A stop at Hilltop Ntun
It was a planned working visit around the weekend. Ntun is found on a hilly incline all surrounded by mountain relief and repeated hillside views where groups of cattle can be seen grazing silently; telling a story of their own as if the life and glory of the fast and furious in Bamenda (where I just floated in from) were some other fairy-tale. Village citizens however are seriously busy with their daily affairs. The most successful from first sight seem to be the young bikers. Leaving or arriving the “city square” in a kind of exhilarating ambiance which somewhere else perhaps will be appropriated and interpreted as a peculiar kind of ¨mad rush¨ syndrome.
My roll-in impression was that there is something special about these people and the lifestyle in this existing or producing space. The life expressed here will never fail to persist in its own shining opinion of a blissful demeanor always with an undecided human clamoring.
I arrived late on this Saturday morning. We agreed to go up Ntun; I and the resident doctor of Awkijn (Dr AMBO). As we climbed the steep ascent, he stopped now and then to greet everyone politely while I and another doctor (his assistant) nodded affirmatively in ritual kindness. They both doctors spoke French as first mother tongue for which expectantly I responded to the discussions fluently. The road was so bad that it was a wonder how even bikes could survive time bound adventures through to the city some 80 Km away. We trekked on foot given there were no bikes available to us at the district Hospital. The lone vehicle around the hospital outskirts was an old pick up once the prestigious asset of the hospital administration.
Reaching Ntun square we stopped to great the bike man that transported the hospital director the same morning from the city. Of course most high ranking workers in this and other positions will dive in from time to time when there was an important activity. The bike man was nicknamed budget.
Dr Ambo: “Budget, Budget, Budget”.
Budget:” Good morning doctor”. He greeted back
Dr Ambo: “Have you seen the fault?” He asked with a perceptive impression of care which I interpreted as a cunning illusive display of concern. I will not be fooled.
Budget: “Yes doctor”. For some five minute we waited patiently while doctor Ambo rolled on with Budget watching as he repaired the bike which he explained had left them stuck by the new road the whole morning due to this extant fault. I will imagine that Budget was convinced about the empathy emptied on his behalf by Dr Ambo but again I was not fooled; I knew that Dr Ambo was not truly concerned.
We proceeded to sit at the Ntun “modernists” village bar where we had a brief working session. Here we met a lady and two men involved in the ensuing health campaign. An elderly man and another who was much younger. The lady we worked with was tall and big and warm. We sat for a long hour or more discussing with them and at intervals holding out our own individual issues. With elegance she interrupted once to excuse herself for the private discussions she was having with her companion (the younger man of about 40 years of age) whom she introduced as her pastor.
Pastor and friends
After this long chat we went down the market square to locate another “less modern” bar. I asked if there was food as we approached close enough to be noticed. The pastor who left us a lot earlier was outside and answered that there wasn’t any food left. The lady that owned the bar quickly cut in to say there was enough food for three. I hadn’t noticed the pastor’s departure in the first bar.
Me: Pastor how come you finish all the food when you know there are strangers around?
Pastor: Oh no I cannot finish food for you. Hahaha, I cannot do that.
He had eaten his fill of food and was drinking from a can of beer as he stepped out to see off one of his fine drinking associates when we came in. The way he said this made me wonder if he meant his words. He was the person telling us first that food was finished and again telling us there was food. I decided to negotiate the food myself since I imagined that for some reason Dr Ambo (our host) may not be willing to spend for all of us. I asked the lady of the bar to heat the food and serve us all. Meanwhile another bike stopped by to collect the assistant doctor to a mission in the hospital.
We entered the bar where some five men were comfortably installed, all drinking from their beer bottles except Pastor who was drinking from a beer can named Bullet. Dr Ambo introduced me as his colleague from the city. They were discussing lively each from his corner in the secluding bar. Pastor of course was constantly on the headlines on most of the issues. He was speaking just now.
Pastor: Our bikers can create a syndicate that will defend their interests and our own. This is the same thing I saw when I worked in the South West. Many town bikers coming from the city pass to Aknem to drop passengers. How does that benefit the local bike riders? There must be protocol for this township; local bikers should benefit. Otherwise they won’t have enough money to buy drinks for the elderly. [[He explained amidst puffs of his drink]].
This idea was greatly adorned by the five sitting dispersedly and participating actively in all the talking. Anyone coming in for the first time will not fail to notice that pastor was at least one of their most enthralling character since a year or more and still counting.
After some time discussions expounded on other issues. I thought it wise to contribute just a little at intervals for the moment.
Pastor: “Our youths need to be encouraged. The football tournament is presently going on and the boys are doing fine. We will be in the field to support them and talk with them. Hahaha”.
Pastor loves football and participates in as many social events as possible. He however avoids the responsibility to be a referee during local matches to avoid conflict with disgruntled youths (in case of any unfavourable results). From all indications he either likes the position to referee in football matches or misses it out rightly. He explained this regretfully.
Pastor: “When you blow a good match, you never know. Someone will still pup up to accuse you of foul play. These days I prefer to be neutral. That is a lot better”.
I wondered if some youths might have caused pastor such upset to the level where he declined any direct dealings with football in particular. I just hoped it wasn’t that bad.
Before long, the discussion switched to other appealing subjects. Being spiritually sensitive, I could not ignore the contributions of pastor at every stop point.
Pastor: “You know, the white men brought a foreign religion into our land and if need be we instead can resort to local native practices. Yes they work equally as well. Thunder sending for example has helped us a lot. That is how we could control bad practices like thefts and all the others”.
