It is a New Year in Kompenya every December 1 and the population comes out to feed its dead so as to fan off bad luck, and welcome prosperity to the community. Young virgins, uncircumcised boys, lead a ritual march to appease the ancestors at the ancestral grounds at the end and beginning of the village of Kompenya, three kilometers from Mbanga in the Moungo Division of the Littoral Region of the Cameroons.
The Balung clan around Kompenya believes their ancestors are a coastal people who originated from the forests of the Congo. For them, where the ancestral grounds are found are to the North West end of the village. Sitting across the tarmac road running to the West region is the burial ground of the departed relations of the Kompeya man. But to the travelers coming down from the west, the ceremonial ancestral grounds are at the beginning of the village.
If these relations are not fed every New Year, they believe, there is bound to be death and disasters in the village. Thirty meters from the ancestral and burial grounds, a human size sign stands to remind travelers that at that spot, sometime in the recent past, 20 people perished in a road accident. The villagers believe that accident happened because they had forgotten to feed their dead, who came out looking for what to eat and their paths crossed those of the unfortunate travelers, which they tore into shreds in an accident.
These ceremonies will continue in other coastal clans to mark the beginning of the New Year. To the Bamileke folk who has settled in this area for many years, this spiritual feast will never make sense. Not that the Bamileke himself does not practice such rituals, but he derides his coastal hosts as an uncultured people who had forgotten their history and culture.
For the Meta man who lives some 375 kilometers from Kompenya, 22 December 2012 will mark a new beginning. They are unlike the detractors of the Mayan who will be calling it “doomsday” and the end of the world as we know it. Those who have tried unsuccessfully to interpret the writings of the Maya believe an apocalypse was in the offing on this day. The Meta people will be calling it the beginning of a “new age” of love, peace and enlightenment.
In Kompenya at 4 o'clock P.M on 1 December 2012 the whole village came out to feed their departed relations in awe of what awaited them if they failed to do so. When the bus I was riding on approached the sleepy village, all looked peaceful until we came to what looked like a mob. Young men bearing clubs and leafy branches marched through the afternoon setting sun under the shadows of iroko branches and the cam wood plants over the ritual grounds.
An abrupt order was given the driver of the bus to stop. The driver and everyone on the bus were confused. No traveling advice was issued to notify the public that they will have to slow down in Kompenya to make way for the marching caravan of celebrants. One elderly man in his 50s asked the driver, “If they allowed you to push forward will you be able to go down that hill.”
To Sango Ebanja, if the driver forced his way through the caravan, sure doom awaited him down the hill. Ultimate death will meet him just as it met the other 20 dead people reminding travelers of the treacherousness of the hill. “Ici 20 morts”. Meaning “here 20 dead”.
Before we realized what was happening, a young man in the caravan landed two slaps on the jaw of the driver accompanied with, “You Bamileke people believe with your money you can do just anything.”
While the elderly man went round the bus to call the younger folks in the crowd to order, we begged the driver to stay calm. Five minutes after, the caravan passed by with the young virgins bearing a crown of fresh leaves in a frenzy of chanting and wriggling of their waists, marching passed us to the tune of some weird initiative tunes.
Wow! This is absolutely compounding, I thought to my speechless self. The same speechlessness and fear could be seen on other faces. The Balung could not transpose their beliefs to the unsuspecting drivers. How were unsuspecting travelers from other lands and climes to tune to the calendar of some death worshipping necromancers? Where did their fears and anxieties end?
Three weeks after the Kompenya incident, some death worshippers around the world are gripped with fear of the end resulting from their belief in and wrong interpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar developed by the Maya of Mexico. According to some schools, the end of the calendar on 21 December 2012 spelt doom for mankind as the b'ak'tun 13 was the end of a cycle.
On 22 December 2012, all roads in Meta lead to Zang Tabi for the public presentation of the 10th fon (monarch) of the village. Fon Tabi Teghenicha X was “caught” on 6 December 2012 by the Kwifon (mystical society) of Zang Tabi according to tradition. The ululation from the inner court of the palace was deafening and brought an end to speculations as to who was to be crowned as clan head of the Meta.
If December 21 marked the end of the Maya calendar, their Meta brothers would have seen it and would not have been preparing to converge in Zang Tabi on 22 December 2012. Equally spiritual like the Maya, the KWAP of Meta is capable of divining and prophesying things to happen well beyond a century. Not to have seen or anticipate the end of the world is not something that vindicates the Meta prowess in spiritual issues.
As the Maya and Meta believe, 22 December will be a New Beginning in the world. In the cosmetology of Meta, 2013 and beyond is expected to usher in a new beginning of love, peace and prosperity among its peoples and families. December 21 will just be the end of a generation of anarchy and confusion, while 22 December and beyond ushers in love, peace and prosperity in Meta, the finest of the world.
Looking across the valley, in the deepest profundity of Toneku, where Fonbod is chief, rolling your eyes over the palm trees to the summit of the hill crossed by Tabussa to present day Bossa, you marvel over the sheer beauty and dexterity of God's hand in moulding these landscapes. Bring yourself out of the reverie to the point of wumfi, down to the other side of Gwokwong, begins the descend to Ngi, descending lower in humanity. God in his infinite wisdom could never destine these beauties to end.
From Zang Tabi, refreshed and renewed, Meta will imitate the adventures and migrations of its ancestors and descend on other lands, to prepare and nourish another season of their infinite cycle on earth. Plenty, peace, love and prosperity would they tap from the fresh springs, gorging out of the granite boulders, scattered across the land. Here comes a new dawn for Meta, a new dawn for mankind, the quintessential being of the universe.
Fon Christopher Achobang
Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Arts
University of Buea
P.O. Box 63 Buea