Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Ndowé Proverbs and Tales

Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Ndowé Proverbs and Tales

Article excerpt

The Ndowé people live along the West Central African coast, in the countries today known as Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.1 They are divided into three main linguistic groups. The Bongwe are all those Ndowé ethnic groups who begin a phrase with ngwe na ye ("I am saying"), including the Iyasa, Kombe, and One. The Boumba Ndowé begin a phrase with umba na we ("I am saying"), and consist of the Bapuku, Benga, and Duwala. The Bondongo Ndowé are the most scattered and linguistically diverse group. They comprise the Balengi (ingwe na ye), the Mbiko (mi he), the Mitsogo (me mbe), and the Mpongwe (mye ne) . The Ndowé are part of the Bantu-Kongolese group of Africans who share a common cultural, historic, and linguistic origin. Ancient Ndowé teachings intended to help people cope with the mystery of life and all of its trials and tribulations are called metombo, whose singular is utombo (in Benga) or motombo (in Kombe) (A'Bodjedi, Ndowé Tales 89). Metombo are the psychoanalytic theories passed down to the modern Ndowé from their ancestors, originating in the Nile Valley. Esoteric teachings, including metombo, are gradually presented to Ndowé inquirers after initiation into the Ndowé maganga ("mystery schools") . Ndowé initiation ceremonies take place in an ivunda (Bapuku, Benga, Kombe), a House of Life or Temple of Learning. The etymology of the Ndowé word metombo is derived from Mdu Neter, the language of the ancient Kemetians (Egyptians). Atum (or Atom) was part of an ancient African trinity consisting of KJiepera-Ra-Atum. Khepera became the sun at sunrise and symbolized a newborn. Ra represented the sun at noon and symbolized an adult male. Atum or Atom was the sun at sunset and symbolized an old man. Therefore, metombo (Ndowé psychoanalytic theories) originated with Atum, the wise, old, African man from the Nile Valley.

Ndowé metombo incorporate the study of human psychology in its normal and abnormal aspect. An analysis of specific Ndowé words, Ndowé proverbs, and characters from Ndowé tales reveals the ways in which the ancient Ndowé understood the primitive human drives and the intimate relationship between sex and aggression, therefore anticipating Sigmund Freud's formulations. Freudian psychoanalysis identifies two kinds of psychic energy: one associated with the sex drive, or libido, and the second with the aggressive or destructive drive. On the clinical level, libido is composed of admixtures of sexual and aggressive drives. The Ndowé word for libido, edoko (Benga, Kombe) , comes from the Kombe verb edoka ("to hit"). The Ndowé noun ebode (Benga, Kombe) signifies "fist." The Kombe word for anal intercourse is ivode, with the connotation of "rough sex." The nouns ikito (Benga) and ityito (Kombe) mean "cruelty," and they share a common etymology with the various Ndowé words for "animal": tyito (Balengi) and tito (Bapuku, Benga) . The "ty" in Ndowé words is pronounced "ch." The term ityito also refers to the primitive, "animal" drive in humans. The word nginya (Benga, Duwala, Kombe) refers to the survival instinct, whereas the words ngiya (Bapuku, Benga) and njiya (Kombe) mean "chimpanzee." The words njiya (Iyasa) and ngina (Mpongwe) denote "gorilla." The archaic Kombe verb enyamala means "to lust for," sharing a common etymology with nyama (Iyasa, Kombe, Mpongwe, One), which means animal. Clearly, the ancient Ndowé perceived an intimate relationship between sex and violence and their association with the primal "animal" drives.

The proto-Ndowé associated power and aggression with human genitalia. The word for "ambition," bovave (Benga, Kombe), is linguistically connected to bevavo (Benga, Kombe), which means "genitalia." Besides signifying "substance of evil," the terms dinjangi (Balengi) , jemba (Bapuku, Benga), evugu (Kombe), ihku (Mbiko), nyemba (Mpongwe), and evusu (One) also refer to the aggressive drive. When a Kombe man says, "Do not raise my evugu" ("aggressive drive"), it is equivalent to saying "Do not raise my mabindi" ("testicles"). …

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