IV-6. CULT MEMBER ETHICAL CODE VIOLATIONS AND PUNISHMENT
Cult members by virtue of their power, influence and societal standing are expected to be epitomes of moral rectitude. Some of these members are actually so required by their occultist rules and regulations, especially given their positions within the Court. Compared to the rest of the public, cult members generally receive harsher punishment for the same crime because they should have known better. Cult members could even be expelled and rusticated from their cult groups (Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì) for the simplest of violations.
Cult members are seriously monitored for character deficiencies like adultery, public drunkenness, gossiping, irresponsibility towards their families and other misdemeanors that could easily lead to expulsion.
It is forbidden for a cult member (or anyone else for that matter) to covet the King’s wife, sit on the Royal throne, commit rape (especially that of a child), harm a pregnant woman, commit murder or commit any similar high crime for which they easily possessed the wherewithal to effect, thanks to the occultist weapons they handled by virture of their cult membership. The punishment for such high crimes by any cult member is generally a sentence to death, when non-cult members are exiled.
Crimes against pregnant women are generally so abhored that even the Kibaraŋko masquerade would stop and make way on approaching a pregnant woman. A pregnant woman also has the right to stop the carriers of the King’s wine (bom) and ask for a sip if she felt thirsty.
Sitting on the Royal throne is considered to be a very serious criminal offense. Punishment for a cult member who is a prince of the rank of Sheèy wo Ngang, Sheèy Wan Nto’ or above is a sentence to death because the culprit is assumed to be trying to usurp the throne. In 1910 Sheèy Wan Nto’ Mbinkar Mbiŋlo is said to have tried to usurp the throne from his uncle Fòn Ŋgà’ Bì’ Fòn I (1910-1947) and was sentenced to death, but he escaped with the help of Shúufaáy Sov and his clansmen (Visov). The Nso’ remained forever grateful to Visov because Sheèy Mbiŋlo later became Fòn Sehm III (1947-1972) and is renowned to be the Father of Nso’ Development.
Another example of a prince who attempted to usurp the throne but was spared the death penalty was Sheèy Wan Nto’ Rәәvәy. In 1907 when young Sheèy Rәәvәy learned that the Germans had executed his father Fòn Sehm II (1875-1907) in Bamenda where he went to pay royalties to the German colonial administration, Sheèy Rәәvәy seized the throne and sat on it. Sheèy Rәәvәy was condemned to death but saved from death by his youthful ignorance and the fact that his mother was not of Mntaár origin so he really could not be King, making his usurpation of the throne an irrelvant act. Even though Sheèy Rәәvәy was spared from death, he still needed to be pardoned by his father the new King Fòn Mapri (1907-1910).
To pardon his nephew, Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) imposed that neither Sheèy Rәәvәy nor his immediate children could ever be elevated to a Faáyship or Shúufaáyship for fear that they might attempt usurping the throne again or they may declare themselves Fòn and form another Dynasty like Dom, Mbiame or Oku. Sheèy Rәәvәy protested this restriction saying that he had voluntarily relinquished the throne and that as a Sheèy Wan Nto’ his children were by right eligible for elevation to Faáy or Shúufaáy. The Fon stood firm on his decision but agreed that Sheèy Rәәvәy’s grand-son or great-grand-son could be elevated to Faáy or Shúufaáy.
To punish Sheèy Rәәvәy for protesting despite the fact that he was kind enough to pardon him for his crime, Fòn Mapri (1907-1910) threw a curse on Sheèy Rәәvәy. The Fòn told Sheèy Rәәvәy that he would never live to see his grand-children. It happened as was foretold, Sheèy Rәәvәy died in the 1920s. History however has a way of correcting for its wrongs. Recently in December 2010, Fòn Sehm Mbiŋlo I (1993-Present) elevated Dr. Willibroad Shasha (a grand-son of Sheèy Rәәvәy) to the rank of Shúufaáy Nso’Bahti. The new Shúufaáy Nso’Bahti returned to the United States of America to a thunderous welcome by many of his constituents.
Despite all these mishaps, cults and their members and Title Holders that walk their halls continue to thrive in the ever expanding and changing culture of the Paramount Kingdom of Nso’. Before we examine the effects of modernity and conclude this essay let us look at the history of the relationship between the cults, an aspect of the culture that has shaped its evolution more than anything else in this modern era of change.
V. HISTORY OF THE TUMULTUOUS RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE CULTS
The Shiswaa and the Ŋwéròŋ cults have enjoyed a very deep and collaborative relationship perhaps because all members of the Shishwaa cult are also ranked among the most senior members of the Ŋwéròŋ cults. The relationship between the Shishwaa cult and the Ŋgírì cults has been cordial (but not deep) because the Shishwaa cult from time to time requires assistance from the Lords of Sacrifice (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri) who are all senior Ŋgírì cults members.
The Taa-Mbàn cult compound is next door to the Ŋwéròŋ cults compound in the layout of the palace. Thanks to this proximity the Ŋwéròŋ and Taa-Mbàn cults enjoy a close relationship. Taa-Mbàn cult members because of the mortuary and divine services that they provide within the Palace, have also enjoyed close ties with the Ŋgírì elderly members among the Lords of Sacrifice (Vibay ve Dùy ve Ntaŋri).
The Taa-Mbàn cult and the Shiswaa cults share some annointing, emissary and protective services roles and because of this reason the members of the two cults have enjoyed a close and collaborative relationship over the centuries.
The Ŋwéròŋ and Ŋgírì cults however have enjoyed a rocky relationship in the last century. As we noted earlier in the historical highlights above, the Ŋwéròŋ cults were re-introduced into Nso’ society sometime after 1450. From then till the late 1800s and early 1900s the Ŋwéròŋ cults reigned supreme in the land, and even usurped some of the fraternal duties that were supposed to be performed by the Ŋgírì cults as was the case in Rifem from where the Nso’ people came.
Shey Tatah Sevidzem (Wo Scandy)