Culled from Traditional Government and Social Change by P.N. NKWI.
KINGSHIP in KOM
Highlight: The Execution of CHIA NINGONG
From studies already made, African political systems can be put into
three main categories:
- acephalous, and
- centralized political systems.
Segmentary political system:
There is no central authority. Power is not in the hands of a single ruler but authority and leadership rest with the heads of the different segments or lineages. The head of each segment has authority only over his subjects living within a well-defined territory.
example: The NUER of Sudan.
There are no hereditary rulers. It is wealth, wisdom and strength of character that can facilitate an individual to emerge as a leader of the group. In this system there are no traditional titles or offices which can be inherited by the leader's descendants. The Ibos of Nigeria are usually classified under this type of political organization. Among them "political authority traditionally belongs to associations of peoples from the village. Public affairs are by custom discussed by large groups of people and there is no single leader to make decisions without the agreement of others".
The difference between the segmentary and the acephalous systems is that in the former there are hereditary rulers while in the acephalous system, no hereditary offices exist.
Characterized by centralized authority, an administrative machinery and judicial institutions. It can be said that it is an organization with a government "in which cleavages of wealth, privilege, and status correspond to the distribution of power and authority". Usually, in such a system the ruler is not only a secular but also a spiritual leader of his people who actively recognize him.
To which of these systems does Kom belong? As shall be seen later on, Kom had a centralized political system.
The King-FOYN-was head of government.
As a sovereign government nothing was theoretically beyond its competence. The King personified his kingdom. When his subjects said, 'foyn nii sa' ila adjung' (the king rules the country well), they meant that his reign was characterised by peace, harmony, prosperity and fertility.
When there was drought, failure of crops, misfortunes and general discontent throughout the country, it meant he was not ruling well. His claim to a legitimate succession could be questioned as this incident following the death of FOYN KUMAMBONG shows:
Footnote-It is said that after the death of Foyn Kumambong, an Ekwu notable came from ITINIFOYNMBI and was enstooled as king. This man was called CHIA NINGONG. When crops failed that year, he was taken away and executed!
Although the Foyn was de jure the head of every community, many of his powers were exercised by those to whom he had delegated such powers. They exercised these powers in his name. His authority was recognised to be legitimate only when he could trace his descent from the deceased king back to the remote founder of the Kom dynasty.