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African Anthropologist

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A Concise Historical Survey of the Bamum Dynasty and the Influence of Islam in Foumban, Cameroon, 1390 – Present

FLM Fomine

Abstract


The Bamum (locally pronounced Pamom) are found in the Western Province of the Republic of Cameroon and occupy principally the Noun Division. The present Bamum population is composed of people from two different backgrounds. The dominant ones are the people of Sudanic origin who broke away from the Tikar, at Rifum and then moved southwards to Njimom, and finally to their present site of settlement. There are also those of Bamileke origin who were found living in the present-day Bamum country and who were conquered and partially assimilated by the Bamum invaders. Foumban,1 the capital of the Bamum Kingdom, is without doubt the cultural showpiece of traditional civilisation in the Republic of Cameroon. Since its foundation, the Bamum Kingdom has gone through an excitingly creative evolution. Bamum is one of the rare
African kingdoms to have invented an indigenous writing system of its own, as well as a printing press and a machine for grinding grain. With the advent of colonialism, Bamum was one of the kingdoms in Cameroon that collaborated closely with the German colonisers. In this way, the Bamum were permitted so much autonomy that the incidence of colonialism only slightly upset the traditional structure of the society until 1916 when the French replaced the Germans. The prime objective of this article is to investigate how Islam changed the lifestyle of the Bamum. It also takes a close look at the activities of early Bamum kings, especially the  outstanding achievements of Sultan Njoya and a detailed investigation into the influence of Islam in the Bamum Kingdom. The article argues strongly
that Islam has influenced the political, economic, social, religious and cultural life of the Bamum.



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