By Wamey Panky
The Divisional Officer, DO, for Bankim Subdivision in the Adamawa Region, recently arrested and detained a masquerade of the Wimbum Community of the Northwest Region, during the Wimbum Annual Cultural Festival organised in Songkolo in the Adamawa Region.
Reports hold that members of the Wimbum Community left Nwa to join their brothers and sisters in Songkolo for the cultural festival, with their masquerades to thrill the population that would attend the festival.
The most popular among the masquerades, the ‘Wan Mabuh’, is said to have stolen the show, when it arrived in Songkolo. As the excited population of Songkolo scrambled to watch the masquerade display, they poured into the street and blocked the way for the car of the DO who was riding to the ceremonial ground.
Infuriated, the DO is said to have called in the Brigade Commander from Ata to clear the way. A few minutes after, a contingent of combat-ready security forces arrived at the scene. The DO then ordered that the masquerade be arrested.
As the Wimbum people saw the security forces pushing the ‘Wan Mabuh’ into the truck, they offered themselves to the security forces to arrest them also.
At the Ata Gendarmerie Brigade, the members of the Wimbum Community were joined by members of the Nso community who said they could not sit and watch the culture and tradition of their brothers being rubbished. The organisers of the festival then confronted the DO accusing him of disrupting an occasion he authorised.
Threatened by the number of people trooping unto the Gendarmerie Brigade premises and asking to be detained, the Brigade Commander is said to have pleaded with the DO to “liberate the masquerade and people before the situation gets out of control.”
The DO finally reluctantly ordered that the masquerade and the people accompanying it be released, but the people refused, insisting to spend the night in the Gendarmerie cell. They accused the DO and security operatives of desecrating their tradition and committing an abomination by forcing ‘Wan Mabuh’ into a vehicle.
The Chief of Songkolo, who was at the cultural festival, also chastised the DO for his rash decision and for humiliating his guests.
“You have treaded on holy grounds and you will badly need traditional cleansing,” the Chief of Songkolo told the DO. The DO and the Brigade Commander, after releasing the masquerade reportedly appealed for forgiveness and cleansing.
According to Emmanuel Ringka, one of the followers of the masquerade; “We told them that any cleansing can only be done in our traditional house in Sabongari, where the traditional pots and herbs are found. If they failed to come for traditional cleansing, then, they would have themselves to blame.”
Rev. Father Venatius Nsame, Sabongari Parish Priest, whose Parish extends to part of the Adamawa, strongly condemned the DO for daring the people’s tradition. He said it was due to dangerous pride.