Bakweri people

Bakweri

Bakweri / Kwe

The Bakweri (or Kwe) are an ethnic group of the Republic of Cameroon. They are closely related to Cameroon's coastal peoples (the Sawa), particularly the Duala and Isubu

The Bakweri people occupy the South-eastern slopes of mount Cameroon (Fako). Buea is one of their settlements lying at about 3,000 feet, in a a relatively densely populated belt of the mountain. The Bakweri are Bantu in language and origin. More narrowly, they fall into the Sawa, or the coastal peoples of Cameroon.

 

Culture

Bakweri were divided into the urban and rural areas. Those who lived in the central business districts like Limbe, Buea, Tiko and Muyuka were involved in skilled and unskilled professions. The rural Bakweri on the contrary worked as farmers, making use of mount Cameroon’s fertile volcanic soil to cultivate crops like cocoyam, maize, oil palm and plantains.

Traditional Bakweri society was divided into three strata. At the top were the native Bakweri with full rights of land ownership. The next consisted either non-Bakweri descendants of slaves and the last group were the slaves. The chiefs and headmen were at the top of this hierarchy in the past even though in recent times the figures have very little power in their own right as important issues are no decided by the committees and no longer secret societies and council of elders.

The Bakweri tribal group which was believed to have diverse origin like many other ethnic groups was attached to the Bantu family and had a decentralized society. Here we shall examine the family unit as a societal and political base, then the village council and the role of the chief further more we shall focus on the social and the economic organizations of this people.

 

The Origin of the Bakweri People

The Bakwerians are from the lower Bomboko behind Mount Fako. They were mostly fishermen, who settled along the coast, farmers, and hunters who settled beside the mountain. Most of the Bakweri villages claimed to have been founded from a group of villages which lies in a belt between 650m and 1000m up mount Cameroon.

The origin of the Bakweri settlement could be attributed to two separate traditions. Firstly, the tradition of the Buea group stated that a certain Eye Njie used to come from Bomboko to hunt on the Eastward side of the mountain with a friend Nakande. Nakande used to hunt near the site of present day Wonakanda while Eye moved on to a river near the present day Buea. When they brought in their wives, other friends and relatives from Womboko joined them and they opened gardens. Another tradition affirmed that ManyangMasonje left Isongo and Bakingili where he settled around Bimbia where he had many catches in “ISU” meaning the end of my journey. Nakande from Bomboko settled in Bonakanda which was called Ligbea which meant a place for good farming. He was a farmer.

However, although hunting was the primary motive behind the Bomboko migration, fertility of the soil on the slopes of mount Cameroon was equally a firm factor. While the men were engaged in hunting, the women farmed the land and subsequently, other migrants from Bomboko established Bakweri villages which were named after their founders. Although there is some view that the true Bakweri are the people of Buea and its surrounding villages, other groups classified under Bakweri included Bomboko, the area which the Bakweri are said to have originated and Wovea. The Bakweri are found on the eastern and south eastern slopes of the mountain, coastal Bomboko on the south-east coast, the inland Bomboko on the North-west of the Bakweri and Isuwu and Wovea are on the southern coast of the Fako Division.

The Isuwu are also believed to have originated from Bomboko. Isuwu was also known as Bimbia named after MbibiMbela who was the chief of the area in the last quarter of the 19th century. According to another source, their ancestors came from Bankingili and womana. The wovea claimed to have originated from Fernando Po who settled in the islands of Ambas Bay. All the above was due to the potential of the area like fertile soil and hunting facilities. This same fertile soil also attracted the Europeans into the area since their motive was centered on economic. Although these groups lived closer to each other, and practiced the same culture, they were independent from each other. The German successful attacks on the Bakweri could be attributed to this division. If the Bakweri were united, then their final defeat by the Germans during the Bakweri resistance under the leadership of KuvaLikenya could have failed and even if not the alienation policy might have adopted a different shape, thus the loose political and social ties amongst the Bakweri worked in favor of the Germans.

The Bakweri belong to the most north-western branch of the Bantu speaking people inhabiting central and southern Africa. To be certain about the date the Bakweri reached their present site, it was around 1750 as confirmed by genealogical evidence that it was the time they arrived one of their earliest settlement, Buea. Other sources asserted that the population pressure which affected Nigeria drove the Bakweri from their habitation near Lake Barombi in Kumba to the mount Fako area.

