Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wum: Priest, Traditionalists Battle Over Corpse at Funeral

(NewsWatch Cameroon)-Tongues are still wagging amongst the inhabitants of Wum in the Menchum Division in the Northwest Region of Cameroon after a Catholic priest stormed the king’s palace and carted away the corpse of one of his deceased parishioners who also happened to be the wife of the King.
This reporter gathered that Suzanna Ngie, inherited wife of King Bahmbi III died in Limbe and her mortal remains were to be buried at the Zonghokwo (King Bahmbi’s) palace.
According to the funeral program, a funeral mass was supposed to hold at St. Martin De Porres Church, Wum but traditional authorities had an entirely different agenda. When the corpse arrived Wum on January 3, 2014, at midday, three hours behind schedule and as the program indicated, it was first taken to her family compound in Naikom village for viewing and animation. Instead of leaving for St. Martin’s Church where Father Janvier and mass co-celebrants had been waiting since 9am, grave diggers from Naikom made a dramatic arrival at the late woman’s family compound and carted the corpse straight to Naikom Palace for traditional rites and burial.
On learning this mischief, Father Janvier, accompanied by his co-celebrants in a parish Hilux stormed Zonghokwo Palace, stopped the traditional rites in process with King Bahmbi looking on and carried the corpse to the Church where a funeral mass was conducted immediately.
Addressing the hundreds of mourners during the funeral mass, the priest said prayers and not traditional rites can better ensure the entry of a departed person’s soul into heaven. This view contradicts that of the Aghem traditionalists who believe strongly that the spirits of dead persons go to join the ancestors and not angels and saints in heaven. This explains why traditional were still performed on Suzanna Ngie’s corpse when Father Janvier brought it back to the King’s Palace after the funeral service.
While many Christians hailed the man of God for upholding the teachings of the Bible and for his courage in defying Naikom traditional authorities, his critics saw a mercenary motive in his action.
Soma pagans claimed the Rev. Father was simply craving for the money usually paid by family members before a funeral mass is conducted-a claim many Catholics would just laugh over.
Culled from ‘Menchum Voice’. Story by Ebua Kankem-February 2014.

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