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Author of the Entry:
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaoundé 1, email@example.com
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karolina Anna Kulpa, University of Warsaw, email@example.com
Abou Manifi (Storyteller)
Age of narrator: 53 (in 2018)
Social status: Notable
Language of narration: Nigi (Yambeta)
Bio prepared by Divine CheNeba, University of Yaoundé 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cultural Background*: Begui is located on longitude 4.72440 N and latitude 0.89030 E, in the Mbam and Inoubou Division, Centre Region of Cameroon. They are descendants of Ambassa and Ombono. Their first ancestors are believed to have come out of an egg. They speak Begi and their main activities are agriculture, livestock and fishing. They are also called the Mbamos (inhabitants of the Mbam), and their main totem is the turtle. Moreover, the society is hierarchically structured. Their traditional dances covey a heightened sense of joy, through facial expressions, strong rhythmic body movement and posturers. These dances are performed during harvests, weddings, funerals and special events.
* See: Zeitlyn, David. "Eldridge Mohammadou on Tikar Origins." Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford (JASO) 26.1 (1996).
A long time ago, there lived a man in Begui called Omang a Ziare. He was humble, obedient and patient. These qualities catapulted him to the throne of Begui after the death of his father. Beside these virtues, he was endowed with some supernatural powers, which he used to protect his relations against any evil practices or witchcraft.
One day, Omang went to a distant market from Begui and while at the market, a violent fight broke out and in the course of it, his walking staff was snatched by someone. However, one young man, whose mother was from Begui, retrieved it and handed it back to him. This act of kindness from this young man impressed Omang, who decided to reward his mother for nurturing him with such good values. Thus, he empowered her spiritually, filling her with a sense of belonging. He beseeched the women of Begui to henceforth introduce themselves as “ntoon y Omang” meaning a native/daughter of Omang. To date, in Omang, the practice is common among them.
Omang’s exploits took him to another village where he was killed, chopped into pieces and buried. However, he resurrected and went back to Begui to ensure that he had a befitting burial from his people when he finally died. He then took some of his close relatives to Ntàamaàt (the border between Kon and Begui) where a huge baobab tree stood. As they got there, he told them “I’m going to hit the baobab tree. If it falls on the side of Begui, then I will live but if it falls on the other side, be rest assured that my death is imminent in a few days.”
Omang hit the tree and it fell on the other side. His relatives felt sad as they knew the tragedy that would befall them. He died a few days later, and was given a befitting burial by his people. His tomb is still visible till date. Omang left behind two daughters. One of them, Kariy Omang, got married and bore a lone girl called Mbené Sègoh who got married to Azobo Boéya of Edop village and they bore many children. Omang’s descendants still live in Begui today.
African religions and philosophy admit that body and soul are accepted or sent back to the world of the living, when the necessary funeral rituals are not performed or not correctly performed. In African beliefs and cosmology, when humanity has not accomplished an assigned task on earth, the dead become castoffs in the world beyond. Such discarded souls and bodies are bound to be resurrected after death. The resurrected soul and body either takes the same human form to fulfil his/her earthly task, narrate trajectories and plights in the world beyond or change location to live an entirely different life. Omang, as the myth states, is resurrected and goes back to his people in order to be given a fitting burial, i.e., all necessary rituals, that pave the way for the person to the ancestral world according to Begui people, are performed.
Leland, Kurts. The Unanswered Question: Death, Near Death and the Afterlife, Massachusetts: Hampton Road Publishing, 2002.
Mbiti. J.S. African Religion and Philosophy, London: Heinemann, 1969.
Method of data collection: Tape recording and note taking
Researcher: Divine Che Neba
Assistant researcher: Abou Marie Michele