Prescraft is a store, which sells hand-crafted local artifacts. The name "Pres" comes from the Presbyterian Church, which started the project.
Wood carving is definitely an important local art media. Artists here have a particular style which is unique - rough and bold, with shapely lines. The woods they use are ebony, cam, mahogany, and white wood (locally called cartia, or obeche ). They make masks, drums, sticks, figurines, stools, chairs, music instruments and some animals.
Other hand-crafts are placemats, cane chairs, baskets of all kinds, flutes, and some brass figurines. Weavings, paintings, and wall hangings use native colors and scenes, as these are what interest tourists. We do not see many "arts" that native people appreciate, except during traditional dance performances. We have told you before that people pay a lot of attention to their clothing. It is there that you can find some original patterns and embroidery.
We appreciate the fact that the Presbyterian missionaries started this project, not only because they are helping to preserve the folk arts, but also because they provide good jobs for quite a number of people. There is no question that missionaries have done a lot for Africa, good and bad. They brought western culture, value systems, established schools and hospitals. Yet, while they persuaded Africans to trust in God, they also re-affirmed Africans' belief in miracles and their respect for magic. We would not be surprised to hear that Africa now has the biggest density of Christians in the world. Certainly the number at UB is astonishing. Tom's whole class of students claim that they are Christians. It seems to us that Africa no longer needs more missionaries, it needs more teachers. There are only six universities (with a total enrollment less than that in the UT system) in Cameroon which has a population of 16 million, roughly 4 times that of Tennessee. There is not one Department at UB that is not short handed, and worse yet, not all faculty are fully qualified for the positions they hold. As far as we know, this situation is the same for schools at all levels!
There are many Moslems in the Bamenda area. They are as sincere as any Christians when they say that there is only one true God who can save humanity. We have seen all over the world that Moslems are willing to sacrifice their own life to demonstrate their faith. Wherever these two groups overlap, there is a potential for danger - as we see in Nigeria. If not now, in the future there are time bombs waiting to explode. It would be ironic if the religions which are supposed to save humanity instead are responsible for destroying it.