Introduction / History
The Pinyin people live in five main villages southwest of Bamenda in the Santa Subdivision, North West Province, Cameroon. Each village has a Fon (a chief). There is some dispute about who is the Paramount Fon. Pinyin is the name of the area (village quarter) where the main palace is located. The villagers of Menka and their Fon dispute the authenticity of the self-declared Fon of Pinyin. They refer to themselves and their language as Menka, though there is linguistically no difference.
Nearly all the Pinyin people belong nominally to a Christian church. The only Muslims in the area are from other groups who moved into the area, and they are few. Although people do not like to talk about it, traditional religion and culture still have a strong hold on people. It is very common for a man to have more than one wife. The Fons have a good number of wives and they inherit the wives of the last Fon when taking over the throne. Many palaces in this region, Pinyin included, have Christian slogans like "Christ is the head of this palace", yet, the Fon may have up to one-hundred wives or more. He is also still the head of traditional ceremonies. It is extremely hard for believers to break out of these traditions.
Often Christianity has failed to really reach the heart of the people. They go to church, they pray and sing Christian songs, but when they gather for a meeting that includes traditional music and dancing, their heart is much more in it. They need a church that is able to show them that they need not give up their identity in order to be true followers of Jesus. The mother tongue is vitally important in order to make Christ a brother and God a father, rather than a 'white ruler'.
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