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Foumban: The Sultanate

Ibrahim Njoya ordered the construction of the ...

The Bamun Sultans' Royal Palace

Foumban or Fumban is a city in Cameroon, lying north east of Bafoussam. It has a population of 83,522 (at the 2005 Census). It is a major town for the Bamoun people and is home to a museum of traditional arts and culture. There is also a market and a craft centre, while Foumban Royal Palace contains a museum with information on Ibrahim Njoya who invented a new religion and the Shumom alphabet.

Though touristy, Foumban is one of Cameroon’s major attractions and an important centre of traditional African art. Its jewel is the Palais Royal, seat of power for the Bamoun people. The ruler of the Bamoun is known as the sultan, and the Bamoun can trace the lineage of their sultan back to 1394.

The palace, completed in 1917, resembles a medieval Chateau. It houses the Sultan’s Museum, which has a multitude of royal gowns, arms, musical instruments, statues, jewellery, masks and colourful bead-covered thrones carved in the shapes of the men who sat on them.
A few hundred metres south of the palace is the Musée des Arts et des Traditions Bamoun. This extensive collection has exhibits on Bamoun history and art, including cooking implements, musical instruments, pipes, statues, masks, gongs and an ornately carved xylophone. The road that connects the two museums is the Rue des Artisans, home to sculptors, basket makers, weavers and embroiders, and one of the best places in Central Africa to buy wood carvings.

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