Cameroon will remain virgin forever

May 02, 2020    Joan Riera

This week in 'Last Places on Earth Talks' we have discussed about Cameroon with the anthropologist Joan Riera and the photographer Aníbal Bueno.

Cameroon is one of the most fascinating and least known countries in Central Africa. There Joan and Aníbal met over a decade ago to explore the country's most traditional tribes.

I was just 12 years old when I saw the first images of the Koma tribe in Air Afrique’s onboard magazine. It spoke of Africa’s last savages and I was impressed to see women covering their sex with a bunch of green leaves. I said to myself; One day I will go to the Alantika Mountains in Northern Cameroon and meet the Koma. Eight years later of those impacting images I headed to the Alantika Mountains to see if the Koma where still there maintaining those wonderful looks. When I saw the first Koma women wearing acacia leaves I cried of joy.

The Koma, Dupa, Mbororo and Baka are four tribes that have preserved much of their original culture intact to this day. Each of them lives in remote territories that we know well and that we want to preserve.

This week we focus on Cameroon as a destination and highlight the Koma tribe as the most special of all and the mysterious forgotten colonial cities in the middle of the jungle.

Ayos, Akonolinga, Messamena, just to name a few, are urban centers in the middle of Cameroon’s dense primary forest built during Germany’s colonial rule from 1884 till 1916. I have always loved the contrast between old European architecture and tropical nature. In Messamena town, 6h drive from Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, I feel at ease. A long avenue of centenarian oil palms and a collection of German crumbling buildings welcomes the traveller heading for Dja Reserve or the Baka pygmy communities still abundant and quite traditional in this part of Cameroon.