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Ndi-deng

The Lake That Travelled With the Undesirable Twins

YEAR:

COUNTRY: Cameroon

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

The Lake That Travelled With the Undesirable Twins

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Cameroon

Original Language

Awing

Country of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Cameroon

Full Date of the Recording of the Story for the Databasey

November 20, 2016

More Details of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Awing, North-West Region, Cameroon

Genre

Myths

Target Audience

Crossover (Young adults + adults)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Daniel Nkemleke, University of Yaoundé 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Katarzyna Marciniak and team members in Warsaw, University Warsaw, kamar@al.uw.edu.pl

Male portrait

Ndi-deng (Storyteller)

Age of Narrator: 65 (in 2016)

Social status: Notable (a member of the tribal hierarchy)

Profession: Farmer

Language of narration: Awing or Mbwe’we


Bio prepared by Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com


Origin/Cultural Background/Dating

Background of Awing: Oral History holds that the people of Awing came from the North-East Congo and settled in Widikum via Tadkon near Batibo and finally moved to their present site. Legend re-enforces that they originated from the Bantu roots of East Africa. They belong to the upper Ngemba tribe of Bamenda central. Awing is one of Cameroon’s wonders. Her hilly undulating landscape creates a spectacular panorama. It is the major shrine where most sacrifices in the village take place. It provides ultimate tourist splendor to the inhabitants of Santa sub-division in the North-West Region and support 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

Summary

Long, long ago,

There lived a couple

That got married and

Had no child.

The woman was already

Threatened by the family of her

Husband.

They were calling her

An old yam,

A soundless gong.

The woman was also

Anxious to have children.

People were saying

That the joy of motherhood

Lies in child bearing.

She struggled with the husband,

But they could not hear

Ŋyàà ŋyààŋyàà [the cry of a newborn child]

In their compound.


People said,

It is a family curse.

They washed her in all the rivers*

But they could not hear 

Ŋyàà ŋyààŋyàà 

In their compound,

She had already given up.


Luckily for her,

A month came when

She did not see her period [menstruation].

It became a general talk

Among women.

People said,

At last the gong has sounded.

There was joy in their house.


Although the man was happy,

He was praying that

It should not be twins.

He hated twins.

According to him, they bring ill-luck,

Especially when they are not identical**.

So, the best thing was to avoid them.


One day,

This man was going hunting.

He told the wife that,

“If it happens that you give

Birth to twins, kill one, kill one.”


And so it happened. 

She gave birth to twins. 

The news spread like wild fire. 

Many people paid homage 

To the twins’ mother. 

According to the tradition, 

Two trees were 

Planted for these children, 

[Audience:] “Which type of tree?” 

[Storyteller:] “Nkeng.”*** 

There was dancing in the compound every day; people were coming and going; people were happy but the mother was always 

In distress.

Only the husband’s instructions 

Were recurring in her mind.

She found it difficult to 

Eliminate one of the twins. 


One day, 

She learned that 

The husband had announced his arrival.

Tension mounted in her.

She was terribly afraid.

She took one of the twins.

Hid it, in the ceiling.

The husband came back.

She narrated the story to him.

How she respected his orders

In the night.

As the husband was arranging

The seat of the children,

As he was arriving at the climax [orgasm],

Water dripped from the ceiling.

He asked the wife,

“Where is the water from”?

The wife said:

“Maybe the roof is bad again.”


The child cried.

The man was afraid.

Went up to the ceiling.

Saw the child wrapped in a mat.

He came down fuming.

He gave it to one of the sons****

To throw it into the lake. Obeying his father,

The young man moved directly

To the lake,

Dropped the child gently into it.

As the child was dropping into the lake,

The lake divided into two parts.

Received the child gently.

The child was not hurt,

The lake carefully closed again.

That same night the lake was angry,

A voice came from the lake,

That disturbed the whole village:


“So, you and your people think

The lake is a place where you people

Have to dispose undesirable things?

I will leave the village now,

With this boy.

