Chamba People of Adamawa celebrate Culture-Religion Convergence*

Rebecca Mu’azu, Yola

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The Chamba people of Adamawa have converged on Jimeta-Yola, Adamawa State to celebrate their culture in a Christian Worship Service, where activities were conducted mainly in the Chamba Language, amid colourful display of their rich fashion heritage.

Men, women, and children were all dressed up in their traditional Chamba Cultural Attire, which is worn by the tribe in parts of West Africa.

They also danced to the traditional Lera and other religious music played during the service.

The Chamba people, found in the Cameroons, Nigeria, as well as Ghana and Togo, are known for their colourful attire, which is mostly crafted on black material, using red, yellow, and white thread or wool to knit the images and symbols of a gong, alligator or flowers of different kinds.

In Nigeria, the Chamba Cultural Attire is worn by the tribe’s people, who are in Taraba and Adamawa States.

These were the images on display during the worship service of the Chamba people who converged from various Christian denominations on the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, Cathedral, Nassarawo, Jimeta-Yola, Adamawa State, united by their tribe, Chamba, or Sama as they call themselves.

Guests pose for a picture with Voice of Nigeria Correspondent, Rebecca Muazu, (far right) adorned in their colourful native attires at the event.

 

Reverend Solomon Bulus Woso, a Lecturer with the Bronum Lutheran Seminary, Mbamba, Yola, Adamawa State, said the essence of holding the Chamba Worship Service was due to the realisation that the Church perceived the lost identity of some tribes and the need to revive them and their old tradition in pre-missionary times.

Rev. Woso said the Church was now trying to revive the eroded culture of Sunday Worship, which in time past, were conducted purely in the Chamba language.

“And the Church has seen it fit to revive these things, to bring about a revolution that we will be able to bring back those things we are gradually losing,” said Rev. Woso.

 

Teach children to speak their native language

During the worship service, songs and other ministrations were all conducted in the Chamba Language, with emphasis by various speakers on the need for families, who do not place much value on the spoken language, to begin to speak and teach it to their children to prevent it from getting extinct.

The Chairperson of the Organising Committee for the Language Service, Mrs. Veronica Robin Yohanna, was particular about families imparting the knowledge of the language to their children, because, according to her, if families fail to do that, the language may die out completely.

Mrs. Yohanna also said a time would come in a family life, when some confidential messages had to be passed and that without the knowledge of the language, humiliation will set in.

Also for Reverend Woso, it is saddening to note that people equate civilization with the desertion of their cultures, especially speaking of their native languages, which they feel it’s abominable.

He said such group of thought had such a notion, which he said was a mistaken understanding, because one’s identity begins first with who the person is as a tribesman, through which they are exposed to expressing themselves by speaking, singing, and worshiping in them.

 “It identifies you and of course, it showcases who you are to the world around you,” Reverend Woso said.

He said God gave people different tongues so that they could use them in everyday life, including worship, saying, there is no syncretism or idol worship through the use of one’s language to worship God because God uses it to speak to people.

According to him, the time has come for the revival of the Chamba language in the midst of Muslims, Christians, and traditionalists, who are expected to make deliberate efforts to speak the language to their children and teach them to speak it.

 

Using Language in Worship

Speaking on the importance of using language in worship, another priest of the Lutheran Church, Rev. Innocent Anthony Webinumen, says using one culture makes God more personal or brings God closer to the worshipper,

“We can comfortably, worship God, very, very well in our own language and that’s what we call contextualization in English. Bring the Gospel, Christianity home to your culture. And that makes you feel Jesus and God Himself real in your language anytime you do that,” said Rev. Webinumen. 

He said using another man’s language does not express a matter the way it should be, when used in that person’s own language.

Celebratory cake
made with the traditional Chamba colours

Rev. Webinumen said it was highly important to teach one native language because it would keep the language alive.

Similarly, the Pastor in Charge of the Music Ministry at the Headquarters of the LCCN, Rev. Eliseus Christopher Voma, said he felt like the happiest of all those who gathered to witness the successful hosting of the Chamba Cultural Worship Service, because of the opportunity to express worship in a language he grew up with since childhood.

Rev. Voma commended the conduct of the Chamba Cultural Sunday, which he said was without any flaws.

“We were not struggling with the language, we were not struggling with the expression, and we were not struggling with the genuflections. So, that one is for me is very wonderful,” said Rev. Voma.

He said he studied Church Music and Worship and was now a doctorate student of Worship, where he concentrates on people worshipping in their own languages, using their kind of music.

On whether some musical instruments should be done away with in Christian worship, Rev. Voma said every instrument sanctified automatically becomes fit for worship because the use of an instrument would determine its state of holiness.

He praised the bridging of the denominational gaps during the Chamba Worship Service, where there was no distinction between the various denominations, whose members united as one during the event.

The Lutheran Cleric, therefore, called on all Chamba Muslims, Christians and traditionalists to level all boundaries and demarcations set as barriers between them, so that they would all see themselves as one people bound in unity.

“The unifying thing should be and what should give us concern is we have been born Chamba. Each of us chose to belong to a religion we belong to, but none of us chose to be Chamba. I did not choose to be Chamba. So, since I cannot do anything about it, who gave birth to me, into what culture I have been borne, but I could choose what religion I can belong to, I think religion will become secondary,” said Rev. Voma.

 

 

Hauwa Abu

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