Controversies about Prince Sama Ndi

From: Peter Awoh A <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 9:28 AM

One thing which is clear is that at the onset of  formal education, only the stubborn children were sent to school. it used to be said if you are stubborn your father will send you to school. secondly because of the harsh corporal punishment many princes could not stomach the insults of being beaten by commoners. It must have been under this background that Prince Sama went to school. He will a source of many mischief in kom oral traditions for years. one of these case was the mass exodus of the wives from the palace. The Fon had sent his most stubborn and eldest son, Sama, to school. When he finished his studies he had the ears of the whiteman. He told them there was a lot of abuse at the palace as the Fon was increasing the number of his wives just as a herdsman would increase the stock of his cattle. He came back to the palace and explained to the Fon's wives that they were being abused (...) He told them that they had a right to revolt and that the whiteman would be on their side if they did (...) The Nafoin bought his idea and teamed up with him to persuade the young wives to run away.

This campaign was further strengthened when the whiteman came to the palace. They interviewed all the wives and were surprised to notice that more than half of those women had never had sexual intercourse with the Fon. Some of them had been to the Fon's bed only once or twice (...) The whiteman, Tifi (the Nafoin) and Sama Ndi, the only educated prince, in one day caused forty-three of the Fon's wives to desert him. Some of them, who were afraid of the chindas, did not stop over at Njinikom for purification, and some never came back to Njinikom at all

The role of Prince Sama Ndi in the affair is unclear. The commotion caused by the publication of the aforementioned nun's article, is ascribed in oral tradition to initiatives taken by the educated prince. Yet colonial records suggest that Sama was not in the least pleased by the mass exodus, and he pleaded that the D.O. intervene to put an end to the unrest at the palace which ensued the exodus: The villagers shout about that we, the sons of the Fon, have written a letter to report to the whiteman that the Fon keeps 600 wives. That the Fon catches women by force. The villagers mock us and say that you have promised to disclose the names of the chief's sons who wrote the letter.2 The prince begged the D.O. to do just that, and thereby put an end to the gossip, upon which he was curtly informed by the D.O. that not a prince, but European source, had been the cause of the consternation

Peter Awoh Acho

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