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Moussa Khalidou

Myth of Issah

YEAR:

COUNTRY: Cameroon

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Title of the work

Myth of Issah

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Cameroon

Original Language

Fulfulde

Country of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Cameroon

Full Date of the Recording of the Story for the Databasey

December 28, 2017

More Details of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Namtari, Ngoundere

Genre

Myths

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

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


Author of the Entry:

Divine CheNeba, University of Yaounde 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

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

Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaounde 1, wandasi5@yahoo.com

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com

Male portrait

Moussa Khalidou (Storyteller)

Age of narrator: 55 (in 2017)

Social status: Member of Council of Elders 

Profession: Business man

Language of narration: Fulfulde 


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


Origin/Cultural Background/Dating

Background*: Namtari is a village located on the outskirts of Yola, Capital of Adamawa state in Nigeria. It has two constituencies: Namtari Gurel and Namtari Manga. Due to migration, some of its people now reside in Ngaoundere, capital of the Adamawa region of Cameroon. Located at Latitude 90 19’ 0” North and Longitude 120 17 0” East (Adebayo and Tukur, 1999), it has a population that is agro-based. In the outskirts of Yola, villagers belief in different gods associated to water, mountains, stones and forests. They offer sacrifices to these gods on particular days of the week, month, or year.

On the social scale, parents arrange marriages for their children. Equally, boys undergo initiation into manhood, without which, they cannot enter into their separate huts. Also, childbearing determines social status among the people. Their culture prohibits certain practices; taboos such as calling of the first son of a family by his name, unveiling of a veiled woman, and the eating of pork.

Occasion: staged


* Sources:

Adebayo, A.A. 1999 climate “I and II”Adamawa State in Maps, Adebayo, A.A and Tukur A.L (eds), Department of Geography, Federal University of Technology, Yola. 1 s t edition. 52:7 Paraclete Publisher, Yola ISBN 978- 35157-0-5 a, pp 20-26.

Namtari Manga Map — Satellite Images of Namtari Manga, available at maplandia.com (accessed: January 7, 2019).

Summary

A long time ago in the Fulani kingdom of Namtari, there lived a monster which terrorized the whole community. Every attempt to get rid of it was in vain since all those who tried to penetrate its territory never returned. Terror became omnipresent in Namtari as every night, the monster visited the village to catch and devour all those who loitered around. The king promised to offer a substantial reward to anyone who would liberate the nation from this terrifying monster. The news of this terror spread to other neighboring villages and reached Issah, a brave, courageous, and discrete young man who could not bear to see people suffering. 

On getting the news, Issah took a knife, a calabash of water, a bag, and seven stones to Namtari. Upon arrival in Namtari, he went straight to the cavern where the monster lived. While there, he hid behind a boulder, made a fire and threw the seven stones in the fire and heated them until they became all red as glowing charcoal. As darkness settled, Issah heard the monster approaching as its growl rose. Issah immediately ran out of his hiding to face the monster. Upon seeing Issah, the monster rushed, with its mouth wide open, to devour him. As it approached Issah, he started throwing the glowing stones in the monster’s mouth one after the other. By the time he threw the last stone, the monster fell down and died. Its crumbling to the ground caused a tremendous vibration which was heard in the entire village. Immediately, Issah took out his knife and cut off the monster’s head. He then put the head in the bag, carried it, and headed back to Namtari quietly.

The next morning, a hunter found the monster's dead body and took it to the king, claiming the reward the king had promised for the person who killed it. Nobody could believe him since he had nothing to prove that he was the killer. He could neither describe how he went about it, nor could he produce the monster's head. The old king decided to honor his promise by rewarding the killer of the monster who, out of bravery and courage liberated his kingdom from the fangs of the terrifying monster, with his throne. Many villagers tried to take advantage of the situation but had nothing to prove their heroism. 

Finally, Issah presented himself and in a song, described how he went about to eliminate the monster. He then asked for the monster's stomach to be opened in order for him to show the proof of the seven stones he used to kill the monster. With his revelation and evidence, the villagers became very happy and celebrated Issah’s heroism. He was then crowned the king of Namtari.

