The ethnobiological analysis of Fang homegardens in Southern Cameroon reveals striking contrasts between
the frontyard and the backyard. Plants and their uses, as well as attitudes of villagers, clearly reflect opposite functions.
The frontyard is a public space that is regularly maintained in a clean state. This is a pleasing and freely accessible space,
where plants are mainly ornamental or provide only slight shade, as this space must remain well illuminated and offer a
bright view. By contrast, the backyard is a dark private space. Access is restricted and protected by magic. In this space,
people communicate with the supernatural world, discretely experiment with new magical, medicinal, and food plants.
Like the two sides of a coin, the frontyard and the backyard have complementary values that can be understood only in the
light of the turbulent history of the Fang. They constitute powerful physical, spatial and cultural poles that fulfill a series
of embedded functions that mark out the life history of the Fang, the social relationships within different members of the
communities, and the symbolically rich settings for everyday life and rituals. Ultimately, they form an assemblage that
efficiently reduces exposure to diseases. The cultural control of risks on health does not only concern the physical and
functional layouts of the landscape—that efficiently reduce the incidence of vector-borne and transmissible diseases—but
it also concerns the symbolic control of supernatural forces, which are much less immediately tangible causes of sickness,
pain, trouble, conflict and even death.