Saturday, July 30, 2011

How a King's Concubine in Cameroon Became a Light to Her People

By Rev. Robert Adamou Pindzié
Edited by Mark Ellis

FOUMBAN, CAMEROON (ANS) -- She flashed like a lightning bolt out of the darkness with a brilliance that instantly lit up the court of King Njoya in Cameroon. Her light burned brightly, blazing a path down country lanes and city streets as a remarkable evangelist who proclaimed a new and living faith.

Lydia Mengwelune was the second and most beautiful daughter born to a nobleman. In spite of her young age, she was given as a bride to Bankumbu, one of the king's leading military men. Since she had not yet reached the required age for marriage, she entered the harem of her fiancé.

The king discovered that Bankumbu was part of a group that was plotting against him. The king had him killed, even though he had served the king for a long time, and protected him from many attacks. In his anger, the king killed Bankumbu's mother and brother on the same day. The entire town of Foumban was terribly upset by this slaughter.

Lydia had barely overcome the pain and fear caused by this brutal act when another, even more violent tragedy struck. Her father was falsely accused of having killed his neighbor. The accusation came from a soothsayer who consulted the trapdoor spider, considered to have the power of revealing secrets.

Upon hearing of the matter, the king sentenced Lydia's father to hang immediately. As a result of that judgment and execution, Lydia's family was banished, and were liable to be sold to anyone, according to the king's wishes.

However, the Queen Mother intervened on the family's behalf so that Lydia's mother and her children, as well as all of their possessions, would come to no harm.

Lydia began to accompany her mother on visits to the palace. Having noticed Lydia's beauty and intelligence, the Queen Mother asked if she could keep her there and see to her education. Lydia's mother gratefully accepted.

Dancer to the king

While she lived at the palace, Lydia received all the benefits of being under the care of the Queen Mother. She was given clothing, shoes, finery, beauty oils - even a special diet. She lacked nothing. People began to admire Lydia's grace, courtesy and intelligence.

Since the king visited his mother every day, he soon saw the incredibly beautiful Lydia and began to love her in spite of the edict against such things within an extended family. Even with the power the king enjoyed, he could not marry her, as he would be accused of incest. Nonetheless, he was unable to resist her charms. For this reason, the Queen Mother advised him to make Lydia his concubine.

Note:  Rev. Robert Adamou Pindzié is a Project Luke Fellow, Faculté de Théologie Évangélique du Cameroun (FACTEC) The editor gratefully acknowledges the use of this material from the Dictionary of African Christian Biography


Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder of  He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel.

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