The chiefdoms of the West and North-West provinces of Cameroon are full of tradition. It is in the chiefdoms of Bandjoun near Bafoussam, the sultanate of the Bamoun in Foumban and the Bafut fon’s palace near Bamenda in the North-West english speaking province of Cameroon that a different cultural landscape is observed. Cultural festivals in the West of Cameroon take place from the month of November to March every year which corresponds to the dry season in the country. This is the period for funeral celebrations and annual festivals organized by the big villages such as Bali and Bafut (the Lela dances) in the month of December.
Funeral celebrations are very rich cultural events with a lot of colorful traditional dances taking place.It is during this period that all the culture of the villages is exhibited in the way of dancing, feasting and gun firing. The Lela dances of Bafut and bali are particularly colorful as the traditional dress is the order of the day with each and everyone well dressed in traditional regalia.
The Bamoun Kingdom: This is a special attraction by itself, founded towards the end of the 14th century by Nchare Yen, the first king of the Bamoun dynasty. The most famous of the successors of Nchare Yen was King Njoya who reigned from 1889-1933. It is King Njoya who invented the Shumon writing which was later taught in schools in his kingdom. Very imaginative, King Njoya, after a visit to Buea during the german colonial period, was inspired by the residence of the German Governor and decided upon returning to Foumban to built the present Sultan’s palace which up to this date, remains an architectural master piece.
The main cultural attractions of Foumban remain the Palace of the Sultan which contains the royal museum. The museum is of international standard where the visitor can see a collection of the Sultan which traces back the history of the Bamoun people. This collection includes objects such as:
- war weapons used during local tribal wars;
- war trophies, notably calabashes decorated with human jaws of conquered enemies;
- music instruments and dresses worn by the previous kings;
- the decorated thrones of various kings; etc.
Day 1: Drive from Douala or Yaoundé to Bafoussam with various stops. After about 4 hours arrive at the chefferie Banjoun some 15 kilometers to Bafoussam; visit the palace, especially the "Great House" and the palace museum. Continue drive to Bafoussam for lunch before driving to Koutaba after a visit of Foumbot market. Overnight at Paradise Hotel.
Day 2: After breakfast, drive to Foumban where you will visit the Sultan’s palace and the craft center; after lunch, transfer to Bamenda in the english speaking North-West province of Cameroon. Overnight at Ayaba Hotel or similar.
Day 3: Today is scheduled for an excursion to Bafut to visit the colonial built palace of the fon. You may be treated to a local traditional dance performance, upon request. Return to Bamenda and visit the local craft shops and the market. Dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Today, we return to Douala or to Yaoundé.
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