By: Alhagie Mamadi Kurang
Once upon a time, The Marenahs of Kudang doesn’t take you to court; they fix you without touching you.
Here Comes NAMASITA of Niamina Kudang!
All knowledge is from Allah, indeed. However, rarely in African history has a family been able to transform itself from being the master of hidden knowledge to becoming the master of revealed knowledge (Quran) and eventually becoming an epitome of Scientific Knowledge.
The Marenahs of Kudang is such a rare species that, over several generations, maintained a firm grip over the 3 kinds of knowledge that God could give ordinary beings.
So legend has it that the Marenahs of Niamina Kudang came from somewhere in Guinea Bissau (Tiana Kunda) as Balantas and decided to settle in Kudang. Till today many of their firstborn daughters are called Tiyana.
My great-grandfather was the Chief when these Balanta warriors arrived. Obviously, their hidden knowledge was received and accepted with open arms. As a result, the Kurang’s and Marenahs ( Tukulor and Balantas who later became Mandinka-speaking) formed an unbreakable bond that has survived.
They fought wars together, and both families still display relics (swords and special ancient weapons ) of wars fought to maintain peace in Niamina so business and religion can flourish and be conducted in peace and harmony.
Through intermarriage and cultural tolerance, bonds got strengthened. The relationship between the two families became so strong that when the Kurang, as first settlers, decided to move from the South to the northern part of the village due to superstition about fire outbreaks, the Marenahs moved too. So my wife is a Marenah, and so many as such in both families.
The hidden knowledge brought along by the Marenahs from Guinea Bissau is embodied in smooth majestic granite round stone that lays under a tree outside the village of Kudang. Growing up, we would visit there and help ourselves with coins left by strangers and visitors looking for blessings. We rarely care sometimes about the long-held custom that to collect that money, you must be a Marenah. Sure, tradition can fade with time, but NAMASITA is still standing, and the smooth round stone is still there. Well, everyone from Kudang knows or heard about what NAMASITA could do.
So how did NAMASITA replace the courts over the past two centuries? Simple when someone’s property or valuable is stolen in the village, or someone suffers great transgression or injury or injustice, NAMASITA is where they go to seek redress. Legend has it that the person seeking redress goes with one member of the Marenah family, takes a token, i.e., money or so, to where the stone is, and makes a wish of what you want to happen to the thief or the culprit.
Often drummers will go around the village announcing anyone who did the wrong to come out before being cursed. This course of action is taken if no one admits to the crime. People have recounted how your hands would fall off your body if that was the curse desired by the injured party. So until tomorrow, no one in Kudang jokes with NAMASITA; we just move on and ignore it. Still, we don’t dispute that it exists or try to prove it wrong, no, no, no …. Many attempts to steal the stone have failed. Some people who attempted to take it away mysteriously returned it unwillingly after days or weeks. The villagers believed the former dictator had an interest in the stone. Still, they never worried he would be able to move it.
That was the hidden knowledge of the Marenah warriors. We all believe the power behind this knowledge is friendly JINNS that stand for justice. Spiritually Controversial, though, I am only here to pay tribute to history, not to make a religious argument.
So every other year, the people of Kudang organize a cultural festival called Munkutuwoo. During this festival, tributes are paid to NAMASITA and other cultural sites and heroes of The Village.
Knowledge of the Quran
Over the years, the Marenahs have turned to the Quran and become masters of the book of Allah. For almost a 100yrs now, they maintained a monopoly over the Imamship of Kudang. The current Imam is my childhood friend. Along with the rest of the village, the quest for religious knowledge became the norm in Kudang, and every family had to produce a Talibeh in every generation.
Marenahs Scientific transformation
Few families in the country have more Doctors and Scientists than the Marenahs. Their adaptation to knowledge of any kind as the basis of life must have made it easy for them to embrace science. But, just like the quest for religious knowledge, the rest of the village could never be left behind by the Marenahs in seeking and mastering modern knowledge. The village people embraced a primary school as early as 1934 and never looked back. So every family in Kudang competes to have a scientist, a Doctor, or a scholar.
All knowledge is from Allah.
The Author: Alhagie Mamadi Kurang is a native of Kudang, Founder and CEO of Jollof Tutors and former Independent Cnadidate