A story by Ayissi Nga Joseph Marie
Translated by Tina Nalova Ikome-Likambi
Once upon a time, in the Far North Region of Cameroon, there was a small village called WAZALVILLE and its people – the Wazalgeois. In this small kingdom filled with natural resources and traditions, its inhabitants lived in harmony with the beauty of the wildlife and nature that surrounded them, the red soil that nourished them and the spirits that protected them. It was a little paradise on earth, a real haven of peace where the gentle breeze made the tree leaves murmur and where the shimmering waters and peaceful chirping of the birds brought a charm to the décor of its little huts made of clay, wood and straw.
The villagers were woken up every morning by crowing roosters. Street vendors would then arrive to sell maize and cassava donuts much appreciated by the villagers. Before going to the farm, to hunt or to toil, they had become accustomed to sitting together on the side lines commonly known as ‘beignetariats’ where they tasted while talking; donuts, beans and porridge, the most appreciated breakfast of all Cameroonians, rich or poor. Each village had its codes and rules. Legend had it that misfortune would follow anyone who would pick plums or mangoes in his neighbor’s yard without permission: this misfortune would fall upon him and his family! Everyone kept his yard and the wind that blew every night, helped clean the leaves. For any visitor, the village gave the impression of being robust and hard to conquer.
Its ancient walls told the stories of the various and numerous battles fought and reflected an indescribable majestic force. On the walls of the temples could be seen calligraphies that conveyed secret messages.
However, the secret behind the beauty and strength of this kingdom that fueled the admiration and lust of all, resided in the wisdom of the elders and which made it possible to ensure the perenniality of the village.
The king of the village; Wazalion, was a man of great wisdom, patience and intelligence. Gentle in his deeds and words, he possessed formidable power and maturity that compelled respect. Loved by all, he did not hesitate to go to battle to protect his land and meet the needs of his people.
It was during an ambush that the good king Wazalion was killed: the village had been stormed. Wazalion hid his wife and son in a secret cellar to shelter them. Then he rallied his armies to protect the village. With the help of his Wazall’âme armor and sword, King Wazalion, accompanied by his soldiers and his faithful friend Bantoutator, fought a bloody battle: the enemies came from everywhere, the swords could be heard whistling. Wazalion, who felt invincible with his sword, went on to attack the enemy without even waiting for his troops. He grabbed an opponent to strangle him but did not foresee the arrival of the opposing side who knocked him down and wounded him in the shoulder.
Wazalion, weakened but fuming with rage, got up and continued the battle. Bantoutator, who from afar saw his wounded friend, tried to help him, but was prevented by the enemies who had made a barrier around him. Wazalion alone struggling with a dozen warriors, cut the heads of five soldiers thanks to the Wazall’âme. Happy about his “success” he did not see two adversaries arrive who; with treachery and cowardice, stabbed him; one in the back, the other in his stomach.
Bantoutator after defeating his assailants with tattered clothes and a bloodied face, later arrived next to his friend; but the king gave up his last breath. He left behind a young son, Wazal, which stands for “Lion, King of the jungle”. Bantoutator having escaped death, bruised by his wounds and humiliation, promised to avenge the death of his friend Wazalion.
The news of King Wazalion‘s death spread quickly and neighboring enemies organized themselves to attack the village again. This however proved futile due to the spirit of Wazalion who choose and elected the best soldiers. Certainly, he was dead, but his soul was always present. Thanks to Wazalion’s soul, it was hoped that they would find the strength to fight their enemies.
Quickly, the Wazalciens and Wazalgeois of the village met in council to elect the new head of the village.
As prophesised, the brave warrior who would bear this title would be assigned the heavy and honourable task of protecting the land of the ancestors and the secret of its “treasure” THE WAZALIANE, named after Wazal‘s grandmother. Wazaliane was Wazalking‘s wife, faithful and always by his side; she was a wise woman, born of the Margeritator tribe, the only one in this tribe born without a daisy on her head. After her death, King Wazalking out of respect and love for his wife, wanted to pay homage to her. He decided to plant a daisy on her grave. Six months later, surprised, he discover a bed of sublime flowers and asked the villagers to harvest them.
