Exploding Lakes And Maleficent Water In Grassfields Legends And Myth

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Journal Article: Exploding Lakes And Maleficent Water In Grassfields Legends And Myth

Abstract
In August 1984 Lake Manoun 'exploded', killing 37 people. In August 1986 Lake Nyos 'exploded', killing more than 1700 people. Both explosions occurred in the rainy season, two years and six days apart. Have there been similar explosions in the Cameroon Grassfields in the past? This paper argues that such explosions have occurred, and have been recorded in area folklore in the form of migration stories that point unmistakably to the 'maleficent' activities of lakes and other bodies of water. Two migration stories are considered and compared: an ephemeral exploding lake that destroys the Bamessi people in the Kom story, and a crater lake in the Oku story, in which the lake is said to have 'left its bed' to destroy the people of Kijem. In examining the category of 'maleficent water', several types of potentially maleficent water are considered, including indigenous classifications of lakes as 'good' or 'bad', and stories about devils or witches associated with water. All suggest that the folklore motif of dangerous, destructive water may have its basis in observed fact. While this evidence is not conclusive, it is highly suggestive and, in combination with evidence that the area around Nyos is very recently settled, it lends credence to the supposition that the crater lakes of the area may have a 'life cycle' that involves changes of sometimes stupendous, often dangerous, proportions.

Author 
Eugenia Shanklin








Published Journal 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 1989





DOI 
Not Provided
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Citation

Eugenia Shanklin. 1989. Exploding Lakes And Maleficent Water In Grassfields Legends And Myth. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. (!) .