African Royalty: Cameroon

Figure 1.--This photograph shows the chief of Bameka, a large Cameroonian village. The photo reveals some clothing trends. The chief is wearing a costume made with printed cotton cloth. That suggests that the shot was taken after World war II, probably in the 1950s. In the backgroud we can see that some of the children are wearing dresses and that also suggests that the photo was taken in 1950s. The chief is depicted with two of his wives, probably the two younger ones. They seem to be still teenagers. The wives are completely unclothed, that was not unusual in some Cameroonian regions, although becoming less common by the 1950s. It looks strange that they are unclothed while the chief is clothed and even some children wear dresses. It seems to me that the chief is showing off his wives as aatter of prestige. Some expressions of traditional African culture were not respectfull of the women's dignity. For a chief the large number and the young age of his wives were important status symbols.

We have been able to find very little informtion about royalty in Cameroon. We do note a book about the royal sucession in the Nso Kingdom. [Chem-Langhee and Fanso] There are chapters on the royal prerogative, the leopard pelt principle, and succession council membership. Kesu-Wum and Eyang-Atem-Ako are other kingdoms. We also note a discussion of the Scultor Kings. This focuses on Babungo, formerly the most important iron-working center in Cameroon. Sculptor kings and artists used coded motifs to express ideas, beliefs, mythical scenes and historic events. [Notue] We also notice aook about Kingdom on Mount Cameroon. It includes eEssays about the history of Cameroon from 1500 to 1960. We are not sure about the role of royalty in modern Cameroon, but these tribal chiefs often have influence even if they have no formal political role.


Ardener, Edwin. Kingdom on Mount Cameroon.

Chem-Langhee, Bongfen and Verkijika G. Fanso. Royal Succession in the African Kingdom of NSO': A Study in Oral Historiography.

Notue, Jean-Paul. Treasures of the Sculptor Kings: Memory, Arts and Techniques.


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Created: 1:19 AM 3/7/2013
Last updated: 1:20 AM 3/7/2013