”Ndop” fabric and accessories are part of the life and DNA of the people of the Northwest and the West of Cameroon. In both regions, the fabric comes in several forms. Ndop can only be worn by chiefs, princes and dignitaries of chiefdoms.
In Baham, the Western highlands region, we found the Kamwa Simo family, pioneers of ”Ndop” fabric. For decades, this family has been living off this royal fabric.
“At the very beginning, the person I learned from was a professional, and she was just doing this job. I myself learned from her and I had more knowledge than the person. When I came back, I got married, had my children and taught my children this’’, ”Ndop” pioneer, Kamwa Simo told our correspondent, Joel Honoré Kouam.
Production of the fabric begins with the cutting of the raffia from raw materials, then drying, weaving and coloring.
“Before starting the work, we go to collect elements of the smock, soak it in water, we beat it and dry it, we look for the raffia fibers, we arrange it and dry it, then we take it off and start weaving like this. When we finish weaving, we soak it, then we untie it and take it to the market”, Gueteu Martine, Ndop manufacturer said.
According to Herman Yongueu, Head of the Association of ‘’Soldiers of Ndop’’, younger generations with no cultural knowledge of Ndop and the Bamileke tradition, have diverted this fabric from its original use, associating it with others who have nothing to do with it.
“It has been found that many young people who are no longer interested in their culture are confusing everything about traditional fabrics. It’s not for anyone to wear Ndop fabric. It is a fabric reserved for the Kings, the Notables of the chieftaincy”, Yongeu said.
So he is on a mission to protect this fabric through his association called the ”Soldiers of Ndop”. It aims to educate young people on the significance of this heritage and its cultural value for the people.
“We formed an association, “Save the Ndop” and after that, we created a Facebook page of the same name, which aims to initiate young people to their culture, including their customs, because we are defending it, and we want a cultural re-appropriation”, he added.
It is hoped the knowledge of Ndop, will help ease the process of mental decolonization of present and future generations.