Grassfield wall

Enjoying the beauty of the Grassfield country

FH Photography » Travel Diaries » My Life in Cameroon » Enjoying the beauty of the Grassfield country

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Today celebrates our second day in the Bamileke country (Grassfield people). After a good night’s sleep, we got ready for a day that, from the start, was already looking very busy. The idea was not to visit as many things as possible in record time but to benefit from each site and the beauty of western Cameroon’s landscapes and chiefdoms. So I had previously established a schedule in order to optimise our expedition.

Today, the program included the visit of two chiefdoms (Batoufam and Bapa) and a sacred cave, source of superstitions and cradle of beliefs: the Fovu cave. Given the many places we visited today, here is a small map to understand today’s journey and locate today’s stops.

After a quick breakfast in Tockem, we left for our first destination: the Batoufam chiefdom. For those wondering where the chiefdom of Batoufam is, it is located 35km south of Bafoussam on the road to Bangangte.

Batoufam, a must-see in the grassfield country

A major surprise

After losing some time in Bafoussam because of the morning traffic jams, we arrived at the chiefdom, where a big surprise awaited us.

In the grassfield country, it is not uncommon to see beautiful entrances to chiefdoms engraved or painted with Bamileke colours.

In addition to a very decorated door that announced the entrance to the chiefdom, we noticed, not without astonishment, the presence of French flags next to the Cameroonian ones.

Therefore, we continued the road leading us to the chiefdom and continued to see that on the entire alley leading there were installed on both sides, alternately, French and Cameroonian flags.

Only at the end of the alley, once we arrived in front of the chiefdom, we saw black 4x4s well parked in the parking lot. Curious, we started questioning the people on the spot and finally learned that the French ambassador was here visiting the Chief.

Batoufam chiefdom entrance
grassfield dancer

Let’s celebrate

King Batoufam (His Majesty Innocent Nayang Toukam), as an excellent diplomat, had organised for the occasion a show of traditional warrior dances to celebrate this distinguished guest who had come himself to reward him as “1st most dynamic King in the development of Cameroon” for the second time.

Many people were present during the celebration and the dances. All the King’s wives, as well as the notables of the chiefdom, were there. We all had great fun dancing and experiencing the traditional dances and customs with the Batoufam people.

Once the celebration was over, we could begin the chiefdom’s visit. It was a great chance to have been able to meet King Batoufam and the French ambassador. The are not easily reachable people. I was even able to photograph a portrait of the king!

We didn’t know it yet, but the day still had other surprises in store for us.

Visit of the building

For this visit, we have called a guide specialized in the Batoufam Chiefdom through Serge from Tourismo Cameroon.

The idea was to learn as much as possible about this culture, these traditions and symbols that we guessed were profound just by looking at the painted walls of the building.

Several courtyards segment the building. They are specialized in their functionalities: the square of the blacksmiths, that of the traditional healer, etc …

There is also the courtyard where the King is locked up after his nomination and from which he can only leave once he has a son. For this, people send several pretenders to the title of mother of the King’s son, and the King tries to get a son. I’ll spare you the details …

After admiring the magnificent carved patterns of the wooden pillars and the vivid colors of the paintings that cover each wall of the different courtyards, we went to the shop.

It is not an obligatory passage, but it is with great pleasure and without any difficulty that we entered there. Indeed, the objects for sale there match perfectly with the ambiance and magnificence of the building: the grassfield people’s masks.

Batoufam Wall
The grassfield masks

The Shop

When I was little, I recall being very frightened of the African masks in the room where I was napping at my grandparents’.

Fortunately, this maskphobia passed over time, and I could enjoy this exhibition shop held by the producer of the masks in person: Yakouba.

After spending most of the morning there, it was time for us to lunch. I wanted my parents to discover a luxury hotel that housed the Senegal football team during the CAN 2022, located not that far from Batoufam: Tagidor, in Bangou.

This hotel is atypical in that it is very luxurious and built almost in the middle of nowhere.

A lunch at Tagidor Hotel

As written above, the Tagidor is a sumptuous hotel offering all the services one would expect from such a standard, but with the added benefit of space. Indeed, located in an almost uninhabited valley near the small village of Bangou, the architects and project managers were able, in addition to the hotel, to create a park where it is possible to walk and enjoy the pure air of the highlands of western Cameroon.

In a hurry, we just had time for lunch and then left for our other destination: the Bapa chiefdom. We needed more time to enjoy the park or the fantastic swimming pool. I will dedicate a whole article about the Tagidor in a future post, having had the chance to stay there for much longer than today.

The Bapa chiefdom

The chiefdom of Bapa, like the one from Batoufam, is one of the best-known chiefdoms, in particular, thanks to its typical wooden hut and thatched roof.

In the past, grassfield people were used to build most of the chiefs huts according to this architecture and with these materials. But due to bad weather and fires that destroyed many of these typical huts, people decided to rebuilt them with more resistant materials.

By the most compelling circumstances, when we arrived, we found the entire delegation of the French ambassador who was leaving the chiefdom.

This visit by the ambassador thus allowed us to get to know and take pictures of customary guardians of the village wearing traditional clothing for the occasion.

The Bapa symbolic hut

Unfortunately, we could not visit the museum for which the Bapa chiefdom is famous for. It was closed because of the ambassador’s visit.

The Cameroonian roads being dangerous by night, I did not want to leave Bapa late, especially that we had one more place to visit. So just about twenty minutes after we arrived, we left for the Fovu cave, our next and last place to experience today. When we left, the sun started declining.

What is certain is that I will return to visit the Bapa chiefdom museum and write an article about this place.

The Fovu Cave, a sacred place

In front of the Fovu Cave

The Fovu cave, also named the sacred cave of Baham, is located in the village of the same name. It is a field of rocks under which dark spaces are used to practice rites.

The vast field of granites extends over approximately 15 hectares and offers natural shelters conducive to various ritual practices for grassfield people. This is the place where the royal lineage communicates with the spirits.

The most imposing of these rocks can measure up to 15m high and his called: The Cathedral.

We stayed on site until sunset, where we could take benefit of the warm evening light falling on this mineral field.

We returned to Tockem at night after a fabulous day full of positive emotions and beautiful pictures that will remain etched in our memories.

So many beautiful things to see and discover that we can’t wait to be tomorrow!