Life in the Cameroon Grasslands

by Hans-Joachim Koloss (1938 - 2013)
Formerly Museum für Völkerkunde

The late King of Oku and some of his notables in front of his palace, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss. 

The importance of the palace is demonstrated by the pillars with human and animal figures—they symbolize outstanding royal power. Indeed, the king is the leader and “father” of the tribe. He alone has the right to perform the sacrifices to the royal ancestors who are also the ancestors of the whole kingdom. He is the nominal leader of all secret societies. Though he has a lot of additional privileges and rights, he is nevertheless dependent on Kwifon, the mighty secret society whose important members are the chiefs of the approximately 100 extended families. To this extent, Kwifon not only represents the people—it is even the people itself. Only when king and Kwifon are united in peace and cooperation can the land prosper.