2 Mar 2005
A Visit To Atukne-Ashop, Numben.
Numben is a small locality situated about some thirty minutes drive from Batibo town in the North West Province of Cameroon.
In the morning of 23rd December 2004, I went to Numben to visit the presumed residence of a famous Deity (Ashop) of the people of Numben. Situated in the River Momo, this Deighty is believed to have enormous influence over the people of Numben. The exact abode of the Deity is somewhere below a hanging bridge over the River Momo at a place called Atukne Ashop (meaning bridge head Ashop). After visiting the site with the assistance of a female guide, I was directed to meet Akum Thomas the custodian of Ashop. “I am the next-of-kin of my father that was the custodian of Ashop. My late father inherited this position from my grandfather. Ashop has existed for a long time. I do not know exactly the origin but all I can say is that Ashop was there before the enthronement of the late traditional ruler of Numben.” Akum then confirmed that a peculiar stone we found around the vicinity of the presumed residence of Ashop was indeed the Deighty’s pot. This unique stone lying on the riverbed has a hollow cavity with a clearly defined opening. The stone is usually submerged during the rainy season when the volume of water in the river is high but is exposed in the dry season.
. (See photo of Atukne-Ashop at following link)
When I inquired whether Akum Thomas has personally seen Ashop? “Yes”. “When my father died, I went there (to Ashop’s presumed residence) with a group of people to perform some traditional rites. When my neighbour was pouring the raffia palm wine, I sawAshop raise its head from the river. People scattered and fled in different directions. It was in the form of a giant snake”. “That was in 1995”.
“What if we want to see Ashop? I asked. “Why do you really want to see Ashop?” Akum inquired. “For the sake of curiosity and also to confidently testify” replied my companion-the chief of Kokum. “When you are ready, you should contact our (Numben) traditional ruler who will tell you how to come” Akum assured us.
As we were discussing in his house, we were shown a small round stone embedded in his floor. “Here is Ashop’s stone”. “You cannot take this small stone (without my authorization) and move out of Numben and stay successfully with it. It will torment you to the extent that nobody needs to remind you to bring it back.” Said Akum. “Can I take a picture of the stone?” I asked. “I am not sure a camera can capture its image” he replied. I assured him that my camera can capture its image and I went ahead to take the picture. Because of the alleged influence of the stone, he said, “If anybody comes to Numben with evil intentions, he or she is unlikely to return to his home successfully.” He added that “a woman married to somebody in Numben cannot successfully abandon her matrimonial home without the consent of her husband”.
There was no way I could put the above declarations to test, but one thing that is clear is that many people of Numben believe in the existence and the influence of Ashop over their lives. Said our female guide “One lady that questioned the existence of Ashop was shown the signs of Ashop’s existence when her luggage mysteriously left her back and fell into the river when she was crossing the hanging bridge at Atukne Ashop.”
I hope that someday, I will meet the requirements to see Ashop physically and put to rest any ambiguity surrounding this issue.
Copyright ã2005 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah [e-mail]