The Palace of the Kings Bell situated in Douala is a building constructed in 1905 by the Germans for King Auguste Manga Ndumbe (King Bell). The building is also known asLa Pagode; this name comes from the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who remained in Douala in 1916-17, who calls it such in his famous novel Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the End of the Night).
Ascending to the throne in 1897, Auguste Manga Ndumbe creates a large plantation of cocoa and palm oil in Mungo on the effluents of the Kamerun-Wui river, so as to compensate for the decline of the Douala economy based on the trade monopoly with the hinterland. He also carries out significant real estate investments in Bonanjo. At that time, the fortune of Auguste Manga exceeds by far that of its contemporaries and pars of Akwa, Deïdo, and Bonabéri. Deceased in 1908, he will not have however lived in this residence for three years. His son and heir Rudolph Douala Manga Bell reigns from 1908 to 1914, with his wife Emma Engomè Dayas. She was born from the union between the British captain Dayas and a young woman from Bali, Tébédi Eyoum. They will live there until the German authorities jail Rudolph and hang him on August 8, 1914. Alexandre Ndoumb’a Douala, the son of the late Rudolph, now celebrated as a hero and martyr, choose to live in Bali rather than this mansion. Known today as Le Parc des Princes, this compound includes the Bell’s Chefferie. Since 1920, the old mansion has been occupied by a long list of inhabitants and is still owned by the Bell royal family. Because of its history and its architecture, this building has always been an icon in Douala.
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