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Crossover (young adults + adults)
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Eleanor Anneh Dasi, University of Yaounde 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Julius Mboh Angwah, University of Yaounde 1, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Daniel Nkemleke, University of Yaounde 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaounde 1, email@example.com
Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mume Fua Zofoa (Storyteller)
Age of narrator: 37 (in 2018)
Social status: Princess
Language of narration: English
Bio prepared by Eleanor Anneh Dasi, University of Yaounde 1, email@example.com and Julius Mboh Angwah, University of Yaounde 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Background*: Babungo is a rural community and one of the thirteen villages that make up the Ngo-Ketunjia Division of the Northwest Region of Cameroon. It is located between Latitude 60 44’ 43.0152” North and Longitude 100 26’ 59.154” East. Its fertile land, rich water sources, and pastoral plains make the place good for cattle grazing and farming. The place is an ideal tourist site, due to its rich cultural artifacts. The arts and cultural museum in the palace reinforces its cultural potential, and adds to the rich diversity of cultures of the Northwest Region. History holds that the people migrated from the Tikar in the present day Adamaoua Region, made their first stop at a place called Forghai, before being guided by the gods to their present location. It has a population of approximately 4000 people, the majority of whom are subsistence farmers. It is a typical traditional setting ruled by the “Ngumba” (council of elders) which stands as both the Kingmaker and the father of kings. Like many traditional societies of this part of the country, the Babungo people have remained glued to their ancient beliefs in the Gods.
Weei Nyui Fesha is the name of the Goddess of Fesha, a stream in a small forest community about three hundred meters away from the Babungo palace. The cleanest water in Babungo flows in this forest and the King can only drink this water while on Babungo soil. Consequently, the palace women fetch water from there for the King’s use.
* Source: cameroontourismlink.wordpress.com (accessed: January 18, 2019).
Many years ago, during the reign of King Fuan Forting, there was a very humble and beautiful queen in the palace called Nah. She was an exemplary queen to her co-queens and a model for so many subsequent queens. She was respectful and, though she was privileged as the first queen of the land, she was often humble and considerate towards the other queens. The king loved her so much because she had a good heart. One day, she slept and did not wake up. The king was so worried. Thus, he summoned the chief priest to find out what had happened to her. After several incantations, the chief priest announced that she had died of water poison. The chief priest evoked her spirit and when it appeared, it revealed the servant who poisoned her water. In her usual goodness, she openly forgave him. In order to avoid similar occurrences in the future, she promised to establish a stream that cannot be poisoned, just around the palace. While it was her own way to protect her family and loved ones she had left behind, the stream has since then been serving a great number of people in the neighbourhood and beyond. Many people believe that no matter how deadly a poisonous substance is, once it touches the water of the spring, the poison is immediately neutralized.
Apart from providing this life-saving water, Weei Nyuy Fesha also visited the people in their dreams and revealed the remarkable powers of various herbs, and how they could be used to cure different ailments. That is why most of the Babungo people refer to her as Kingdom Goddess.
The water still exists behind the palace and every year, sacrifices are offered to Weei Nyui Fesha. She decreed that no one should pass through Fesha with a light in the heart of the night because it is during this time that spirits from the land of the dead roam around the forest. She also warned that only the inhabitants of Fesha should use the woods from the forest. Whenever anyone violates these basic rules and makes her angry, the water simply runs dry until the necessary sacrifices are offered to bring back its flow.
Bodies of water play a symbolic role across world cultures, not only because they provide homes for many of the gods but they also have a direct link with some creation myths around the world. In these cultures, water often symbolizes, or is connected with, sources of life. In the Judeo Christian tradition, water is a symbol of eternal life. Mary the mother of God is referred to as “the spring of life” because of her Immaculate Conception and birth of Jesus Christ, through whom eternal life is attained. Again, John the Baptist led believers to God through baptism by immersion in the River Jordan. In Greek mythology, there is “the spring of the immortal water” around which a monastery was built by a monk who claimed to have been healed by the waters of the spring.
In African cosmology, people who live honourable lives are raised to the ranks of the gods/goddesses, ancestors and spirit guardians of the land. This is the case with Nah, the queen mother, who even in death, does not hesitate to forgive the person who caused her death. That is why she is endowed with powers to command the stream from nature which protects the living. Nah goes through a process of deification which the Greeks termed apotheosis. According to them, mortals could attain godhood as a reward for their kindness to mankind. Such was the case with Heracles, Asclepius and Aristaeus.
The role of Weei Nyui Fesha is similar to that of Coventina, the Roman goddess of sacred waters. Both of them represent abundant provision and divine inspiration. Other references can be made to Hagiasma, goddess of the healing spring of St Mary of Turkey where sacrifices and offerings are still offered to this day; Juturna, the Roman goddess of fountains and springs who commanded a cult of healthful waters that greatly helped mortals and Sulis, the Celtic goddess of the healing spring of Bath.
Ferlut, Audrey. Goddesses as Consorts of the Healing Gods in Gallia Belgica and the Germaniae: Forms of Cult and Ritual Practices. Healing Gods, Heroes and Rituals in the Graeco-Roman World. OLH (olh.openlibhums.org), 2016 (accessed: January 18, 2019).
Water: Religion, Mythology, Art and Beauty, available at uni-due.de (accessed: January 18, 2019).
Researcher: Eleanor Anneh Dasi
Research assistant: Julius Angwah
Editor: Divine Che Neba
Method of data collection: Tape recording