The KOM Thing
The Afo-A-Kom is a carved wooden statue that embodies the central identity of Kom people’s traditional culture. Tied to Kom well being in all areas it's absence from Kom was blamed for poor crops and multiple maladies. It was stolen in 1966 and was now for sale in New York City.
I was in Cameroon as a Peace Corps Volunteer and saw the the statue featured in a catalogue of Cameroonian Art and alerted the Fon. He was very interested and worked with Johnson Mbeng and Kom elders to demand it's return.
Dr. Gilbert Schneider founder of Mbingo New Hope Settlement and friend of Kom raised awareness in the United States to return the statue.
The Fon of Kom and the Kom people wanted the Afo-A-Kom returned to Laikom as soon as possible. and Peace Corps Volunteers in Cameroon worked with New York Times reporter Sandra Blakesly to get the story on the front page of the Times.
World wide attention on the figure came with these articles which raised money allowing the Afo-A-Kom to be purchased and returned to Kom.
Celebrations in Kom lasted for years and it was regarded as a great achievement. Accounts appear in National Geographic, The New York Times, Time Magazine other national and international publications and a book by Fred Ferretti titled "Afo-A-Kom Sacred Art of Cameroon".