Enlightening Entertainment
 
The Museum of Civilizations in Dschang, Cameroon (In Bassa)      
Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Bassa and French, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings, esteemed viewers, and welcome to this edition of Enlightening Entertainment. Today, we invite you to join us on an exploratory trip to the spectacular Museum of Civilizations in Dschang, a city in the Western Region of Cameroon. Dschang itself is one of the most frequented tourist destinations in this region.

Welcome to the Dschang Museum of Civilizations. My name is Flaubert Taboue Nouaye. I’m the curator and director-general of the Museum of Civilizations. And this museum is based in Dschang; Dschang, which is a university town, which is a historic town of those who want to understand the West of Cameroon.

The goal of the Dschang Museum of Civilizations is to pay tribute to Cameroon’s cultural wealth. Displayed are materials pertaining to the four groups which constitute Cameroon’s cultural landscape. The museum also serves as a point of reference to explore the numerous chiefdoms that can be found in the Western Region of Cameroon. The Museum of Civilizations of Dschang has been a partnership of both the Dschang government and the private sector.

In fact, the Museum of Civilizations is an idea of numerous people, notably the Cameroonian diaspora in Nantes (France); associated to this are a handful of Cameroonian elites who joined forces to form the association of friends of the Museum of Civilizations, headed by His Excellency the Vice Prime Minister Jean Nkuete. The Museum of Civilizations is also a group of institutional partners who mobilized the setup or the creation of the Museum of Civilizations. Thus, the Museum of Civilizations was conceived by all these people, to share, propagate, and protect this heritage which abounds in Cameroon.

The Museum of Civilizations offers the keys of understanding these secular civilizations of the Cameroonian people.

Even before entering the museum, visitors are impressed by the building’s large dimensions and the beautiful artistic design.

We wanted to offer a window of Cameroon through this building that you have visited, which is unique in its style. Because in this context of a global village, we have realized that the people who develop better are those who have well preserved the positive values of their daily lives, or the positive values of their ways and customs. Thus, it’s the sum of these values, in effect, that we place at the forefront.

The peace-loving and hospitable Central African country of Cameroon is known for her vast spectrum of ethnic and tribal groups. All co-exist in mutual tolerance and shared goodwill. Nonetheless, the groups can all be classified into four principal ethno-cultural entities. We shall now explore the distinctive attributes of each entity.

Good day. My name is Honoré Tchatchouang. I’m the cultural mediator in the Museum of Civilizations in Dschang. I’m very pleased to present on this day our exposition.

We begin this voyage through the Cameroonian civilizations with the people of the forest, or the people called Fang-Beti-Bulu, who inhabit the regions of the Center, the South, and the East. These people have a particularity in the sense that they’re called “the people of the forest” due to the fact that their environment, their vital, geographic universe is entirely characterized by the permanent presence of the forest. That is why if you observe our contextual display a little bit, you will realize that every time, there is green.

Thus, after presenting the people of the forest, we now explore the second cultural era. We are with the water people, or the people of the sea, who inhabit the coastal region of Cameroon. They are the people who live in the regions between Douala, Limbe, Kribi, and Buea. And the environment of these people is characterized by the omnipresence of water. We displayed two canoes. The two canoes have a precise role. The canoe for racing generally comes out during major events. And as an example of such an event, we have the Ngondo, which is a cultural ceremony in this region of Cameroon.

After meeting the people of the forest and then the people of the sea, we discover together the third cultural era, the cultural era called Sudano-Sahelian, or the people of the Great North. And we must note that if it is said that Cameroon is a miniature Africa, then North Cameroon is also a miniature Cameroon. Because in this region, we have an enormous diversity when it comes to culture. We have, amongst others, a diversity in the typology of architecture. You will find, for example, the architecture of the plains, the architecture of the mountains, and the architecture of the plateaus.

Besides these three types of conventional architecture, you will mostly have architectural prowess such as the obo hut of the Mosgum people. This cone-shaped hut which is essentially made of clay, water, cow dung, and vegetable fiber. And usually, the obo huts don’t exist anymore in their environment. That’s why here at the Museum of Civilizations, to perpetuate and value this knowledge, we have chosen to represent this small model of these huts.

