The bakweri s are an example of a segmentary society. They are grouped in societies of villages where each family maintains its independence. They bakweri live in a small clusters of ten to twenty house and settlement pattern was imposed on them by the Germans. The Germans herded the Bakweri people into the peripheries when they expropriated the land for plantation. The village head has only limited authority. They village has a council of elders which helps the chief in regulating the affairs of they village. The most prominent families in Bakweri tribal history are Wonya Likenye Endeley of buea and the family of Mangaa William of the Victoria ( today called Limbe). The bakweri politcal organisations was divided into different classes.
It was composed of a man and his wife (wives) his children and relatives with blood ties. The family unit served as the base of political institution in the Bakweri society. The father was the head and has as obligations to preside over family affairs. At the level of the extended family the head was the oldest man who was believed to have a lot of experience in wordily matters. He was automatically considered patriarch of the tribe. He had as function to perform ancestral sacrifices and chair family gatherings. These decisions were not autocratic especially due to the fact that he had to consult some elderly people in the family lineage before taking decisions on matters of paramount importance. Consequently, the eldest people in the Bakweri community earned much admiration and respect from the younger generations due to the fact that they performed the mediatory role between the ancestors and the world of the living. In the same line of thought, age was considered as the only criteria which enabled people in the Bakweri society to commune with the ancestors and decode ancestral messages. In order words, age was the main criteria required to climb the mantle of power.
The Village Administration
At this level of the community, the villages were autonomous from one another consisting of family compounds separated from one another by a fence called “NgaoMboa”. The village political leaders had a similar source of powers as those at the family level. The variation here was among the family of the village founder that a leader was chosen. Consequently, the family of the village founder was automatically considered the royal family. This was how the Likenya family came to prominence in Buea as they were linked to Eeye Tama Lifenje, the first persons to settle in Buea. At the level of village administration, the chief did not execute this heavy task alone. He was assisted by a village council which had effective powers over the village. It was an ill-defined body with no precise number of members. The decisions of the council were made public by the village councils spoke man “Sango Mboa” and the members of the village council were elders called “Vanbaki”. The organizational chart of the Bakweri society was a triangular machinery which revolved around the family at the base, with the village council and the chief at the top. Thus the Bakweri whose territorial limits were governed by fixed and permanents institutions were a state- like society. These organs, oriented political and social life and organized the society in the face of external aggression.
This Likenye chiefly line of Buea trace their pridigree from1884 down to the present day as in the chart below:
Law and Social Control
It is handled by the chief or the quarter head, you are first taken to the quarter head when you don’t respect the law, if not satisfied with that judgment you are taken to the chief where you are judge by notables. Land dispute, fighting taking property that doesn’t belong to you, you are taken to the quarter head. Concerning sanctions the chief or elders decide or how you are to be punished. If you are guilty of serious crimes like incest, and trahison, you are exiled to Limbe.
The Bakweri society just like most tribal system in the forest zone was organized in peculiar manner which was in accordance with their own perception of life. The social structure shall be examined from the point class stratification.
The traditional African societies in general had a peculiar way of organizing themselves. The Bakweri people were no exception to this rule. They were stratified under three distinct groups notably strangers, natives and slaves. Natives of the Bakweri ethnic group were called “Wopnja”. They were those believed to have blood ties with ancestral world of the clan. This class of people were privilege to participate in restraint secret societies and other affairs concerning the Bakweri man and his territory. Next to this group with respect to hierarchy was the strangers called “wajili”. This was attributed to foreign settlers in the land considered as Bakweri territory with no blood relationship with the ancestors of the Bakweri people. Finally, were the slaves called “Wokomi” which was the last group and was situated at the bottom of the social table.They consisted of people who co-habited with Bakweri people but had lesser privileges. They settled on Bakweri soil as a result of the fact that they were either bought from neighboring tribes or caught as war captives.