God was African
296 Pages
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God was African


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296 Pages


When Kendem, a varsity instructor, returns to his native Lewoh countryside where he spent his childhood, he is seeking relief from the complexity of human civilization after attending the Fulbright Institute in the United States. Instead, he is confronted with two seething issues: how to reveal to his sick and troubled mother the situation in which he finds his elder brother, the successor of Mbe Tanju-Ngong�s household, who travelled to the United States many years before and had never returned and the dispute over Fuo Beyano�s funeral which is tearing the land apart, whether the deceased village chief, should be given a Christian burial or he should, according to the age-old tradition of Lewoh people, go through a ritual to enable him return and continue ruling his people.



Published by
Published 01 December 2014
Reads 3
EAN13 9789956792788
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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situation in which he finds his elder brother, the successor of Mbe
NKEMNGONG NKENGASONG of several works of fiction including
AFRICAN Nkemngong Nkengasong
God Was African
Nkemngong Nkengasong
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookcollective.com
ISBN: 9956-792-40-3 ©Nkemngong Nkengasong 2015
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
For my Ancestors
One ome…. I was home at last. These words came briefly branHched off and meandered above me, on a steep hill leading to my mind as soon as I got off the bus and stepped on the earth of my ancestors. A broad earth road to Anya, a village at the center of Lewoh country where my father’s compound was located. As I walked up the winding road from Betalanda where the bus had left me and continued its way to Menji, I had one dominant urge in me, to meet my ageing mother who had been ill while I was abroad. I went up the road as if a mystical force pulled me to the roots, to the foot of the bedpost in her house where I was told my umbilical cord was buried when I was born. That was almost four decades ago. The road wasn’t very dusty as it was sometimes the case at the beginning of the dry season. One could see traces of the last October rains; the deep gorges dug by running water and the residues of soft sand and decomposed vegetation deposited on some parts of the road. The atmosphere was cool and unruffled, except the slightly chilly breeze which caressed my being and I felt my senses brightening up, even with the beads of sweat that were beginning to settle on my forehead. The breeze carried with it a specter that reanimated self and soul, reawakening consciousness that had been possibly deadened by the many complex things I had been engaged in, going from place to place within the last one year. Midway up the hill, I stopped to take some breath, and then I looked round the interminable chain of hills that hemmed Lewoh country. Lewoh country was a vast territory of eighteen villages. Each village was ruled by a chief and the eighteen chiefs were governed by a paramount ruler at the center of the country at Anya. One could see that each village
occupied one or two of the hills. The hills were separated by deep ghastly valleys which sank deeper and deeper while the hills flung here and there down towards the forest zone. I could see Lap Village to my right running about a thousand feet down the great canyon, into a vast open uneven plain towards Atoh Village. I could also see Beyano Village rising on a distant hill on the far side of a valley, seeming to touch the horizon. Up above me to my left was Menky Village located on a hill that rose and fell and rose again higher and higher towards other villages including Ndungalleh, Lefok, Nweh-Mbinzeah, Atulleh…. I often wondered what led my ancestors to settle on this possibly roughest part of the earth. It could have been the desire to conquer territory and lord over it; lord over the palm bushes, the animals, farmlands, the forests, the hills and the valleys; marry many wives, bear hundreds of children and reign over them. I had walked up and down the same hills since I was born. When I was a boy, tearing through the thickets and the forests, racing up and down the hills playing with friends and hunting rat moles and birds was great amusement. Now it seemed the mind ran faster than the legs. And having stayed for long without visiting the countryside, the hills could no longer recognize those limbs that now were weary moving from one corner of the earth to the other. Much had changed in the appearance of the hills as I grew up seeing them. Farming and lumbering had gradually razed some of the hills and exposed giant bald rocks at their crests. The dwindling thick forests and groves and the emerging grasslands especially in the eastern part of the land were the only fauna left to bear the testimony of the ages. While some of the hills were fast losing their vegetation, a few distant ones towards the southern country bunged with baobabs, iroko, sapele, bebinga and palm trees soared into the sky. My father once told me that the forest on the distant hills was home to renowned wizards of the land and that only those who owned totems of different kinds like pythons, leopards and owls lived there. He said there was constant rivalry even amongst wizards 2
