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Photographer's Note

A great annual festival took place in Douala this week-end. It is called the Ngondo festival and it gathers all the Sawa people (people from the Atlantic coast).

Many events have been surrounding this animist celebration dedicated to the "Jengu" or "Ondine", the gods from the Wouri river : dances from each tribes of the City, traditional fighting, a traditional Miss election, etc...

The climax of the celebration occured this morning when hundreds of thousand people are gathering to the river banks to watch the elected diver disappear under the water for 5 to 10 minutes (don't ask me how...) to collect the message from the ancestors in a large basket and bring it to the traditional chieves of Douala who will translate it to normal Human Being. According to the message, we'll know quite soon if 2007 will be a wealthy year or not...

According to what I understood (since the border between people, tribes, villages and suburbs are really complex), the chieves are ruling a local community. Each of them is protected by a kind of honorific guard during special events like this one and is living in a large house with a dedicated place to welcome ceremonies or visitors.

For instance, I met earlier in the morning, René Douala Manga Bell, prince of Bali, one of the many suburb in Douala downtown. I also discovered that Prince Manga Bell had a palace located in Douala itself and ornated with many symbols (lions, crocodiles, a kind of magic key, etc...). Each suburb has a kind of traditional chief getting his power from his father.

This character dressed with some Wouri grass and the traditional boubou is part of the official guard keeping the diver presented yeasterday safe. They really embody the ancient traditionnal spirit of this event.

sebcz, Albrecht, SamB has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Steven Le Vourc'h (Curioso) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 551 W: 273 N: 1552] (9271)
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