We have come full circle: with the inauguration of this architectural jewel, the Head of State’s promise to provide all the ten regions of Cameroon with structures for the supervision and development of cultural and handicraft heritage is now on fulfilled.
The Bafoussam Regional Handicraft Village in the West Region, the latest in the series of Regional Handicraft Villages in Cameroon, was inaugurated on 10 March 2021 by the Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA). This is a materialisation “of the promises of the Head of State to provide all ten regions of the country with a handicraft village that reflects the cultural and handicraft heritage, creativity and inventiveness of each region,” said Achille BASSILEKIN III.
Constructed on a surface area of 4000 square metres with a State’s investment of CFA francs seven hundred (700) million, the architectural jewel is made up of the basement, a ground floor and a single floor. It has three (03) conference halls, six (6) offices, twenty-four (24) shops, a technical block capable of housing electronics appliances for animation, seven (7) training halls and more than twenty (20) toilets. The site offers an environment conducive to the organisation of handicraft events, coordination of work as well as the collaboration between the Ministry’s staff and its target craft-oriented people.
It also comes to reinforce the legacy of the new buildings of the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA), within the framework of the infrastructural programme for its external and attached services. The new Regional Handicraft Village is therefore going to serve as a window showcase to display the handicraft treasures and know-how of the craftspeople of the West Region where handicraft activities are part and parcel of the culture of the people of the grass fields. Each Division of the Region has its specificity in works of art: bronze objects in the Noun, stools and bead-decorated calabashes in the Hauts-Plateaux, wood carving in the Menoua, stools and bamboo cupboards in the Mifi and the Koung-Khi, pottery in the Bamboutos and hand embroidered traditional fabrics in several Divisions.
In addition to the highly developed arts and crafts in this region, the production-oriented sector is also becoming more dynamic. The processing of agricultural products is in full boom. The West is indeed a large production basin with vegetables and fruits, various seasoning spices, coffee, Kola, honey, dairy products and confectionery produced there.
For the Minister of SMEESEH, it is a space where people from elsewhere, visitors, tourists will come to meet the rich artistic and cultural heritage of the Grassfields people. “It is not only an expression of the handicraft and cultural diversity of the West region, but above all, it is a place where regular competitions shall take place between craftspeople to further improve the quality of their productions. It is also the place where the artistic and cultural genius of the people shall blossom.
The Management Committee of this regional handicraft village chaired by the Governor of the West Region has been installed, as well as the Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator of the VAR Bafoussam appointed on 09 March, 2021. The latter will be responsible for the daily administration of the Village. Craftspeople who came in large numbers to take part in this inauguration ceremony, asked MINPMEESA to convey their thanks and gratitude to the Head of State.
Placed under the supervision of the Ministry of SMESEH, Handicraft Villages constitute collective monitoring centres for handicraft production, exhibition, marketing and animation activities dedicated to craftspeople and handicraft enterprises. Handicraft Villages coordinate the production of handicraft products, monitor the exhibition of the said products, encourage their promotion and marketing and guarantee the training of craftspeople and craftspeople’s professional organisations.
There are three types of Handicraft Villages: The International Handicraft Centre of Yaoundé is one of them, and its specificity lies in its extra-territoriality in dealing with national and international issues in the area of handicraft activities. Regional Handicraft Villages belong to the second category with a delimited regional territory. They are expected to sell and promote the handicraft know-how of the Region under which they fall. The third category is made up of Special Handicraft Centres which may be set up anywhere with a handicraft potential.
The Bafoussam Regional Handicraft Village comes to consolidate the legacy of the new buildings of the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA), within the framework of the infrastructural programme for its external and attached services. After the inauguration of the Adamawa Regional Handicraft Village in Ngaoundere in 2020 followed by the Foumban Special Handicraft Village, the year 2021 kicked off with the commissioning of the Mbam et Inoubou Divisional Delegation.