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MEET QUEEN CAROL; Valleys woman given royal title by African city in honour of her work.

Byline: TOM HOUGHTON Reporter tom.houghton@walesonline.co.uk

T'S not every day you meet a monarch, or even see one in the flesh.

IBut this woman from the Valleys has actually become queen of an African city - after having only travelled to the country as a visitor.

Carol Adams was anointed as Queen Mother Benevolence of Foreke-Dschang, a city in the west of Cameroon, and also given the role of adviser to the king of the region - an honour rarely bestowed upon women in the patriarchal country.

It comes after Ms Adams, who lives in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, travelled to Dschang in Cameroon earlier this year when she was requested to help launch a programme s during her two-month trip to the region, Ms Adams, previously an adviser for the Welsh Government and the BBC, developed a programme that will help the community through sustainable development.

The project will take place throughout next year and involves schemes such as teaching farmers how to produce bacon and sausages and giving lessons on how best to preserve fruit and vegetables.

Having made arrangements for 2018 and saying her goodbyes earlier this month, the next thing Ms Adams knew was that she was being anointed queen of the region for her good work.

Speaking about how she learnt of her new royal title, she said: "I was shocked. I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Not a clue. We were at a meeting towards the end of my stay in the city and the king was there.

"At the end of it the meeting transformed into the ceremony of making me a queen. I just thought he was going to thank me for what I have done. I was like 'What's going on?'" She was bestowed the honour by His Majesty Djoumesi Wamba III of Foreke-Dschang and also made one of his advisers.

Ms Adams, who has lived in Aberdare for 12 years, has made a big impact on the city in a country where an estimated 48% of the population live below the poverty line, according to the 2011 Human Development Index.

Her work has led members of the royalty to claim that "never in the history of Dschang has the region been so united in vision".

She added: "It was an absolutely emotional experience and I had not prepared at all. I didn't know you could do that - anoint someone as queen. The next thing I know I'm the queen in this land - and a powerful woman.

"I am still absorbing what has happened. I am not a tourist any more."

In the UK you can only become a king or queen through birth or by marriage, unlike in Cameroon, where you can be anointed by way of "sacred" ceremony.

She said: "There's this sacred powder that you then eat and it's the eating of this powder, by it going into your body and making you royalty, that you are transformed into a queen. It was that and being given a name - Queen Mother Benevolence of Foreke-Dschang."

Ms Adams said other parts of the ceremony included her being given a horse's tail - a symbol of strength in the country - and a cup made from the horn of a cow.

Cameroon, where the official languages are French and English, has 20 different kings of its 20 different kingdoms and, while their wives are queens, she is now one of "around five" anointed queens.

She added: "To be anointed is something I was told is extremely rare. And to be the king's adviser - that's very rare too, it's a hugely patriarchal society. Normally the king's court is only men."

Her role means she must now promote the culture of the country and advise the king.

Ms Adams travels around the world as part of her working life and would have spent a lot of 2018 working on the centenary programme of events titled Dschang Fete Ses 100 Ans.

But the royal title has given added importance and means she now has a big responsibility to the country that will last the rest of her life. Ms Adams has a background in finance and community regeneration.

Part of her success in Dschang saw her cofound Taste Cameroon Community Enterprise, which aims to help people in the city through sustainable initiatives.

She said: "The request really grabbed me. They wanted to do something special for this place. I said of course I would help put together the programme to celebrate it over a period of 12 months, starting in January.

"They loved the programme and couldn't believe someone with no historical connection to Cameroon would have produced something like that.

"I have done all this as a volunteer. It just went from being a project that would be taken up by the community to something much bigger."

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Carol Adams is the Queen Mother Benevolence of Foreke-Dschang, Cameroon PICASA

Carol Adams stands among royalty and dignitaries of Dschang in Cameroon PICASA
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:6CAME
Date:Oct 1, 2017
Words:830
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