Traditional Doctors

Location: Bambui, Cameroon, Africa

This is a long-term social documentary project commissioned by Reignite Action for Development, a UK Charity working towards supporting rural communities breaking the poverty cycle. The photographs document the Bambui community, living in the north west of Cameroon, over a period of five years.

Sacrifice is the act of making an offering to a deity in worship or atonement: a believer offers a victim to a god or gods for a purpose.
Traditional religious practices in Bambui offer many sacrifices to invoke the blessings of the god’s various events. There may be sacrifices made at the beginning of the planting season for a good harvest, in times of war or misfortune or to prevent wicked men from transforming into storms/winds and destroying crops.

People acting as traditional priests carry calabashes containing charms consisting of a mixture of several leaves and wild fruits. Before the exercise, animals and palm wine are prepared. Blood of the animals also plays an important part in the sacrifice. As well as sacrifices made for the community, families also offer sacrifices to their ancestors. This is done in cases of unexplained deaths, accidents, illnesses and other tribulations.

In homes, there are sacred corners where sacrifices are made before any celebration. In most cases, the sacrifice ranges from animals, palm wine or camwood.

Traditional doctors work inside shrines and sanctuaries – holy, sacred places devoted to the worship of a deity. Bambui people also have shrines and sanctuaries devoted to their gods. Fons (or traditional doctors) who have passed away become ancestral spirits upon whom the community relies on intercession. They are believed to be the “living dead.” Tombs of late Fons are also shrines. The gods are not omnipresent, rather they are found in springs, waterfalls, rivers, ancient forests, caves and echoing rocks.