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Cameroon Traditional Ruler Seeks Funding to Preserve Culture

Cameroon Traditional Ruler Seeks Funding to Preserve Culture

Yimuo Oliver Nsondonembio III, fon of Babessi said he fears clay pottery for which Babessi is renown may soon disappear like other Babessi traditions

A traditional ruler from Cameroon’s Northwest Province said he is concerned about the disappearing of some aspects of his people’s culture.

“Presently, some cultural aspects of my kingdom are fast disappearing, especially when you have to do with craftwork because the people who dealt with it, the old people are fast dying,” said Yimuo Oliver Nsondonembio III,
the Fon of the Babessi Kingdom.

Since pre-colonial times, pottery making has been a central activity in the kingdom of Babessi.

Nsondonembio III said he fears clay pottery may disappear like the Babessi blacksmith and craftwork because today's young people are reluctant to take up the tradition.

“All the people that are the prominent clay pot makers are old women, and then the younger girls who could have learned to transmit the tradition, they are reluctant today to be involved in clay pottery because they don’t want to dirty their hands,” Nsondonembio III said.

Nsondonembio III said he was in the United States to look for financial assistance from donors to build a modern museum in his palace where most of the old Babessi traditional pottery and other artistic objects would be preserved.

He also said he was in the United States to appeal to Cameroonians in the United States to support other development projects in his kingdom.

“I have some of my elites who are resident here in the USA so I came to mobilize them form a cultural and development union and to carry out fundraising to support development back home,” he said.

Nsondonembio III said some of the development needs in his kingdom include building classrooms for some schools, paying the salaries of private school teachers and rehabilitating the very poor road network.

He said the development assistance provided by the Cameroonian central government is sometimes not enough to the needs.

“Normally the Cameroonian government used to give development projects through micro-projects parliamentary grants. But this is not enough, not even one-third of what is needed in the fondom. Because of that, I need to get donations from well-to-do elites who are natives of my kingdom,” he said.

Nsondonembio III said his kingdom falls under the jurisdiction of the Cameroon central government.

“According to the law, we the traditional rulers are referred to as auxiliaries of the administration. So we also serve as intermediaries between the people our people, for example, the people of my kingdom and the central government,” Nsondonembio III said.

Some among Cameroon’s English-speaking minority have claimed marginalization by the French-speaking majority.

Nsondonembio III said as far as he is concerned, the English-speaking minority is not marginalized.

“Cameroon is a bi-lingual country, and to my view, I don’t think I’ve seen any marginalization. For example, the present Prime Minister of Cameroon is an Anglo-phone and there are other posts of responsibility which are being occupied by English-speaking Cameroonians,” he said.

The 27-year-old king said he was chosen by kingmakers to succeed his late father because ascendancy to the throne in Babessi culture is hereditary.