Kingdom of Kom (page 2)
Matrilineal and Patrilineal Succession
The Koms differ significantly from other ethnic groups in that it practices matrilineal succession. Matrilineal is a complex way of organizing and allocating rights, regulating marriage and inheritance of property such that ownership of a deceased male’s (property, wives, children born or unborn) is legally transferred to his nephew rather than to his son. However, it is complicated if a deceased male did not have a nephew or son of his sister. In this case, succession is continued in the line of first cousins. This is exactly what happened to Maiyili, my mother’s only husband. Maiyili was an only child in the family and considered a “dry branch.” After he was murdered by the hand of his own father, his property was ostensibly transferred to Barnabas Afuma, his first cousin and next in line of succession. In Kom culture, Barnabas Afuma is my legitimate adoptive father though he is not my biological father. My biological father, Nsom Nabi died in the 1980s. I don’t know him and have never met him. The practice, however, is gradually becoming obsolete.
Where else is matrilineal succession practiced in World? Matrilineal succession is not only practiced by the people of Kom. According to Microsoft Encarta, 2005 issue;
“Matrilineage, in sociological and anthropology, is a system of social organization in which descent is traced through the female line and all children belong to the clan of the mother. The system is occasionally associated with inheritance in the female line of material goods and social prerogatives. Matrilineage is practiced in cultures found throughout the world. It is found in varying forms among the original inhabitants of Australia, Sumatra, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Taiwan; in India in Assam and along the Malabar Coast; in Africa in many regions; and in North America among a number of indigenous.”
The Dynasty of Fons
The Kom kingdom is ruled by a Fon or King. The dynasty of Fons was founded in Laikom by Nandong who subsequently bequeathed the throne to her grand son, Njinabo 1 as the first Fon. It is maintained that this was the beginning of matrilineal succession in the Kingdom. There have been 15 Fon’s since the creation of Kom dynasty. Fon Yuh (1865-1912), was the longest serving Fon and was instrumental in carving Afo-A-Kom. He had many wives inherited from his predecessors. Fon Yuh II is the current Fon since 1995.
“The Fon is head of the traditional government and is considered the secular and spiritual leader of the kingdom. Nothing seems to be beyond the Fon’s competence. He is the recognized and legitimate ruler. His supreme authority symbolizes unity.”
Afo-A-Kom is a primitively carved wooded statute used annually by Kom inhabitants, for ceremonial purposes. It is an important emblem of Kom stored with other sacred Kom groupings at the Royal compound in Laikom. The statute was made at about 1865 by Fon or King Yuh, the 7th ruler of Kom.
Afo-A-Kom was stolen to New York City in 1966, discovered and returned to Kom 7 years later and through intense diplomatic maneuverings by the Nixon and Ahidjo administrations. The incident brought Kom to international prominence.
“The Afo-A-Kom is a Royal standing figure holding a baton in front of the chest, standing behind the throne and supported by buffalo heads. The male figure depicts the Royal family. Afo-a-Kom is a portrait of Fon Yu, mother of the queen, a royal wife, and a child and 2 court attendants. It is beaded in red and blue for unity and diversity. It is balanced on the throne of authority. The scepter represents the oath of office. In Kom dialect, Afo-A-Kom means “something that belongs to Kom. Afo-A-Kom is a symbol of continuity, solidarity and social stability; it is a symbol of love, hospitality and generosity; it is a symbol of unity, diversity and tolerance; and of justice and sovereignty.”