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Author of the Entry:
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaounde 1, email@example.com
Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mofor Nchinda (Storyteller)
Age of Narrator: 60/65 (in 2017)
Social status: Notable
Language of narration: Ngemba/Awing
Bio prepared by Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Cultural Background*: Awing
The Awing people of the North West region of Cameroon originated from the North East of Congo, moved to Widikum and then to their present settlement today among the Upper Ngemba tribes. A legend re-enforces that they originated from the Bantu roots of East Africa. They belong to the upper Ngemba tribe of Bamenda central. Awing has spectacular scenery, including a hilly landscape and Lake Awing, and is a popular tourist site. Lake Awing is the major shrine where most sacrifices in the village take place. It provides an ultimate touristic splendor to the inhabitants of Santa sub-division in the North West Region and beyond, and supports a thriving agriculture industry. In many legendary myths, Lake Awing is the abode of the village numerous gods, which requires annual appeasement to guarantee fertility, peace and love in the land.
Occasion: Staged performance
Tangwing pius monji, The Awing Fondom of the North West Region of Cameroon, all-about-cameroon.com (accessed: July 8, 2019).
Long time ago,
There lived a woman.
This woman had many children.
(Audience retorts) FIFTEEN?
You think the olden days
Were like today.
A man’s riches
Were measured by the number
Of children and wives he had.
(Narrator turns to the audience):
Can I continue?
(Audience answers in chorus)
(He clears his voice without thunderous cough)
Took all her children to the farm.
They worked, worked and worked
Everybody was tired and thirsty.
They retired to a shed
In the farm,
And were eating.
They ate to everybody’s satisfaction.
A wine-tapper came
Begged for some food.
The woman refused,
They were thirsty,
Another wine-taper was passing,
They begged for some wine.
The wine-tapper said,
The wine was just enough
For his family.
Their throats started cracking,
It was burning in their throats,
The mother decided to send one
Of the daughters to fetch them some
The girl left.
Below their farm was a big stream.
In the stream,
There was a water animal,
Always causing turbulence in the
As the girl descended to fetch
The water animal was disturbing,
The girl waited for long
The water could not settle
The girl was angry
Shouted at the animal
Are you the owner of this stream?”
The water animal did not reply.
It continued its activity.
The girl was very angry,
Got a stone,
Threw it at the water animal
It roared moooh, moooh.
The water animal in turn
Took the same stone,
Shot it at the girl.
She fell down and died.
Her mother waited for her
Waited and waited
Until the sun was about setting,
Another daughter was sent
To go and look for her.
As she arrived near the stream,
The water was very dirty.
As she wanted to check
What had happened,
She saw the wild animal,
Staring at her,
With red eyes.
The anger in her,
Made her to approach the animal.
“WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY
WHO HAS KILLED HER?”
The animal replied:
“As your sister came here
She wanted to kill me;
She ordered me to leave this stream
MY HOME” (the narrator opens his eyes and places his hand on his chest).
She wanted to kill me,
But l killed her because she failed.
That is why she is lying there.
Before the wild animal finished its
The girl’s sister
Picked up a stone,
Threw it at the water animal,
And the wild animal,
Picked up the same stone,
Threw at the girl,
She fell down,
The woman waited and waited,
Her children did not return.
She sent the third, fourth,
Fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth,
Ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth,
Till the last child.
The same thing happened.
The animal killed all the children.
It was getting dark.
The woman went home and
Narrated the story to her husband.
The husband told her that
This animal had killed
Many people in the village.
It has touched the wrong person.
He left his house with blood in his
His gun, spears, cutlasses
He filed the spears and cutlasses
Until they were as shining as the
He left for the stream.
When he arrived at the stream,
The animal was still disturbing
He jumped into the stream,
With his gun, spears and cutlasses.
Fought with the animal,
For seven days
Until the animal
Had to surrender.
He dragged the animal out of the
To bring back his children.
The animal cut a tree -leaf,
In a funnel-like-manner,
Put water in it,
Released the droplets of the water
Into the nostrils of the man’s children, who were all lying dead.
All the fifteen children
Came back to life.
The man was very happy.
Took back his children.
That was not all for the water animal.
The man promised that the animal
Must be killed.
He told the chief of the village that
He has seen the animal
That has been disturbing
And killing people in the village.
The village chief was happy and
Ordered him to kill it.
With the powers from the chief,
The husband of the woman decreed that
The Life -Giving grass should be off-rooted and burnt
In all parts of the village
It will be difficult to kill the
Water animal forever.
Within seven days,
The Life-Giving grass was uprooted and burnt.
Not a trace of it could be found
After seven days.
Then, the man dug a hole
At the courtyard of the chief’s palace,
Covered it with a mat
And palm fronds,
Then threw some soil on the mat and palm fronds.
Nobody could see the trace of the mat or palm fronds,
He suspended a chair,
The chair could only
Be compared to the chief s throne.
The children who had been brought back to life
Had to organize a ceremony
At the courtyard,
Since their father was an important
Person in the village.
They hid their father
Not very far from the courtyard.
The quarter heads of other parts of the village
The water animal, owner of ALL the
Streams, was invited.
The day came.
There was general dancing,
All the invited guests were coming
All honoured guests were taken to their
Seats and the water animal was escorted
To his seat and invited to sit down.
As the animal released its weight on the seat,
It fell into a deep hole beneath "buum"
The people hurriedly filled the hole,
And that is how misery started in this village.
This is the end of my story.
The worries and riddles of life have pressurized Africans, including the Awing people of the North West Region of Cameroon, to seek means of deliverance, succor and/or have a good mastery of their immediate surroundings. These urges made them to be observant, experimental and inquisitive about the survival means of even the animals and birds around them. The end-result of these inquiries, to an extent, has been the virility of plants to human health, not as a means of making them immortal, as was the case in the past, but as means of survival, awaiting death. Like the Awing people of Cameroon, most mythological traditions associate plants with birth or rebirth. Most plants in the Awing are medicinal, and the indigenes resort to them when they are sick. The myth above shares the motif of a miraculous plant with the ancient Mesopotamian myth, The Epic of Gilgamesh, wherein Gilgamesh loses the herb of immortality. Gilgamesh’s plant provides an example of how plants are used as symbols of rejuvenation and life as a whole. Many Indo-European and Chinese myths also elaborate on the theme of the herb of immortality.
The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Teeter, Donald E., Amanita Muscaria: The Herb of Immortality, ambrosiasociety.org (accessed: April 24, 2019).
Miller, Allen Richard, The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs, Vermont: Destiny Books, 1993.
Method of data collection: Tape recording and note taking.
Researcher: Divine Che Neba.
Research Assistant: Mbangwana Nghem.
Editor: Eleanor A. Dasi.