The history of Bambui Kingdom spans over 600 years and like the history of most Bamenda Grassfield Kingdoms is one of conquer and conquest. Bambui Kingdom traces its ancestry to the Tikar ethnic group, which extends from some parts of northern Cameroon to southern Chad and Sudan. Like other Tikar ethnic groups such as the Bamilikes, Nsos, Balis and Bamuns, the people of Bambui (“Mbeuh”) also speak a Bantu language and have closely similar social structures. According to some accounts, the people of Bambui migrated from Tibati in the Adamawa region of Cameroon through the Mbam valley in the Western region. Migrating in waves and led by family heads and/or princes, they initially settled in the Ndop plains after fighting and conquering a number of wars along their way. The most popular family heads and whose successors have remained sub-chiefs to date include:
Tah Formanjuh, Tah Moteh and Tah Formallam.
Two other family heads who are also sub-chiefs are Forkubeuh and Tih Fingeh. They migrated with their followers to the Kingdom about seventy years ago. Forkubeuh and Tih Fingeh emigrated to the Kingdom following chieftaincy and land disputes in their original ancestral homes of Santa Mbeh and Kom, respectively. Some other equally important groups that followed and that have made Bambui a melting pot of cultures are the Bamuns and the Mbororos/Fulanis. It is worth noting that during the journey from Tibati to the present location of the Kingdom, Tah Formanjuh in particular played a key role in keeping the family groups together. Formanjuh was said to own a fetish bag, “megong-a-buh,” which had the powers of uniting the families and empowering them to overcome adversities.
At the Ndop plains, the families regrouped, chose a leader, and fought their way to the present location of the Kingdom. On arrival, they settled at Feudeuh, a small hilly neighbourhood that is located near IRAD. Thanks to the foresight and expansionist propensity of the first king, King Zetingong, his people fought and conquered more territory from some other migrant groups. This accounts for the several war/security trenches that run through the length and breadth of the Kingdom. Having conquered more territory, the family heads and their followers resettled in the new neighbourhoods of Manju, Matullah and Mallam. New arrivals also settled in these and several other neighbourhoods as Zetingong relentlessly conquered more territory.
Before the arrival of Zetingong and his people to the present location, one Pa Ntchuh who had composed some scintillating folk music and dance which he called “Kwifor” was already living in the area. Ntchuh, who was said to be a tall and lanky man, was living in a hut in the heart of a thick forest. He was reportedly discovered by a group of villagers who reported the discovery to King Zetingong. King Zetingong met with Pa Ntchuh and after discovering that Ntchuh’s “Kwifor” had lots of powers, he allegedly “tricked” him into foregoing his Kwifor in exchange for ornaments and another “juju.” Ntchuh’s Kwifor would become the symbol of power and authority in Bambui. To date, Kwifor has the powers and authority over everyone in the Kingdom, including the King.
King Zetingong, alias the Napoleon of Bambui was succeeded by King Lungsi. In all, there have been 21 Kings in Bambui to date; two of whom were women. In Bambui as it is the case in most Bamenda Grassfield Kingdoms, the heir to the throne is chosen by his predecessor from among his direct descendants, excluding the eldest son or daughter. In the past, Kings were believed to be endowed with supernatural powers that allowed them to change into an animal-preferably an elephant, lion, or leopard. The King was responsible for rituals of planting and harvesting, for the annual dance, for the opening of the collective royal hunt, and for expeditions of war. Together with “Kwifor,” he/she renders justice and acts as the chief priest and custodian of the culture of the land. He is assisted in this role by his “tchindahs” or nobles.
Princes and their sons did not and still do not participate in any institutions of power such as the Kwifor. However, they have their own association, which is known as “Tekeuh.” Until recently, the King’s palace was always built on a hill. The very first palace of the Kingdom, for example, was built at Matullah, a hilly neighborhood in the centre of the Kingdom. This was purely for security reason. The belief was that with the palace on a hill, enemies coming to the Kingdom could be seen from afar and attacked easily. However, with the modernization of warfare and the relatively peaceful co-existence of communities, things have changed. All told, the Bambui Kingdom is a reflection of similar Tikar Kingdoms of the Bamenda Grassfields of Cameroon.