Jujus? As in jujubes, the colorful, chewy candies you can buy at the movie theater? No, no, these kinds of jujus are neither pleasant nor enjoyed as a spectator. These kinds of jujus, you must hide from and not make eye contact with. These jujus may throw sticks or dirt at you if you do not follow the aforementioned rules. These jujus often have no faces, but move freely, without constraint. These jujus have the ability to scare not only young children, but grown men and women.

Jujus are common in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. They are often portrayed by young men, but I have also seen them portrayed by children. Jujus are spiritual beings, whose faces are always covered. Like a school mascot, jujus do not speak and you are not meant to know the juju’s human identity. Unlike a school mascot, it is not in your best interest to try to get your photo taken with a juju. Some jujus are relatively harmless, but some will attack if you are not careful. Typically, they are surrounded by an entourage of shirtless men with traditional skirts, headpieces, and body paint. They are usually found at death celebrations and at other traditional events. They sometimes travel through a village at night, so it is best to stay in your house. As a woman, you must be especially careful not to look at or approach them.

While the week-long festival in Kumbo continues, jujus will continue to roam the streets, stop traffic, and scare grown men and women into hiding behind cars and in bars. At first, I was not too scared of the jujus, but I quickly learned that pretending to be afraid makes you less of a target. Conformity is the best choice in this case. Jujus are a strange concept, in my opinion, but they make for some great entertainment, if you don’t get too close.

A juju in Kumbo, Northwest, Cameroon, December 28, 2012

A juju in Kumbo, Northwest, Cameroon, December 28, 2012


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