1360 x 900 Life in the Cameroon Grasslands, Page 11 - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art

Life in the Cameroon Grasslands

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

Akam (a leader mask) at a death ceremony in Jinkfin Kom, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.


The most important mask more or less everywhere in the Cameroon Grasslands is the leader-mask, called kam, akam, or something similar. The mask usually wears a headpiece in the form of a male head, the hair and beard of which are often made of real hair, cowries etc. Its dress is a special one because it is trimmed with human hair from members of their own secret society. Leader masks are already “bad” jujus, as they are sometimes treated with dangerous “medicines” and often wear “medical” objects on their dress. This mask wears a “medical” ribbon. Therefore, they can mostly be worn only by medicine men of the mask society.