The Colbert Factor:
NW Fons threaten spiritual warfare, out-mod armored cars, special forces
When Muteff went their separate ways from mainland Abuh in the 70s, it inevitably meant they had to hands-off the fertile lands on the other side of Abuh they had been cultivating over the years. This naturally meant attention had to be turned towards the angheli forest and other forest galleries towards Ijim mountain. Being basically an agrarian community and needing fertile lands for survival, each family needed to be sure the time and energy they were to invest in the new-found farmlands would produce enough yield for the community. Nothing was to be left to chance. And given that necessity is the mother of invention, the community had to invent its own local agronomists.
That’s how a certain bobe Benniway Chi-Anjoh cropped up to proclaim himself specialist in soil fertility. Each time a family was to acquire a new forest or farmland, Benniway was first invited to come taste the soil fertility. Once on that new piece of farmland, he would use the tip of the cutlass, dig up some underground soil and sneeze or scent it. For the five minutes of that artisanal agronomic exercise, the concerned family would be animated by anxiety and suspense as his conclusions on the fertility or not of the soil, were final. If negative, the concerned family would only be advised to search further inland.
Although it would have been an uphill task convincing Muteff villagers of the non-scienticity of bobe Benniway Chi-Anjoh’s soil fertility exploits, villagers were generally satisfied with the outcome of his experiments. And that’s why initially, they were just too reluctant to throw a welcome party to the Agric-Extension workers government began dispatching in the 80s, to assist farmers make informed agricultural decisions.
Bobe Benniway Chi-Anjoh is still very much alive in Muteff. Yet, even as villagers still go exploiting new forests and farmlands, no one thinks his artisanal agronomic knowledge still has any place in today’s world. That is because, even if he were effective then, evidence exist to the effect that conventional agricultural methods are more rewarding than bobe Benniway’s.
Like bobe Benniway Chi-Anjoh in a Muteff community that lacked the basic soil tasting equipment that people elsewhere took for granted; and so had to taste soil fertility through sneezing; the fons of the North West Region have just announced they would be engaging in a spiritual combat to sniff out fighters who have been raining havoc in the communities since the outbreak of the minority conflict in 2016.
For the fons who were meeting on the sidelines of the 8th session of the North West Regional Assembly, to boldly claim peace could return to the conflict-ridden communities through their spiritual cleansing rites, would be like testing the fertility of the soil in the 21st century using the nostrils.
For them to go ahead to state that the items going to be used to stage the spiritual battle would be palm oil, palm wine, goats, salt and alligator pepper; would be to behave like a step-brother of mine, Nyouh Samuel, who using the pretext of his physical strength over the other boys in Muteff in the 80s, decided after they have caught some bountiful game, that for anyone of the fellow hunters to partake in the sharing, they must cross the fast flowing river separating the village and the farmlands on foot from downstream, when a well-constructed bridge existed. To show his seriousness, he used the fast flowing river bed to cross over. Afraid of being carried away by the fast moving waters, his fellow hunters used the bridge to cross the river, thereby forfeiting all the game to him.
And by the way, why would the custodians of our culture and traditions, whose only raison d’etre are to cleanse their lands; be wasting the energy of action in the energy of the resolve? How comes about that to pour libations whose only requirements as the fons themselves have stated are: goats, palm wine, palm oil, salt and alligator pepper, it has had to take them years and months to resolve on it. Could it be that they since knew the solution to the conflict and have since been waiting for someone somewhere, to provide the needed materials and resources? When souls are perishing?
Here are fons who know for a fact that sophisticated armored cars and tankers that are being rolled into the regions everyday are having a run for their money. And that President Biya have just okayed the deployment of special forces to back up special operations; and like Nyouh Samuel, they decide to use the river bed rather than the bridge to cross a fast moving river.
Perhaps, the fons in their infinite wisdom, are informed by the logic of the Anglo-Saxon mythology in the anonymous poem, Beowulf. Set in what is today known as Denmark and South Western Sweden, Hrothgar’s royal Dynasty is threatened by a huge man-like ogre named Grendel, a descendant of the biblical murderer, Cain, which has been menacing the aging Hrothgar and killing the kings (thanes) warriors.
Beowulf, the young warrior decides to come to the king’s aid, (and like the North West fons who are promising to use spiritual curses on fighters), brings along 14 of his finest men. At a feast before the nightfall of the first day of his visit (just like the feast this week at the Regional Assembly), an obnoxious, drunken Scylding named Unferth, challenged Beowulf’s claims he could fight and kill the dreaded monster; claiming Beowulf once embarrassingly lost a small swimming contest to a boyhood acquaintance named Breca, and so is no match for the dreaded Grendel. Recall the North West fons who today claim they would indulge in spiritual warfare flee their palaces at the onset of the conflict. And like Sumanguru in the battle with Sundiata, only appear and disappear after Regional Assembly sessions.
Despite Unferth’s insults, Beowulf defends himself by stating that the two of them during the swimming contest were separated by a storm on the fifth night of the contest, and he Beowulf had slain nine sea monsters before finally returning to shore. Unlike Beowulf, North West fons are yet to explain what caused them to flee the palaces when they possessed such Beowulf-like powers.
Suffice it to say that on the night of the first visit when everyone had gone to sleep after the party, Grendel the monster appeared, killing more of king Hrothgar’s warriors, before engaging Beowulf in a deadly battle. Like the fons who are opting for spiritual warfare when armored cars and sophisticated weapons are being used on the battlefield, Beowulf decided not to use any arrow or weapon. With bare hands, he rather seized the dreaded ogre’s claw and never let go. Beowulf finally emerges victorious as he rips Grendel’s claw from its shoulder socket, sending the mortally wounded beast fleeing to his pool and finally dying.
Though the equally powerful mother of Grendel tries to fight back the next day by trying to kill Beowulf with her poisonous knife, Beowulf’s armor protects him. Suddenly, Beowulf spots a magical, giant sword and uses it to cut through the mother’s spine at the neck, killing her. Beowulf is finally celebrated throughout the Dynasty and showered with gift before he returns back to South Western Sweden, where he later became king himself.
After 50 years of successful rule, Beowulf like Hrothgar, (and more so, like Paul Biya), discovers his peace is being shattered by his declining years, and that he must battle one more demon. And although with the aid of his close friend, Wiglaf, he fights and kills the dragon, he is mortally wounded and dies soon after.
Experts have also used this longest and greatest surviving Anglo-Saxon poem to stress the relevance of literature in the real world. This is because a certain Secretary to a German Defense Minister, who had read the poem, used the rationale of the poem to advise the Defense minister on what German fighters could, like Beowulf, attack enemy armored cars at war not by going frontally, but by sighting and ripping the claw from under or besides. That may exactly be what the North West fons have opted to do to disable those engaging Cameroon government forces in battle.
Just that like Nyouh Samuel, the fons know that very few of them can make it to their palaces for the rituals and so only the few that would make it would have the booty. That’s probably the reason why they are calling on elites to accompany them in their action. Like Nyuoh Samuel again, who would have known that the basic core values of justice and equity meant he shared the booty with his co-hunters rather than putting them through another Herculean test of crossing the fast flowing stream, fons know and would have done a better job of bringing pressure to bare on Yaounde authorities to call for fresh dialogue addressing the root causes of the conflict.
*Colbert Gwain is digital rights advocate, author, radio host and content creator @TheColbertFactor
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