Blog for the international research project "Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges", financed by the ERC Consolidator Grant led by Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak, Faculty of "Artes Liberales" of the University of Warsaw. Team members: Prof. Susan Deacy and Steve K. Simons, University of Roehampton; Prof. Elizabeth Hale and Dr Miriam Riverlea, University of New England; Prof. Lisa Maurice and Dr Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University; Prof. Daniel A. Nkemleke, Dr Divine Che Neba and Dr Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaoundé I; Dr Elżbieta Olechowska, Dr Hanna Paulouskaya, Dr Sonya Nevin, Dott. Edoardo Pecchini, Marta Pszczolińska, Angelina Gerus and the Project Officers: Magdalena Andersen, Maria Makarewicz, and Olga Strycharczyk from the Faculty of "Artes Liberales" UW.
It’s time for Animaniacs! In the episode Hercules Unwound (dir. Audu Paden, 1995), crazy sibilings are taking us to ancient Greece, where the sun is bright, centaurs are philosophers, and Medusa’s doing Pegasus’ manicure. Yakkoleus, Wakkamemnon, and the goddess of cuteness – Aphrodottie visit young Hercules, who really, really does not want to do his twelve labours (and daddy Zeus is not very happy about it). “The ultimate symbol of strength and courage” is presented here as a spoiled brat having a tantrum before cleaning Augeas’ stables. Unfortunately, crazy sibilings cannot help the hero, as his breath smells like garlic and Dot is not able to kiss him. Animaniacs retreat and skip the episode, but there are other cartoon celebrities ready to take over.
Nearby, Pinkus and the Brain overhear Mr. Artistotle saying that Zeus “lightning bolt equals unlimited power” – hence, there is a perfect occasion to “overthrow his kingdom and take over the world”. They fly on Pegasus to Olympus and visit the home of a balding, short, and chubby Zeus. While the god is checking on his son’s progress (which is none, as Hercules decided to take a coffee break), mice steal the lightning bolt to lose it in a few seconds. The bolt breaks the aqueduct and the escaping water cleans out the nasty stables. Zeus, happy with his son’s work, rewards him with marriage to the most amazing goddess in the ancient Greece – Aphrodottie of course – who decides to wear a gas mask for a final kiss.
Packed with action and Latin puns, with the star guests Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs prove to be a real mythical treat.
Report by Daniel A. Nkemleke, Department of English, Univeristy of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Daniel A. Nkemleke brings a unique African perspective to the Our Mythical Childhood… Project. He and his colleagues have the exciting task of documenting African myths for the wider academic and non-academic audience. They present these myths via various disseminations activities, while also meeting with the local societies and (re)discovering together this fascinating heritage.
Cameroonian rural areas are a repository of many myths about the gods, the ancestors, creation, migration, births, deaths, the afterlife, etc. For one thing, it is in these rural areas where we still have people with original unpublished stories, and who are willing to share them. Rural areas in Cameroon are also fascinating in many ways: the natural environment, the habitat, the level of detachment from the things that matter in modern cities.
Honouring our long-cherished goal to introduce the Our Mythical Childhood (OMC) Project to the people that are not of the university, I travelled to Loua 1 village on Sunday, October 28, 2018, to talk to villagers with whom I had had previous contact in the context of a community building project, about the OMC Project.
Loua 1 is a small village of about 500 inhabitants, situated some 30 km East of the city of Yaoundé, Cameroon (photo 1):
Before I arrived at this village, my contact person had already informed them of my interest in their local myths. They had specifically designated Mr Ngah Zobo Vandelin as the person to narrate the myth to me: Why Mount Loua Is Sacred Place to Loua People. After a welcome meeting at the veranda of the house of my contact person, I was taken to the house of the narrator, Mr Ngah Zobo Vandelin (photo 2):
The substance of the story which is being written as a separate entry for the Our Mythical Childhood Survey is this: In the distance past the people of Loua 1 moved from one place called Asama to where they now live. This movement was an instruction from Zama, their god, whom they considered to be the creator of the Earth, and who also made sure that his people should not undergo any kind of suffering. When there was great famine, their leader received a message from Zama that he should move the people out. They moved out, and under the guidance of this leader, whom Mr Ngah only referred to as “The Patriarch”, they came to settle in Loua 1.
According to the story, Zama was actually the one guiding their steps, because they encountered many challenges on the way, losing men, women, and children because of hunger. The few that survived the hash journey settled in Loua 1, and had since multiplied to occupy other villages around. Zama went to settle in Mount Loua, since he could not live in the same place with human beings.
Today, the people of Loua 1 offer yearly sacrifices to this mountain, situated some 10 km from the village, to thank Zama for his guidance and protection. If there is to be a tragedy in the village, Zama gives a special message to the people through the Patriarch, to prepare them for the tragedy. Mr Ngah told me he is one of the Patriarchs, capable of decoding messages from Zama to the people.