nearly brought them to extinction-a claim that both the Nhia and Elung deny. In fact, the Nhia and Elung themselves say that there was never strife between them for lang. The Nhia also refuse to acknowledge that they are of Nninong origin and instead insist that their origin is from Ngoe through Kaahngoe (Elung). Today relations between Nhia and Elung are more cordial and fraternal than between Nhia and Nninong.
After the various brothers had migrated, there was a lack of cohesion among the descendants of Ngoe due to internal conflicts. The coming of the Europeans caused additional conflict, first between chiefs and colonial administrators, but particularly between clans. Bakossi from Nyasoso helped the Germans defeat the Bakossi of Mwasundem and the Nninong helped the Germans defeat Ellung, events that resulted in strong enmity between these clans.
After World War I, Cameroon was given by a League of Nations mandate to the French and British governments. The dividing line passed through Bakossi land and continual changes brought confusions, divisions, interclan and intertribal difficulties. Independence followed for the French sector and the time of Cameroon’s reunification in which there was intense bitterness between opponents and supporters of the reunification within the Bakossi.
As early as 1936 the setting up of a combined appeals court set the stage for the unity of at least some of the sons of Ngoe under a single administration. In 1953, all of Bakossi came together under one indigenous authority known as Kumba Eastern Area Federation. In 1963, the “Bangem” District was created incorporating all of Bakossi, but in 1968 this was split into Bangem (Northern Bakossi) and Tombel (Southern Bakossi). In 1977, the common Bakossi Council for these two areas was also split into Bangem (Northern Bakossi) and Tombel (Southern Bakossi).
Bakossi share ancestry with the Bafaw, Bakundu, Balong, Bassossi, Mbo, Abo, Miamilo, Baneka, Muaneman, Muange, Bareko, Bakaka, Babong, Balondo, Manehas, Bongkeng, and Bakem.
Reference: The Tradition of a People: Bakossi by Edjedepang-Koge (1986)