All About Lebialem Division

Lebialem is found in the South West Region of Cameroon. The division has a total surface area of 617 km².

According to the 2014 population census, it  was estimated that 160,000 lived in the area.

Lebialem is located on the north eastern part of the Southwest Region of the country.

Quick Fun Facts and Figures

Lebialem, Mostly Home of the Bangwas

  • They are referred to as 99.99 i.e they have been noted to be extremely intelligent, hardworking and industrious.
  • It's known they will never sell a hen that lays eggs!!!
  • It's widely believed they do not like to share, compared to people from the other tribes in Cameroon. This, though is arguable.
  • Many people also believe that their women don't stay for too long in marriage.
  • It's one of the smallest Divisions in terms of size.
  • It's referred to as Cameroon in miniature.
  • President Biya has received one of his biggest challenges from this region in his almost 40 years reign.

It is bordered to the north by Momo in the North West region, to the south and south west by the Kupe-Muanenguba and Manyu,  and to the East by the Menua Division of the West Region of the country. Its Headquarters is  Menji.

Origin of Lebialem

The name Lebialem was gotten from a famous twin waterfall commonly known as Lebialem waterfall, which is pronounced by the indigenes as ᶦᶦLebe-alemᶦᶦ which simply means a hill from which water drops in to a pool.

The waterfall is as a results of two separate far apart rivers (Ntsembeuh and Begeuh) which culminates at a very close range and plunge from an altitude of over 100 m in to a single pool.

The indigenes of Lebialem Division are said to have migrated from different origins. Some of the Bangwas especially those in Alou Sub-Division originated from the Bamileke in the West Region of the country, while those in Fontem are said to have migrated from the Bayangs in Manyu. The Melabeh in the Mundani tribe have their roots from the Bayang area and the Widikum in the North West Region.

Victor Julius Ngoh in History of Cameroon since 1800 explained that, the Lebialem people are part of the Tikas who migrated through time from the Lake Chad area. The Tikas who are a dominant population migrated from the Northern part of the country southward and their offspring occupy most of the western grassland.

Ethnic Group

The main Fondoms that make up Lebialem Division include Lewoh, Nwametaw, Ndungated, M’mouck-Mbie, Nwangong, M’mouck-Ngie in Alou sub-division, Bangang, Bechati, Bamumbu, Folepi, Banti, Besali, Nkong and Egumbo in Wabane sub-division and Lebang, Essoh-Attah and Njogwi in Fontem sub-division.

Bangwa simply describes all of the inhabitants of the nine even though they do no not constitute a single political unit or a tribe. The name Bangwa is derived from the Nwe or Nwa in the northern dialect. The Nwe or Nwa refers to both the area and the language, which therefore means that, the Bangwa refers to those who speak the Nwe language and inhabit the area.

It should be noted that Nwe or nwa does not include all the inhabitants of the Lebialem Division but specifically used to describe the highland areas of the four chiefdoms which include Fotabong, Fontem, Foto Dungatet and Fonjumeter.

Wabane constitute one main clan and the population of this area which can either be referred to as upper mundani or lower mundani speak a common dialect called the Mundani language. Tribes from different part of the country also live in the Lebialem division and all live in harmony as one.


Lebialem has a very good strategic location at the cross road of the western highlands and the coastal lowlands. That is why most of the Division is highland area. It takes off from the Mamfe Basin area and rises gently from the region of Essoh-Aattah, Njogwi, Nsogoh and Fossong in Lebang, Ntchen-Ndugated and a greater part of Wabane sub division with level lands and low altitude to Bamumbu, M’mouck area, Alou area and Mbindia area with very high altitude characterised by isolated hills and picks.

The vegetation of the Division is more of tropical evergreen forest with trees of above 50m such as Boma, Iroko and Mahogany with cash crops such as Robusta coffee, Palms, Bitter Kola and coconut.  Deciduous forest is also found in this area. This zone also gives way to a savannah vegetation with trees of height below 30m except for trees like Eucalyptus and crop trees such as cola nut trees which are planted and are suited for the climate. Lebialem is regarded as Cameroon in miniature.


The main economic activity which is predominant in Lebialem Division is farming which is done mostly at the subsistence level. The main food crops cultivated in this area include cassava, beans, cocoyams, maize, plantains, bananas and groundnuts, while most of the cash crops in this area are cultivated extensively and include cocoa and coffee. Livestock in the Lebialem division is not done mostly for commercial purposes but mostly for home consumption.


Lebialem division is made of endangered wildlife species such as Genets, Stone hayracks, Deers, Antelopes, African civet, Caneras, foxes, Grass Cutters, Gorilla which are found in the western lowland of the area and Chimpanzees. The area also has a variety of Avifauna such as parrots and Banaman turakles.

Lebialem division is also an area of great tourist sites.  The Lebialem waterfall is one of the wanders of the Lebialem Division. Anyoh-Ndeoh waterfall is another interesting fall in the Division. Others include the Totankeng in M’mouck-Mbie which is a massive rock that hangs on a high hill giving an impression that it will collapse the next minute at first sight but stands still. Also, there is the Nyi Fongonkem in Mbindia-lebang which is a two giant isolated picks (inselbergs) which stands tall above the surrounding lands and can be viewed from any part of the Division in a bright day. There is also Mt Marga and many others. It has a tropical evergreen forest found in the lower zone. It has caves found all over the Division.

The area does not have protected areas such as park or reserve, but some parts of the forest are found most especially around chief or Fons palaces. Traditionally these mini forest are referred to as ᶦᶦLefemsᶦᶦ or sacred forest. The ᶦᶦLefemᶦᶦ is made of trees with closed canopy and shrubs. Most of these sacred forest often have one large tree which villagers adore and offer sacrifices.

Around the hills of Wabane, deposits of diamond, quartz and muscovites are also found.

Social Infrastructure

The Lebialem area is blessed with many nursery, teacher training colleges, community schools primary and secondary schools in all the three sub-divisions which are mostly day schools. But there is also a boarding school in Fontem (Our Lady Seed of Wisdom College) and a minor seminary in Lewoh which is also a boarding school.

The area has so many health units found all over the sub-division with one of the largest (Mary Health of Africa) found in Fontem which takes care of various types of diseases.


Further Readings


The most practiced religion in the area is Christianity with nomadic Muslims spotted around the western part of the upper belt. These prominent denominations include the Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptist, Apostolic and Full gospel.

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