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Cameroon: Sultan Palace

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Sultan Palace | Cameroon | Africa

[Visited: April 2013]

We had arrived in Bafoussam late at night from Yaoundé, and after a local breakfast at one of the stalls of the bus station, took a ride on a motorbike to the agence which had buses to Foumban. It filled up quite quickly, and within an hour and a half, we pulled in at the small bus station outside Foumban. Another motorbike ride took us directly to the entrance of the Sultan's Palace we had come to see. A guy approached us, giving us the impression we were obliged to take him as a guide, and after paying our entrance fee, we walked towards the palace. We soon found out that the guide had a serious stuttering problem, but also, that our Cameroonian friend knew quite more than the guy about what we were seeing. We learned about the Bamoun dynasty, made easier because all the sultans are depicted on a wall at the entrance - in name, and in drawing. Not only that: also the German and French rulers are all represented. Just around the corner, a mural shows the history of the Bamoun dynasty.

Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): The small square in front of the Sultan Palace with statue of Sultan on horseback in the foreground

There is a small square in front of the Sultan's Palace, and a man on a galloping horse, holding a sword into the sky, cast in bronze. Behind, the Palace that was designed by a 19th century Sultan, based on stories he had heard about palaces in faraway countries. Men dressed in boubous were walking around, giving the square a dignified atmosphere; on the other side of it, our friend pointed out the actual Sultan himself. We were told that it is not the oldest son of the Sultan who becomes his successor; the Sultan picks his successor himself. Only children born after being appointed as the next Sultan are eligible to become Sultan one day themselves. This has inevitably led to troubles between bypassed potential Sultans and the one picked, or offspring born before their father was appointed a future Sultan.

Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): List of the Bamoun dynasty under the symbol of the dynasty, the two-headed snake

We walked past the palace, where the two-headed snake, symbol of the Bamoun dynasty, was omnipresent, and reached the entrance to the museum. We walked up to the first floor, noticed some signs were in German, leftovers of the short period of German dominance in Cameroon, and entered a rather dark, empty room where one of the few things on display was an old black and white picture of the queen of the Netherlands and her husband. Our expectations were not too high when we climbed a ladder to the second floor, but we were in for a surprise. Not only did the museum hold countless very interesting artifacts, like garments, jewellery, and musical instruments; the person in charge of the museum turned out to be a knowledgeable guide who explained us enthusiastically all we were seeing. The only big disappointment was, that we were not allowed to take any pictures of the beautiful objects on display. After soaking in all the information in the museum, we climbed down again, and were allowed a peek into the main hall of the Palace, where men in boubous walked gracefully around the enormous columns. To top our visit off, we were treated to a short musical intermezzo by a small band using traditional instruments.

Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): History of the Bamoun dynasty depicted on a mural near the palace
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Richly decorated door to a secluded section of the palace with the ubiquitous double-headed snake
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Drawing of the tallest and most famous, and fearsome, eleventh sultan
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): History of the Bamoun dynasty on a mural
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Copper head waiting for a buyer in a workshop near the Sultan Palace
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Men dressed in boubous in front of the Sultan palace
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Sultans represented on a mural near the palace
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Double-headed snake, symbol of the Bamoun dynasty, can be found everywhere
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): Wooden balcony of the Sultan palace
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): One of the scenes of the mural depicting the history of the Bamoun dynasty
Picture of Sultan Palace (Cameroon): This wall holds all the names, and images, of the sultans of the Bamoun dynasty, as well as foreign rulers

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