 

Geographical location

The Bakweri are primarily concentrated in Cameroon’s Southwest Province. They live in over 100 villages east and southeast of Mount Cameroon with Buea their main population centre. Bakweri settlements largely lie in the mountain’s foothills and continue up its slopes as high as 4,040 metres. They have further villages along the Mungo River and the creeks that feed into it. The town of Limbe is a mixture of Bakweri, Duala, and other ethnic groups.
There is an ongoing dispute between the Bakweri Land Claims Committee (BLCC) and the government of Cameroon regarding the disposition of Bakweri Lands formerly used by the Germans as plantations and now managed by the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC).

 

Terrain of the land

Thier population is much greater than 16,000. Before the German conquest of 1894, they were living in scattered ssettlements around the southern slopes of Mount Cameroon. There are very few mountains in West Africa, and none is as high as this (more than 13,000 feet). It is also unusual that it stands right on the coast, decending through a maze of foothill to the sea. At four degrees North of the equator, it is not high enough for permanent snow. Instead, winds loaded with moisture from 4,000 miles of Atlantic level precipitate copious rains, and swathe the slopes in mist and drizzle for many months of the year. Inside the clouded summit is an active volcano from which new craters burst out every few decades. The rain and he volcanic soil have made the the mountain area one of the most fertile in Africa, and the forest covers the mountain up to 6,000 feet. The Bakweri lived ( and live ) in the thickest concentration in a belt of villages between 1,500 and 3,000 feet above the ssea level, but the they occupied the whole base of the mountain below this very thinly, as far as the sea level.

 

Climate

The Bakweri are weather forecasters, and it is believed that they possess scientist who are able to alter the climate at will, for example, during special occassions, or the coming of high personallity. Generally, the area is cover with mist and drizzle, and several copious rains through out the year due to the presence of the Atlantic ocean.  This region is having the equatorial maritime climate with temperature above 25%c which is very heavy with very high atmospheric humidity throughout the year. It is made up of elements of the three different tropical climate regimes which are equatorial with rainfall throughout the year, seasonal comprising of two seasons in a year that is the dry and wet and finally monsoon with great contrast between the seasons. The climate of this region is strongly affected by its altitude. The temperature is moderated by breeze from the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Soil and Vegetation

The topography of this region is flat. It is composed of rudiments brought from the interior and also volcanic soil gotten from the weathered rocks during the eruption of mount Cameroon. The plantations that are located closer to the mountain benefits from the weathered basalt or lava and those beside the mangrove, the soil is lateritic. Further away from the north eastern parts of mount Fako, the soil is loamy and sandy.
The vegetation of this region is the forest types which have almost disappeared due to the exploitation by people for the cultivation of food crops and construction of houses for settlement, living only the swampy and less accessible areas.

 

Possible influences on lifestyle, clothing, food

Due to the equatorial maritime climate, and the high fertility of the soil, the Bakweri people are good agriculturalists, and their main source of income is from agriculture. They grow crops like cocoyams, and maize. Since the climate can sometimes be very harch, the Bakweri people wear long sleeve shirts, and thick pullovers and sweaters during almost the entire period of the year. Since they grow crops like cocoyams, their main diet is based on cocoyam. Their main dish is the  kwakoko, and they have many other dishes, which get their spices from the high fertility of the soil. Also, due to the very low temperatures which are very frequent, the Bakweri donot have a lot of social activities like swimming, or playing tennis, but they have activities like mountain race which occurs in February, where places are warmer. Also, the Bakweri have restricted their dressing to “rapa”(loins), and shirts for the men, and also a loin or “rapa” for the women. For the men, this dressing can sometimes be accompanied by special hat,and a tie.

 

Marriage and family life: Dating rituals

It is the father who looks for the wife. The Bakweri people are not usually allow to date. It is the father of the boy or girl who look for a partner for their son/daughter.

 

Sexual attitudes and unusual practices

The bakweri are not normally supposed to have sex before marriage. It is only when all the bride price has being paid, that the bride is taken to the grooms room, they have sex. On this night, a white bed sheet is spread on the bed, for the couple to have sex on it. Since the bride has to be a virgin, she must bleed on the bed sheet, and that will prove to the groom’s family that the bride was a good one.

