The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Life in the Cameroon Grasslands

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

Enthronment of Jinabo II, the late King of Kom, Northwest Province of Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.

On January 10th and 11th, 1976, the famous “Xylophone dance” was celebrated in Kom, when Jinabo II was presented to his people as their king for the first time since his enthronement, which had already taken place one year earlier. The most significant cult objects in this dance were, besides some special masks, three figures representing the King, the Queen mother, and the king's first wife and symbolizing the continuity of the royal dynasty and its power. The male figure was stolen at the end of the 1960s and sold to an American private collection. Its return in 1974 gave rise to enthusiastic celebrations throughout Cameroon. The uniqueness of this piece is also exemplified by the fact that all catastrophes and mishaps, which occurred in Kom in the years when the figure was missing were ascribed to its absence.