Forest people in Cameroon : Restoring Lost Culture through Exhibitions

Forest people in Cameroon : Restoring Lost Culture through Exhibitions

CAMEROON : Initiated by Dr Therese Fouda, an elite of the Beti land, “Expositions des peoples de la forêt” has as aim to promote the culture of the forest people; notably that of the Beti in Cameroon. The initiative started on the 16th of September, 2022 with a preview of an art exhibition and will run till the 11th of October 2022 at Institut Français du Cameroun (IFC) in Yaounde.

The culture of the forest people has been brought to the lamplight as different pieces of works of art that originate from the Beti land are on display at the Institut Français du Cameroun. They are made up of paintings, wood works and other cultural artifacts. The objective of this exhibition is to make known to youths of the forest regions and the public in general the values of the traditions and customs of the people of the forest. The group behind this exposition is the “Ethnography Museum of the people of the forest” led by Dr Therese Fouda. This exposure also has as goal to make known to youths of the land that, the works of arts of the people robbed by France during the colonial era have been returned and are opened to the entire public. Present at the event were traditional rulers and the Director of the French Institute who made sure that the information about their program is well delivered. For chief Amombo, the traditional ruler of Nsam, in Yaounde and one of the organizers, “the Beti tradition has always been kept in the dark since colonization. We then took this opportunity to partner with the French institute and French Embassy to make it known to the present generation so that it does not get lost”. He further noted that, during his previous tours to other African countries, he noticed that, they promote their culture by organizing exhibitions in museums and institutes and so decided to so same in Cameroon.

Returning Cameroonian art objects

The showcase was partnered by the French given that they were the colonial masters of Cameroon. The director of Institut Français in Cameroon, Yann Lorvo, encouraged Dr Therese Fouda and other organizers for the initiative and hopes to see other people valuing their culture as well. “Our aim is to make this area a place only for expositions. We also wish to expand our space so that a lot of cultural activities can be done with little or no worries”, he pointed out. Quizzed on whether France will return all objects taken from Cameroon and other African countries, Mr. Lorvo responded that “the French president Emmanuel Macron is working in returning the valuable objects taken from Cameroon. It should be noted that some of the objects were bought. Over 300 pieces of works of art are currently under review to be sent back to Cameroon”.

Many people who took part in the opening ceremony were thrilled on the different arts their clan has to offer. Rostand Mbang is a youth and a lover of culture. “I am amazed with the variety of well made pieces of arts. I never knew Cameroon had such. I am calling upon all the youths in Cameroon to go back to their roots wherever they are. They can start by simply attending exhibitions like this”, he reiterated.

Though the event is scheduled to end on the 11th of October 2022, the organizers hope to prolong it to the 23rd of January with the celebration of the World African Culture Day.

Kuwan Chelsea Kernyuy (Trainee editor) ©

Illustrative photo : Cross section of the director of IFC and the organizers of the exhibition

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