The sacred Mount Cameroon is the tallest mountain in Western Africa, and it rises straight from the ocean through tropical rainforests to a cold, windy summit. Indeed, snow sometimes falls at the mountain's top, a rare occasion in the tropics. Because of its uniqueness, the people around the mountain have considered it to be holy, sacred, a living mountain that has to be treated with great deference. In the town of Debuncha, the second wettest place on Earth, at the southwest corner of the lower slopes, there are many stories of the mountain's miracles. Indeed, the Bakweri people have told narratives of power about the mountain for years. When the Germans, English, and French visited the area, they discovered a heightened awareness of ancestral forces among the people.
Mount Cameroon is a formidable physical presence. The mountain has no water above the forest line and is fairly barren and humid above the clouds until one reaches the top, where it is cool. Mount Cameroon is a volcano, and it is the only volcanic mountain outside of the Mediterranean area to have had a documented eruption before the birth of Jesus Christ. It is an active mountain, having erupted 14 times since 450 BC. The first one to record its eruption was the African navigator Hanno, traveling from Carthage around West Africa. No African mountain has been as active as Cameroon. The last major eruption was October 16 to November 12, 1982, when a lava flow went down the mountain for 12 kilometers.
The people who live at the foothills of the mountain are the Bakweri, who have been living in the region, according to their traditions, for 4,000 years. The Bakweri have a long history of relating to the green hills, drenched by rain and often covered by fog, as the abode of many spirits. Because the Bakweri are a patrilineal people, the religious leaders are mostly men. These men are trained to communicate between the almighty deity and humans. The Bakweri people practice ancestral rituals and believe that the Bakweri are protected by spirits who dwell on Mount Cameroon. Inasmuch as they have inhabited the same territory for thousands of years, the Bakweri have created numerous traditions based on the rich agricultural experiences of the people. They are the guardians of the sacred power of Mount Cameroon.
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