We were on our way west again, and had wanted to visit the chefferie of Bandjoun before heading out for the Ring Road, but since transportation had been blocked because of the elections a few days before, we had postponed our visit. A shared taxi took us for the 15km drive to Bandjoun, and dropped us off right at the entrance of the chefferie. A goat with curly horns was grazing in front of a statue of a sultan, and we walked through the main gate. From here, a lane runs down; on both sides, we saw hut-like structures with traditional grass roofs. Behind them, more modern houses with shiny iron roofs. At the far side, a huge building with grass roof and tens of columns. There was no one around, and we were directed to a building where we found a woman breastfeeding a child. It turned out she was the woman in charge, accepted payment, left the baby behind, locked the door, and took us to the small museum next to a modern building.
The charming woman switched on the lights, and gave us a knowledgeable tour of the museum, telling us about the objects we saw, and about the importance of the iron workers who had been able to make the utensils, instruments, and weapons we saw, giving them a powerful position in society. Haflway our tour, we could hear the baby cry, but the woman calmly said that she had to wait for her mother to finish the tour. Just when we had seen hippo heads, unique thrones, and incredibly big crowns, weighing some 25kg, a powercut had us stand in the dark - the woman just continued talking about what we could not see anymore. We were at the end of the museum anyway, so the woman could get her baby, and give us tour of the Case.
The buildings with the straw roofs we had seen, turned out to be where the representatives of the different provinces of Bandjoun would congregate; the ones behind were all dwellings for the wives of the sultan. The modern building next to the museum actually is the palace of the sultan, while the Case, the big building we were about to enter, is a space where officials gather. A fire had consumed it in 2005 (officially, an accident, but many believe the fire was started by one of the officials of the chefferie to undercut the power of the sultan), and what we were seeing, was therefore a modern remake. Nevertheless, the richly decorated columns were beautiful, depicting actual and former rulers, devils and deities, the pope, animals, and other figures. We stepped inside through the grand door opening, to find a quite modest and dark interior, mostly with big spaces. How different would it look with dignitaries in boubous, I thought. We had seen the main things, and were on our way back to Bafoussam, on the way to leave the province altogether.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bandjoun chefferie (Cameroon). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bandjoun chefferie. Read more about this site.