A survey of the traditional political organization of a number of chiefdoms in the Bamenda Grassfields of the Southern Cameroons was made by the writers from May to mid-September 1960. Bali-Nyonga (sixteen miles to the west of Bamenda Station) was one of the chiefdoms studied. Our inquiries were directed mainly to situations and events in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, within the living memory of a few aged informants and of the parents of present title-holders. A few contemporary accounts of conditions exist for Bali-Nyonga for the last decade of the nineteenth century: those of Zintgraff (who was the first European to reach Bali-Nyonga), Hutter, Esser, and scattered notices in administrative, scientific, and missionary publications. These provide a rough chronological framework for Bali-Nyonga affairs for 1889–1914. British administrative officers in the course of tax assessment, the establishment of native courts and the resolution of land cases, collected oral traditions from the Mfon (Chief) of Bali-Nyonga and his elders, and accounts of earlier judicial and executive institutions from informants who had experienced them before the establishment of the German Imperial Military Station at Bamenda in 1902. We are not directly concerned in this paper with the expansion of the German administrative, trading, labour-recruiting, and missionary frontier, but with Bali interpretations of their own constitution at the period of contact (1889) and a little before and after. We hope to show that this constitution developed in intelligible circumstances which its special characteristics reflect.