Analysis

Stories related to ancient Greece, Rome and Africa are replete with horror monsters, ready, at all times, to devour humanity and other beings they consider inferior to themselves strength-wise. Because of the threat and intimidation posed by these monsters in the ancient societies, life and movement became difficult, especially to women. Within these confines, the greatest wish of humankind in any society in the olden days was to get rid of such beasts. Figures that emerged, or could measure up with these monstrous forces were usually supernatural beings or human beings with supernatural wisdom, courage and bravery. A case in point is Issah in the above myth, who since times immemorial, like the Biblical David, mustered courage to combat the monster that has virtually decimated the population. Besides the Biblical hero cited above, Issah, can be compared to Heracles (who slew the sea monster save the life of Hesoine) the daughter, Theseus (who barred the horror monster from devouring Hippodameia) and Poseidon (who braved and pushed a sea monster that was out to gulp down anything on its way). This Davidic traits and structures in the related myths on the above heroes reinforce the idea that at any moment in the life of any society, there is need for a savoir, especially during periods of trials and tribulations.

Further Reading

Matyzak, Philip. The Greek and Roman Myths: A guide to the Classical Stories. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2010.

Moford, Mark and Lenardon, Robert. Classical Mythology ( 7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Knappert, Jan. Myths and Legends of the Congo. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1971.

Knappert, Jan. Myths and Legends of the Swahili. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1970.

Knappert, Jan. An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend: African Mythology. London: Diamond Books, 1994.

Werner, Alice. Myths and Legends of the Bantu. London: Frank Cass and Co. LTD, 1968.

Idowu, E. Bolaji. Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief. London: Longman, 1979.

Quarcoopome, T. N.O. West African Traditional Religion. Ibadan: African Universities Press, 1987.

Addenda

Method of data collection: Tape recording and note taking

Researcher: Divine Che Neba

Assistant researcher: Aichatou Doudou

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Myth of Issah

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Cameroon

Original Language

Fulfulde

Country of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Cameroon

Full Date of the Recording of the Story for the Databasey

December 28, 2017

More Details of the Recording of the Story for the Database

Namtari, Ngoundere

Genre

Myths

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

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


Author of the Entry:

Divine CheNeba, University of Yaounde 1, nebankiwang@yahoo.com 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

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

Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaounde 1, wandasi5@yahoo.com

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com

Male portrait

Moussa Khalidou (Storyteller)

Age of narrator: 55 (in 2017)

Social status: Member of Council of Elders 

Profession: Business man

Language of narration: Fulfulde 


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


Origin/Cultural Background/Dating

Background*: Namtari is a village located on the outskirts of Yola, Capital of Adamawa state in Nigeria. It has two constituencies: Namtari Gurel and Namtari Manga. Due to migration, some of its people now reside in Ngaoundere, capital of the Adamawa region of Cameroon. Located at Latitude 90 19’ 0” North and Longitude 120 17 0” East (Adebayo and Tukur, 1999), it has a population that is agro-based. In the outskirts of Yola, villagers belief in different gods associated to water, mountains, stones and forests. They offer sacrifices to these gods on particular days of the week, month, or year.

On the social scale, parents arrange marriages for their children. Equally, boys undergo initiation into manhood, without which, they cannot enter into their separate huts. Also, childbearing determines social status among the people. Their culture prohibits certain practices; taboos such as calling of the first son of a family by his name, unveiling of a veiled woman, and the eating of pork.

Occasion: staged


* Sources:

Adebayo, A.A. 1999 climate “I and II”Adamawa State in Maps, Adebayo, A.A and Tukur A.L (eds), Department of Geography, Federal University of Technology, Yola. 1 s t edition. 52:7 Paraclete Publisher, Yola ISBN 978- 35157-0-5 a, pp 20-26.

Namtari Manga Map — Satellite Images of Namtari Manga, available at maplandia.com (accessed: January 7, 2019).