to dominate the sinister universe of the forest. He also told me about the twin hills he called Nyi-mbindia separated by a short distance which was the abode of spirits. The hill he called Nyi-mbong, the good hill, was said to have a lake and a spiritual palace with roads linking every part of it. Only fetish priests, potent medicine men and important chiefs and notables had access to it. My father said it hosted the good spirits which protected the land against the evil forces. It signaled the death of an important notable or a chief in the form of landslides and the trembling of the earth around the hill. Barren women went there to solicit children in prayer and song but they never went too close. The other hill was called Nyi-tebong, the evil hill which no one dared to approach or talk of. This was the abode of evil spirits and was most dreaded. At this instant thought, I felt a chill. Goose pimples invaded my whole body. The old fear, the fear I used to have as a child each time I looked towards those hills revisited me. But what I dreaded most, as was the case with other children, was theamoh, the massive dark spirit that was said to kill with a single strike. I remembered that going on an errand in the night was the most terrifying moment for me. I would imagine frightful dark monstrous shapes standing before me in the darkest part of the village waiting to crush me and I would muster up courage and with what speed I could never tell, run past them to our compound then enter my mother’s house. “Was any one chasing you?” my mother would ask. “I metamohthe road and it almost struck me dead,” I on would say, almost running out of breath. “Is that why you have run until you are begging for breath? When will you become a man?” my mother would ask and I would swear that the spirit would have flattened me with its fist if I had not sped off. All these childhood incidents came to my mind with my eyes roving on the hills and in vast valleys where one could locate scattered homesteads and compounds built with mud-brick houses and roofed with aluminum sheets within extensive 3
farmlands. Although most of the homesteads were linked with clear footpaths and distinct motorable routes, a stranger to the land would wonder what magic the inhabitants used to reach the hills and the indeterminable depths of the valleys. The enchanting song ofngu-seng, the multi-colored bird, which was known in the village to sing after every hour, began to fill the atmosphere. I brought my left hand instinctively before me and looked at my watch. Six o’clock already! And the day was still very bright! I had to move a little faster and get to my father’s compound before nightfall. I needed rest. I needed rest in the cool comfort of home and to relive its untarnished memories. It was lovely to see those peculiar features of the landscape again before it was dark, those features that witnessed and nurtured the evolution of my youth. I quickened my pace. My travel bag hung from my left shoulder. It thumped constantly on my thigh making some swishy noise as I made some desperate progress up the winding road. That was the fate of those who lived in this part of the world. They were either climbing or descending. At the summit of each hill one could see other hills tumbling into valleys further and further away. In spite of the chilly breeze, I could feel the damp clod of sweat on my inner wear. Bubbles of sweat also emerged on my forehead and I wiped them with the tail of my shirt, feeling much buoyant. At the top of the hill where another broad road ran down on the left to the district hospital, I walked leisurely on the rare even stretch of the road towards the village market square, stopping time and again to greet or answer greetings from the country folk.
Two arrived in the Anya before dusk. A number of shops and weIre relaxing in the bars or just going around to greet friends bars were open at the more populous part of the village market square. People who had returned from their farms and relatives or to pick up the latest gossips. I threw my eyes towards the open ground that stretched towards the entrance into Anya Palace, the seat of the paramount ruler of Lewoh country. In the old days the open ground served as a food market. The baobab tree still stood at the center, huge and tall with bold massive branches spread out as if to cast a spell on the entire universe. Its crusty aged bark and large arched roots on the earth’s surface could trace its existence from the beginning of time. Certainly it had seen the beginning of time. And as we were told as we grew up, it was under the tree that Anyankendong first settled with his followers when he came into the country, outwitted the original settlers and started a dynasty whose lineage has existed till date. From their stumps, one could see that two or three dried-up branches had fallen off but the shoot never seemed to give up its determination to conquer the sky, competing only with the crows that perched on the tallest branches and took off at will. Down the open ground the palace plaza was separated by a couple of huts at the entrance. One of those huts contained huge wooden drums which in the past were used to summon the country folk. To the right of the entrance was theLefem, a sacred grove with an extensive thick, dark and serene forest bordering the right flank of the palace. On the rear of the plaza, the immediate visible signs of the palace were the pointed tops of the aluminum roofs of thenkwoshie which served as the royal platform during festivals. Much of its view was covered by the trees in theLefem. There were several 5