by Alexis Maxime Feyou de Happy
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2008 AMF DE H
CLASSIC AFRICAN ART AS VICTUS LIBRI
BY ALEXIS MAXIME FEYOU DE HAPPY
FANG STATUARY AND THE FORGOTTEN MASTERS
My first encounter with Fangs took place around 1966-67, when my
mother and I visited a Fang village in Southern Cameroon1. I was
immediately impressed by their vibrancy, their joie de vivre, and most of all
their frank expression of reality. As a young man I was charmed by the grace
of Fang maidens. But it was at Seminary Santa Theresa, Yaoundé
(Cameroon) in 1975-78, that I truly had the opportunity to learn Fang
culture. I was also privileged to know Fang students, who were my
classmates in Yaoundé. At the Seminary, students were encouraged to
explore their environment and to question the things they did not understand:
1 The author’s father, Prince Joseph Feyou de Happy of Bana, was then the Prefect of
Sanaga Maritime, southern district in Cameroon. He had total authority over Cameroon
Fang country and other local communities, notably the last pygmy societies of Cameroon.
It was a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in revealing aspects of a society in
transition. It was also an opportunity to develop a genuine respect for other cultures.
we exchanged our experiences and debated ancestral values amongst
My spiritual counselor2, Abbot Leon Messi (born Fang/Beti), was
perhaps my most influential teacher.