Monday, October 13, 2008

My Town Monday: Life in West Africa

I asked Mr. Boh to send some pictures of his family, Cameroon, and where he works. I knew when I asked that it was a tall order but, as always, he came through. I'm posting family photos today and work pics next week. I also included a writeup from him on the folklore of the Kom people. Mr. Boh writes:
You won't believe how long it has taken me to be able to come up with Pics. I had them snapped but to process them and be able to send was just another school and I finally had to hand the camera to a friend of mine who down-loaded them into his box and in turn sent to me.

You will see Junior and the sister, their Mum and the first day to school for Junior's sister and the job their mum has to accompany them everyday to and from school. Please extend my thanks to all your kind readers for showing an interest in my country.

History of the Kom people and their settlement (originally posted 01 August 2007 on the Axiom Report)
The Kom people co-existed with the Babessi people of Ngohkitungia Division of the north-west province of Cameroon. This was in the early 1800's up to about the second half of that century. Relationships between these two ethnic groups were very cordial until hunger struck the land due to poor weather conditions. The fon (paramount chief) of Babessi, seeing that his subjects were dying of hunger, out-played the fon of Kom with a diabolic plan he had conceived. He suggested to the fon of Kom the necessity to reduce their respective populations so that the little amount of food the land produced would be sufficient for the few who were spared from the execution of the plan.

The two groups were each to construct a hall into which a cross section of their population would be locked up and later burnt. This plan was readily accepted by the fon of Kom, 'TANGNAKOLI'.

Tangnakoli was so naive that during the construction of the two halls he didn't notice that the people of Babessi had been given instructions to create an exit door to the hall their own population was to be locked in. So while the Kom people ran the risk of eliminating their people, those from Babessi knew it was going to be safe with them.

Then came the D-Day; about 600 Kom elites moved into the hall meant for them while about the same number of people from Babessi MOVED INTO AND OUT THROUGH THE EXIT DOOR of their own hall. Soon, the two halls were set ablaze and as the Kom elites perished in the disaster, Babessi elites moved into hiding in the near-by bushes. Just two weeks later the same Babessi elites Tangnakoli had observed with his own eyes move into the hall were seen again roaming around the palace.

Tangnakoli couldn't believe his eyes and considered this as a slap in the face from his colleague fon of Babessi.

Tangnakoli called a few of his trusted 'NCHINDAS' (palace guards) and informed them of his plan to avenge the deaths of his people; he made them to understand that Babessi was no longer suitable for them and informed them of the various signs they would see after his death and directed them to follow the instructions at the latter if not a calamity would befall them.

With the plan on the way, one morning Tangnakoli sat on his throne and was playing the locally fabricated guitar called the 'ILUNG' when the fon of Babessi came in to pay him a visit. Furious with anger, Tangnakoli got up and slammed the Ilung on the forehead of the fon of Babessi leaving a very big scar. Tangnakoli never gave room for any negotiations as he dashed into the palace and came out with a rope in hand. He went into the nearby forest (as planned) to where there was a crater lake; he climbed onto one of the trees whose branches spread further out above the waters of the lake; he tied the rope onto one of the branches and hung himself. This suicidal move had been accepted by all the Chindas he had contacted so they were all on standby for whatever signs would follow.

With the mission of the fon already accomplished, the Kom elites waited in patience for another two weeks. The decaying body of Tangnakoli soon started sending out maggots which dropped into the waters of the lake and days later, they transformed into very big fishes. Since Babessi people knew nothing about the plan nor the whereabouts of Tangnakoli, they soon discovered that there were so many fish in the nearby lake and brought the news to the palace and their fon hearing this didn't hesitate to decree that the next day, every adult male and some strong women should go to that lake and do the fishing and bring home their catch to the palace. The instructions were followed and when everyone had gotten into the lake concentrating on fishing, the lake started swallowing up the people and did not give room for anyone who had stepped in to be able to run.

The next day a Boa track appeared from around the lake as had been announced by Tangnakoli. Following the track, the Kom people left Babessi. They traveled for some days until the track disappeared at IJIM a neighbouring village to Kom. They temporarily settled at Ijim for about two weeks; built a few huts around and got up one morning only to see that the Boa Track had reappeared. They packed up their few belongings and again followed the track for a few more days and it finally disappeared at LAIKOM where they built the fon's palace and settlements effectively commenced after some months. The palace of the Kom people remains there to this day and where the Boa track disappeared is a tall rock of about 5ft and 10in in diameter; this rock is meant to keep track because it is believed that the day the track reappears, it will mean the Kom people will again have to move to a new home.

Click here for other My Town Monday posts on Travis Erwin's site...


lyzzydee said...

What an interesting story. I love the photos and the fact that Calvin Klein has made to the front of a T shirt over there as well!!

mary said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I love the photos of Mr. Boh and his family.

I'm looking forward to learning about where he works.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The clothes remind us how global we are but the stories remind us of our individual lives.

lyzzydee said...

Hi David thanks for popping by my blog! The music is all my own choice, The music player allows youto tap into music already hosted elsewhere on the web. I have chosen songs from my youth and songs that remind me of all the things I have done!!

lyzzydee said...

Hi David thanks for popping by my blog! The music is all my own choice, The music player allows youto tap into music already hosted elsewhere on the web. I have chosen songs from my youth and songs that remind me of all the things I have done!!

Travis Erwin said...

I think it is very cool that you and Mr. Boh brings us these posts. They teach us both how small the world is and how interesting and diverse it's inhabitants are.

I'd love to send Mr. Boh and his kids Amarillo Texas t-shirts. If you got me the sizes I could either send them direct or send them to you and have you send them over. And let him know that I love to read his words.

David Cranmer said...

lyzzydee, I remember when I was in Cameroon (2004-5), music/brand name T-shirts were quite popular there. While some were new, there were also alot of old ones too, like New Kids On The Block (before their comeback!) and even older stuff like That Girl and Starsky and Hutch... You have tapped into some great music. I really enjoy stopping by.

Mary, Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Patti, great observation... that sums it up nicely.

Travis, I think that's a very generous offer that his family would be thrilled to have. I will write him for the sizes. Be prepared that it may take awhile for a response.

Reb said...

What wonderful pictures. I am glad that he was able to get them to you to post. I love the story too. It seems that we Westerners don't pass along our history nearly as well. We rely too much on the school systems, books and television to teach these things, but we forget to instill the desire and curiosity to learn in our children.

David Cranmer said...

Reb, Yes there is a wonderful sense of passing down traditions from generation to generation. They are also very proud and respectful of their elders. A great culture.

Clare2e said...

Thanks to you and Mr. Boh for sharing the pictures. What a lovely family he has! Thanks for continuing to give us looks into other worlds and other lives.

David Cranmer said...

Clare, I'm glad you are enjoying them beacause my wife and I are too. We left Cameroon in 2005 and these are some of the first pics we have seen of Mr. Boh and his family since we left.

Barbara Martin said...

Thanks for sharing an interesting story. The photos of Mr. Boh and his family are wonderful, with their big smiles. The children are darling!

David Cranmer said...

Barbara, Mr. Boh says thanks.

Lana Gramlich said...

Great post! Horrifying & interesting. What cute children. I hope them all the best.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks Lana. He appreciates all the comments he gets and extends greetings to everyone that reads his posts.