The Phantom of Memory

These pictures have been submitted to

- POPCAP`13, June 2013

and been at display at the

- British Museum, Anthropology and Photography conference, RAI, May 2014

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Yet we can find in Anglophone Cameroon the traces of its colonial past; the Prime Minister Schloss in Buea, today the Rest House of the President, built by Puttkamer in 1909 under the best tradition of the chateaux de l’Alsace, or/and going to an more individual level the photo albums in the living rooms of well-off families in the best Victorian tradition, imported when the territory was under the British Mandate (1919-1961).

The individual, family, social or/and political representation through a group of photographs of yearly parties stored in albums is on the tables of de Mountain Club in Buea, a club exclusive for members with pool tables, squash and tennis courts. Also at the Limbe City Council, in the waiting room prior to an audience, you can look at the local awards and medals, football match or illustrious visits in the several albums on the table.

Sussane is a lecturer in accounting at Buea University, she is in her 4os, working to gain a living for an extended family. Of course, sitting on the huge sofas of her living room, she will show to the visitors her family albums; “aide-memoire”, artefacts: her daughter’s wedding, the new Bamenda house’s inauguration…, and the time she spent as a studnet at the university.

This album remenmbering those days is fascinating for two reasons. A) There are no a lot of woman of that generation of university’s teachers, although it is evident that Cameroon is exceeding by far the level of countries around. B) The pictures from that album have suffered a deterioration due to the cheap Korean colour copies or cheap plastic slippers from the Chinese market, which has resulted in a starnge aesthetic. You could not make this up!

The fragility and ephemerality of the photographic image as mirror of the memory.

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