Article

Tangomas’ language: Orality and ritual discourse in Bakossi traditional medical practice

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 37, issue 2, 2017, pages: 251–261
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2017.1378288
Author(s): Enongene Mirabeau SoneDepartment of Arts (English), Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, South Africa

Abstract

The practice of traditional medicine or herbal cures among the Bakossi people of Cameroon, as in any other African society, has been viewed with mixed feelings and sometimes with outright disdain; yet, it has its own type of achievements, particularly in the area of therapeutic cures or exorcism. That notwithstanding, in contemporary Cameroon society one notices how the advent of modern technological developments and Western education has greatly impacted the practice of traditional medicine and the way tangomas (medicine men) practise their art. This study investigates people’s possession of a sacred but rare ability to use language in a way peculiar to orthodox linguistic norms. It demonstrates the fact that oral literature has significant roles to play in African herbal medical practice. Furthermore, the paper examines disease taxonomy and how it affects language use among Bakossi tangomas. It is based on the premise that tangomas place high priority on the magical power of the word, as evidenced in their incantations, invocations and chants. The paper concludes that tangomas possess the best stock of poetical expressions and dramatic dialogue, which they employ to establish a rapport between people and the supernatural forces in the process of healing.

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