Showing posts from January, 2010

Welcome to the (African) Dollhouse

In "the olden days," in Sub-Saharan Africa, there was a larger variety of dolls than nowadays, of which I'll describe a few. They used to be made of natural materials, such as wood, earth, or even weeds. Ashanti doll The Ashanti doll, from Ghana , is one of the most famous worldwide:   a wood circle-face on a stick-like body (photo shown to the left) Moundang doll The Mandara mountains Moundang doll, from Northern Cameroon , made of volcanic rock, and decorated with tiny beads. This is the one which arguably least resembles the traditional European-style doll (photo right).  Fali dolls from northern Cameroon :   * male doll made of a corncob, decorated with  cowry  shells, European beads, leather strips, with a cotton skirt;   * "boy" doll made of wood, with cowry shells, bells, leather strips (illustrations shown below);  The Fali-Namchi dolls have been revisited in recent years, as shown below Senegalese doll Ng

How to Save Money: Cameroon Tontines

In various parts of Africa, there are informal organizations, called "tontine," in French-speaking Cameroon. I looked up “tontine” in the English-language Wikipedia , and the definition is not the same; however, there is a link to the word “ likelamba ,” which describes the everyday African tontine. Two types of tontines The usual system is that all the members of a tontine—usually tontines are all-male or all-female—contribute a set amount of money every month to a common “pot,” and every month a different person takes the entire sum, usually to take care of a large expense they couldn't otherwise afford: tuition for a child, household equipment, etc. It is very difficult to save money in Sub-Saharan Africa for all but a fortunate few. Everyday needs are pressing, and there is never enough money; even if there is, a family member may have an urgent need, and there goes any money that was left over! In Cameroon, there is yet another tontine system, called the "