Beyond the endless green canopy of trees, wild
berries and honey- the equivalent of a modern-day Eden, was the land of Tagu.
The aggressive villagers of Tagu were constantly chasing wild game meat, on top
of trees, or perched at the entrance of the village waiting to attack any
intruders. Dubaku was the son of the village medicine man. He was avery
aggressive and competitive child. He would always compete with his friends over
little things like who could climb the tallest tress faster or who would
collect more wild berries. He had a huge scar on his forehead as a result of
his imminent fall during one of his banters with his friends. He had a very
toned and masculine body that made him look like a professional weightlifter.
His feet were enormous and hairy. He cast a shadow that
filled any room he walked into. His bare chest looked like two inflated airbags
that had rich and striking black colour. He had lean, long muscles on his arms
and legs that were barely covered by the clothing draped on his waist. His dark
skin went on for miles, punctuated with a scar or two. To say he was intimidating was downplaying his
capability. He did not have a friendly face and never was he ever seen smiling.
He had an air of mystery especially when it came to his leather belt that he
always had on, and people believed that it had some charm. Dubaku was known for his decisiveness and
direct personality. He stood by his words and they were his bond.
As a requirement in the traditions of Tagu,
each young man of age from each Zeben was required to participate in the Illaka
ceremony of warriors. When Dubaku was of age, he alongside his mates marked
their faces in war lines and assembled in the community grounds to be grafted
into the army of warriors. They were required to participate in a wrestling
match, in order to pick the war leader. On the night of their Illaka ceremony,
Dubaku was appointed to be the war leader, as he won the wrestling match. He
was given the Tagu spear and was required to always lead the warriors in case
of any intrusion or war. Different warriors were stationed at various entamces
to the village and would take turns in guarding the palace. Dubaku trained
young warriors in fighting and recruited the iniated young men to the army.
The perfect symphony of peace in the village was disrupted one frosty evening, during the rainy season- when the gatekeepers to the guarded community frantically blew their horns to alert the village-men of the intruders. The warriors marched towards the gates of the village, chanting war songs and stamping their feet on the ground led by Dubaku, the leader of the warriors. As they approached the edge of the village, a group of men who had strange looking pale skin- a skin close to the colour of milk- approached the village on a metallic moving object that was producing the smoke. The warriors suddenly stood frozen, stopping their war chant while some of the men backing up several steps. Dubaku, without faltering steps, was the only warrior who kept moving forward with his spear charged forward. Suddenly, the metallic object stopped, and the pale-looking men jumped out. He began fighting the first intruder with his father’s spear unflinchingly. The intruders who had clubs apart from their mysterious metallic object, started shouting in an equally mysterious language as they walked back. Dubaku had managed to injure two of the strange men who were now limping and bleeding as they scurried towards their metallic object. As the intruders moved away from the village gates in their strange metallic object, the warriors who now stood in awe of Dubaku, wore relief on their faces and stood aghast waiting for Dubaku to speak up. He turned facing them, ramming his spear once more on the ground and shouted, “May we always bring pride and honour to our ancestors, the God of the rising sun, and the first tribe of Mbiu, the house of Tagu!”. The warriors started their chants and carried Dubaku shoulder-high towards the Palace. That was the tale of how Dubaku was the true embodiment of a Tagu warrior, and the tale lives to be told to generations to come.
The village of Tagu sat peacefully hidden in between the series of valleys and ridges of green and lush forests. A small footpath paved the way beyond the thick undergrowth and canopy of the rainforests. They were not gregarious and were happiest in situation of isolation. The Tagu people were very sceptical and unfriendly. Outsiders were not warmly welcomed and were seen as potential threats. They aggressively shielded themselves from interactions from other tribes and had built a wall all around the village, that were on watch all year round. The village-men were capable of being totally and comfortably self-sufficient on the natural products of the forest.
The Tagu tribesmen were an organized community that thrived on a rule-based system; a quality that made them quite socially stratified. The Tagu community was led by a King, Lakion– who had help from a council of elders from each of the small camps called Zebens, which consisted of 10-15 families who were directly under the jurisprudence of the King. The splitting of the community into smaller sub-groups was a logical decision to maintain order and delegate duties in order to reduce the issues the King would be able to handle at once. The only way one would be able to move camps was either through marriage- where the different elders of the Zeben camps involved would come to an agreement or if the Zeben leader died and the camp would be dismantled. In cases or unresolved conflicts within the Zeben, the leader of the Zeben would consult the other leaders from different Zebens who would logically try to resolve the conflict firmly before passing it on to the King. When a matter was brought forth to Lakion, oftentimes his ruling was tough, devoid from emotion and final.
The ceremony of warriors-Illaka– was when the tribe warriors were chosen on the last night of the 12th full moon. Each Zeben would present their warriors of age, to compete with the other warriors. During the Illaka, every Zeben would assemble at the community grounds, women dressed in traditional headbands made of feathers from the wild-birds and men adorned in their leather belts and clubs and markings of ash across their faces. The ceremony would start of to a special routine led by the King. The young warriors were then consecrated, and libation would be poured on the ground to appease the gods of harvest- Kieben. Once the gods were perceived to accept their libation, the young men were coronated and officially joined the tribe’s army. They were delegated to serve the community by taking an oath to always bring honour to their tribe and always protect them. The warriors would take chances to be on guard at the entrance of the village and around the huts to keep off any intruders. The other tribes were only allowed into the community grounds only if they seemed harmless and had something of value to offer to the tribe.
Each morning, the young men left their huts with their spears latched on their leather skins wrapped on their waists and knives deeply tucked in their sheaths. They wandered into the forest to gather wild berries, honey, baobab fruits or tubers depending on the season. During rainy seasons, there was plenty of berries and tubers and the animals were fatter, plenty and easy to trap. The drier seasons were punctuated with scarce animals that were rather lean and the wild berries and baobab fruits dried up. The women would stay back in the homesteads and collectively care for their children and taking care of their homesteads. If the women went gathering, they would go in groups and accompanied by at least one man from their Zeben. During the night-time, the men would men often hunt in pairs, and spend entire nights lying in wait by waterholes, hoping to shoot animals that approach for a night-time drink, with spears treated with poison. The poison was made of the branches of a specific shrub that the women often prepared and leave to bake on the roofs of their grass-thatched houses for three days before use. After the hunting and gathering expeditions, the fruits and honey were divided into two batches. The first batch was sun dried and stored for the drier seasons, while the other batch was shared out in the Zeben. The game meat was also divided and smoked in kitchen roofs and the rest of it devoured.
There were two other cardinal ceremonies that unified the Zebens in the tribe of Tagu. The first one being Yorkun– the marriage ceremony and the Pierya. Initiation. In the Yorkun ceremony, the two Zebens involved would converge at the community grounds, in the presence of the King and his council of Zeben leaders. The Zeben where the man hails from would then present a bushel of wild berries, tins of their best honey, and ten of fresh wild game from their recent game hunt. The King would officiate the ceremony and negotiations begin. Once a fair agreement is arrived at, the woman would bid her farewell her family and Zeben leader and accompany her husband to her new Zeben. The Pierya ceremony was where the young men who had completed twenty moons were circumcised and given lessons in seclusion from the rest of the members of the society from the Zeben leaders. This marked their transition into adulthood, and they were now expected to join their fathers and uncles in hunting expeditions and joining the army.