KUNLUNG THE SNAKE “god” OF KALTUNGO
It was not by accident that Kunlung the twin brother of Kolwi became the leader of my tribe in the olden days. His prowess was amazing and the other leaders decided to make him their Chief when Kolwi the sorcerer declined. Little or nothing is known about their parents because when they came, as it was told to the great grand parents of the great grand parents of our great grand parents, that they claimed to be twins and no one was bold enough to question them about who their parents were and where they came from. They had company, two other brothers that are not twins but equally powerful. At a later time, a goddess, “Monje Ngumyu” joined them. They offered leadership and the people gladly accepted.
It is not only claimed, it is believed by our people that our forefathers moved through seven migratory settlements till they reached our present settlement being the seventh. The sixth settlement was at Tungo hills which is within the Kaltungo chiefdom, where our people go to for annual dance celebrations. It was from Tungo that the myth of the four gods started, where they led the offensive against the giants of Komda. It is not possible that they were with the people during all the migratory steps, as their lifespan in human form is only seventy years, unless they appeared in other forms.
The ancestry of Kunlung is from snakes which are very much a part of the domestic life of our people, who had accepted snakes into their homes and activities, not only as gratitude to Kunlung, but because the snakes were playing significant roles in protection of the land and indigenes.
When the land had rest and the people properly settled, before completion of his seventy years, Kunlung often change into different forms of snakes. When several women of our people put to bed on the same day in different parts of the land, he will turn into several snakes and visit all the nursing mothers at the same time to bless the children and also to place a protective hex around the newly born. This is necessary because the land was newly taken over and there were angry spirits of the people of Komda whose land was seized! Whenever the snakes go for visitation to a house where a newly born child is, the snake will circle the compound seven times then it will enter and settle at the feet of the baby’s cot. After a short while, an elderly person will come in and talk to the snake, telling it that it’s presence has been acknowledged and it should leave in order not to frighten little children around, to which the snake will oblige. The visiting snakes are often large ones, young pythons mostly.
Whenever a family or several families are bereaved, the snakes also pay condolence visits, but they don’t circle the compound, they go to where water pots are kept and coiled themselves hiding their heads in the coil and stay there for seven days, after which they will leave quietly. This was how Kunlung spent the remainder of his years among our people.
The act of visitation by being at several places the same time is an effort not to be partial, also for some not to feel more honoured than the others. After the days of his pilgrimage were over, this pattern of visits continued but limited to royalty. Only those of noble birth were thus privileged!
As narrated in another account, on the day Kunlung was to leave this Earth for “Kan Ki Ton”, he decided to leave a protective legacy in the form of snakes.
After divining within himself, he turned into endless numbers of snakes, making sure that the brown vipers are most in number, the species are such that whenever they are within the Kaltungo Maidom, their poison will be more potent than when taken out of the land! The snakes are placed in the land for protection and to continue guiding the people, because Kunlung had no child and he didn’t name a successor before leaving. He liaised with his twin brother Kolwi who caused a lot of the “pid kanje” with its sweet smelling highly nutritious fruits, to which snakes enjoy the juice and love the smell, to grow in large numbers all over the land. Whenever an individual committed an offence, a snake will bite him. The biting is always based on the offense. If it’s such that requires a death penalty, it’s the vipers that will carry out the sentence, but if it is a lesser one, another type of snake will do the sentencing. As for foreigners that comes into the kingdom with evil intention, before anyone knows, the snakes of the land will attack such, while other times either during a raid or war, the snakes will cause general indignation amongst the enemies and our warriors will just overrun them.
His death was not without incidence. It was at twelve midnight on top of the mountain of the gods, “Pand Mana”. On the fateful day, the last day of the seventieth year from the day he came to my homeland, Kunlung climbed the highest point of the mountain, he lay flat on his belly, hands stretched forth, he closed his eyes and willed himself into all forms of snakes and different types started to come from his body from that midnight hour till three in the morning. It took three hours for the snakes to finish coming out of his body. Afterwards, a large python, about fifty metres long, lay stretched on top of the mountain. The python then took off effortlessly to the sky, flying in all directions (whichever side you turned your eyes, you will see the flying snake) for an hour, and then it disappeared!
