It is common to see a child dancing and expressing themselves in a strange manner, with their eyes staring at the roof of a house. This rite is mandatory when the first teeth are falling out. And often, the grand-mother is close by to keep an eye on the proceedings. “I remember that as a little girl, I danced my heart off, convinced that it was the only way for my lost tooth to grow back”, recalls Danielle, with nostalgia. She also remembers that many children from her ethnic group, the Yabassi, also followed this procedure.
Indeed, elders repeated that by dancing enthusiastically under the roof of a house, God would quickly grant the wish of the little dancer by bringing them a brand new stronger tooth. And you had to stamp your feet and energetically clap your hands!
“For us Bassa’a, the child loudly repeats this sort of incantation: nsôbôngô, timè lihélé, yôn libôô. We are this asking the lizard to take away the rotten tooth and bring back a new one”, explains Flore.
Monique Ngo Mayag