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.
Read more about Tagu- Tales of Dubaku