We shall now discover together the fourth cultural era of Cameroon. It’s the cultural era of the mountain people, still called the cultural era of the grassfield people. The grassfield people, or grassland people, inhabit the regions of the West, the Northwest and a small part of the Southwest region. It is made up, amongst others, of the Bamiléké, Bamoun, and Tikar people.

The grassfield people, with regards to architecture, had put in place an architectural style that was authentic, more commonly known today under the name of traditional architecture. In all the chiefdoms, we always found huts made from raffia bamboo and every time paired with a conical roof made out of vegetable fiber. And there was also a building that always caught everyone’s attention, that always fascinated visitors who went there. It was the chiefdom’s palace.

The chiefdoms’ palace, for its construction, always mobilized the entire village, the entire population, in the sense that, from the harvesting and the arrangement of the straw, through the drying, the sculpting of the pillars, the making of the panels, it was a whole group of different trades reunited, who participated merrily, with pride, in the construction of this building; which was, which is, and which will always remain the symbolic, unifying element of every group of people, of every chiefdom.

The Western Region of Cameroon is deep-rooted in traditional administration, as evident in the numerous chiefdoms in the region. The chiefdoms serve as cultural epicenters for various clans. Therefore, the Dschang Museum of Civilizations has a program dubbed “Road to the Chiefdoms.”

You’re aware that a majority of our cultural heritage, be it material or immaterial, is found within the confines of our traditional chiefdoms. And the “Road to the Chiefdoms” is thus a program that aims to promote the cultural heritage of Cameroon. The Museum of Civilizations therefore has the mission firstly to accompany this program in its endeavor of promoting our heritage through inventory production, through planning of heritage activities around the chiefdoms.

In those 15 booths, we shall present the first 15 chiefdoms. And the goal for us is to entice every visitor who comes to the Museum of Civilizations. There will also be keys to understanding the grassfield civilization, to go discover these chiefdoms for real, on site.

Besides this brilliant oral civilization that African people in general, and the people of Cameroon, and more precisely the grassfields, developed, we also noted that they did put in place a graphic system.

In addition, the Bamoun people who invented Bamoun writing through King Njoya starting in 1896, and the Bagam people, who also invented the Mengaka writing. Thus, these are the two alphabetical systems which to this day are recognized by researchers. That is, the Bamoun writing invented in 1896 by King Njoya, and the Mengaka writing discovered in 1910 by an officer named Malcon.

Here at the museum, Cameroonian youths can learn about their Proud ancestral heritage.

Thus, how does this museum contribute effectively in enabling these youths to get close to their heritage? It’s through all these activities that we try to carry out for these youths. It’s through all these keys that we can offer them to better equip them with these secular values. It’s through these materials which we produce. It’s through the sources of documents that we can put in place through the library.

The Dschang Museum of Civilizations is a key resource to international researchers and tourists alike.

Foremost, it’s a springboard for tourist activities. We would have the listing of all that the museum has to offer or can start in the search for the wellbeing or the development of our country. We want to sincerely request all those who hesitate to choose their tourist destination precisely in Dschang. There is a program that is ready to welcome them, to work hard in rendering their visit adequately joyful.

The museum also has a message for Cameroonians as a whole.

I beseech all the Cameroonians of the diaspora to take this museum and this program as theirs, that it should be a joy for them; and consequently, that they quickly join the association of friends of the museum in Cameroon.

On behalf of the team of the Museum of Civilizations and the programs of chiefdoms, we thank you once more. And we take this opportunity to tell you that our doors will always be open for you. You are welcomed.

We appreciate the Dschang Museum of Civilizations. May many visitors come and explore its exhibitions to better understand the rich and fascinating world of Cameroonian culture.

Esteemed viewers, thank you for your company on today’s program. Now, please join us for Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News, here on Supreme Master Television. May we all celebrate our cultural wealth as well as the divine treasures within.

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