It’s hard to find a more festive, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country than Cameroon. Cameroon is made up of about 600 tribes or ethnic groups, each with its own language and traditions. Some are very large, others very small, but all have a strong dedication to their duty to regularly celebrate their culture and origins, gods and ancestors. In the past decades, some of these celebrations have become great touristic events, attracting hundreds of witnesses from around the world. The most popular is the NGONGO, the annual festival of the Sawa people.
The Ngondo Festival
Every first Sunday of the month of December, foreigners join the five tribes constituting the Sawa people to gather around the river Wouri in Douala to celebrate “Myengu”, the gods of the waters, thanking them for their protection during the year. The festival begins from the Saturday before, with exciting activities such as Miss Ngondo conquest, Wrestling ( the Sawa Fight), Dance conquest of different Sawa dance groups and religious organizations. The beauty pageant contestants must be able to speak their mother tongue and know their family genealogy. Only Sawa people are qualified to take part in any competitions, but witnessing it is equally so much fun.
The main event which is the more scared part of the festival comes on Sunday morning. A spiritualist is immersed with a sacred pot under the Wouri river with gifts for Myengu who are at the bottom of the river. He usually stays 10 minutes underneath the water, and his mission is to return with Myengu’s message addressed to Sawa people for the next year. When the pot comes back to surface, it is not wet and it contains the message of the ancestors which the initiates will decode before announcing it to waiting crowd.
In the afternoon there is a canoe race where each Sawa tribe sends its best canoe riders.
Even though in recent years, Ngondo has been taking a commercial turn with some companies taking advantage of the its touristic attraction to infiltrate the event, the festival remains the best display of culture in Cameroon.
This video summarizes the Ngondo event and after watching you may indeed want to schedule your visit for the next Ngondo festival in at the end of the year.
The other tribes of the country also do wonderful cultural celebrations generally called “Cultural Week”. This usually takes place in August and September every year, where youths from overseas and the local cities return to their villages of origin to dedicate one full week to cultural celebrations. Fun activities include dances, sports games, wrestling and also cultural clubbing. Masquerades are released for dance display and also for communication with the ancestors.
Some patriots who cannot make it home for the celebrations, organize theirs in the countries where they find themselves
Nevertheless, the event are best enjoyed in their origins in the fatherland Cameroon and all of them have potential to attract you to more visits every year to participate again in these diverse cultural fests that grace the land of Cameroon.