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Traditions in Ndjock-Nkong

Gaston Bappa: There are slight particularities and differences in traditions between clans of the same tribe. My village, Ndjock-Nkong, is of the Basaa tribe in Cameroon. There are a lot of traditions in the village. They are what maintains life there. Without traditions, no life is possible in many African villages, as people are poor in many of them. Here is the main set of traditions in my village:

Ancestral medicine and pharmacopeia are very active and effective. In the village, when somebody feels sick, his first reflex is to get native medicine, as they exist for many diseases. When it does not provide health, then they go to the hospital, which is often established far from there.

Communitarianism is one of the key traditions which maintain life in the village. People share what they have with the others. There are people who are alone. There are old people without revenues. They are assisted daily by their neighbors and the rest of the community.

There is music, musicology and ethnomusicology, with immemorial music and body expressions, folklore, songs and dances, games, which are carried out with the unique, well-known African communicative ‘joie de vivre’. Pure tribal songs and body expressions like Sekele, Bekele, ihôňgô, hilum hi kôba, mbaň, makune, koo, kosso, and many more, are just some of the specific arts of songs and dances. Many musicians from our tribe, which are internationally well known, use these traditional expressions and create good and worldwide accepted products. There is still a lot of native music and body expression arts which are foundations for future creations of our artists.

When a member of the community dies, the affected family is assisted for many weeks, step by step, days and nights, from the burial to funerals, so that they do not feel alone, and they stay connected to the dead person.

The oral culture, comprising myths, legends, folk songs, folk tales, proverbs and dance, provided by griots (walking dictionaries), storytellers and verbal artists, is still active.

The patriarchal organization of our native society remains active. A basic family, composed by a husband and his wife (others have many wives, with good traditional arguments for this orientation) and their children, is organised to preserve harmony, group welfare, and sustainable evolution between generations.

We have provisions and laws for all stages of life, rites of passage and related ceremonies for birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, weddings and old age.

Beyond this non-exhaustive enumeration of traditions, it is important to know that there are great difficulties now to maintain these traditions in the village, because of remoteness and poverty. With this situation, communication and education are very difficult in the village. The community of villagers does not often know that traditions they use daily can be source of development. They use them to ensure survival. Those who have regular contact with other communities in the region, the country, and in the international arena, are discovering the power behind these traditions and exploiting them. But their number is not significant.

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