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Published: April 23rd 2019
Returning from a business meeting and with a couple hours to spend before the windy road back to the Yaoundé airport we were looking for a unapologetically quick act of tourism. We had been holed-up in the Hilton Hotel and needed something a short distance away. Fortunately, the musee de blackitude is tucked away on a side road only five minutes walk from the hotel.
This museum is the kind of thing that makes travelling in Africa such a joy. It is an unexpected gem housed in a rather rudimentary setting. The museum comprises an eclectic collection of costumes, musical instruments, masks, furniture, sculptures, utensils. A reconstruction of a village kitchen and a royal chamber. It is a result of personal passions and is testament to one persons desire to preserve a heritage.
This private collection is largely the work of one woman; HM Queen Nana Agnes Fo Nab Ngo I. This active octogenarian is known to drop in regularly to keep an eye on operations. The nucleus of the collection were art objects bequeathed by her own father and other kings of the grasslands of western Cameroon. It has subsequently been supplemented by a number of other
collections and bequests. There are pieces from nearby Gabon, Congo-B and Nigeria all represented. The work is of the finest quality and many of the items are of a monumental scale. This is African art at its most diverse and this little museum is the perfect show case for all of its style, intricacy and finesse.
There are some complaints that is tricky to find and a map is attached to this blog. The ticket office is tucked away at the rear of the building. The Director, Christian, speaks good English. He gave us space to browse and was closely on hand to answer questions and provide explanations. The collection continues to grow; 2000 items and counting. The majority are in storage. Curation is a massive undertaking where tracing provenance for these items is difficult. Lengthy trips to the archives in Germany (the former colonial power) have performed to help these efforts.
The museum forms a cultural hub. Poetry “slams” have been hosted. The museum forms part of a broader foundation which has activities in social and humanitarian works and aims to be a center on artisanal and rural initiatives called CAIDERES. When we arrived an
artists exchange with students from Douala was underway. Everywhere you looked people were working diligently on square canvasses.
The museum is open during office hours; nine to five and Monday through to Friday. It costs 3000 CFA including the right to take photos. An English website is in the works.
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