Title of the work
Country of the First Edition
Country/countries of popularity
Country of the Recording of the Story for the Database
Full Date of the Recording of the Story for the Databasey
More Details of the Recording of the Story for the Database
Crossover (Young adults + adults)
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Daniel Nkemleke, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katarzyna Marciniak and team members in Warsaw, University Warsaw, email@example.com
Age of Narrator: 65 (in 2016)
Social status: Notable (a member of the tribal hierarchy)
Language of narration: Awing or Mbwe’we
Bio prepared by Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Long, long ago,
There lived a couple
That got married and
Had no child.
The woman was already
Threatened by the family of her
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.
It is a family curse.
They washed her in all the rivers*
But they could not hear
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
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.
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?”
There was dancing in the compound every day; people were coming and going; people were happy but the mother was always
Only the husband’s instructions
Were recurring in her mind.
She found it difficult to
Eliminate one of the twins.
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.
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.
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.
Method of data collection: Tape recording
Researcher: Divine Che Neba
Research Assistant: Mbangwana Nghem (trans.)
Editor: Daniel Nkemleke