OPINIONBy Nformi Emmanuel (First Published-Wimbum Forum)
|The burning to ashes of "Bsoh"..photo archive|
Why do we have to dare certain topics, if at all, they do not concern us? A lot of people know certain truths, yet they remain silent, but still burdened in their consciences, they confront them in our societies. These imprisoned consciences harbor anger and gnash their teeth as the realities of daily living fry them out. Some are caged in religious systems in which their expressions are gagged by a popular, but untruthful dogmatic thought and actions, derived from selfish and erroneous interpretations of sacred texts. (see Colossians 2: 20-23 and bible texts following)
The early missionaries; who did not care to investigate African or wimbum cultural beliefs, for the pride of having a ready and superior alternative, hastily flushed all good aspects together with the bad. In doing this, they planted a myopic worldview of Christian evangelicalism that continued into simplistic dualism of good and evil – the church and her systems being good and the traditions and its systems being bad. This in turn degenerated into enormous guilt for those Christians who know for sure that some aspects of their culture and traditions are not evil and therefore practicable. To an uninformed wimbum, the word “tradition” sounds so evil even though the term is also descriptive of the church system. The word, when translated into limbum as “ndee” simply denoting “the way wimbum people do things”; does not give the slightest modicum of inherent evil as in English.
Even though contemporary Church missions have attempted to lay corrective measures in the enculturation movements, no particular public apology has been made to clear away the stigma that was imputed on the way of life of the mbum people. Instead, like in a veil, a spirit of guilt and intimidation has prevailed and continued to chicken and choke freedom of expression within our societies, and worse within Christendom itself. For example, traditional dances like Nfuh and Njuh and others have been stigmatized and vilified at home to constitute the devils enterprise yet it has flourished in the towns and cities away from mbum land. The very people who dance and own titles usually feel a form of guilt or are looked opon by villagers to partake in devilish activities. A Christian who wears a simple traditional attire in Ndu or Nkambe does not feel the same tranquility when he does in the cities. In general, association or participation in traditional societies, dances and activities are said to be indicative of either a fall from salvific grace or a slipping away from it. Yet those who know the truth are yet to speak out even within Christendom. This is either because they fear to be bundled and labeled or that they fear to lose a reputation as “good people”. Or some just don’t feel that it concerns their individual lives that much to be addressed while their society continues to slip down the wrong path. Otherwise, why do you dance nfuh and njuh in Yaounde yet feel so uncomfortable to dance the same at home? Why do you accept a title which you will normally not accept while at home?
Beyond the boundaries of Mbum land, people attend an enlightenment resulting from exposure to other cultures and worldviews. These carve their thoughts towards a critical and liberal thinking of life, purpose, and action. There occurs a liberation to re-examine faith and practice as it is and as it ought to be. They are then hesitant to burn or participate in burning traditional artifacts, juju houses, or outrightly declaring them as belonging to the devil’s system. They understand that he real problem is not the juju or the artifacts, but the people behind them. Even some of those who participate in burning are the very people who are involved in the witchcraft. Come to ask them who actually told them that these jujus and traditional artifacts are a source of harm, then you will understand that they got their information through the system they are trying to destroy, rather than a spiritual discernment which they, afterwards usually claim to have. Witchcraft is not the material, it is in the immaterial perpetrated by the material (people).
It is time, the wimbum man sought to define a juju and its “intended” purpose(s) in our land. Then we will appreciate in a different way the beauty of our heritage. My use of the word “intended” is to characterize the misunderstanding derived from misuse of our traditions and cultures. It is after we have dug deeper to see why certain jujus and societies were created that we can now evaluate whether they should be eradicated, modified or encouraged.
What is a title and what does it entail? What does it seek to accomplish? Traditional titles and how they are obtained have changed with time because traditions and culture is not static. A title that meant something in 1900AD may not mean exactly the same in 2000AD. It is the duty of our traditional elites to redefine titles and its uses and carve a kinetic progress thereof. This would shed light as to its relevance and practicability. Having said this, is it the title or the title-holder that is bad? What should we first throw away or burn, the title or the title-holder, or both? Please do not set fires on Taa Nformi and say that I said it oooo! But if you only set fires on his title cap, remember Taa Nformi can produce numerous caps the next day. Are some titles in mbum land the same as titles in the civil government or arm force? How do people treat the later?
There must be one thing that we should carry in mind: that our traditions and cultures are enshrined in mysteries for the sake of maintaining its driving force which evokes the fear of the unknown in every aspect of life. This in turn is expected to control behaviors. Before I bring an example that serves across the board, let me discuss some simple ones here. We believe that there is something mystical, hidden in every juju in our land. Do not our bodies chill or quicken when we face even children’s fake jujus? Could it be an emotional condition? That thing we say, is nothing short of spiritual; a force to make things work beyond normal human comprehension. Christians will say such a spirit must be from the devil since it is not within the church. Man and jujus mystify their systems so that our behaviors may be controlled. That does not say that witchcraft or some form of spiritual power cannot exist in the jujus, but that they must not exist for jujus to be jujus. And when it exists, it not the juju itself, but the people behind the jujus.
