UPPER BANYANG CULTURAL & DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION DMV
(UPBACDA - DMV)
The people and language
The Bayang people are Bantus who hailed from Kanem Borno. The Kanem Borno Empire was around Chad and Nigeria, and Bantu languages are spoken around this same area. “Two thirds of Africa’s languages belong to the Niger-Congo phylum which stretches from the western tip of the continent at Dakar, east to Mombasa, and south to Capetown ”. Most clans were on their fourth to fifth migration before history was recorded, so there is less record before written history of these people. Furthermore, languages evolve as much as the people migrate; the reason for which we have people in the Sudan Basin, Congo Basin and Chad Basin speaking either with the same accent, intonation or just plainly speaking the same language. Some Sudan basin languages in Cameroon are Bakossi, Pidgin, Douala, Bali, Bulu and Bassa, Bakweri, Ngemba and Aghem, Balondo and Mungaaka. Bayang: meaning son of Yang that migrated from Kanea Borneo from the Bantus clan.
While there is nothing like Banyangi or Banyangue because they are all orthographic errors from poor ortheopy, Nyangi is an abbreviated traducement from the former. While Manyaŋ is a singular term for Bayang, in loose context it becomes a macrocosm of the entire linguistic group. On the contrary, Mɔ (singular) and Bɔ (plural) are the adverbs denoting number in Mɔ Manyang (singular) and Bɔ Manyaŋ (plural). In that context, Manyaŋ has the same strength like Mɔ Manyaŋ and Bɔ Manyaŋ for Bayang. The Ba in front of Bayang is a prefix for /son of/ similarly to Mc in McDaniel in the West. Consequently, there is Bakossi, Bakweri, Bassa, Bakundu, Balundu, Bafaw etc. Villages were founded by an individual, who identified himself with the clan of his forbear. Boh “The people of” is as an expansion with the development of the clan, tribe or village.
An example is Ntenako (the cleanest town in Manyu Division), was founded by Chief Tanyi Mbi who left and went back to the congregation to call the rest to follow him. That is why the people of Ntenako are called boh and pronounced /Bɔ/ Tanyi Mbi. Abinitio, the prefix went with /mɔ/ (singular) Tanyi Mbi which is “son of Tanyi Mbi”. Bɔ is the plural of mɔ. As there were many breakups, each called themselves by the name of their leader while trying to maintain their relationship to the main clan by adding the prefix Ba. It is alleged that he had a son called Yang. As such, the people speaking Kenyang in that vicinity called themselves Bayang; meaning children of Yang. As time went on, the nomenclature led to the appellation bɔ Manyaŋ to denote increase in number. With more migrations and contacts, people began misspelling the word to Bayangue, Bayangi from which the misnomer Nyangi came from to denote most of the women who were doing prostitution.
Nyangi is never used for males, and Cameroonians do not use it as a compliment. Today, the term is employed not only on Banyang girls, but on any woman whose behavior looks sluttish. Even the term “Graffi” though referring to people from the Grassfield is still disparaging. With respect to the Bayang people, while Bayangi and Bayangue are variations due to word evolution and misspellings, Nyangi seems more derogatory to use. It is just like the word Nigger that evolved from the word Negro. Yet the word Nigger is still very popularly employed as an insult to the Dark Skinned American.