There is a general saying and belief that by using black magic, lightning has been sent to target and kill offending people by their victims. [[I imagined how that if the pastor was starting discussions on sensitive spiritual issues in this fashion how much more was he “unteaching” the word in his religious church settings. This is a man who is supposed to train people to believe in love and forgiveness yet he is loudly committing his audience into witchcraft and hate derived solutions to problems. No doubt the blind villagers should love him back so dearly]]
Again, discussions went on in this topic with acclamations from his peers. If he needed another can of drink, evidently there will be someone too willing to offer. Another important topic came to mind and again pastor had something very important to say.
Pastor: “I have been able to cause many illegal couples to become married correctly. Haahaha. Everywhere I worked, everyone can testify of my great works. All these couples you see in our town are scarcely ever married at all”. He taunted. “Marriage should be done both at the courts, in our traditional fashion and then church. That will do the complete thing. That does not mean people must spend a lot to get married. I always worked with the government administration to arrange and marry as many couples as possible. I am a wonderful help to many families”.
He spoke these things with little effort to convince. Anyone visiting stranger could tell that these people didn’t think anything was unusual about pastor’s mixture of speeches. He continued speaking.
Pastor: “What really pisses me off the most is when I see men come to complain to me. Ooh pastor, my wife is committing adultery with Mr X, Y and Z. When I find out that he is not correctly married it gives me a feeling to send them away immediately. They don’t have a right to complain if their wives are flirting except of course when they have completed all the formalities”.
On the subject of marriage, pastor was not happy that some men could just accuse their own women indiscriminately on adultery. They should only do so when they have genuine marriage certificates. This was causing the number of reports on adultery to be too high for his liking. Pastor advocated for marriage certificates and thinks men should only claim infidelity sanctions after showing their marriage certificates. He even went on to explain that sexual penetration without ejaculation is simple assault and not rape. “Ahh”, I felt like yelling at him.
Such men according to him therefore should learn to state their cases more correctly. [[When much later I attended Sunday fellowship with the local Full Gospel Mission, I could understand clearly that this was another wolf in the midst of tender sheep. I was moved to tears when I saw the congregants inspired by the Holy Spirit to worship with such devotion]].
Again at some point I was in a debate with this pastor of alcohol. Eventually I noticed that the seasoned “man of God” had very little knowledge of scripture. This did not bother him at all. All he wanted to send home as message was that he was in charge. This newcomer, whatever he is made up of cannot challenge his opinion on scripture.
Pastor tries to make us feel he isn’t disturbed by a show of scriptural ignorance. Tells me he will visit me later to discuss things that can’t right now be divulged.
He succeeded somehow to retain the subjective ovation of his buddies by declining any responsibility for the things I shared with them to the very last dot. At some point, my contributions were for at least one reason. I was only interested that Dr Ambo does not confuse my sound foundation in Jesus Christ after all.
Pastor: “The main problem is your terminology doctor. I am not sure it is from the bible. That is the only confusing thing. The context, the context is not correct. If you know the correct context then you will understand what I’m saying”. He puffed out his defensive arguments.
Righteousness, grace and gift are mixed up by pastor. He wants his pals to think I’m not relaying teaching on these subjects from the bible. He goes ahead to read Rom 5:17 but again refuses to contribute in receiving or help others to receive what the word says. He particularly doesn’t want to heed the advice to grow in grace so that he can be used by the lord in other more important and extraordinary ways.
Pastor: “I do counsel lots and lots of Christians. I am a seasoned spiritual counselor. That is my calling. However, when it comes to healing and deliverance, I am not strong. Honestly I refer them to other men of God. But not your type at all”.
I discuss with Pastor at the edge of the mottled beer infilling. This is not all, pastor is calling out the waiter and ordering another can of bullet when we are leaving to go. I wonder if pastor is able to spare enough money to take care of his own home given the monotony drinking sprees and social responsibilities even [[as the scripture says]].
Summary description of other actors/characters also drinking and making merry at hilltop Ntun
Baba 1: Could be 50 years or a little older. Talked frankly and I found it easy to like his projected views. Had a long history of service in Awkijn which he described in detail.
Baba 2: Not eloquent in speech but wanted to be nicely noticed in the bar. I listened keenly as he explained how he will not like bike boys take him into hidden tracks during his travels in and out of the place. He did not want me to miss the account about the opinion that he had large sums of money and could be rich (either now or in some distant past). He prefers to tip the police officers by himself than to allow the bikers take him into the irregular areas for fear of being robbed.
Baba 3: Quite drunk and vulnerable.
Baba 4 and 5: Nothing to say about them but that which already is said. They admired and adored pastor just as much.
About Dr Ambo
Dr Ambo is above 50 years of age, a systematized indigene of my republic who supports with all facial sincerity only majority views. Thinks with pastor that we don’t grow in grace (whatever that means to him) but rather in gift. No answer for grace. Explains that everything is learnt. No spiritual annexations exist. Until I will explain the Kekule and the benzene ring in science as we exited.
Accepts spirituality when he finds a favourable argument to nail home a point. He then says without any need to explain his former denials of spiritually-inspired wisdom.
Dr Ambo: When I was in high school, I had dreams revealing solutions to mathematical problems. The next day I wrote the exams and scored very high marks.
He refuses to accept to learn more from the growing knowledge about God. Calls it unnecessary and that many Christians bring untold problems to the majority. Agrees with me however that the minority also matter in society. I tell him true Christians are the significant minority in this world but God’s majority. He is indifferent that the interest to belong with the majority is almost always tied to personal gains.
I conclude as from the start that Dr Ambo sees no need to say or use his own mind for nothing and I have no reason to lecture anyone about pastor.
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