I grew up as a Baptist Christian. By the early 70s they forbade us, children from even viewing Lord’s Supper sessions. It was a sacred practice and in the nature of our culture, was secretive and held to be mysterious - “food and drink of God”. Members did not dare discuss its elements and the service thereof in homes to kids and other “unbelievers”. When curious people questioned, church members who were well-in-age would simply answer: “when you get there you will know what it is and why and how it happens”. When we were learning to get prepared for baptism, Lord’s Supper was the last of the lessons; just in case a candidate did drop, they would not go away with full knowledge of it. This was a Church behavior borrowed from our traditional society’s behavior where things are kept secret. In fact The Lord’s Supper was considered a “covenant” in the likeness of wimbum ‘lih’; which is strong and important, and “confidential” pact or agreement between two or more parties. Those outside of the church supposed that the Lord’s Supper was a spiritual ritual of real blood and real body. Some labeled the church as practicing cannibalism. Some said each time they had a Lord’s Supper, someone in the church must die as a sacrifice, whose blood and body was to be used. It was a dreaded ritual! Is this different from the accusing fingers pointed at the nwarongs and psohs by those who do not exactly know what happens in these societies? Could it be that ignorance is the problem behind our wrongful accusation of our traditions and customs?
So while the church is accusing traditional system to be the source of evil, the tradition system is accusing the churches for being the hiding places for those who actually practice witchcraft. Yes, in many villages, now in Mbum land, and of recent, witchcraft accusations are emanating from the churches where the only solutions seem to be; to excommunicate from church, deliverance, burn the traditional artifacts or jujus, and/or leave it into God’s hand, before spreading into our homes. It usually begins from the church before our traditional authorities want to step in to solve the problem as a global societal problem. Most of those church testimonies are not adequate or tangible evidences for prosecutory procedures in the court systems. You would also bear with me that; it is another phenomenon of biological science that there must be certain conditions for proper seed germination. Lol! What I mean here is that witchcraft has shifted into the churches because no one is left at home. Hahahah! All our people have gone to church and so have taken with them their vary natures. So, there is simply less or no witchcraft existing at home because no one is at home to be practicing it. So what you see is that they accuse each other in the churches, close from church and go home to burn traditional artifacts, yet they point accusing fingers against at in-existent mass (traditionalists). If I am mistaking, please make a search of recently accused witchcraft people and if you find that they are not a member of a church or that they are not the strongest members, let us know. Who are these people trying to fool? Their God or the God I equally serve?
Since this conflict is principally a phenomenon of Christianity vs Tradition, let me mention and comment on usable bible texts;
1. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (Ephesians 5:11):
14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
In this text, Paul advises that believers should abstain from participating in everything sinful and (criminal), whether in worship, conversation or in daily living, rather than forbidding them from belonging to civil societies, families, or converse with unbelievers. The later is impracticable, on earth. Certain Christian sects had misunderstood this text and tried to seclude themselves from their civil societies in Christian history, but have ended up discovering that what matters most is human behavior and not necessarily the place.
The parable of the weeds in Matthew 13: 24-30, supports this idea:
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
And it’s explained:
41. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
2. Joshua 24:15 (1Kings 18:21):
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Those who reject out traditions and anything associated with it argue that it constitute a system of ancestral worship and idolatry. They say wimbim people worship small gods and dead people. So their titles, societies and their artifacts are explicitly devilish and for a satanic system. They want a drastic choice of either church or tradition. No syncretism! Either you belong to the church or you belong to the devils camp (the tradition). If you belong to the church, discard of titles or burn artifacts and jujus that go with the traditional system.
Question: Do contemporary title holders really “serve” idols or our community? Why do you hold a title and what is actually expected as roles for title holders? As Christians, do we have a responsibility to serve our community?
3. Genesis 35:2 (1Thes. 5:22):
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.
The puritans in our communities wish that not only the worship of idols eradicated, also that the entire system down to something as trivial as dressing. They do not want to see our traditional dressing because they represent something more than dressing – the ancestors and gods. They say if you promote a system, you become part of it.
Question: Is your dressing making you evil or yourself? Does clothing, food and drink defile a man? “Therefore whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense whether to Jews, or to the Greeks or to the Church of God” (1Cor. 1031-32). Is this part of scriptures?
4. Romans 13:1-7 (Titus 3:3)
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Christianity to Mbum Land was introduced as an element of a bigger parcel – western way of life, including but not limited to governance. Our traditional style and authority to govern was rejected, some were crushed and completely erased. With only few chiefdoms raising resistance, thanks to the mercy of the colonizers that chiefdoms were either sustained or began to emerge still. Today what seems to be western traditional way of governance is preferred by Christianity against our natural and richly cultured system. Those who reject our traditional authority system argue that our traditional system of governance also protects our traditional religion; which is “ungodly”. This group of people pay no attention to unchecked religious tolerance of western style of governance –permitting even the church of Satan to organize. They would rather burn down psoh while tolerating homosexuality. They would love to be corrected by foreign forces (police and gendarmes) rather than nwarong and other jujus.
Question: What would have been referred to as “government” if we didn’t receive western style Governance while we were being evangelized? What makes the Traditional government evil; than the civil government that we now have?
5. Colosians 2:16-23
18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
We are facing a Christianity that preaches love and grace but seems to practices hate and law over/against it. Love is engaging and grace is un-judgmental. If we say that some people are going to hell, we judge so because we think that they do not follow the law. We may not articulate this “holy than thou” thought verbally, but we practice our faith as if we are qualified and some others are not - quick to condemn and quick to label. Jesus would say to this Group in Mat 21:31: Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. Those who will eventually go to hell are those who have rejected Christ as Savior from sin, yet we cannot know them simply by titles and offices because even with the church itself, the devil infiltrates with his own ministers who are posting as of God. Traditional artifacts and titles are but a shadow of things, and they will fade away. After all, flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God. There shall be no offices (pastor or any title holder or government officer) apart from due reward for service on earth. True religion serves the community of God’s people, and God’s people are as numerous as all humanity –even including those who reject Christ.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)