The flowers were mixed with the queen’s blood. They created a fiber transformed into woven wire, used for the manufacture of the fabric that kings and wazalciens wear today. In tribute to Wazalking‘s wife reincarnated in a flower, this cloth was called WAZALIANE: a very precious magical fabric, which means “richer”, sought after and desired by all the neighboring villages. This cloth provided wisdom and protection to the wearer. To decorate it one had to pronounce a magic word “wazalkaliflagilistik“ that King Wazal knew: geometric and coded messages of Peace, Modernity, Fecundity then appeared.
Wearing Wazaliane fabric was not an innocuous act; indeed, the material was also used to manufacture the costumes of the king and the tunics of the Wazalciens, on the other hand the Wazalgeois did not have access to it.
The deliberations to name the future king of Wazalville were difficult. Those who knew about Wazalstyle knew he was not interested in the throne. But some villagers felt that Wazal was too young to take on this role. The elders met one last time. At the end of the council of Wazalciens, the balafon was played in order to reunite the whole village. An elder went up on a platform so that everyone could see and hear him speak:
My sisters and brothers, the last ambush leaves the village bereaved with many losses. Our King Wazalion unfortunately died during the battle but thanks to his courage and heroism, he saved our lives, we are the survivors of this fight. Let’s never forget that. Our ship is now without a captain and we cannot sail. Also, we decided to choose a successor to our good king Wazalion within our village. His son, Wazal caught our attention and we chose to name him King. However, given his young age and his inexperience, we will have to surround him with our advice and guide him in his duties.
Wazal, son of King Wazalion and grandson of Wazalking, was named King of Wazalville.
King Wazal loved to travel and discover other worlds; he was thoughtful and very curious. He was passionate about art and nature. On his return from each trip, he brought provisions to his servants.
One day, returning from an exhausting journey, he decided to go and relax in the lands of his ancestors. After a few hours of walking, coming from far away, he suddenly heard an echo. Curious he continued to walk when suddenly it echoed again, and this time more audibly:
Wazal son of Wazalion, I have a message for you. I am your ancestor, ruler of the city of the elders, first King of Wazalville, guardian, counselor and protector, known by your fathers as Wazaldringo.
The King, surprised, jumped, but the Ancestor spoke to him in a calm voice:
Do not be afraid, I am here to deliver a message to you from the ancestors; Wazalville is in danger.
I fear nothing, and I have no lessons to receive from anyone! Wazalville is a peaceful village, I am the undisputed king. No one will disturb our tranquility.
I ask you to trust and listen to me. The situation is serious. Do not be obstinate, do not think you are invincible and ignore the advice of your ancestors.
I know perfectly well the history of my ancestors, you are an impostor and I ask you now to go back to where you come from.
Do as you please! Know that if you have a change of heart! You could call me in your dreams to hear the message of your Ancestors.
Wazal did not have time to answer, the voice had evaporated. Somewhat disturbed by the intruder but still angry, he went back to the village. He did not tell anyone about this “meeting” and tried to quickly forget this “misadventure”.
The king’s days went on peacefully as usual, but his nights were more and more agitated. Strange dreams of occult powers, war, fire, attacks on his kingdom came to haunt his sleep. To escape these nightmares, the king began staying awake but without making any link to his meeting with Wazaldringo. After ten nights of insomnia; exhausted, he went to see the elders to know the meaning of his dreams. One of the elders who had the gift of foresight immediately perceived Wazal’s situation. He gave him one advice: call out to Wazaldringo in his dreams. Wazal, furious, stubborn and determined, decided to fend for himself because even the elders did not trust him! It took another week of him staying awake, for him to listen to the elders and solicit Wazaldringo. He was exhausted, irritable, his mind was confused, his entourage did not recognize him anymore!
He humbly called out to Wazaldringo, he assured him he was ready to receive the advice needed to protect his people. Then, the Voice of the Ancestor came back the following night to tell him his teachings:
I am here to teach you how to unveil and control your powers.
But what powers do you speak of? Is this related to the threats on Wazalville?
