by Samuel Brice TJOMB
Researcher, member of the Confrérie

The Bassa are a native Bantu people of Cameroon, extending right into West Africa, where they constitute numerous families. Their scattered location derives not only from the migratory movements which led to the fanning out of certain large tribes, but also from the effects of colonisation.

To date, the following families have been identified:

  • The Bassa of Ouesso and the Bassa la Mpasu, who live in Congo-Brazzaville (currently the Republic of the Congo) and Congo-Kinshasa (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
  • The Bassa-Ngê found in the area surrounding the confluence of the rivers Bénoué and Niger. Other groups are also present here, such as the BASSA-NKOMO and the BASSA-KADUNA.
  • The branch which has its ramifications in Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo, known by the name of Bassa-Ri.
  • The Cameroonian branch, which is found throughout the South of Cameroon, without doubt the most numerous, with around a million people out of a total population of fifteen million for the country as a whole. In Cameroon, the Bassa are found between 3°45 and 11°45 east of Greenwich. They can also be found between 3°05 and 5° latitude north.
  • The Bassa people of the Cameroon consist of three sub-groups: the BABIMBI, the LIKOL e the BIKOK.

    The Babimbi did not take part in the crossing of the River Sanaga. Their natural territory lies not far from the mythical cave known as NGOG LITUBA (the Open Stone), the spiritual relic and natural shrine of the Bassa people.

    The Likol, also known as the No-nlon (meaning: Those who are upstream) are located in the Nyong-Et-Kellé division, the rear stronghold in the struggle for the independence of Cameroon.

    The Bikok are found on this side of the River Sanaga, between the Babimbi and the Likol.

    The genealogy of the Bassa

    The Bassa are unanimous in tracing their descent from a single ancestor. They are all the children of MBAN.
    The word "Bassa" derives its singular form from "Nsa", meaning retribution, sharing. A quarrel between Mban's sons over the sharing out of a snake brought back from hunting is said to have led to the people being given the name "Bassa", meaning "the kidnappers".
    Other tribal ancestors are also identified, together comprising the members of the Bassa pantheon, the SOGOL, meaning the ancestors of the subsequent generations.

    The word "babimbi" is nothing more than the name given by certain members of the clan to those who no longer wanted to carry on walking after crossing the River Sanaga by dugout canoe.
    The story relates that the clan divided into two parts, with those remaining being considered idle, whence the term "Bimbi" which literally means lying down, being stretched out.