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Report on EPA's mission to Bandjoun

Grande Case, Bandjoun
Communal building


Maison communautaire après l'incendie, Bandjoun
Communal building (left)

after the fire


Following the fire that devastated the palace of the Bandjoun chiefdom in the West of Cameroon, an EPA mission remained on the premises from January 30 to February 9, 2005.

The effect of the fire seems less dramatic than what the media seemed to imply. The greater part of the museum's collections were saved. However, a number of important artefacts, particularly some regalia (leopard skins, head-dresses, ceremonial textiles) were burned.

What was particularly damaged by the fire was the imposing "communal building", which plays a major part in the culture of the Bamileke of Cameroon, being the symbol of the chiefdom and of royalty. This fact doubtless accounts for the highly emotional response to the fire and explains why this catastrophe is viewed as such a great loss by the community.

It is generally believed that the fire was of criminal origin, and linked to internal struggles within the Bandjoun chiefdom, which has recently been the object of succession disputes. A few weeks prior to the fire a number of thefts were reported. One of the robbers is now in custody, after a fragment of a beautiful pillar which was stolen was found in his house. This has now been returned to the royal museum.

A detailed report of this mission will soon be available at EPA.

Our thanks to His Majesty Honoré Djomo, to the museum staff for their welcome, to our Cameroonian colleagues, to the authorities of the Ministry of Culture of the Cameroon, to the French Cultural Service and to the UNESCO Office in Cameroon, for supporting and accompanying this mission.

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