Unraveling Conflicting Narratives about the Origins of the Isubu of Bimbia
The Isubu (also known as Isuwu) like many other African peoples, have different and sometimes conflicting narratives about their origins. Although it is generally believed that the settlement of Bimbia was founded by Isuwu La Monanga, a native of Womboko, there are emerging alternative narratives which reject the Womboko connection. These alternative versions may be termed the “Duala narratives”, since they emphasize on real or imagined ancestral ties between the Duala and the Isuwu.
Duala Narratives of Isubu Origins
According to the first Duala narrative, which was available on Wikipedia (the largest multilingual open access encyclopedia on the internet) as of January 2006,
The predominant Isubu belief tells of a man named Isuwu na Monanga who led their migration to the west bank of the Wouri estuary. When a descendant of Isuwu named Mbimbi became king, the people began to refer to their territories as Bimbia.
While this narrative still has Isuwu La Monanga as the ancestor of the Isubu, it nonetheless refers to an Isubu migration to the West bank of River Wouri in Duala territory.
There is a second Duala narrative which states that the Isubu trace their origins to the island of Jebale on the Wouri River, and that they first settled in Duala before moving to present-day Bimbia. In this narrative, the founder of Bimbia is Quan (Kwane) Ewonde.
In this second narrative, the Isubu have no ancestral ties with the Kpe-Mboko of the Fako hinterland, and Isuwu la Monanga is merely “a descendant of forest migrants” from present-day East Africa who settled at some point in Isubu country...
In this article, we will analyze the validity of the Duala narratives and compare them to Duala oral traditions/history and the historical records of European merchants who plied the West African coast in the pre-colonial days.