There was a time, recently when I sent you a loaf of fufu corn through “Mukube”, David Chiatoh, Lord Mayor of Njinikom Rural Council. The mouths of some people watered, although I forbade this, and they wished they were back at home in Kom to partake of that nice cake.
However, the occasion was the bringing up from the dust of Bobe Stephen Tosah, alias Ago Try of Njinikom, into ‘manhood’, the acquisition of his traditional land title, and all the rights that go with becoming more than a “Kom anchi” - (a Kom simpleton). Before then, Ankiambom had sought for an answer from this forum as to how to “count uyuo” He had asked us, how do the Kom people “count uyuo”?
“tang uyuo” He was not the first. We had had the same question asked several times before, and I remember that Nawain Vivian Toh even told us how women do theirs. All of our answers at that time remained kind of incomplete or did not properly fulfill the wishes of those who were begging for answers to the questions posed.
I may be mistaken seriously if that was done, and should that be the case, just bear with my shortcomings.
I decided to go a little deeper into this aspect of Kom life and this is what I found, again, with the load of literature we post these days, I will try to be as brief as I can and sure that some of us will come in to fill the blank spaces. Should there be any questions, I may know the answers to some and trust that some will be answered by others in the forum.
Early life: A young boy grows up, matures and gets married, and his father presents him with a piece of land (plants a fig tree on the land) on which he has to build his first house for his nuclei family. He sets a date for the digging of his foundation and informs his wife and mother. While his wife and mother go round telling their peers about the digging of the foundation, the boy goes round telling his own peers and the elderly of the village and beyond of the same event. Guinea corn is prepared for the “mukal” which should be properly honeyed or sugared. – 7 tanks – “tukeng” of 30 litres each. Enough corn flour is made available, - up to 15 loves of 10 kgs each; dry slices (ubuang nyam) of cow meat - between 5 and 10 of 1.5kgs each, potash, palm oil and palm wine, are some of the very basic essentials. Since people have to be invited from all over Kom for the occasion, and they are expected to be fed, the ceremonial quantities are in fact doubled or even tripled and other modern foods and drinks added.
The set Day: “Tu Boli, Tu kijem”, are generally the choicest days. The women gather with shovels, and they are shown the small piece of land where they have to dig the foundation. While they carry this out the men direct as to how deep or level the place should be made (nowadays, bulldozers or paid workers). During the work work, the entertainment is comprised of the prepared “mukal”, ( honey inside will energize the workers. At the end, “ abain” more “mukal” and other foods. The officially prepared source “mughi ma achi-andoh”, is done in the open to the view of all. However, some of the ingredients remain a closely guarded secret only to be obtained by esoteric knowledge. That is expected to remain as it is. The main contents are however, the meat, potash, and palm oil previously mentioned. The meat would have been earlier properly softened by cooking. After this has been compounded, all the women of the village and beyond, bring in their “aghein-sing. –uwein-pl.” into which the source is put. These containers that were calabashes in the past are all now replaced by plastics or tins. After the containers have all received whatever share, depending on the available quantity that was made, the rest is taken round in the main container where it had been compounded and shown to all the men present who communion from inside this pot by leaking with their fore finger.
Today: the dynamic nature of kom culture has brought it up to the point where the digging of the foundation is of course not dug, and there is the chain ceremony of a celebration where the past paragraph is executed, and then, immediately the higher status desired by a man is moved into. A fewer large loaves are placed around the sauce bowl. More go to the men’s gathering as well as the mukal. There are many bags of salt each of which is counted as a goat.. Since the foundation of the house which is the foundation of your life has been laid, all the koms (titang tu Kom bulamoh) demand that you become a real part. The concerned must have gone round everywhere and given key speakers of every village some token gift, to buy thier good voices on this day. The celebrant is then brought in by his step brother and made to sit on the dust on his buttocks. Counting sticks are prepared and an announcement is made for all to gather around where the ceremony is central. ( inside the house or in a shed/canopy ). The spokes man of each village has to stand up and declare how much his village has taken or eaten from the celebrant. “Bobong has eaten ten goats from the celebrant, Wombong has eaten five goats, Fujua, 7 goats and so on and so forth, while some body places the various sticks as the counting reference. When all is finished, all the goats are counted and summarized. If they are up to 200, then he has no more to offer. If they are below, the celebrant will either give life goats, salt or cash. Where more goats have been eaten, the surplus are considered to have been wasted. No more offers to help you are accepted.
Ichu uyuo – Sip of wine: Now that you have done or given all what Kom wanted you to give to be one registered member of society, the “Boh Nteh” or a “Boh Chong” village head may then talk to you, ‘from now on remember your responsibility towards all of Kom and particularly your village where you are situated, - do not violate some nobles wife –“wih che wul,” do try to cheat or give false information on village issues etc.” He sips the wine from the cup of his ancestors and gives you to drink. When that is over, your protocol officer who must have all the while been your step brother will get permission to take you out. After the accord, you are sky lifted to the shoulders of the women who eventually drop you, and then you are escorted out with song and dance “Njang wain”. You will then dress up properly (if you were not dressed before like Oliver was) to continue your feast.
Ownership of land. “Wah tang men uyuo”. It implies that your compound is registered as a kom compound wherein you can talk over sick members of your family as a kom man should “chitii wul”, you can bury family members in it when they die, and any kind of Kom traditional rite could be carried out in it.
This is what Chia Ankiambom went through in Bohzui yesterday and certainly might have added the “ngvi wain” –chicken of the child, - (I left earlier) a luxurious part of Kom dignifying men’s club to which I must come next time.
Sitting on the dust, Ankiambom waits for his fate from the village Head of Bohzui
Ankiambom and daughter watch sharing of sauce “Mughi ma achi andoh”