Geography and history
The Fondoms have their roots mainly in the North West Province of Cameroon, more precisely in the grasslands, where about 2.7 million people live, including the city of Bamenda.
The history of this region is characterised by significant tribal wars, which had a strong influence on its development. After Cameroon’s independence, the province played a decisive role in the country’s political history and produced some of its most important statesmen.

Fon and Fondom
There are more than fifty tribal fondoms in this region, including such well-known ones as Bafut, Bali, Kom, Mankon and Nso.
The term „Fon“ refers to the chief or king of one of these regions.
The Fon is a ruler appointed for life who acts as the supreme head of his tribe, comparable to a king or queen. These Fon not only formally assume the duties of the Cameroonian government and jurisdiction, but also administer certain matters independently according to traditional rules.
The so-called „secret societies“ (known as Kwifo or Ngumba), which support the Fon in government, are made up of tribal nobles and form one of the most powerful forces in each tribe.
Fons reside in their own courtyards, which are also known as palaces. As they practise polygamy and women can be inherited, these communities often consist of 50-60 wives and hundreds of children.
The palace is the spiritual and cultural centre of each tribe, an ancient place of worship and the epitome of the mystical. It serves as the seat of power and the base of the royal domain.

Palace protocol
Visiting a palace is generally subject to a strict protocol, which is all the stricter the more pronounced the traditions of a tribe are. On arrival at the palace, the visitor is greeted by the guards, also known as chindas. After a check of identity and clothing, possibly including headgear, the visitor is accompanied by one or two nobles who remain at his side throughout his stay.
A meeting with the fon and the treatment of the visitor in the palace depend on the gifts they bring with them. These gifts vary depending on the fon and can include goats, chickens, palm oil, palm wine, drinks, cigarettes or even money in an envelope. However, the direct presentation of these gifts to the fon is reserved exclusively for the nobleman.
In some palaces, no one except the nobles and their wives speaks directly to the Fon. Conversations are conducted exclusively via an intermediary, another nobleman. In some cases, these intermediaries can also expect a small „favour“.
During a meeting, the visitor is instructed to observe certain rules or rituals, such as bowing, clapping their hands and not crossing their legs. It is an opportunity to experience how deeply rooted traditions and rituals are in the culture of the Fondoms.