18 The Mambo Hunt

Rukuba hunter (J.C. Muller )

Hunting with neighbors

Ubar Kimõn or Ubar Kimõk is also called Mambo Hunt.
This hunt is said to be the mother of all hunt. It is mandatory and it is unthinkable for anyone old enough to hunt not to participate.
This hunt gathers hunters from many neighboring groups: Chawai, Katab, Gurza Kurama Ribam and Rukuba.

Divination with the Ancestors

Each abisi section has a special burial site on the hill (minog mideng or unↄg upok: burial chamber) where important people are buried: old men and old women, chiefs, warriors or hero hunters.
To organize this hunt, the Mogaji has to go to the grave (ubudai) of his predecessors and ask them when to proceed. For this divination (it∫unsi nikitruk, making nikitruk ) the Mogaji has to fill a container made of a dried fruit with white inside with beer which has been fermented in his ritual hut. He then pours some beer on the head and on the foot of the grave and put the pot in the middle.
The next day, he compares what happened to this pot and the one in his hut; if they are both invaded by ants, it is a bad omen and he has to try again until he gets a good omen for the choice of the day of the hunt. In addition, the Mogaji sacrificed a rooster on the grave as an extra precaution that should bring satisfaction to the deceased.
The beer from his hut is then shared with the elders of different sections and Mogaji announces his choice of the day for the hunt, information legitimized by its predecessor.
To invite the other neighboring groups, he sends them a parcel containing a part of the rooster meat, tobacco, and sorghum.
They are advised at the last moment.
The reason for this is that some animals can transform into humans and seek to know the day of the hunt in order to warn other animals that will hide.
This is why, formerly, passing strangers would be captured and even killed lest they be animal spirits.

Rukuba Guests

Among the guests, the Rukuba Kasakuk have a particular place because some abisi sections originated there. And many Abisi have friends in that village.
The day before the hunt, these Rukuba must give the Mogaji some beniseed, sesame, red and white dyes, soot and a chicken. Dye and soot are used by the Mogaji to decorate his huts and the ritual stones.
The chicken should in principle be sacrificed but Mogaji substitutes it for another without the knowledge of Rukuba because, he said, it is never big enough. This chicken is sacrificed by an elder of the agurasin group on a ritual stone who cut it into two exact halves.
Beer supplied by the Mogaji may include 40 pots that are shared by a member of ugamso lineal group of Nigertin section. Each group receive a part according to its relative importance.
Abisi Mogaji drinking beer
The ekantin and agiram each receive a large pot while all other groups receive a small pot. Mogaji pours a pot of beer on the ground as libation but his umat nephew tries to catch it with a calabash before and drink it with his uncle.

Mambo Hunt’s Sacred link with Agriculture

Very early the next day, the Mogaji runs down the hill without his leopard skin and goes to the bush to light the first mambo fire called /ripab/.
The idea of a hunt used to promote farming is made visible by the use of a torch made with acha straw from the first harvest of the year, this plant being their original crop, the first one produced by the ancestors .
Nobody can look at the Mogaji at this time because they could be hit by disease.
Back at home, the Mogaji ties a belt around his waist and from then on, he has to fast and cannot have sexual intercourse until the end of the hunt.
These restrictions are necessary because he has to bring some symbolic self-control to the hunt. He is responsible for any conflicts that could happen and is reminded of his responsibilities by the hunters who threaten him with death in case of serious conflicts.
Abisi see this hunt as a way to prepare the next farming season and help fill the granaries of the uyikirat by encouraging cooperation among workers.
“They should be united then as now; there is no work possible without solidarity.”

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