Life in northwestern Cameroon

Cameroon is on the coast of West Africa and is placed between Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic and Chad. The country is 475,440 km² and has about 18.5 million inhabitants. The capital is Yaoundé, but the city of Douala is economic center. The airport of Douala is bigger and better known and is therefore advised to fly to. Cameroon has a wide variety of nature: mountains and the plain, beach and large forests, green and drought is all there to find, making the country is seen as ‘ Africa in miniature ‘. Cameroon has the highest mountain in West Africa, the Mount Cameroon, whichis reachable with a scenic drive through forests, Savannah and crater area. Cameroon has also a big variety when it comes to culture. The country has the largest number of dialects in Africa and is home to the well-known small Pygmies. By the long rainy season and the many volcanoes that Cameroon knows, the land is fertile and green. The extreme north is an exception, because that province has a long dry season. Agriculture by the fertility is the main means of existence. There are so many ways to find food, that Cameroon only knows small kind of hunger, unlike some other African countries. Between March and November it is the rainy season. That means a daily monsoon-like mood, but after several hours the sun comes out again. In the rainy season it is not too hot, around 25 degrees at noon and around 15 degrees at night. In the dry season the afternoon will be about 30 degrees, but it fresh down at night nice to maybe 15 degrees. The national language of Cameroon is French, but in the Southwest is mainly Pidgin (an English dialect) spoken. In addition to these languages, the different population groups mostly still a traditional language.

The Kingdom of the Bamum people

The Kingdom of Bamum people is situated in the West Province of Cameroon, about 200 kilometers from Douala. It covers the area between Foumban, Bafoussam and what also called ‘ Noun ‘. The area has about 800,000 inhabitants, most of which are Muslim. The percentage of Muslims varies by village, but is between 70 and 95 percent. Protestantism is the second largest religion; This is followed by Catholicism. The traditional religion is also present, but pretty much only in combination with another religion. In this region is French the official language, but the Bamounse language is spoken among themselves. The Bamum people also has a Scripture. Foumban or Fumban is the capital of the Bamum people, where the ‘ fon ‘ (Supreme chief) is situated. Foumban or fumban is besides the capital also the cultural center. Much is done to the wood industry and there are two museums. There is also market every day and the city has a few hotels and restaurants. The Bamum people are known for their good food and beautiful people. The Western Province is the most touristic province of Cameroon, to the cultural sites. However, the local population is not (yet) used to actually come into contact with whites. You will be stared at and get many requests for much money or marriage. Often the people initially relatively distant (many will not be the first to say hi), but if you are the one that shows interest and kindness, that just hugely appreciated.

The Bamounse village

The Bamounese villages consist of brick houses with corrugated as roof. The cottages of a family are not connected, but are near each other. Sometimes they stand in a square or circle. The Bamum people culture is patrilineal. When a man and a woman get married, the man will build the house where the newly couple can live. Some men marry in their lives with multiple women. That is only allowed when the man can supplies the needs of the women. The needs of the women will be  things like a private home and sufficient food. Soon after the marriage the children will be born. An average family has five children.


Cameroon is a fertile land, making mainly agriculture. In the Noun be corn, plantain, sweet potato and peanut grown, but also rice, yam and potato. In terms of fruit there are banana, mango, pineapple, papaya, Orange, Apple and guava; in terms of vegetable root, tomato, bean, avocado, peppers, onion, leek, pumpkin, hot pepper and various leafy vegetables. There are chickens, cows, goats and pigs held and many people have a dog and a cat. Dogs and cats are not taken for fun as we know it, but purely to their function. The dog guarded the yard, the cat eats the pests. Man and woman working on the land. The woman is standing in addition regularly on the market to earn some money with their harvest or delights as bolls and lemonade. The wife does all sorts of household chores and has thereby a whole day’s work to her features. The man takes care of the bread on the shelf and does nothing else in the household. As the man gets home from his work he does he rest his social or button. If the man is at home, children should do what he wants and may not join him in the neighborhood. The children will help the mother in the household  by cleaning, washing dishes and cooking. In addition, they work in the fields. Children participate from a year or five. Especially many Christian children go to school. For Muslims, mainly for Muslim girls, that is found less important. However, there is a process of change going on with regard to the functions of the woman. It is now possible for women to study and to learn a trade. Nevertheless, many women still end up in the household. If the woman goes outdoors to work, the man usually not will be doing the household, but he takes a housekeeper.


At the Bamum people manages the man the pot of money. Especially in polygamous family situations is this convenient, so that there is a good overview. He gives the woman money to buy food and clothes and gives the children sometimes some money. Women sometimes start a private business on the market. Frequently than will be the case that the woman may keep  the money for the purchase of personal items, sometimes however ceded everything to the man. From the age of 18, the children in the summer vacation working,  to earn money for the family or for themselves. Sometimes children at a younger age already sent out to earn money for the family.

Classification of the living spaces

Children sleep together, usually in one room. The parents also share a room. In the living room are a number of luxurious seats for important guests and what less luxurious chairs for less important guests. There is usually a television, which is switched on almost constantly. Most families have a dining area with a table and chairs in the living room. However, often eaten in front of the TV in the sitting area. There is a box next to the living room to find where you can pee and wash yourself. Outdoors is a small cabin with the famous hole in the ground. Cooking is done outdoors, also in a hut by the long rainy season, it is not smart to go outside for cooking.

Food supply

The main course of the Bamum people is couscous or froufrou eaten once a day. It looks like a sticky ball of dough. It is served with a sauce or some vegetables, sometimes with dried fish, meat or chicken. Sometimes they will be eaten with pig or rat inside the dish. However, meat is expensive, making it an average of two times a week is eaten. In addition to couscous is often eaten rice, with tomato sauce or peanut sauce; and plantains , fried or cooked with a sauce. In everything is a red pepper and maggi-block used. Sometimes we eat bread with egg, but that is also expensive. In between we eat fruit, peanuts, bolls and kola nuts.

Village organization and management

Each town or city has a ‘ superior ‘ as main responsible chief. He is the ‘ representative ‘ for its area and the link between Government and people. Public service announcements can only be transmitted through the chief superior. In addition, manipulations in the organization of the village only be realized through approval of the chief superior. Examples of manipulations are: the improvement of the infrastructure or building a hotel. These changes can be requested from the Government or from the people. Some villages in the Noun are large, having two chiefs superior. This is the case in, for example, Foumban and Foumbot. One chief is superior for the main responsible for the city area, the other for the rural area. A Bamounees village is divided into districts, each with its own Manager, either district chief. The district chief is there to solve all kinds of problems between the inhabitants. In particular, the problems about who is entitled to that piece of land. As the district chief can’t resolve the issue, the chief superior a try. If this fails, the problem makers go to court, so that the right one will win. The chief superior has every month a meeting with its village chiefs. He has also called a meeting with the fon in Foumban, the Chief chief of the Bamum people, but only if he is called up to what to discuss. This chief-structure is a traditional Cameroonian structure. There is a second structure by colonialism, the modern government structure. In this structure is a mayor elected every five years through a democratic election. The function of the Mayor is to achieve progress and development, such as improving the infrastructure and the promotion of hygiene. The Mayor has the resources to achieve this, the chief superior has not. The Mayor and chief superior work closely together. The chief is still head-and ultimate responsibility of the village; a project can therefore not be achieved without its approval.