Photographer's Note

The Ngondo festival is gathering the Sawa peope each years on the Wouri river banks in Douala. This festival of all the Sawa people was restored in 1991.

On the front of this boat, one can see the elected diver who is in charge of collecting the message from the Wouri gods.

He's to 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 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.

Like the one presented this morning, this character dressed with some Wouri grass is part of the official guard keeping the diver presented yeasterday safe. They really embody the ancient traditionnal spirit of this event.

The Sawa people originally set up the Ngondo general assembly of the different people from the littoral to ensure peace between the different components of the people. Among other purposes, the Ngondo was an opportunity to make justice. For instance, the "Deido" (one suburb of Douala) prince Eyum Ebele was sentenced to death in 1876. Ndumbe Lobe, the king ruling over the "Bell" suburb was also judged for having locked a women. That assembly was forbiden at several occasion during the German colonisation, the French one, then under the first Independant Cameroon President Ahidjo.

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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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