by Samuel Brice TJOMB
Researcher, Member of the Confrérie

The Brotherhood of the Mbog-Parliament pictured with Patriarch Mbombog MBOUCK Guillaume, (centre). The flag of Cameroon confirms the allegiance of the Bassa people to the State. The Mbog does not conflict with the values for which the republic stands.

Just as every cult is born from a society, we could affirm that every society develops in function of its natural environment, of which it is contemporaneously the result and the perpetual agent of transformation.
We Africans weep before the destructive action of our peoples. But weeping does not mean renouncing or abdicating! We complain about the aggressiveness of our politicians, so much that, if we compare it with the Napoleonic organisation of society, the Mbog is proof of the control of sociological factors from the beginning of time. The power of the Mbombog is a power of order and equilibrium, so that every individual in the community feels that his person and his possessions are secure. The Mbombog delegates its powers to the other confraternities it is part of. The social organisation is centred on the family: polygamy and the child are recognised as fundamental values

In its daily activities, the Mbombog consults the oracles before making any decision, before undertaking a journey, even before receiving a guest. The Mbog symbolises the universe, the cosmos. It is organised in the same way, in two faces. The word Mbog derives from "Bok" that means:

Patriarch Mbombog MBOUCK Guillaume
to order, to arrange in an order, to obtain a content as dense as possible. From this we understand that the conception of the institution of the Mbog requires perfect positive and negative knowledge of the universe; this is the dualism that some Oriental philosophies refer to.

From this point of view, we see that according to the Mbog, every human being must be in conscious communication with the living beings that make up his group, intermediary with the dead and the ancestors of the group. So we find that life is a constant whole of visible and invisible, of what is above and what is below. With this equilibrium of harmonies, respect for the sacred is guaranteed and nature is preserved. Man trades freely with this nature he belongs to; he does not harm it and he does not transform it, except for the good of the community.

Seen from this point of view, the Mbog is a real religion of nature, a "naturing" nature and a "natured" nature, in which the ordering of things is made by the word. It seems unnecessary to point out that in the Mbog the (spoken) word is more important than the written. The history of the world's great spiritual currents shows us that none of the masters of thought left writings. It is therefore an aberration to want to materialise the African culture with the pretext that it is oral. The reasons for this aggression are to be sought elsewhere.


The mythical cave of Ngog Lituba. A pilgrimage by the Patriarch and the Members of the Brotherhood for a particular blessing of Cameroon.

UM - Derives from the word " NYUM " that means Rainbow, the UM connects the two banks of the river that separates the upper world from the lower world. This confraternity is specialised, among other things, in the rites of procreation and the perpetuation of the race. The UM must not be seen by men and women who are not initiated. Within the UM men have the right to veto.

NGE - This is the confraternity of the BaNGENGE. It is the symbol of force over matter. It is specialised in the sacred dance, the organisation of the funeral ceremonies of the great initiates, the care of intoxications of all types of and all types of executions of death sentences. The NGE possess some chapels, and it is also specialised in rituals to obtain immanent justice, the NGE NJON, an essential sector of the NJEK. From this the expression: "The Gods drive to madness those they want to lose".

NJEK - This confraternity of the BA-NJENJEGA is specialised in the implementation of immanent justice. Its competence extends both in the visible world and in the invisible world. The concept at the base of the actions of this confraternity rest on the principle that things that have been in contact remain connected. This immanent justice never separates from the NGAMBI.

NGAMBI - It is in charge of information. It can access the most secret truths, present or future, through the possibility of communication with ancestors and the interpretation of symbols. It is a dialogue with the luminous.

In Africa we find this consultation of oracles in various cultures, but it is difficult to find it directly associated with a living being. In Burkina-Faso, it is the jackal that serves as a vehicle of divination. The initiates interpret the tracks the animal leaves on a layer of sand prepared especially for this purpose.

Among the Bassa, the Ngambi has various formulas. The most important, that involves a natural living element is called NGAMBI-SI, through which the ancestor, reincarnated in a mygale spider, maintains relationships with the living. The code of communication used is called Dihô of Ngambi, a sort of wooden lamella cut and identified with proper names. Ngambi Dise is made of the scales of the scaly anteater, specifically an anteater killed by a panther. They are painted grey, red and white. Based on the information obtained in the invisible world, the spider arranges the lamellae based on the colours and then the initiate of the Ngambi will interpret tomorrow, based on the signs he has obtained. We can add the Ngambi Likon, obtained from the hands of a twin, the Ngambi maton, etc…

KOO - KOO in the Bassa language, the word Koo means "snail". The importance of the Koo Confraternity lies in the androgynous nature of the snail. It is a confraternity reserved exclusively for women, but it has power over the whole of the community. It is the holder of the sacred dance.