PA LATALJAU AND SNAKE/HUMAN FELLOWSHIP
Nothing was heard of Kunlung again not even in dreams, or visions until the forty-ninth year after his departure, when he appeared in a vision to one of the elders of our land.
At that time there were no leaders and there was peace all around, it was clan elders that were running the affairs and there were no disputes. This clan elder, Pa Lataljau, was lying under a tree in the afternoon at the back of his compound when his eyes became blurry. Lo and behold, Kunlung stood before him and instructed him to go to “La kubo” near Lapan town, to the pool of water after the fruits garden just by the base of “Pand Mana” from that direction.
As if it didn’t happen, Lataljau’s eyes flew open and he became alert. He stood up and without saying a word to anyone, went to the pool. There, Kunlung appeared to him and told him so many things including things that will come about in the future, like the coming of white people from distant worlds who will come and change the way things are done. He promised to always come around after every forty-nine years to spend seven years with the people, but not in human form, as the guardians will only allow him to maintain his snake nature during the said period, or if he has to stay as a human being, then he must sacrifice the leader of a clan after every seven months for the seven years he will be permitted to spend. He therefore chose to be maintaining the form of a snake.
However, he told Lataljau that for him to be able to communicate effectively with anyone that would want to consult him over any issue, such a one will have to turn into a snake. When the person comes, he will remove all his clothes and dip himself seven times into the pool mentioning the name of Kunlung as a snake with every dip, the person will immediately turn into a snake! Kunlung will himself appear, by crawling out of the cave.
He then held Lataljau’s left hand with his right, then started to sing in a strange language.
After what seemed like a lifetime, the mountain shook and Lataljau heard a rambling sound. When he looked up he saw the opening of a cave, still holding his hands and singing as yet, Kunlung led Lataljau into the cave which upon entering, both of them turned into two large pythons. They spent several hours inside the cave as Kunlung instructed him more on a lot of things, including his name as a snake, which is “Kalakuna”. Lataljau was also instructed on the procedure for snake/human fellowship ritual, intended to strengthen or foster the relationship between our people and the snake gods and to boost grains yield, of which Lataljau became the first high priest which to this day, only members of his clan are permitted in the ritual on behalf of the entire community. The ritual is named after Kunlung’s snake form, it is called “Lakalakuna” and usually performed under a “pid kunji” named “kunj Kalakuna”. Lataljau is of the “Kaljau” clan which whenever a misunderstanding occurs between them and another, if they curse the other and he/she is not of their clan, a snake will bite such a one. “Kaljau” means those that are gathered together to bring blessings of grain yield. ‘Kal’ is gather, while ‘jau’ or ‘sau’ is grain.
It was almost midnight when Lataljau crawled out of the cave. As soon as he entered the pool, he took up his human form. When he came back, he gathered all the people in the morning and told them what happened. The people were very happy and they feasted for seven days, after which the bold and the daring ones among them went to the cave to visit Kunlung.
Before anyone visits the cave, he must not sleep with a woman within a twenty four hours period, during which the person will not drink or eat anything fermented.
Kunlung’s cave is still there, but since the coming of Christian missionaries, there has been no report of anyone that has been to the cave to consult him on any issue. There were rumours that about forty years ago for a period of time on certain Fridays, a large python used to appear on top of Pand mana in the night and a sparkling brightness will be seen coming out of its mouth, which a lot of people believed were either gold or diamonds, such that it is now assumed Kunlung has left a lot of diamond and gold deposits on Pand mana! Another version on the precious stones is that they used to appear in the night or early morning on their own and that so many years ago, our grandparents used to sight them scattered on top of the mountain, one of such was my late granny who claimed she once saw gold when she came out very early a certain morning to visit a nursing mother. She was carrying the pregnancy of her last born, a girl that was to be named “Azurfa”, the Hausa word for gold, because her mother saw what was believed to be gold when she was carrying her in the womb!
Kunlung has gone, but his snakes are very much around! They could now be a serious blessing to my homeland, cause snake venom research has been taking place in Kaltungo for a while. A special snake bites hospital and research center has been built and I believe in the near future, commercial activities will be boosted, thanks to Mai Kunlung and his snakes!