Foumban and Around
Foumban, a large sprawling city, is the capital of the Bamoun people, a civilization dating from the fourteenth century. It’s a supremely beautiful city with many sculptures, monuments and other decorations dotting the city. The extremely impressive Royale Palace was built in 1917, and now houses the Sultan’s Museum – a private collection of memorabilia from a long line of kings – thrones, masks, weapons, shields, even a calabash (drinking bowl) decorated with the jawbones of enemies (yes, real).
One leader, Mbuémbué, was reportedly 2.6m (about 8 foot 6) tall and his regular voice is reported to have carried for over a mile! An entire room is dedicated to his stuff, which is of course all absolutely enormous.
Nearby is an entire district of town where extremely talented men and women are making and selling all kinds of “artifacts” – masks, sculptures, paintings, carvings – you name it, it’s here. I quickly realize this is extremely big business, and many of the men hand me professional business cards and make it clear they have experiencing exporting huge quantities to Europe and the USA. Most of the stuff is new, though they make it look old, although I am told the odd thing here and there is the genuine article, usually smuggled from Nigeria or around.
One guy in particular I really like, who is making enormous statues out of recycled bronze. The work has taken six months already, and they are pre-sold in the USA for $50,000USD. Wow.
I thoroughly enjoy the city, the history and all the culture.