"The creation myths of Africans are as varied as the many cultures which inhabit the continenet. Cosmogony mythologies play an important role in West African societies; they set up the framework of the social, political, and even economic structure of society."OmowaleX said:
Thanks brother Sekhemu.Sekhemu said:Thank you brotha Omowale for providing this thread.
Allow me to contribute a piece of information I ran across concerning a god by the name of Basinjom from Cameroon
In Banyang and Ejagham communities, situated on opposite sides of the border that divides Cameroon and Nigeria, Basinjom (or Obasinjom) represents the voice of unerring prophecy. Its pronouncements are made manifest through an individual who takes on its persona while cloaked in the guise of an otherworldly creature. This wild masquerade ensemgle drapes the body in a flowing robe and is crowned by a crocodilian head adorned with a tiara of plumage. Characterized as a "speaking mask," "the one who never tells lies," and "the one who tells and acts," Basinjom unveils subterfuge and denounces wrongdoing. Such revelations form the core of Basinjom's dramatic visual spectacle and are of vital concern to the well-being of its audience.
The forecasting practices of Basinjom (which literally means "the future brought by God) appear to have been developed at the turn of the century by the Ejagham in soutwestern Nigeria, who refer to it as Obasinjom. By the 1930's, its divinatory powers were adopted by the neighboring Banyang in western Cameroon who altered the name slightly. Througout the region, Basinjom represents a source of protection to its communities by detecting and exposing negative forces that threaten them. Such potential disruptions generally arise out of acts of selfish egotism, which run counter to social ideals of cooperation and generosity and are characterized as witchcraft.
According to Banyang oral history, God provided them with the knowledge to create antidotes to witchcraft-recipes for specific "medicines" (Njom) using combinations of plants-so that humankind could protect itself. Basinjom is the personification of the most potent of these "medicines" and the only regional masquerade form invested with clairvoyance. It is therefore able to perceive the underlying causes of problems such as illness or infertility and to discern when God and the ancestors are displeased.
The divinatory role is explicitly referred to by Basinjom's reflective eyes. Through the medium of these probing specula, the antisocial acts that Basinjom strives to combat appear to it cinematographically. The powers of perception that guide it are introduced to selected members of the community during an extended initiation, which includes extensive training to learn and harness the properties of plants and a ceremonial "washing" of the initiates eyes with a medicinal preparation, known as Bajewobabe. This opening of the eyes prepares the initiate for an exegesis of the esoteric properties of Basinjom's masquerade ensemble.
Basinjom's physical features constitute an amalgam of elements associated with land, water, and air. It has the gaping maw of a crocodile, which allows Basinjom to speak of controversial matters while in the guise of a dangerous predator that lives on both land and water. The crest is composed of the blue feathers of the Touraco, a bird said to have the power to combat witchcraft. These are interspersed with quills from a porcupine, a terrestial creature endowed with the ability to shield one from celestial thunder and lightning. Inserted into the headress are plant roots that are symbolicall associated with individual initiates who might wear the costume in performance. The skin of a genet (a species of the wildcate family), a predatore of domestic animals, is appended to the front of the costume as a defensive measure. The robe's dark blue or black hue also shields the dancer from harm, by concealing him from "witches"; and its raffia trim, in the form of a shawl-like element and ruffs around the rim of the sleeves, is taken form the forest as a sign of Basinjom's medicinal powers.
The display of Basinjom's masquerade ensemble in front of the leader's compound announces that a divinatory performance in imminent. Referred to as an "assembly of medicine," such events are organized in order to address a series of problems that have been plaguing members of the community. Basinjom's chief priest directs a mist of bajewobabe into the eyes of the individual who will be entrusted with the leading role, thus inducing him to enter into a trance state. Subsequently, the dancer is publicly dressed, and although the audience is aware of his identity during the performance, it is believed that Basinjom is ultimately responsible for directing all his actions.
Basinjom is set in motion by the sounding of a variety of percussive instruments and songs that accord it a place of honor. To prepare for the time when they will wear it themselves, other initiates participate in performances as accompanists in the role of musicians or members of a corps of armed attendants. Under the influence of the "medicine," the dancer propels himself with rapid and fluid movements, gliding before the spectators in circular configurations. Ultimately, the perfomance becomes a from of trial in which the dancer reveals divinatory insights that relate to the problems at hand. At its climax, Basinjom publicly confronts the guilty party, usually leading to a confession and a plea for forgiveness that is necessary to dissipate the problem. The performance closes with the promises of reperarations and reconcilliation.
During periods of inactivity, a community's Basinjom members are responsible for fortifying the "medicine" through prayers and sacrificial offerings. Periodically, the entire ensemble is renewed, and its consecration invokes Basinjom to intensify its sensibilities and oracular abilities "to see well, hear well, speak nothing but the truth, and act in time."