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Alfa and Mamadu and their families were hungry. In these last few weeks before the harvest food was very scarce. But they knew that there was meat available for the taking. They would just have to go and get it. They knew what they were up against. The meat has wings. And the meat lives in the deepest part of a large cave. And the cave is inhabited by something other than the meat. They believe it is inhabited by demons. Mamadu’s father had gone into the cave many years ago, before Mamadu was born, to get some meat, but had been imprisoned by the demons for five days. In such circumstances, how hungry would YOU have to be before you would brave the dangers and go get some meat?
Alfa and Mamadu were hungry enough. So they found some batteries for their flashlights, cut a couple of suitable sized sticks, and went to the cave. They hiked deep into the cave, where the large bats hang out. Alfa began throwing a stick at the bats hanging from the ceiling. Mamadu picked up the stunned bats and stuffed them in a sack. They continued working for some time.
Finally Mamadu said he was tired, he wanted to go. But Alfa said he had hit three bats and needed to get them first, and then they could go. He collected the bats, but when he turned around to tell Mamadu to come with the sack, he was no longer there!
Alfa called to his friend. No answer. “Perhaps he started back and is waiting for me,” Alfa thought. He headed toward the cave entrance, but saw no sign of Mamadu. Though it was strange that Mamadu would go home without Alfa, there seemed to be no other explanation. So Alfa went home alone.
That night, Mamadu’s younger sister came to Alfa and asked, “Where is Mamadu? Didn’t you two go to the cave today?”
“Yes, but he left the cave before I did, and I thought he must have gone home. I was going to go to your place tomorrow to get my share of the bats.”
“Well, he never came home! Where is he?”
Alfa returned to the cave. Near the entrance he found Mamadu’s shirt, shoes, and bush knife, which he had left there before entering the cave. So he realized that Mamadu must have never come out. A search party was organized. Several men went into the cave to look for Mamadu, but they found no sign of him.
A FAMILY ADVENTURE
“Konk-konk-konk!” Karfalo was “knocking” verbally as the Landumas usually do. Kirk greeted him. He told Kirk about how Mamadu had been lost a couple of days earlier, and said they were going to his village the next day. Did Kirk want to go along? Maybe go into the cave and take a look? Colton and Kayla were home for the weekend, so we decided to all go together and see what we could see.
So at the appointed time we packed our best flashlights, prepared our bikes, and headed out. The bike ride to the village took an hour, up and down hills,
When we arrived at the village, we found a group of men had gathered. They had come from several villages in the area, and included religious leaders and teachers, adherents to the majority religion of this country. They were all convinced that demons in the cave had imprisoned Mamadu, and would not let him go until they were properly appeased. So they had sent for several diviners, men who knew how to deal with demons. They were taking a collection, because the diviner who was able to obtain Mamadu’s release would demand a large reward.
Alfa wasn’t present. He was being held by the authorities in the nearest city. Unless the demons released Mamadu, Alfa was the prime suspect in Mamadu’s disappearance. The authorities, too, would have to be paid a large sum if Alfa were to ever obtain his freedom.
The men said they were not going to search in the cave again, but would wait for the diviners. But if we wanted to go look, that was fine. So we all set off for the cave.
The trail to the cave ended at what appeared to be a cliff. With the help of some convenient trees we climbed down to find the cave opening under the cliff edge. Before entering the cave we prayed together for safety, that God would protect us, and help us to find Mamadu.
Karfalo and Burama, men from our village, accompanied us into the cave. They had asked some of the others if they would be going with us. “No way,” they had said. “We know all foreigners work together with demons. We’re afraid they might take us in there and trade us to the demons for something they want, and we would never come out!”
Karfalo and Burama just chuckled. “We have known these people for a long time. They wouldn’t do that.”
Just inside the entrance of the cave there were two sticks stuck in the ground, with a piece of cloth tied between them. “That’s a sacrifice to appease the demons,” Karfalo said. Nearby was a dead chicken. “Yep, another sacrifice. But the demons didn’t want those sacrifices.”
We proceeded into the cave, and shortly we came to a little stream. The stream ran along the main passageway of the cave. From this main passage branched several smaller passages. We explored each branch of the entire cave. Each passage eventually got so small that we would have had to crawl to go any further. We were told that if one would crawl down some of the tunnels, which were only a foot or two high, one would arrive at other large rooms. We didn’t care to prove whether that was true or not. We figured we would leave the crawling to someone else!
The cave floor was very uneven, much of it covered by rocks which had fallen from the ceiling. We had to climb over many of these rock hills. And the rocks were covered with bat guano. So with the unevenness of the terrain, the darkness, and the slipperiness of the guano, it was slow, tedious going for much of the way.
As we explored, thousands and thousands of bats were almost continually flying past us. The breeze their beating wings produced was a bit refreshing as the air was hot and humid. Their sonar appeared to be working well, for none of them collided with us, though a few wings did make contact as they brushed past our heads.
