A Beautiful Evening of Cameroonian Culture
By Susan Tomai – Founder, Oratorio
I had the great honor of attending a welcoming ceremony last week for the first visit to the U.S. of His Majesty Djoumessi III, Ruler of the Kingdom of Foréké-Dschang in Western Cameroon.
It was a colorful mix of African wear and Louis Vuitton as the king entered the banquet hall to applause, tantalizing aromas of cooking and shouts of joy from the roomful of Washington-area Cameroonians and their guests. H.M. Djoumessi III had come to town to reconnect with his subjects and to deliver an update on the construction of his sprawling new cultural museum in the city of Dschang. As a Westerner, I was thrilled to see the traditional dancing, hear the music and taste the delicious food spread out on a huge banquet table.
First the men were called outside the hall to greet the King and bow – then the women lined the pathway as The King made his way to throne at the center of the room. There were many speeches, all in French, and a feast of African dishes made by the families participating. We ate, we talked, we danced, we connected.
And then, a surprise from my friend the evening’s host, World Bank Africa Chief Economist Dr. Albert G. Zeufack: he called me to the stage, handed me the microphone and asked me to say a few words of greeting to His Majesty. I was humbled to have this privilege, and to learn more about the beautiful cultural heritage of western Cameroon.
The music and dancing continued late into the night. As I stepped out into the cool night air to head home with my husband, we heard the uninhibited joy of chanting and singing as the women encouraged everyone to dance one more time.