Introduction / History
Yemba speakers inhabit the Menoua county in the Western Province of Cameroon, stretching across 1400 square kilometers of spectacular mountainous land. This region is densely populated and marked by a rather cool climate and two seasons, wet and dry. Yemba speakers are essentially a proud and hard-working people.
For years, Yemba speakers have lived off the land with their agricultural crops, however, many are also now in cities and hold positions such as merchants, bankers and teachers. Colonization began in this region in the late 1800's with the arrival of the Germans. Since then, both Catholics and Protestants from France and Germany have sent missionaries to the area. Within the past twenty years, there has been an interest in producing Scripture in their maternal language, Yemba. A SIL team, however, was not assigned to this area until 1983, because it was thought that translation would be done by a Catholic seminarian trained in linguistics.
The spiritual climate among Yemba speakers remains deeply rooted in traditional beliefs. God houses, for instance, are characteristic of this region. These miniature houses are built near compounds or awesome things in nature, where sacrifices are made to local spirits. The majority of Yemba speakers still practice African Tribal Religion out of fear of displeasing ancestral spirits. Since religious and social customs are closely bound together, any change in one threatens the stability of the other. Preoccupation with self-preservation, advancement in the modern world, along with the general fear and blindness that spiritual darkness brings are just some of the obstacles that must be overcome before the Good News reaches Yemba speakers.
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