 

Marriage patterns

The Bakweri have traditionally practised polygamy, although with Christianisation, this custom has become extremely rare. In the traditional Bakweri society, women are chosen as future spouses when they are still children, and in some cases, even before they were born. The father or relative of the woman have been paid a dowry, thus the woman is considered as a property to the husband and his family. Upon the husband’s death, the eldest surviving brother inherits the wife. A husband’s prosperity was also intricately linked to the influence of his wife or wives. The wives tended his pigs, goats, cattle, arable land, so no one could trespass or exceed them, etc. The Bakweri are very exogamous when it comes to marriage. They respect their blood lineage, therefore they do not marry with people from the same village. They do not practice incest. Incest is even considered as a taboo, and serious practice needs to be practice to purify the family name. They marry from very far area, or distances, but nowadays, some people marry in close area, and endogamy is now becoming common among the Bakweri.In the bakweri, marriage is a marriage between a clan, and family and not between individuals. The idea is that the bride price is actually never fully paid, because if it is completely paid, it will be like the girl has been sold, and no one in the family or clan will be able to get marry with someone in that tribe again, it is more like an agreement, and the bride price is to intensify the marriage relationship.

 

Marriage rituals and practices

It is the father who pays the dawry, because the young man is not working and the father is supposed to own goods therefore he is the one who pays. After fulfilling the requirement it is the man who decides on when to take the wife. The day of that occasion you bring the big and the girls family  will acess you on what to pay. The father of the girl will start the biting on the price of the dawry from 1million, until the two families reach at 500000FCFA, which is usually the lowest amount they can accept. Sometimes, the two families may come come to a compromise and ask the groom to  give what he has. If you don’t kill the pig you are not fully married, the bakweri don’t usually issued marriage certificate. After paying part of the dowry, that is when you are officially married. On the marriage day, the girls family brings the bride to the mans family. The ceremony is celebrated, on after the ceremony, the bride and the grooms family prepares a nice bed with a white bed sheet on which the bride is expected to bleed, as a sign of her virginity. If the woman bleeds on the sheet, then she is a good bride, if not, she might be disregarded by her groom and the groom’s family.

 

Inheritance or kinship patterns

Bakweri inheritance is patrilineal; upon the father’s death, his property is inherited by his eldest son. Inheritance also depends on the behavior of the children. If a child is a chief or is very stubborn or is noted for a very bad character like arrogance to the elders, or disregard to the tradition, the father can decide to give his inheritance to the brother. Also, if the father dies when the children are still very young, the inheritance can be transfered to a family member who is trust worthy. Also een the next of king doesn’t necessarily means that all the property belongs to you, you are the one to control the property. If you are not from the royal family you cannot be made a king. King makers are people who come from the chief family. Notables and are the people who decides on the next king after the initial king has made his will. Furthermore, we call “Manawondja”, when a woman is not married and have attained an age when she can no more get married then she can have a voice in the family.

 

Household patterns

In the Bakweri soceity, many families are monogamous, and therefore there is no conjugal  household from within the family. Furthermore, the Bakwerians spend a lot of time at home with their children, and the family is the main unit of production, therefore, there is no particular houshold pattern within the Bakweri soceity.

 

Economy

The Bakweri people live on the southern slopes of Mount Cameroon, near the Atlantic coast in the southwest. During the German and British colonization, their most fertile land was taken for huge plantations, a loss they still lament. Few can read or write, which hampers personal and cultural improvement.

The economy included agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting , fishing and food gathering. The different methods applied to agriculture included the slash and burn. Most people practiced subsistence farming which included careful land management techniques like intensive farming because the land of the mountain slopes were very fertile. Generally, tools use include digging sticks, hoes, and matches. Fire was also used to clear the bush. Sometimes, fences were constructed to guard against animal incursion and destruction. Before formal agriculture, the early people practiced fishing, hunting and food gatherings. They used spears, clubs and other implements to hunt game in the mountain, forest and slopes.

 

Economic change

The presence of plantations brought in a change in economy and commerce as the traditional commerce which was characterized by trade by batter came to an end. The market economy was introduced in which every transaction was in terms of German mark. Before the introduction of plantation agriculture, the natives were involved in subsistence agriculture in which food crops such as cocoyam, plantains, beans, maize and yams were grown. The introduction of plantations led the natives to undertake cash crop production in crops like cocoa, palm products and coffee for export. With the introduction of cash crops it led to the creation of Botanical garden in Victoria by Governor Von Soden who was charged with the research plants suitable for the plantations. Dr Preuss was the principal officer in charge of the Garden. This research centre controlled other stations in the interior. Over a thousand different plants were tested soil studies carried out and meteorological information tabulated. Investigations in this garden included the control of cocoa diseases? It was these botanical gardens that gave inspiration to the creation of the Cameroon Development Corporation the research centre at Ekona and many other government research stations in Cameroon.