You must protect your village as your ancestors did before you and the precious Wazaliane fabric you wear.
But I am a traveler, I am not worthy of being a hero!
You are the son of Wazalion, so you are worthy of your mission and of what is expected of you, according to the prophecy.
They talked for a long time, trust was built, and the Ancestor told him the prophecy:
Just before he passed away, your father Wazalion demanded not to be buried. The Wazalciens respected his wish and had an idea so as to protect him; to keep his body in the hollow of a moabi, called “tree of life”. It is a rare and sacred tree. After a few weeks, one day when the elders came to gather under the tree, they were surprised to discover instead of the King’s body, a tawny oil, similar to the color of a lion’s fur, mixed with the sap of the tree. The elders met several times to reflect on the use of this oil and on my advice, they decided to pour the oil into the river flowing along the land of your ancestors. During their deliberations, I signed a pact with them so that nobody would notice the disappearance of Wazalion’s head.
This oil symbolizes your father’s power, you have to recover it. To do that, you will have to swim to the middle of Lake Chad, one of the largest lakes in the world and whose waters are soothing; you will then see a stain with the lion’s color. You will dive in the middle of this stain of oil and the magic will then operate: you will have braids in the shape of a lion’s tail and a sword engraved on your upper back, it is the sword Wazall’âme, which means respect, power and creativity. Thanks to this sword, which is handed over from father to son, you will possess the power, the strength, the courage and the speed of a thousand lions.
Let me tell you once more the story of this magic oil: Wazalion’s father, your grandfather Wazalking, was a healer. He knew how to make mixtures of potions in order to cure his people. In order to protect his village, your grandfather made a mixture of all the herbs and oils that were in his cellar. He also wanted to multiply his strength. Before testing his potion, it had to gently simmer. He went away for some time from the cellar. But your father, who was returning from a trip, went directly to see his father in the cellar; Finding a pot boiling, and curious about its content, he tasted without thinking. Wazalion immediately, began coughing and then felt uncomfortable. After a few minutes, he pulled himself together and got up. But when he looked around him, he discovered with terror the ground two meters from his body: he was hovering!!! He tried in vain to call out to his father: no sound came out of his mouth. His father, far from imagining the return of his son, but endowed with a sixth sense inquired from a servant to verify his intuition: his son was back and was looking for him, he had indeed gone to the basement!
Your grandfather Wazalking, remembering that he had left the pot on the fire, went immediately to the cellar. He found his son hovering in the air, ten meters above the ground. He pushed his servant back to the back of the room, then he pronounced a magic formula: he used three letters “wzl” to communicate with the ancestors. Three minutes later, Wazalion came out of the grip and landed, stunned, on a bench. Wazalking entrusted him to the servant and to take him to his room. He took the time to carefully extinguish the fire and rearrange the cellar. Wazalion, in his sleep, communicated with his late mother Wazaliane. She told him that his father would soon be dead and that he would be his successor. She also explained that he had to go to the top of Mount Cameroon, called Mountain of the Gods to meet the Bantoutator, Bantu warrior who fought alongside the king, to recover his powers and learn to control them. This will be your first mission.
You too after having recovered your father’s powers, would have to return to the village and in order to take good decisions, you will have to be in harmony with the Wazalciens so as to take care of your people. Indeed, the Wazalciens are the Sages of the village, never forget it, even if you are the king, their wisdom is incomparable.
But before this first trial, I must tell you yet another secret.
But, do so, Tell me!
You have a little brother Wazalstyle
A brother! But I am an only son!
He was conceived out of wedlock; he has always lived in Wazalville. He inherited the gift of being of a designer: it is he who made all the tunics and jackets of the village, as well as the one you wear today. He has never been interested in the throne.
Where is he?
The Mécanikators allied with the Futurators, took him hostage during the last attack against Wazalville.
But who are they, what are they looking for, what do they want from him?
