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Takum Chieftaincy Stool Was Established By Chamba But The British Forcefully Transferred It To Kutebs’

Historian, Joel Nuvalga Says  Chamba Suffered Injustice For 110 Years In Takum 


On the on-going Takum Chieftaincy issues, one of the ethnic groups jostling for the throne, the Kuteb ethnic group have noticeably gone on overdrive in making their claims to the extent that they have resorted to abusing everybody and distorting the history of Takum as a settlement.
In this way they have used outright lies, disobedience to government and traditional authorities, threats to individuals and other ethnic groups all in an unsuccessful attempt to distract and deter the government from carrying out its constitutional duties to the people.
Their main contention is that the Takum chieftaincy stool ''belongs' to them and should thus be reserved for them exclusively and not be ''shared'' with others namely the Chambas ethnic group as well as the Kpanzun. To buttress their claim they have launched into a campaign of lies about the history of Takum trying unsuccessfully to prove that indeed there was a succession of Kuteb rulers dating back uninterruptedly right from the sixteenth century.
The Kutebs make these claims in a vain effort to prove that the Chambas who they consider as their main opponents in the Takum chieftaincy have no valid claims to the stool at all. They have even gone as far as taking the liberty to write the history of Chamba people not just in the Takum area but Chamba people as a whole. And the Kutebs want people to believe that what they say about the Chamba people is the truth and Chambas cannot say anything about themselves but accept the Kuteb narrative.
And it appears the Kutebs are so serious about this mission of fancy that they have chosen one Rikwense Muri to spearhead their campaign of calumny against not just the Chamba but just about everyone else in southern Taraba and the Government of Taraba state. Muri who calls himself ''Ambassador'' (without proof of diplomatic experience whatsoever) has taken it upon himself to abuse any person or institution he perceives is against the Kuteb cause not minding the consequences that will follow his actions. He has not stopped there. He has been trying to rally and mobilize his Kuteb kinsmen to resort to disobedience against the Government of Taraba state currently working to review the issues surrounding the Takum chieftaincy stool. While doing this, Muri has also openly threatened the Chamba people with violence for legitimately making their claims to the Takum chieftaincy stool.
It is quite surprising that with the myriad of respected, educated, responsible and recognised men of calibre among the Kutebs, none among them could call this uncouth young man to order. Indeed it is baffling that Kuteb elders and various Kuteb organizations prominent among them the Kuteb Yatso seem to have been influenced by the activities of this young man who represents a threat to all and sundry including the Kuteb elders themselves. Muri has become such a nuisance that even moderate minded Kutebs have found it difficult to express their views on the issue for fear of being killed. The Kuteb have boxed themselves into a corner by refusing to dialogue with government and stakeholders in Taraba over the Takum chieftaincy issue. They have refused the olive branch extended by government resolve the matter amicably. They have antagonized the state House of Assembly calling the members puppets of the governor. They have intimidated those among them who want to choose the part of moderation and dialogue. All they want is for the government to listen and implement their claim of reserving the Takum stool to them alone.
But nobody should be under any illusion that the Takum stool belongs to Kutebs alone. Yes the Kutebs are the aborigines of the area. But before the Chambas came to the Takum area there were never any records of Kutebs living under a central authority under one King or ruler. The Kutebs were known to be living in clans with each living independent of one another and fiercely protecting their autonomy.
The Chambas met them in that condition and as they came in waves of migration they fought and subdued some of the Kuteb clans namely the Likam and Asante during the 1830s. And in the areas they conquered, the Chambas began to set up central authority to organize the area properly. Some of the Kuteb clans fearing conquest from the Chambas fled to the mountainous area for safety and remained there organizing guerrilla attacks and literarily eating those they captured and killed.
This was the situation the British met when they came to the area. The British because they were in competition with the Germans in the area never trusted the Chambas. The Chambas rulers of the area stayed strictly neutral in the fight between the British and Germans and this, the British did not want. They wanted the Chamba rulers to support them.
So in 1914 when World War one broke out the British ousted the Chamba Chief of Takum, Yamusa under the trumped charges of slave raiding on the Kuteb people. He was thus deposed and banished to Ibbi. And to add salt to the injustice meted out to the Chamba in Takum, the British decided to transfer the Takum Chieftaincy stool first established by the Chamba to the two Kuteb families under the Chamba in Takum the Likam and Akante who had never ruled in Takum history.
From 1914 due to the injustice done to the Chambas, the Kutebs have had the chance to rule Takum to the exclusion of the Chambas who incidentally were the ones who established the throne.
But as God will have it, exactly one hundred and ten years after the injustice of 1914, the almighty God has seen it fit to give back to the Chambas what the British took from them. The Kutebs did not establish the Takum Chieftaincy stool they are now claiming is theirs. Indeed the Chambas should be the ones to claim exclusive right to the throne because they established it and not the Kutebs who are shouting of ownership of what does not belong to them in the first place.
If anybody should be threatening fire and brimstone over the Takum chieftancy it is the Chambas. But as is their custom and tradition as humble, law abiding people, the Chambas have not sought to fight the Kutebs or the government over a matter that is rightfully theirs by all evidence available. And in the interest of peace and mutual co-existence they have even agreed to share what their forefathers established in Takum without complain.
My appeal to my Kuteb brothers is to go back and do some deep thinking. The Takum of today is cosmopolitan town that contains many ethnic groups who have been living peacefully for years. There have been intermarriages between them that today the lines of ethnic difference have been gradually closing. We are no longer in the days of savagery where issues were settled by bloodletting. We are now in the age of dialogue and peaceful co-existence. We should use the mechanism of discussion over our difference and put our trust in the government that we have elected and institutions to assist us in doing so.

Joel Nuvalga is a retired School Principal who teaches History and based in Takum

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