Summary

A long time ago in the Fulani kingdom of Namtari, there lived a monster which terrorized the whole community. Every attempt to get rid of it was in vain since all those who tried to penetrate its territory never returned. Terror became omnipresent in Namtari as every night, the monster visited the village to catch and devour all those who loitered around. The king promised to offer a substantial reward to anyone who would liberate the nation from this terrifying monster. The news of this terror spread to other neighboring villages and reached Issah, a brave, courageous, and discrete young man who could not bear to see people suffering. 

On getting the news, Issah took a knife, a calabash of water, a bag, and seven stones to Namtari. Upon arrival in Namtari, he went straight to the cavern where the monster lived. While there, he hid behind a boulder, made a fire and threw the seven stones in the fire and heated them until they became all red as glowing charcoal. As darkness settled, Issah heard the monster approaching as its growl rose. Issah immediately ran out of his hiding to face the monster. Upon seeing Issah, the monster rushed, with its mouth wide open, to devour him. As it approached Issah, he started throwing the glowing stones in the monster’s mouth one after the other. By the time he threw the last stone, the monster fell down and died. Its crumbling to the ground caused a tremendous vibration which was heard in the entire village. Immediately, Issah took out his knife and cut off the monster’s head. He then put the head in the bag, carried it, and headed back to Namtari quietly.

The next morning, a hunter found the monster's dead body and took it to the king, claiming the reward the king had promised for the person who killed it. Nobody could believe him since he had nothing to prove that he was the killer. He could neither describe how he went about it, nor could he produce the monster's head. The old king decided to honor his promise by rewarding the killer of the monster who, out of bravery and courage liberated his kingdom from the fangs of the terrifying monster, with his throne. Many villagers tried to take advantage of the situation but had nothing to prove their heroism. 

Finally, Issah presented himself and in a song, described how he went about to eliminate the monster. He then asked for the monster's stomach to be opened in order for him to show the proof of the seven stones he used to kill the monster. With his revelation and evidence, the villagers became very happy and celebrated Issah’s heroism. He was then crowned the king of Namtari.

Analysis

Stories related to ancient Greece, Rome and Africa are replete with horror monsters, ready, at all times, to devour humanity and other beings they consider inferior to themselves strength-wise. Because of the threat and intimidation posed by these monsters in the ancient societies, life and movement became difficult, especially to women. Within these confines, the greatest wish of humankind in any society in the olden days was to get rid of such beasts. Figures that emerged, or could measure up with these monstrous forces were usually supernatural beings or human beings with supernatural wisdom, courage and bravery. A case in point is Issah in the above myth, who since times immemorial, like the Biblical David, mustered courage to combat the monster that has virtually decimated the population. Besides the Biblical hero cited above, Issah, can be compared to Heracles (who slew the sea monster save the life of Hesoine) the daughter, Theseus (who barred the horror monster from devouring Hippodameia) and Poseidon (who braved and pushed a sea monster that was out to gulp down anything on its way). This Davidic traits and structures in the related myths on the above heroes reinforce the idea that at any moment in the life of any society, there is need for a savoir, especially during periods of trials and tribulations.

Further Reading

Matyzak, Philip. The Greek and Roman Myths: A guide to the Classical Stories. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2010.

Moford, Mark and Lenardon, Robert. Classical Mythology ( 7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Knappert, Jan. Myths and Legends of the Congo. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1971.

Knappert, Jan. Myths and Legends of the Swahili. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books, 1970.

Knappert, Jan. An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend: African Mythology. London: Diamond Books, 1994.

Werner, Alice. Myths and Legends of the Bantu. London: Frank Cass and Co. LTD, 1968.

Idowu, E. Bolaji. Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief. London: Longman, 1979.

Quarcoopome, T. N.O. West African Traditional Religion. Ibadan: African Universities Press, 1987.

Addenda

Method of data collection: Tape recording and note taking

Researcher: Divine Che Neba

Assistant researcher: Aichatou Doudou

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