Every year at Tabaski, the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, Foumban attracts thousands of pilgrims for an extraordinary blend of Muslim and traditional Bamoun ceremonies, with the sultan playing a key role, parading in his white Cadillac and on horseback. It culminates with horse racing through the town, drumming and dancing.
It all starts before sunrise with the call to prayer blasting from loudspeakers at the mosque. Thousands of men and boys, dressed in their finest, climb the hill to the Sacred Mountain and kneel in prayer. Around dawn the imam arrives, followed by the sultan in his Cadillac. There are sunrise prayers, a sermon from the imam and a blessing from the sultan, and a sheep is sacrificed. The sultan then mounts his horse, surrounded by warriors in full regalia, and everyone follows him in an enormous parade to the palace. The women and girls, so far absent from the proceedings, line the streets dressed all in white and ululate as the sultan passes.
After the parade there's a rest, and then horses race through town. There's another break until it gets dark, when the drumming and dancing start in front of the Palais Royal. Meanwhile (this is still Cameroon, after all) people pack the bars and clubs, and when these are full they set up speakers on the streets for heavy drinking and dancing until the sun comes up.