In spite of the above mentioned advantaged that the plantations brought into the Bakweri land, it was certain that it equally brought some setbacks which could be examined in different perspective.

 

Source of income

They practice mixed farming and they hunt. Crops mostly cultivated are cocoyam, palm fruit but they mostly live on cocoyams. They sell the excess of their production. Through the rearing of animal. Those who possessed many animals where consider as rich. They reared animals like pigs and bush cows, but they do not rear nor eat sheep. Between 1850 and 1890, the Bakweri became rich in other ways. By trading food stuffs to the coast, and blocking the way of expedition into the interior, they had acquired considerable trade goods. Servants where taken inside the tribe, they were not payed but had free food.

There is a sexual division of labour (SDL) in bakweri in which there is the delegation of different tasks between men and women. Among food foragers, men and women target different types of food and share them with each other for a mutual or familial benefit. In some villages, men and women eat slightly different foods, and  in some other, men and women routinely share the same food.

 

Leveling mechanisms

In the Bakweri soceity, there is no particular form of of leveling mechanism. Everybody owns his/her farm, and everybody minds his or her business. The only situatin where sharing is needed is during the period of rituals, where every individual must give a share of his pig to every one who comes across his/her.

 

Art and craft

The Bakweri still practice arts and crafts handed down for generations. The Bakweri are known to be skilled weavers of hats and shirts, for example. They also construct armoires, chairs, and tables.

Bakweri dances serve a number of purposes. The Bakweri Male Dance, for example, demonstrates the performers’ virility. Other dances are purely for enjoyment, such as the maringa and the ashiko, which arose in the 1930s, and the makossa and ambasse bey dances that accompany those musical styles.

The greatest venue for Bakweri music and dance are the two major festivals that take place each year in December. The Ngondo is a traditional festival of the Duala, although today all of Cameroon’s coastal Sawa peoples are invited to participate. It originated as a means of training Duala children the skills of warfare. Now, however, the main focus is on communicating with the ancestors and asking them for guidance and protection for the future. The festivities also include armed combat, beauty pageants, pirogue races, and traditional wrestling.

The Mpo’o brings together the Bakoko, Bakweri, and Limba at Edéa. The festival commemorates the ancestors and allows the participants to consider the problems facing the groups and humanity as a whole. Lively music, dancing, theatre, and recitals accompany the celebration.

 

Role of education

Education is not taken very serious, especially for the women because of early marriages. The men stopped school after 7 years. Their higher diplome they obtained is O/L

 

Political organization

The bakweri s are an example of a segmentary society. They are grouped in societies of villages where each family maintains its independence. They bakweri live in a small clusters of ten  to twenty house and settlement pattern was imposed on them by the Germans. The Germans herded the Bakweri people into the peripheries when they expropriated the land for plantation. The village head has only limited authority. They village has a council of elders which helps the chief in regulating the affairs of they village. The most prominent families in Bakweri tribal history are Wonya Likenye Endeley of buea and the family of Mangaa William of the Victoria ( today called Limbe). The bakweri politcal organisations was divided into different classes.

 

The Family

It was composed of a man and his wife (wives) his children and relatives with blood ties. The family unit served as the base of political institution in the Bakweri society. The father was the head and has as obligations to preside over family affairs. At the level of the extended family the head was the oldest man who was believed to have a lot of experience in wordily matters. He was automatically considered patriarch of the tribe. He had as function to perform ancestral sacrifices and chair family gatherings. These decisions were not autocratic especially due to the fact that he had to consult some elderly people in the family lineage before taking decisions on matters of paramount importance. Consequently, the eldest people in the Bakweri community earned much admiration and respect from the younger generations due to the fact that they performed the mediatory role between the ancestors and the world of the living. In the same line of thought, age was considered as the only criteria which enabled people in the Bakweri society to commune with the ancestors and decode ancestral messages. In order words, age was the main criteria required to climb the mantle of power.

 

The Village Administration

At this level of the community, the villages were autonomous from one another consisting of family compounds separated from one another by a fence called “NgaoMboa”. The village political leaders had a similar source of powers as those at the family level. The variation here was among the family of the village founder that a leader was chosen. Consequently, the family of the village founder was automatically considered the royal family. This was how the Likenya family came to prominence in Buea as they were linked to Eeye Tama Lifenje, the first persons to settle in Buea. At the level of village administration, the chief did not execute this heavy task alone. He was assisted by a village council which had effective powers over the village. It was an ill-defined body with no precise number of members. The decisions of the council were made public by the village councils spoke man “Sango Mboa” and the members of the village council were elders called “Vanbaki”. The organizational chart of the Bakweri society was a triangular machinery which revolved around the family at the base, with the village council and the chief at the top. Thus the Bakweri whose territorial limits were governed by fixed and permanents institutions were a state- like society. These organs, oriented political and social life and organized the society in the face of external aggression.

