Finge Ancestral Practices and the Christian Faith: A Historical Study of the Wanabe Cult

Author(s): Michael Kpughe Lang

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This paper examines the Wanabe ancestral practice in the Finge polity of Cameroon's northwest, showing how its encounter with Christian faith resulted in mutations that necessitated its revival. Underpinned by worship, veneration, and respect of the ancestors, the Wanabe practice enjoyed its heydays up to the time when the intrusion of Christian theology threatened its existence and relevance. Informed by existing scholarship and based on field work conducted in February 2017, it is argued that the plight of the Wanabe practice following its encounter with missionary Christianity hinged primarily on missionaries' negative perception of the practice, presenting it as an impediment to conversion to Christianity. Ensuing missionary efforts to repudiate this ancestral cult practice have met with indigenous repugnance that has ensured the revival and continuing importance of the culturally-entrenched belief system. The paper explores how the deeply religious beliefs and observances associated with the Wanabe ancestral practice posed as obstacles to the overly exclusive doctrinal conditions arrogantly and ignorantly proposed by Christian evangelizers. If the latter's ongoing efforts at adapting Christian theology to the non-Christian Finge religio-cultural background should uphold the labeling of indigenous cosmology as worthless for Christianity, then the value of religious traditions meeting each other would be missed.

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