The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Life in the Cameroon Grasslands

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

Kibarankoh at the ceremony in honor of the late King of Oku in the Palace of Oku, Cameroon. Photo by Hans-Joachim Koloss.

One of the most feared masks everywhere in the Cameroon Grasslands is Nkock from the secret society Kwifon, which is called Nwerong in the eastern kingdoms. Nkock wears a black costume and is so dangerous and powerful that two medicine men have to lead it by ropes. Otherwise it could escape and do harm to people. Whenever Nkock appears in public (normally at death ceremonies), it demonstrates the unlimited powers of Kwifon, which formerly formed the traditional government together with the king. Kibarankoh, the special name for Nkock in Mbiame, was so powerful that the King of Oku hesitated to allow his appearance.