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The Takembeng,Indigenous Grandmothers of Cameroon on the Rise to End Harmful Traditional Practices against Women

"We have agreed to block the way for tradition to be used as an excuse to perpetrate acts of violence against our daughters. It’s tedious to birth a female as well as a male child.A girl child is not a slave to a boy child".Mama Prudencia Ndifor 83 years old.

Takembeng, a traditional women`s secret society in the Western grasslands of Cameroon, is a dreaded name to oppressors of the voiceless. When these matriarchs say “No”, only God can say “Yes”. When they appear in public, every man takes to his heels.Watch even the Fon(traditional ruler)run for his dear life when the Takembeng appears! It is a taboo and a curse for a male to set eyes on them in ritual, talk less of resisting their moves. Death is believed to be the punishment for anyone who dares. The culture of the North Westerners in Cameroon has hitherto been viewed and used as an excuse to suppress and violate women. However deeply enshrined in this same culture, are values that can be used to give a voice and power to women.

The Takembeng has played a very influential role in the history and politics of Cameroon. It is widely known that these old women were the brain behind the success of the re-birth of multi-partism in Cameroon. When soldiers were deployed to molest street protestors, they made a public appearance which disarmed the soldiers and prevented them from stopping demonstrations against the ruling party.

In colonial days they played very influential roles in different communities of the North West Region to resist colonial rule.

Gender Danger has opened discussions with this very influential group of women to examine ways in which harmful traditional practices against women in the North West Region of Cameroon can be halted.After meeting with representatives of Gender Danger,two spokes persons for the Matriarchs were connected to me on phone.From their mouths to my ears:

-"We have agreed to block the way for tradition to be used as an excuse to perpetrate acts of violence against our daughters. It’s tedious to birth a female as well as a male child.A girl is not a slave to a boy".Mama Prudencia Ndifor 83 years old.

-“We will no longer stay quiet and watch our daughters` lives destroyed by men.We are going to send a warning message to all quarter meetings ‘’If we hear again that a man has put his hands on his wife we will “come out’’.Mama Esther Nanga 68 years old

-“We no longer want women to be maltreated when they become widows. We will stop ostracizing widows and we expect everyone to follow suit”Mama Prudencia Ndifor

-“We are calling on the men to ensure that girls have the right to inherit property from their families and own land.Over the years we have seen more girls bring light to their families and villages than boys”Mama Prudencia Ndifor

-“We will no longer allow our granddaughters to undergo breast ironing. We have learnt that it causes sickness and can prevent girls from breastfeeding’’Mama Esther Nanga

-“We shall continue to protect our tradition but we will not allow any woman to cry because of it”Mama Prudencia

If these promises are kept!Then this will mark a turning point in the lives of thousands of women and girls.I know the Takembeng is no joke so I can begin to celebrate

Worthy of note is the fact that these same women are custodians of tradition and are often in charge of harmful traditional practices like widowhood Rituals and Breast Ironing. There is no other traditional authority that can challenge their ruling.

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Comments

Emily Garcia's picture

Thank you, Gender Danger!

Wow! What an accomplishment, Leina! I am so happy to hear that these influential women, revered and feared custodians of culture, have spoken out for women and girls in Cameroon. From breast ironing to ostracizing widows to domestic violence, they've made bold statements for women's human rights. Wishing you more fruitful dialogue with these women and may their influence help to halt traditional practices harmful to women.

Warm wishes,
Emily

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Associate

Leina's picture

Thank you dear Emily,I have

Thank you dear Emily,I have been longing for this moment for many years,to muster the courage to face these women.I am thankful it finally came and yielded good results!I am prayerfully watching the way forward.
Best,
Leina

Mary S's picture

Hi Leina Well done to you,

Hi Leina

Well done to you, your organisation and the Takembeng women! It really does prove that, with the right approach, traditions/culture can change for the better.

Mary

Leina's picture

Thanks dear Mary,you are my

Thanks dear Mary,you are my mom's name sake!She was very influential in helping me approach the Takembeng.It's true that culture is made and enforced by man and can be changed by man where there is a will.If these women can sit and listen to someone challenge culture and get convinced,then anything is possible with the right approach like you said!
Best,
Leina

kariz's picture

Way to go Leina! It sure is

Way to go Leina!
It sure is an accomplishment!
There is no better way to tackle this issue; the roots!
When custodians of traditions begin to have a re-think we can say the future of young girls in Cameroon is assured!!
Thank you for raising your voice via Gender Danger!

Charis-Shalom
LK

Leina's picture

OMG my own Yaya,when powerful

OMG my own Yaya,when powerful women in Cameroon like you begin to join voices with me,what can stop us?We are definitely towards a better world for our young girls!!!
Hugs,
Leina

Greengirl's picture

Celebrating with you, Leina.

I am really happy Leina that your work work has continued to gain grounds. Winning such highly revered Matrichs over, is no small achievement; especially in the light of everything they represent in Cameroon. You are a shining and perfect example of 'a daughter who has brought light to your family, homeland and the world'. I count it important to also let you know that I am rolling out the dums to celebrate the ne possibilities for women and girls to inherit land.

Hurray!

Greengirl

Leina's picture

Thank you Green Girl,yes let

Thank you Green Girl,yes let the talking drums beat sister!Why should we not own land when our hands are so coarse from tilling the soil it harbors?Yes we ought to inherit property because we are multipliers.Life in our communities will only get better when we are given a chance!Thank you too for being such a light!
Love,
Leina

zoneziwoh's picture

wonderful

Thanks siz for bringing light to the Tekenbeng's womens efforts. this is what we need. Amazing!!!

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

Leina's picture

Thank you sister

Thank you sister Ziwoh!!!!
Love,
Leina

olutosin's picture

MAY YOU SUCCEED

Thanks so much dear sister, may you succeed in this and in all that you do.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Leina's picture

Amen,thank you sister

Amen,thank you sister Olu!!May tripple return to you IJN!
Love,
Leina

Mauwa Brigitte's picture

COURAGE

Leina,
Je souhaiterai que vous enseigner et former ces femmes les notions des droits humains pour qu'elles dénoncent le mal , ces femmes et leur influence peut aider à mettre fin à des pratiques traditionnelles préjudiciables aux femmes camerounaises et les filles retouverons leurs valeurs.

Brigitte

Leina-
Great story, holding such hope. I especially appreciate the statements from the various women! ... "We will no longer stay quiet..." And "we will continue to protect our tradition...but not allow women to cry..." Powerful!

Thank you for showing us what courage and leadership can bring to our communities and our world.

Peace and Hope-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Adahmbah's picture

Great inspiration,Keep the Fight

Thanks my dear for this wonderful write up in the fight for harmful practices in the North West Region.The Takembengs are the brain and back-bone of our tradition.If they have accepted to work for the change of the Cameroonian girls in our cultures,then women will have a forum to breaking the silence and change their worlds.Thank you sister and keep the fight.
Adah

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