Introduction / History
The Mendankwe and Nkwen (or Mendankwe-Nkwen) are believed to be one people group, though they themselves maintain separate identities. They speak different dialects of the same language at 85% apparent cognicity. The National Association of Cameroon for Language Committees has insisted that the two groups work together for the sake of language development. Both groups occupy rural areas and parts of the town of Bamenda. They have many well-educated and motivated individuals who can maintain a language project.
The Nkwen people have developed a written standard for their speech variety and are currently teaching it in school as one of the subjects in the first two grades since about 1997. In addition, they have various translated portions of Scripture, songs, and prayers, as well as regular radio broadcasts using Nkwen. The Mendankwe-Nken are in close proximity geographically, sharing a boundary on the east side of Bamenda. They also have a common history, with origins beginning in the Tikari region and Ndop plain, and possibly migration earlier from present-day Nigeria.
Mendankwe-Nkwen people possess a good command of English and Pidgin, yet their language is viable and an integral part of daily life, even though there is an extensive amount of mixing with English and Pidgin. Young people are reported to have lost many vocabulary words from their mother tongue. Bible translation and literacy are most necessary for many adult women and some of the very aged men.
There are many churches in the area as 90% of the people claim an affiliation with Christianity. The mother tongue is used during much of the service in rural churches. On the other hand, urban Mendankwe-Nkwe churches use Pidgin almost exclusively. However, traditional religion still perpetuates, with chiefs being the primary guardians of these practices, though the chiefs themselves claim faith in Christ.
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