Southwest Traditional Wrestling Shifts Into High Gear

By Anthony Njie

Southwest Indigenous Traditional Wrestling Competition, fondly dubbed “pala pala”, is now in full swing four weeks after it officially kicked off.

During the past weeks, traditional wrestlers from various villages in Buea have converged at the host field in Bakweri Town at 4 pm on Sundays to contest.

Children, men and women, including foreigners, all throng to the pala-pala field to watch the wrestlers. Those competing in the ring are as diverse in their profile as the thrilled crowd. Other than strength, pala pala requires skills to throw an opponent to the ground.

Seven villages are actively taking part in the game’s zone battles under the watchful eyes of Fako Indigenous Traditional Wrestling Association, FITWA, a regional body operating under FECALUTTE that recently got a new executive headed by Prince Adolf Bibi Molua.

The Regional Second-Vice President of FITWA, Hans Kulu Lykoko, has a positive appraisal of the event so far, thanks to the support of various chiefs, the organising committee and the community.

He hopes things will continue in this light.

Kulu, however, says they still have a few challenges in organising the event.

“We lack first aid services for some wrestlers who suffer from bruises and injuries. We ought to have helped some injured children, unfortunately we could not,” he noted.

“But some benevolent bodies have promised to soon see into that problem,” he enthused.

“There is also the case of some wrestlers who at times are not satisfied with the referee’s decision in a fight, then threaten to interrupt the jury, but such fellows are sanctioned by being deducted some points,” Kulu said.

“Pala pala” fight traces its roots to ancient Bakweri clans where indigenes competed to prove their supremacy and defend the honour of their respective villages. Nowadays little has changed; fighters are very much driven by the honour and legacy this event carries than any other external factors.

“I feel very happy to take part in the competition simply because it is the best way to portray my identity to the world, while entertaining them,” says Eric Muambo, a senior wrestler.

“I think each fighting group is here to defend the reputation of its village.  I also learnt that a cash prize has been set aside for the group that will emerge

wrestlers in a Tango

wrestlers in a Tango

victorious; it is a token to motivate all of us to give in the best,” another wrestler said.

FITWA Zone A President, Fred Njie, says athletes will be selected based on their performances, mainly in the senior, junior and female categories.

They will then receive training on free style wrestling in a bid to prepare them for national and international competitions.

After the fourth week of fight, fixtures show Bokwai Village topping the list with 22 points, followed by Bonakanda and Great Soppo, with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Bova, Bokwango and Bwassa villages are neck-to-neck with 11 points each, and Buea Town is last with 4 points.

The competition continues in Bokwai, which will be the host venue for the next four weeks.

“It is a routine that we move to another venue after wrestling for a month,” Kulu said.

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About Cameroon this week
I am a Cameroonian from the south west region, currently concluding my studies in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea. I have a special interest in reporting news about social events.

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