There will be famine in this land.

I curse the inhabitants of this land.”

Immediately after this proclamation,

It [the Lake] left with the boy.

The boy is the person who comes out

To receive the annual sacrifices offered

To the gods and ancestors every year in this village.

The traditional priest and his associates will tell you better.

This is the end of my story.


* It is a common ritual of fertility, see: Therese Mungah Shalo Tchombe and Josephah Lo-oh, “Africa and the Middle East: Cameroon,” in: Adolescent Psychology Around the World, eds. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, New York – London: Psychology Press, 2012, p. 4: “The bathing is believed to clean the womb of all forms of dirt, including any previous irresponsible sexual activities that might have contaminated the womb” (footnote by the UW part of the team).

** On the attitude to multiple births in Africa see, e.g.: John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion: Second Edition, Long Grove, ILL: Waveland Press, 2015 p. 95: “Because these are unusual births, African peoples on the whole have given special attention to twins, triplets and other multiple births. In some places in the past, twins were considered to be a sign of misfortune, and one or both would be killed, or the mother would be killed” (footnote by the UW part of the team).

*** A type of tree – a peace plant in the local culture. All the footnotes are by Daniel A. Nkemleke and Divine Che Neba, unless stated otherwise.

**** A son he had from another wife.


Analysis

The Awing people of the northwest regions of Cameroon are extremely superstitious. They believe in the existence of good and bad omens. Among the numerous bad signs are strange children; twins are an omen of disaster in Awing Mythology.


Further Reading

Ten Famous and Infamous Omens in the Ancient World. ancient-origins.net, March 11, 2014 (accessed: August 22, 2018).

Doppelgangers and the mythology of spirit doubles. ancient-origins.net, July 6, 2014 (accessed: August 22, 2018).

Peek, Philip M. (ed). Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures: Double Trouble, Twice Blessed, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2011.

Addenda

Method of data collection: Tape recording

Researcher: Divine Che Neba

Research Assistant: Mbangwana Nghem (trans.)

Editor: Daniel Nkemleke

Yellow cloud
Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

The Lake That Travelled With the Undesirable Twins

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Cameroon

Original Language

Awing

Country of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Cameroon

Full Date of the Recording of the Story for the Databasey

November 20, 2016

More Details of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Awing, North-West Region, Cameroon

Genre

Myths

Target Audience

Crossover (Young adults + adults)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Daniel Nkemleke, University of Yaoundé 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Katarzyna Marciniak and team members in Warsaw, University Warsaw, kamar@al.uw.edu.pl

Male portrait

Ndi-deng (Storyteller)

Age of Narrator: 65 (in 2016)

Social status: Notable (a member of the tribal hierarchy)

Profession: Farmer

Language of narration: Awing or Mbwe’we


Bio prepared by Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com


Origin/Cultural Background/Dating

Background of Awing: Oral History holds that the people of Awing came from the North-East Congo and settled in Widikum via Tadkon near Batibo and finally moved to their present site. Legend re-enforces that they originated from the Bantu roots of East Africa. They belong to the upper Ngemba tribe of Bamenda central. Awing is one of Cameroon’s wonders. Her hilly undulating landscape creates a spectacular panorama. It is the major shrine where most sacrifices in the village take place. It provides ultimate tourist splendor to the inhabitants of Santa sub-division in the North-West Region and support 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

Summary

Long, long ago,

There lived a couple

That got married and

Had no child.

The woman was already

Threatened by the family of her

Husband.

They were calling her

An old yam,

A soundless gong.

The woman was also

Anxious to have children.

People were saying

That the joy of motherhood

Lies in child bearing.

She struggled with the husband,

But they could not hear

Ŋyàà ŋyààŋyàà [the cry of a newborn child]

In their compound.


People said,

It is a family curse.

They washed her in all the rivers*

But they could not hear 

Ŋyàà ŋyààŋyàà 

In their compound,

She had already given up.


Luckily for her,

A month came when

She did not see her period [menstruation].