Most of the bats were of a small, orange variety. But when we reached the end of the main corridor, there we found the place where the larger, gray bats hang out. There were a few sticks lying about, the tools used to stun the bats. Karfalo and Burama proceeded to use them, and managed to get a few and stuff them into a shirt converted into a sack.
We looked everywhere we could in the cave, in every hole and down every corridor we could see, but there was no sign of Mamadu. The Landumas later explained that he must either be in another room we couldn’t get to, or he was covered up by the demons and thus hidden from our sight.
After emerging from the cave, Yolanda and the kids set out for home, while Kirk returned to Mamadu’s village with the village men. “Mamadu’s father is here,” someone said. “Would you like to meet him?”
Mamadu’s father is old and sickly. But he was able to speak with Kirk, and he told his story of how he had been kept prisoner in the cave by demons so many years ago. “I went into the cave and was collecting bats. I was in a large passageway, which I had to crawl to get to. After a while I lay down. I slept for a long time. I awakened, and went to the stream and drank some water. Then I slept again, and after a long time awakened again and drank some more water. I tried to leave the cave, but the exit was closed to me. I couldn’t get out.
“Meanwhile, outside, a diviner was talking with the demons and he found out that in order to appease them, the villagers had to get alcohol and food and have a big party, eating and drinking and dancing with drums. They had the party, and after that the demons let me leave. I found the exit and came out of the cave. I had been there five days.”
After leaving Mamadu’s father, Kirk rejoined the group of men. They were discussing the fact that we had come with our family and been willing to go into the cave, unafraid. “Yes,” Kirk said, “we were willing to go in and search for the man. We wanted to try to help you find him. We are afraid of getting lost in a cave. That’s why we brought our big flashlights, and we were careful not to get lost. But we weren’t afraid to all go in, including my wife and daughter, because we aren’t afraid of demons. We have never seen demons, we don’t deal with demons. We don’t know anything about demons, except what we read about them in God’s message.
“When Jesus was here on earth, He had power over demons. He cast them out of people, and they were afraid of Him. We are believers in Jesus. He is with us, and He still has power over demons. He protects us. We don’t need any protective charms. God is our protection. That’s why we aren’t afraid of demons. God will protect anyone who will believe Him and His message. That’s why we have come here, to tell you Landumas this important message.”
After a little more discussion, Kirk left for home.
Later that day a diviner arrived. He went to the cave to inquire of the demons. Afterward he reported on the meeting. “The demons met with me. They said they have Mamadu. He is healthy; nothing bad has happened to him. But he provoked the demons and they are not happy. One of the bats Mamadu and Alfa bagged was not a bat, it was a demon. Also, the demons said Mamadu had shined his flashlight in the eyes of one of the demon children. They don’t like that. They tried repeatedly to stop him from annoying them, but he wouldn’t listen. So they grabbed Mamadu.
“They also said they don’t like the foreigners. ‘Don’t let them go into the cave again!’ they warned.
“The demons don’t want the chicken sacrifices you all made,” the diviner continued. “They want you to make a sacrifice of a brown goat and a white rooster. The rooster must be released alive, but the goat must be slaughtered and cooked, along with a lot of rice, and you all must eat it and have a big party and make merry. Then the demons will be happy, and they will release Mamadu to you. You must put on this party this coming Thursday.”
The people made the sacrifice and put on the party as instructed, but afterward Mamadu didn’t appear as expected. Several days passed, and he still didn’t appear. It has been almost two weeks since the party, and Mamadu is still lost.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
The Landumas obviously have great faith that these demons exist, and that they live in caves. They believe that they are similar to humans, in that they eat, sleep, marry, have children, and die. Some are said to be followers of the majority religion, while others are pagans. But the demons are invisible to all but certain individuals, who can have dealings with them, and can get them to do things for them.
Whether Mamadu was really nabbed by demons, we have no idea. But whether demons are involved in this case or not, it is clear that these people are living in fear of Satan and his “angels,” and they are willing to appease them when necessary to get their problems solved. The religion they profess commands them to worship God only, to dispense with the sorcery and divination of their forefathers. Yet when push comes to shove these religious injunctions carry little weight. Animists tend to be more concerned with dead ancestors, spirits, demons, etc. than with the Creator, because these powers are perceived to play a more prominent role in their physical well-being. Thus the animist does what he must do to solve his problems, even if it contradicts the precepts of the “high religion” he claims to follow.
It is only the message of the Gospel which will deliver the Landumas from their blindness and fear, and bring new life and peace and security. It is not only Mamadu who is lost, in the most real sense of the word, but also 17,000 other Landuma people.
Please PRAY that Mamadu is still alive, and that he is found. PRAY that, somehow, through this ordeal more hearts here would be opened up to the teaching of God’s Word.
January 2009 update…
Mamadu has still not been found. He is presumed dead, but since the family is not certain, his widow will wait two years before remarrying (under normal circumstances it is customary for a Landuma widow to remarry 100 days after the death of her husband).
May 2009 update…
Still no sign of Mamadu.