 

Political succession

This Likenye chiefly line of Buea trace their pridigree from1884 down to the present day as in the chart below:


Law and Social Control

It is handled by the chief or the quarter head, you are first taken to the quarter head when you don’t respect the law, if not satisfied with that judgment you are taken to the chief where you are judge by notables. Land dispute, fighting taking property that doesn’t belong to you, you are taken to the quarter head. Concerning sanctions the chief or elders decide or how you are to be punished. If you are guilty of serious crimes like incest, and trahison, you are exiled to Limbe.

 

Social Organization

The Bakweri society just like most tribal system in the forest zone was organized in peculiar manner which was in accordance with their own perception of life. The social structure shall be examined from the point class stratification.

 

Class Stratification

The traditional African societies in general had a peculiar way of organizing themselves. The Bakweri people were no exception to this rule. They were stratified under three distinct groups notably strangers, natives and slaves. Natives of the Bakweri ethnic group were called “Wopnja”. They were those believed to have blood ties with ancestral world of the clan. This class of people were privilege to participate in restraint secret societies and other affairs concerning the Bakweri man and his territory. Next to this group with respect to hierarchy was the strangers called “wajili”. This was attributed to foreign settlers in the land considered as Bakweri territory with no blood relationship with the ancestors of the Bakweri people. Finally, were the slaves called “Wokomi” which was the last group and was situated at the bottom of the social table.They consisted of people who co-habited with Bakweri people but had lesser privileges. They settled on Bakweri soil as a result of the fact that they were either bought from neighboring tribes or caught as war captives.

 

Religion

The Bakweri have been largely Christianised since the 1970s. Evangelical denominations dominate, particularly the Baptist church. Christianity plays an important role in Bakweri regions, where music played over the radio is as likely to be the latest from Nigerian gospel singer Agatha Moses as it is the latest hit by a Nigerian music star.

Nevertheless, remnants of a pre-Christian ancestor worship persist. Traditional Bakweri belief states that the ancestors live in a parallel world and act as mediators between the living and God. As might be expected for coastal peoples, the sea also plays an important role in this faith. Spirits live in the forests and the sea, and many Bakweri believe that traditional practices hold a malign influence on everyday life. Traditional festivals held each year serve as the most visible expression of these traditional beliefs in modern times.

 

Local practices and beliefs

Central core of traditional religion is centered around Epasa moto, half man, half stone. In any tragedy like earthquake, volcanic eruption or any other natural disaster, sacrifices are offered to the deity. It is believed that the deity loves albinos, so albinos were offered to their deity as sacrifices. If no albino was found, a yellow Endeley was offered to him, or someone who is very fair in complexion.

There is a belief that for more that three hundred years now the Bakweri have been in possession of scientific knowledge that they use to suspend rainfall, to cause rainfall and to cause whirlwinds and hurricanes to occur.

It is widely known among the Bakweri that when a public ceremony,such as an eyuu, wrestling contests, Maale that involves the assembly of large crowds is scheduled to take place during the months of virtual incessant rainfall, that is, in the months of July, August, September and October, sponsors of the ceremony hire a Rain Scientist to suspend rainfall on the day of the ceremony.

As concerns whirlwinds and hurricanes, the following event that occurred more than seventy years ago and which has now become legendary is fascinating.

In the Bakweri tribe, there was once a form of witchcraft called Liemba. This was a “classical form” of witchcraft. It was generally regarded as inborn, although it could sometimes be passed on to a person who was without it. Witches may be of either sex, and are said to leave their bodies at night and ‘eat’ people so that they become ill and die. What was eaten was the elinge: the word means ‘reflection’ and ‘shadow’. Many sicknesses where attributed to witchcraft; but the essential diagnosis was always made by a diviner. In milder cases, a treatment was prescribed that would defeat the witch. In serious cases, the suspected witch would be named and made to drink to sasswood medicine. If the suspect vomited it, he was innocent; if not he was guilty and was hanged(a form of ordeal). Every village had a witch-hanging tree (Ardener, 1956, p. 105). Other forms of witchcraft that followed were the inona, and the very famous Nyongo Cultural practices include mingna, Ngagna (it is like a dance which is the symbol of these people) moves only in the night from 11-12pm you are not allowed to see them when they move It is the ngagna who delivers the maale, they are another very strong society, they process elephants. They can eat what the normal people can’t eat because they are initiated. For example, they can eat raw cocoyams. This is because, they are usually initiated using animals like monkeys and chimpanzees, who represent and protect them from all harm. Thes totems further give them strenght when wrestling during the “Palapala fight.