In a distant village, lived two tribes, the Mécanikators, and the Futurators: they are called this way because their Armor is made using mechanical engine parts, a mixture of gladiator and terminator mechanics. One day, the Mécanikators allied with the Futurators, launched an attack against the village of Wazalville because they wanted to recover the root of the protective fabric. They use your brother’s gifts to win competitions against other creators. He is held; tied by chains on the wrists with electrodes on his body and on his skull. Above all, they seek to conjure Futurator’s prediction: their loss in the next attack. They want to seize the root of the Wazaliane fabric and thus have all the powers to be the head of all empires.
Your second mission will be to save your brother.
But how can I, I do not know him!
Wazalstyle has a bald head with a “W” on the top.
The first training debuted for Wazal because Wazaldringo wanted him to be ready for the final fight.
He took the road for Mount Cameroon, the mountain of the gods. He had to meet Bantoutator there to teach him. During his trip that lasted three days, he was caught in many ambushes, not to mention the natural elements that seemed to be unleashed on his way: storm, wind, thunderstorm, tornado!
He finally arrived at Bantoutator’s palace, safe and sound.
He was welcomed by his wife Marie, Bantoutator had gone hunting. Wazal introduced himself to her as the young king of Wazalville. He was pleasantly surprised to know his name was familiar to her, she seemed to know the story of his ancestors and her hospitality brought him a lot of comfort. They thus discussed for a few hours until the arrival of Bantoutator, his basket loaded with the content of his haunting traps.
After brief pleasantries both men were left alone to talk and Bantoutator presented his teaching program to Wazal:
Your father was a great man and my friend. We always supported each other. He was cowardly killed, so I promised to avenge him. You have inherited his powers and I am here to teach you how to master them. However, before we begin, you will have to take three days off. It is useless to protest; this rule is necessary and indispensable to the success of your teaching. It is non-negotiable. After these three days during which; assisted by my wife, you will be fed, you will sleep, and we will be attentive to your well-being; then we will hit the road at sunrise, once the rooster has crowed three times. We will walk to the top of Mount Cameroon. This will be an opportunity for us to get to know each other better. The Mountain of the gods is a place where, thanks to the cosmic energy but also to a great concentration, one can easily communicate with the gods. You have an asset in you, you have a positive spirit and you have a gift that you must put to the service of good.
After the three days entirely meant for his comfort, Wazal was serene and happy.
As expected, at the dawn of the 4th day, they hit the road to begin their ascent to the mountain of the gods. They had to go through several stages during which Bantoutator began his teaching. To eat, they had to hunt. Wazal was a good hunter, but Bantoutator’s technique was new to him. They had to build traps. With the help of a machete, they made their way through, cutting grass and trees. Wazal had to learn to hold the machete perfectly, already imagining future adversaries who would take advantage of a single flaw to disarm him. Hidden, in order to haunt the animal, he learned to use arrows. His first attempts were futile. Wazal was upset, his reputation as an excellent hunter was on the line! Bantoutator, knowing the youthfulness and ardor of his disciple, suggested he calmed down, to breathe and to concentrate. His advice bore fruit, Wazal aimed into the heart a warthog. A flash of satisfaction could be read in his eyes when Bantoutator congratulated him. They cut the animal together, put some in their bag and buried the rest so that the meat did not spoil and to have some put aside. Once at their camp, they made a fire to cook the grills and to recover some strength.
After a few days of intensive training, they finally arrived at the mountain of the gods, a sumptuous place, a place of gathering for all the benevolent spirits. Wazal remained speechless in front of so much magnificence. Accompanied by Bantoutator, he climbed a hill where the Alliance monument stood. He had to close his eyes and concentrate in order to get in touch with the spirits and thus to perceive the secrets for success. This was a much more difficult ordeal than hunting. After a long time of vain concentration, he was already discouraged. Bentoutator, asked him to be patient. He advised him to think of his family’s history and to accompany his thoughts with deep breaths. The exercise lasted a long time. Suddenly Wazal went into a trance and screamed. He saw in his dreams, the way to use his sword Wazall’âme, engraved on his back. It was then revealed to him how to seize his sword, use it and fight the enemy in the manner of the old.
After a few hours his body began to shake. Bantoutator took the oil harvested from the moabi to embalm and massage his body. Wazal was exhausted, but the training was not finished! He had to go down to the arena in order to put into practice the techniques perceived in his dreams.
