Title of the work
Country of the First Edition
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First Edition Details
Agnès Ngoh Nzuh, “Revenge” in Tales from the Grassland and the Forest, ill. Ernest Mbanji, Yaoundé: Éditions Clé, 1997, 131 pp.
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Eleanor A. Dasi, The University of Yaoundé I, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Daniel A. Nkemleke, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, email@example.com
Agnès Ngoh Nzuh (Author)
Agnès Ngoh Nzuh is a Cameroonian author of collections of traditional stories. She published Les poussins têtus: contes de la savane et de la forêt (1997) and Tales from the Grassland and the Forest (1997). Both are aimed at school children, the former is used in primary education in the Francophone system (grade 6), the latter became a textbook included in the syllabus of the Ministry of Secondary Education in Cameroon, in line with the competency based approach.
"Contes. Les poussins têtus", Takam Tikou 7 (1998): 69 at cnljbnf.fr (accessed: September 30, 2022).
Onana, Aristide, “Book Review: Tales from the Grassland and the Forest” at journaletudiant.com (accessed: September 30, 2022).
Jong, T.V., “Dramatizing/Transforming the Cameroonian Oral Tale: A Study of Ngoh Agnes Nzuh’s The Story of the Stubborn Chicks”, Epasa Moto: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Arts, Letters and the Humanities 1.2 (2014): 247.
Bio prepared by Marta Pszczolinska, University of Warsaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
The people of Enim and the people of Oken were at war for over five years. The people of Enim finally defeated those of Oken and seized their young girls and all their possessions; then the chief of Enim gave the male survivors seven days to leave his territory. The survivors of Oken pleaded with the chief of Enim to allow them to stay on his land, but he refused. Knowing how wicked the chief was, the survivors left before the seven days elapsed. They could not find refuge in the neighbouring villages because the dreaded chief of Enim instructed the chiefs not to allow the Oken to settle in their lands. After walking for days, the people of Oken got weak and tired. Then one of the surviving warriors, Kah, asked the older people to stay behind while he and the young men combed around for a suitable place to settle. After about two months, they finally got a fertile location with streams of drinking water. They constructed about forty huts in three weeks and went back to get the rest of the people. They were all excited and named their new home Minho, which means “resting place.” After some time, they thought they should have a king. Everyone agreed to the crowning of Kah since he was the one who brought them to their new place. Five years after Kah was enthroned, there was a deadly attack on Enim and its surrounding villages. Their crops were all destroyed resulting in a famine. The chief of Enim sent some of his people to Minho to beg for food. Upon arrival, they were amazed to see the place well developed and organised and felt ashamed at the way they treated these people. Chief Kah convened his elders to decide on whether to help the Enim or not. At the end of their meeting, they came up with four conditions the chief of Enim must fulfil to get help from them: he must send back the girls he seized; give back their land; return all their weapons, and finally pay a visit to Minho. The wicked chief of Enim fulfilled the first three conditions, but refused the last one. After a lot of pressure from his suffering people, he accepted to visit Minho. His journey was not an easy one because all the other neighbouring villages refused to welcome him in their villages. He finally arrived in Minho. He felt shame as he noticed the development of? the place. The elders of the village, together with chief Kah, told him that they are not like him so they would not kill him, but he must pay for the way he treated them. They then decided to put him in a cage and ask him to crow every morning like a rooster, without which he would not receive food for that day. He was nicknamed the “Crowing chief”.
Intertribal wars were common amongst many tribes of Africa when they were still looking for permanent settlements. These wars were fought mainly to protect territories, conquer lands and subject people or sometimes just to make a show of ferociousness and military prowess. The war in the story above is one of conquest and aggression as the chief of Enim is dreaded even in the surrounding villages.
It is also a story of migration (which is also a consequence of war), bravery and perseverance as witnessed in the movement of the defeated people of Oken under the leadership of Kah. Kah exhibits bravery to save his people and thus guarantee his tribe’s continuity. His rule is based on democratic principles as he consults his people before taking any major decision that affects the village.
Finally, the story builds on just retribution. Kah thinks that there are milder ways of handling conflicts and disagreements resulting from war and so does not punish the chief of Enim with equal wickedness and violence as he and his people received from him. Kah’s qualities are thus worth emulating by young adults.
The story is published in a collection of folk tales that have lessons about life, death and African traditional values. Children readers will understand these lessons, learn the values and relate them to contemporary life.
Ajayi, Adeyinka Theresa and Lateef Oluwafemi Buhari, “Methods of Conflict Resolution in African Traditional Society”, African Research Review 8. 33 (2014): 138–157.