Libation is poured to the dead, they burn offerings, do rituals on the grave (grinding of pepper on the grave), the sasa on the 3rd day, where animals are sacrificed to appease the dead if anyone has offence them. Also, sacred incantations are made usually by the elders, to consult the dead. For example, if your son or daughter is going out of the country you go on the grave of an ancestor and poor wine on the grave and call their name. As for the “sasa”, when somebody dies they have what they call 3 days of traditional celebration “sasa” after 3 days you kill a pig (or a chicken in case you don’t have money), you cook the food and put it in a certain place people take it and eat in the bush. While eating, they have to theow part of the food, and come and check on the next days if the food is still there or it has been eaten. The food is eaten by animals, meaning that the dead has make peace with you. Nevertheless, if the food is not eaten and you still find it there, it means the sacrifice was not acceptable, and you have to re do it. During this period, if anybody sees you killing a pig, you must share at least a piece of the pig with that person. This is because, many people are witches, and if you do not share with such a person, he/she might harm you or even kill you.

 

Rites

When a woman is pregnant you don’t access any dowry because she doesn’t belong to you until she delivers

When a native doctor dies the people don’t cry until you do certain rites. Otherwise the weather can even change

When somebody dies after a year there is a celebration

 

More on religion

The colonial Bakweri society had its own vision of the cosmic world. They believed in life after death and attached themselves to traditional religious groups. These groups were usually linked to the ancestral cult. Here the ancestors were believed to play an intermediary role between the gods and those living on earth. In the world of the living, family head presided over rituals and sacrifices on behalf of the family or the village clan. He performed rituals such as the pouring of libation to the ancestors and cleansing ceremonies.

In this society, the gods and demi-gods played vital role according to the African traditional beliefs. This society, had gods such as: Maelalova, and Ouas’alova, all referred to god, creator of the universe. Meanwhile “IwondaLova”, was literally translated as everybody. Among these gods “Mbabalova” was believed to be the grandmother of the sky god mostly attributed to the moon.

Apart from the above mentioned, the traditional Bakweri society believed in other demi-gods such as the god of the mountain called Ifasà Moto. He was believed to be half human and half rock. The main function of this demi-god was to protect the Bakweri people during eruption of the Mt Fako which was an active volcanic mountain. Myths affirms that Ifasàmoto owned a large sugar cane plantation in the mountain, where people who visited the mountain ate as much as possible but could not carry any back home. Another demi-god was the “Yomandem” meaning the big thing; he is believed to be a destroyer of both human lives and property and lives in the sea.

Secret societies such as the “maale”, “Molova” which was a female group known as wild pigs, Nganya, Liengu and host of others played the role of regulatory societies and custodians of the Bakweri community. The “Maale” society sometimes referred to as the elephant dance originated from womboko village. Oral tradition holds that a hunter from this village, went for hunting and stayed in the forest for a very long time until it was believed that he was death. To the greatest surprise of everybody, he returned to the village. His arrival was made known to the entire village when he started playing a drum while his son danced. This called for the attention of the village elders who convoked him an explanation. During this event, he told the elders that he was tired and decided to rest before returning home and it was during that interval that ancestral spirit visited him. He was introduced to some secrets of the forest. How to transform into an elephant and a host of others. After these declarations, the elders consulted the ancestral spirit and his declarations were confirmed. He initiated the elders into this society and the other hunters were equally initiated.

As a result of these declarations, among the numerous activities of this society which was opened only to men was that, they provided entertainment during important ceremonies in the Bakweri villages. Furthermore, they were believed to have totems such as elephants and extract strength to protect the villages from external aggression. Thus this society embodied the strength of the Bakweri man and his cultural values. These values were most often demonstrated during their official outings in a dance called “ueambeé”. In this situation, they demonstrated masquerades such as “Moseke” which was a popular clown, “Ekang’ateka” which puts order during dancing and “Njuku”, the most senior in rank representing the elephant.

 

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