There are other Confraternities:

The MBAK for the purification of voluntary regicides, parricides and homicides. The LIKAA to absolve incest, BAKON, a confraternity specialised in communication with the hands of the dead belonging to the group (not to be confused with the spiritism that allows communication procedures with demons), the elementary spirits called KON.
All of these Confraternities work in harmony and in secrecy to safeguard the group, the clan or the community. They reinforce the power of the Mbombog and are, in the eyes of the expert observer, the emanation of divine powers.
We must underline at this point that the Mbog is a life, as it is an all that includes the universe (the visible part and the invisible part) and at the same time an organising system of the life of the community, with strict respect for natural laws and human laws. In this context, the function of the Mbombog can be compared to that of the demiurge. He does not modify the ancestral law, but keeps watch over it and protects it: he limits himself to orienting tradition in the right direction, towards its fulfilment, beyond time.

The Mbombog also has functions as guardian of the people and of ancestral values; he watches over the natural sites that represent the remains of his civilisation and of his tradition.

For the two hundred ethnic groups present in Cameroon, the culture of the Mbog is the one that holds the sacred power.

In fact, the consequences of the arrival of Christianity in Africa on the spiritual plane were the extermination of the large ethnic groups that practiced a natural religion. In most of the ethnic groups, the traditional authority left space for the prolongation of the colonial administration, with the appearance of traditional circumscriptions, which, however, did not have real authority over the populations, because the Bassa people never disassociated their spirituality from their social organisation. Therefore, the Mbombog is both the spiritual guide and the head of the community.

M. Samuel Brice TJOMB conferring an honour
on a member of the Brotherhood.

For a long time the western presence did great harm to the autochthonous peoples, who had to forsake most of their ancient beliefs in favour of Christianity and Islam. We should remember that just a few years ago it was forbidden to celebrate the NGOINDO, the traditional cult festival of the Sawa people, who live on the banks of the Wouri River.

On an administrative level, colonisation marked the boundaries of geographical spaces based on the centres of interest and of riches that its first representatives came to exploit in Cameroon. The slave trade contributed a great deal to isolate the people who, centuries later, find it very difficult to find again their history and their origins.

In Cameroon, the Bassa people suffered for a long time and they continue to suffer under colonial and neo-colonial policies, because of their fierce resistance to western penetration into their living space. For wanting to preserve their biotope and their environment, many were exterminated, and many others were deported to Brazilian sugar refineries. But the irruption of the colonists into Cameroon did not annihilate the Mbog. An ancestral saying states:
" The Mbog is like the fall of a chimpanzee: the chimpanzee falls and gets up again, the Mbog falls and gets up again ".

The spirituality of the Mbog has remained secure in spite of the turpitude of the Bassa people. This is due to the fundamental value of the initiations and to the profound notion of the sacred, and therefore to the silence that envelops the practice of the Mbog. Another saying declares that:
" No one must sacrifice the Mbog to an outburst of emotion; to anger towards those who profane it".

The Mbog remains intact! This is the great revelation made by the patriarchs. In fact, not a single letter has been removed from its practice, as even the power of money has not been able to harm its essential value. Another proverb states:
" The Mbog can not be exchanged with the pieces of a viper ", to say that however rich, powerful or even gentle one may be, he will never be able to access the Mbog if he is not judged worthy.

The Mbog is not written, like most of the world's religions. The heart is the safest pace to protect a secret. Like the Torah, the book of the Torah is not the Torah! The writings on the Holy Grail are not the Holy Grail! This truth is the foundation of the guarantee that the practice of the Mbog will remain inviolate forever. Its only method of transmission is the (spoken) word.


The Mbog recognises five types of words:

- THE WORD OF THE FACE: This is the first knowledge. Its task is to provide simple explanations.

- THE WORD OF THE SIDE: This is the second knowledge. It deepens the explanations, it draws attention to some essential parts of the rites.

- THE WORD OF THE BACK: This is the third knowledge, responsible for providing syntheses that regard vast wholes. It shows the correlations between things.

- THE CLEAR WORD: As Marcel Griaule said in The Oral Tradition (1952), "it deals with the edifice of knowledge in its orderly (ordered) complexity".

Being levels of knowledge, for the Bassa the word is conveyed by the common language, but also by the secret languages hidden by sacred texts and modalities of silence. According to the Mbog, the human microcosm makes of the word a creating power, a form of positive and negative transformation. In this, we can state that the macrocosm and the microcosm, God and Man, the universe and society, totality and specificity all coexist in Africa in a relationship of homomorphism.


MBOG = Panther-men and legislators.
NGE = Leopard-men and executors.
UM = Watersnake-men and judges.
KOO = Snail-women.
NGAM = Spider-men and prophets (soothsayers).