It became a general talk

Among women.

People said,

At last the gong has sounded.

There was joy in their house.


Although the man was happy,

He was praying that

It should not be twins.

He hated twins.

According to him, they bring ill-luck,

Especially when they are not identical**.

So, the best thing was to avoid them.


One day,

This man was going hunting.

He told the wife that,

“If it happens that you give

Birth to twins, kill one, kill one.”


And so it happened. 

She gave birth to twins. 

The news spread like wild fire. 

Many people paid homage 

To the twins’ mother. 

According to the tradition, 

Two trees were 

Planted for these children, 

[Audience:] “Which type of tree?” 

[Storyteller:] “Nkeng.”*** 

There was dancing in the compound every day; people were coming and going; people were happy but the mother was always 

In distress.

Only the husband’s instructions 

Were recurring in her mind.

She found it difficult to 

Eliminate one of the twins. 


One day, 

She learned that 

The husband had announced his arrival.

Tension mounted in her.

She was terribly afraid.

She took one of the twins.

Hid it, in the ceiling.

The husband came back.

She narrated the story to him.

How she respected his orders

In the night.

As the husband was arranging

The seat of the children,

As he was arriving at the climax [orgasm],

Water dripped from the ceiling.

He asked the wife,

“Where is the water from”?

The wife said:

“Maybe the roof is bad again.”


The child cried.

The man was afraid.

Went up to the ceiling.

Saw the child wrapped in a mat.

He came down fuming.

He gave it to one of the sons****

To throw it into the lake. Obeying his father,

The young man moved directly

To the lake,

Dropped the child gently into it.

As the child was dropping into the lake,

The lake divided into two parts.

Received the child gently.

The child was not hurt,

The lake carefully closed again.

That same night the lake was angry,

A voice came from the lake,

That disturbed the whole village:


“So, you and your people think

The lake is a place where you people

Have to dispose undesirable things?

I will leave the village now,

With this boy.

There will be famine in this land.

I curse the inhabitants of this land.”

Immediately after this proclamation,

It [the Lake] left with the boy.

The boy is the person who comes out

To receive the annual sacrifices offered

To the gods and ancestors every year in this village.

The traditional priest and his associates will tell you better.

This is the end of my story.


* It is a common ritual of fertility, see: Therese Mungah Shalo Tchombe and Josephah Lo-oh, “Africa and the Middle East: Cameroon,” in: Adolescent Psychology Around the World, eds. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, New York – London: Psychology Press, 2012, p. 4: “The bathing is believed to clean the womb of all forms of dirt, including any previous irresponsible sexual activities that might have contaminated the womb” (footnote by the UW part of the team).

** On the attitude to multiple births in Africa see, e.g.: John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion: Second Edition, Long Grove, ILL: Waveland Press, 2015 p. 95: “Because these are unusual births, African peoples on the whole have given special attention to twins, triplets and other multiple births. In some places in the past, twins were considered to be a sign of misfortune, and one or both would be killed, or the mother would be killed” (footnote by the UW part of the team).

*** A type of tree – a peace plant in the local culture. All the footnotes are by Daniel A. Nkemleke and Divine Che Neba, unless stated otherwise.

**** A son he had from another wife.


Analysis

The Awing people of the northwest regions of Cameroon are extremely superstitious. They believe in the existence of good and bad omens. Among the numerous bad signs are strange children; twins are an omen of disaster in Awing Mythology.


Further Reading

Ten Famous and Infamous Omens in the Ancient World. ancient-origins.net, March 11, 2014 (accessed: August 22, 2018).

Doppelgangers and the mythology of spirit doubles. ancient-origins.net, July 6, 2014 (accessed: August 22, 2018).

Peek, Philip M. (ed). Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures: Double Trouble, Twice Blessed, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2011.

Addenda

Method of data collection: Tape recording

Researcher: Divine Che Neba

Research Assistant: Mbangwana Nghem (trans.)

Editor: Daniel Nkemleke

Yellow cloud