In the arena, Bantoutator attacked him by surprise. Wazal was pushed and landed on the top of a tree. Angry, he tried to fight back, in vain. The surprise effect had disarmed him. Bantoutator used this opportunity to teach him the art of sham in order to thwart the pitfalls and cowardice of the enemy.
At sunset, Bantoutator ended the training. They took the road to return to the camp. They were restored with part of the meat reserved to regain strength.
The following days the exercises focused on learning balance and flying in the air to control the occult powers used by his opponents.
Through patience and courage, and thanks to Bantoutator‘s wise counsel and remarkable teaching, Wazal learned the strategy, the techniques and the speed necessary to be worthy of his mission as the village chief and credible to the elders.
Back in the village he introduced himself to the Wazalciens who immediately felt the profound change of their king. He had matured, he was ready to defend the village against enemies and avenge his father Wazalion. Wazal decided to create a powerful army that he named “mountain of the gods” in the image of the tall and sturdy soldiers.
Inspired by the tradition of the Ancestors, he taught everyone wazalangua: it was an old and coded language: one just had to add the word “wazal” before a sentence or a word. This language made it possible to spot spies.
He worked hard, listened and was not distracted by anyone. Except for this young woman who entered the palace with her mother, the maid who did the housework of the late King Wazalion. Called Eliane, she often came to help his mother. Wazal had feelings for her, but dared not tell her, or even admit it. One day, when he was going around his kingdom, he heard the screams of a girl and the voices of several men. He rushed to the palace and opened the room where the cries came: He saw two men around the young maid.
Who are you, what do you want from her?
Why do you care young man? We have orders to capture her.
The girl, quick and fast as lightning, taking advantage of Wazal’s presence, kicked the first man but the second rushed on her and seized the opportunity to fix a chip on her shoulder. She controlled them without even the help of the king. In a quick move, the trick was played. Immediately after, she confronted Wazal:
Two men try to kidnap me, and you dialogue with them instead of helping me? Know that I am not afraid of anyone or anything. I am called Rebel!
You’re right I apologize to you, but who taught you how to fight? I like your way of fighting but what were you doing in the room alone, without your mother?
When my mother is not here I replace her.
And the men do you know them?
The king called the guards to search for the two men to have them locked up but they were already far away, and the guards came back empty-handed.
The spies immediately hit the road to the tribe of the Mécanikators to give feedback of their mission. The mechanics and Futurators were eagerly waiting for them and hoping for good news. The spies humiliated and ashamed of their defeat by a woman, told a somewhat transformed story: they could not capture Eliane because the young king had emerged and prevented them. After a long and hard fight, they had to flee, but not without having installed the chip on her shoulder. The Mécanikators, furious at this defeat, burned their ears, and spoke with the Futurators to build a new plan.
The daily routine of the Wazalgeois:
Among the Wazalgeois there were some soldiers of the Wazal king; they spent a lot of their free time playing rugby. They were sturdy men, they liked sports that appealed to physical strength. As a jersey, they wore tunics to play rugby and also to please women. They had created a unique and very particular game technique. The king was very pleased to watch them play, perched on the platform with some Wazalciens. It was also an opportunity for him to choose the best soldiers.
Some Wazalgeois liked to farm, fish and hunt.
Characters and symbols
Wazaldringo: The Ancestor
Wazalking: Father of Wazalion
Wazalion: Son of Wazalking and father of Wazal and Wazalstyle
Wazal: Son of King Wazalion
Wazalcien: The elders
Wazalstyle: Wazal’s half-brother
Wazallionne (née …): Wazal’s wife
Wazall’âme: Wazal’s sword
Wazaliane: Wife of Wazalking and mother of Wazalion – protective and magical fabric
Mécanikators: Neighboring tribe – men with a mixture of gladiator and terminator mechanics
Futurator: Neighboring tribe: villains
Margeritator: Half woman half flower, inspired by a daisy flower
Toureiffelysée: A mix of Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees
Wazalkaliflagilistik: Magic word to make geometric drawings appear
Marie: Bantutator’s wife
Bantoutator: Bantu warrior and friend of Wazalion